Current P4K college student, Ozzie is in his first year at Metropolitan Community College studying business administration. A typical college freshman, on the surface, no one would ever guess that higher education was not always something Ozzie thought he would get to be a part of.
“Ozzie has struggled almost his entire school career,” says a P4K program staff member. “School work is just something that hasn’t ever come easily for him,” she says. In sixth grade, Ozzie joined Partnership 4 Kids and met someone that completely changed the way he thought about school and education.
“At first Partnership 4 Kids was just about hanging out with my friends and having fun,” says Ozzie, “but at some point I came to the realization that, ‘Wow! Maybe I really do need this program’,” he reveals. Ozzie’s grades were low and it was clear he was having trouble so P4K staff arranged for Ozzie to meet with a tutor. Twenty-something student-teacher, Jeff Kassal volunteered for the job. “It was my first year of student-teaching and Ozzie was one of my very first students,” recalls Jeff. Although Jeff was a teaching novice and Ozzie needed extensive academic help, the two began meeting regularly and quickly formed a strong bond. “When we first met, Ozzie was a pretty shy, but he was extremely polite and just really easy to like,” Jeff says.
Jeff and Ozzie continued to work together every year, raising Ozzie’s once low test scores and dismal grades to inspirational new heights. “Ozzie’s struggles with school were never about putting in the time,” says Jeff, “He’s always been extremely hardworking, he just didn’t know how to go about basic study skills like organizing and prioritizing.”
Although the purpose for Jeff and Ozzie’s meetings were academic, the two connected on many levels and formed a friendship. “Jeff’s been like a big brother to me,” says Ozzie. “If I’m having any sort of a problem, I could call him in the middle of the night, and he’ll always pick-up.” Jeff agrees. “Ozzie is family. He’s just an amazing kid and I’m so proud to know him.”