Ma’Kiya Carter’s grandmother still gets emotional when she recalls Ma’Kiya’s reaction to coming home from school to find a Bishop DuBourg High School sign in their yard, signaling her acceptance to the school.
“She was so excited when she came home that day from Annunziata and saw the Bishop DuBourg sign on the front lawn,” Janet Carter said. “She was so happy. She just said, ‘I made it! I made it!’”
Ma’Kiya, now a junior at Bishop DuBourg, experienced speech and language delays from an early age. As a young child, her father and grandmother noticed that she had difficulty pronouncing many words and putting together phrases and sentences.
The family, parishioners at All Saints Parish in University City, wanted Ma’Kiya to attend a school where she could receive both a Catholic education and also individualized learning and therapies to best help her succeed.
The Carters found that at Annunziata School, a special education school of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
“The teachers there were just amazing,” Janet Carter said. “They took the time to understand what she needed. They built up her confidence, and she was able to speak up more and develop relationships and friendships. It did us all the good in the world to send her there.”
Knowing that tuition would be a financial challenge, the family applied for scholarships through the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation. The scholarships Ma’Kiya received made her education at Annunziata possible, Janet Carter said.
“Today and Tomorrow has been a big help in contributing to who she is today,” she said.
Ma’Kiya thrived in the small class sizes, individual attention and speech and language therapy offered at Annunziata. She described herself as a shy elementary school student who slowly gained confidence in herself and her abilities, especially because of the support of her teachers.
“If I did well on a test or an essay question, they would give me a shout-out in the classroom,” Ma’Kiya said.
When it came time to select a high school, Ma’Kiya was interested in Bishop DuBourg because of the positive experiences she’d heard about from Annunziata alumni. She enjoyed a day shadowing a DuBourg student — she felt comfortable in the small class sizes and was impressed by the number of electives and extracurricular activities open to students, she said.
The transition from Annunziata to Bishop DuBourg was smooth, Ma’Kiya said, because of the ongoing support from teachers and friendly classmates. She joined the spirit squad right away, and she particularly enjoyed her Cavalier Experience class, a leadership course all Bishop DuBourg freshmen take.
“I found a lot of support here,” she said. “I get a lot of help from the teachers, just by going to their classroom before or after school.”
Now an honor-roll student and member of the spirit squad and swing dancing club, Ma’Kiya has seen the growth she experienced at Annunziata continue and expand through her time at Bishop DuBourg.
“I’ve definitely seen a change (in myself),” Ma’Kiya said. “I’m more social with other people; I ask more questions. If I need help, I go a teacher without hesitation.”
This year, her favorite classes are English and TV/Film Production, a hands-on introduction to producing and editing videos. She’d like to continue to the Advanced TV/Film Production course next year, where students produce and anchor the televised morning announcements for the school in addition to other video projects.
Ma’Kiya has always been an animal lover, and she spent the past few summers volunteering first at PetSmart, assisting people looking to adopt animals, and then the St. Louis Humane Society, where in addition to administrative work she’s had the chance to observe small animal surgeries.
“It took me some time to get used to — I’d never seen the insides of a dog before — but it was fascinating and I liked watching it,” she said.
After graduating from Bishop DuBourg in 2023, Ma’Kiya plans to attend college to pursue a career as a veterinarian or vet tech. She’s found her voice and is confident that she can handle life’s next set of challenges.
“She is happy with who she is and where she is at this time in life,” Janet Carter said. “And she looks forward to graduating and moving forward.”
>> Apply for scholarships
Millions of dollars in scholarships and financial aid are given to families each year for their children to attend Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Working behind the scenes to make that possible are several entities, including the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, the Beyond Sunday campaign of the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri, the Annual Catholic Appeal, the Office of Catholic Education and Formation, the Archdiocese of St. Louis and other partners.
The scholarship application window for the 2022-23 school year opened Jan. 18. Families may apply for scholarships to attend any elementary school in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, any Catholic high school and any private elementary school in the City of St. Louis.
Families can apply for scholarship assistance through a unified online application, which is used for all scholarships funded by the Office of Catholic Education and Formation, Today and Tomorrow and Beyond Sunday. The Today and Tomorrow scholarship office administers tuition assistance scholarships on behalf of all entities.
Online applications are available at www.ttef-stl.org. The deadline for most scholarships is Monday, Feb. 28.
>> Bishop DuBourg High School
Bishop DuBourg High School is a coed, comprehensive school, developing leaders in faith and service. Founded in 1950 and originally housed at Jefferson Barracks, the school moved into its current campus in St. Louis Hills in 1953. Bishop Louis William Valentine DuBourg was the first bishop of the Louisiana Purchase territory, which included what is now the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Sixty-one Bishop DuBourg students are receiving funds administered by the Today and Tomorrow Education Foundation this year, and 164 students received Today and Tomorrow scholarships while in grade school. Bishop DuBourg is also supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Student-Teacher Ratio: 9:1
>> Annunziata School
Annunziata School, founded in 1985, serves students in grades K-8 with learning disabilities, ADHD, speech and language deficits and high functioning autism-spectrum disorders.
Student-Teacher Ratio: 4:1
For more information on special education in the archdiocese, visit archstl.org/catholic-education-and-formation/special-education.