Meet Savio Stuart

My name is Savio Stuart. I graduated from Freire Charter School as a part of the school’s first graduating class of 2019. I was a four-sport student athlete, member of student council and the National Honor Society. I was also a student ambassador and student representative for the school. I was always advocating for the student body and wanting the best for my peers. Freire made this easy for me. With student voice and family being parts of the school’s core values, students understood that their voice matters and once they speak out on something—change will come. So I used my platform as a student ambassador and spoke out for kids.

Mental health affects us every single day. In low-income areas especially, like the one where my high school was located, the need for mental health supports are at an all-time high.

It’s sometimes frowned upon in low-income communities to seek help or support. When kids hold everything in to themselves, they can become distant. Adding the burden of excelling in school can make life feel extremely overwhelming.

This may look different for every student. I had friends who were coming to school every day from homes with no lights, drug addict parents and battling memories of the heinous acts committed on them as toddlers. A few of them acted out in school and allowed their grades to slip while others were able to put their pain on the backburner and prioritize excelling academically.

Our school needed professional mental health supports. So, around my sophomore year I began getting advocating to my co-heads of school. Finally by our senior year, we had access to free, qualified, and efficient emotional support counselors right in the school. This was a pivotal moment for Freire’s students because now, for the first time, they had a consistent outlet. They had a safe space to release and express their emotions. This improved students’ behaviors and academic success.  You can only be your best on the outside if you’re feeling your best on the inside. Students took advantage of the counselors provided.

Because of my passion to make change and be an advocate for those around me and my community, I will be attending the University of Delaware this fall and major in political science. My goal is to one day use a bigger platform and network to create change in my community.


This summer, Rodel hosted a visit from the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The Mandela Washington Fellowship started in 2014, and is the base program of the Young African Leaders Initiative that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. The fellowship recognizes young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of 25 and 35 and provides them with the opportunity to sharpen their skills at a U.S university with support for professional development after they return home. Within the group were lawyers, teachers, community leaders, and people from numerous African nonprofit groups.

The Rodel team shared information about the U.S. and Delaware education systems, and showed examples of Rodel’s work in such areas as career pathways and updating the education funding system.

I participated as a Rodel intern and helped share my experience as a Delaware student.

The Mandela Fellows were curious about and wanted to learn more about a number of topics, including:

  • Civics education
  • Gender equality within the education system
  • Funding and policies to support STEM subjects
  • Early childhood education
  • Helping students who fall behind in school
  • Preventing dropouts
  • Homelessness
  • Funding for nonprofits and public institutions

Two topics stood out where there were interesting similarities and differences between Mandela Fellows’ home countries and Delaware:

  1. School governance and equal access to education: Many shared that in their countries, many disadvantaged students lack access to quality education. In Guyana, one fellow mentioned, all of the good private schools are clustered in one geographical area. Others described tension between private and public education in their home countries. Rodel shared that in Delaware, equitable access to opportunities is still a challenge. The fellows were fascinated by the fact that our education system is designed for every students to have guaranteed access to public education as well as a multitude of different options such as traditional district schools, charter schools, and vo-tech schools. I shared my experiences from Freire Charter School and a little about why I chose to attend.  I liked that Freire was designed solely to prepare students for college. Freire also valued safety, creating a nonviolent environment that made it safe for students to learn without worrying about fights or other altercations. School leaders also gave us opportunities to affect change in our school and get involved with how it runs.
  2. College and career pathways: Many of the Mandela Fellows told stories about challenges connecting education to career and business. For instance, one shared how students are graduating from colleges but are still not prepared to be successful in the work field. They are not equipped with the necessities businesses are looking for. In result, some of these students are left behind in streets jobless after completing 25 years in school. The group was excited to hear about Delaware’s career pathways efforts, where students can get experience in high-needs fields prior to their college experience and decide on the right fit for them. I also shared that in my experience, Freire equipped me with all the tools I needed to take on college. I was offered dual enrollment college-level classes, AP courses, visits from college reps, biweekly college counselor meetings, college tours, life skills and public speaking training, and other ways to get prepared for the world after high school. The group was excited to hear about the success Freire had with their college acceptance rate among seniors and the systems that were implemented such as student voice and nonviolence.

Overall, I learned about the education system and some of the challenges that students are facing in Africa. At the same time, I was very pleased to see such a passionate group of young adults who are devoted to fixing those same challenges