podcastED: Florida mom expresses gratitude for state scholarship expansion to students in military families

On this episode, reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie talks with Tina Riffe, whose daughter, Vivian, 15, attends Grace Christian School in the Tampa Bay area on a Family Empowerment Scholarship for Education Options.

Riffe’s father served in the U.S. Navy. Her husband, Danny, a first-class petty officer, joined the Navy in response to the events of 9/11 and has been stationed overseas at times. She discusses on the podcast how attendance at a private, faith-based school has helped Vivian and also is benefiting her 5-year-old daughter, Hannah, as the family copes with the challenges of military life.

“We wanted something where our girls could be raised in a Christian environment at school and at home … When we found out we were moving … we wanted a place where our daughter could feel safe and that had programs she was interested in … The scholarship program allows me to cut back a little on my hours. It has made it less stressful.”


  • Riffe’s experience as a military child and the important role school played in her life
  • How Riffe’s husband’s decision to join the Navy affected the family
  • How Riffe found the ideal school for her children when the family was stationed in Florida
  • How Florida’s new law granting education choice scholarship eligibility to military families has changed her life
  • Praise for the program’s design that makes it easier for military families to apply regardless of when they move to a new area
  • How the Purple Star campus program will benefit military families

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BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for NextSteps. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.