podcastED: Florida scholarship mom delighted with end to waitlist for children with unique abilities

Rachel Hayon Sabbah, at the lectern, was among advocates who spoke in favor of HB1 in March, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, far right, signed the historic legislation into law.

On this episode, reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie talks with Rachel Hayon Sabbah, a nurse and mother of four daughters, including two who receive the Florida Family Empowerment Scholarship for students with Unique Abilities. Her eldest daughter, Elisheva, 8, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and younger daughter Ahavah, 4, has experienced speech delays.

Hayon Sabbah, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, spoke at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of HB 1, which expanded scholarship eligibility to all Florida students and converted all traditional scholarships to education savings accounts. The legislation also allowed the Family Empowerment Scholarship for students with Unique Abilities to expand its annual growth rate from 1% to 3% of the state’s total exceptional student education population, excluding gifted students, to eliminate the need for waitlists.


Rachel Hayon Sabbah and three of her four daughters

Ahavah, who was on the waitlist, recently was awarded a scholarship and will start voluntary pre-kindergarten next year.

“(The scholarship program) has been really, really helpful in terms of just allowing us at this time to pay for private school tuition. Both of our girls are in Jewish private schools here in South Florida, and it’s made it a much easier decision to homeschool our daughter next year because the funding can be used toward educational expenses.”

Episode Details:

  • How Elisheva’s diagnosis makes it difficult for her to learn in traditional school
  • How the family had been sacrificing to afford private school before receiving the scholarship
  • How Teach Florida has raised awareness about the scholarship programs and helped Hayon Sabbah apply
  • How the scholarship and its education savings account will allow Elisheva to be homeschooled next year
  • How Sayon Sabbah will use some of Ahavah’s funds to provide speech therapy

Relevant Links:

Teach Florida

Florida Department of Education Family Empowerment Scholarships for students with Unique Abilities FAQ

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ADHD page

Avatar photo

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.