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Partners in Success: Bridgeway Academy and Mainstay Academics Student Ellis Abu Defies the Odds

by David Engle | Jun 14, 2022 | 5 min read

Sometimes there are partnerships and teams that just…work, that click instantly. That was the case when Bridgeway Academy and Mainstay Academics recently joined forces to become an academic powerhouse in home education. And this partnership was instrumental in the inspiring success story of senior Ellis Abu. But before we get to know Ellis, let’s learn more about our new partner, Mainstay Academics.

Mainstay Academics, based in San Diego, provides tailored learning solutions and academic consulting services to students through coaching and tutoring. Just as importantly, Mainstay seeks to help families and students better understand the multitude of educational options available to them and guide them toward the platform that best suits their academic needs. With this in mind, Mainstay Academics determined Bridgeway Academy to be an ideal partner who could provide not only an award-winning curriculum but also a wide range of homeschooling options for families to consider. And that’s how our partnership with Mainstay was born.

Ellis’ Academic Journey

Now, back to Ellis. The fact that he just graduated from Bridgeway Academy is nothing short of inspirational considering his background and prior experiences. Ellis had been struggling with his academics throughout middle and high school, and although he was viewed as a junior at his local public high school, he didn’t have enough credits to be considered a true junior. Put another way, he was not on a path to graduate high school with his peers.

Struggling to stay motivated and on top of his assigned homework, Ellis was simply overwhelmed. He recalled feeling defeated every time he fell behind and also alone as he tried to understand and catch up. Eventually, Ellis decided that graduating from high school wasn’t possible and had given up on education–and on himself, to a degree.

Ellis’ mom recalled hearing about Mainstay Academics through a neighbor who suggested she contact Mainstay and, encouraged that this may be his chance to catch up and graduate on time, Ellis’s mom reached out to Mainstay. When his mom asked him how this plan sounded, he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic, but he was cautiously optimistic. “Well, I wanted to graduate, it wouldn’t hurt to graduate,” Ellis recalled. “So, I said yes.”

So Ellis began working with Mainstay Academics and realized immediately how much different this experience was from prior educational experiences. “Mainstay coaches gave me a lot of attention, so I was able to finish everything,” Ellis explained. “If I didn’t understand something, they would explain it to me. We studied everything a lot before taking tests so that I would know my stuff and wouldn’t fail.”

Becoming a Bridgeway Academy Student…with Plenty of Ground to Make Up

Mainstay coaches had engaged his curiosity to help him succeed. Ellis obviously wanted to get an education and graduate, so Mainstay Academics guided Ellis and his family to Bridgeway Academy to give him the most flexibility and support. Bridgeway Academy provided all of Ellis’s curriculum, kept track of his credits and grades, and provided an accredited diploma that opens the world up to whatever Ellis wants to pursue post-graduation.

What makes Ellis’ story so impressive though is the steep challenge he faced In order to graduate with his peers. With only 18 months until his class graduated, Ellis was still looking at three years’ worth of school requirements to satisfy. Most kids would’ve simply packed it in and given up. Instead of feeling defeated, however, Ellis decided to rise to the challenge.

“The coaches spaced everything out perfectly to make sure that I wasn’t overwhelmed with work. Even still, sometimes I was overwhelmed because my goal was to graduate on time,” Ellis said. ‘But it was all for a reason. All the hard days, all the four-hour work sessions…they paid off because I’m graduating at the same time as all of my friends.”

Making Sacrifices for the Sake of Education

It wasn’t without sacrifice, however. Ellis had to make some difficult decisions in order to reach his goal. He gave up some of his social time, a huge ask of any teenager. Instead of hanging out with his friends, he met with coaches and studied. When he could have been working with his grandpa, he cut his hours to focus on writing book reports. He had to cut back on some of his favorite activities because he chose to put more time into the work necessary for graduation.

Ellis acknowledged the financial sacrifice, too. But he thinks it was worth it. “It doesn’t feel like I won a million dollars,” said Ellis, laughing. “But I’m happy that I’m on track, I’m on the same pace as all my friends are…I’m only 18 years old, I can’t fall behind this young! My life is just getting started!”

A Team Effort

Ellis credits his coaches at Mainstay Academics as being instrumental in his success. Although Ellis enjoyed working with several coaches in different subjects, he particularly loved working with his science coach, Mr. Chewning, and felt they created a great bond. He also mentioned his experiences with Corinna Goold and Jessica Lemoine, coaches as well as owners of Mainstay. “Corinna never gave up even when I was stressing out,” Ellis explained. “She would let me relax a little bit and talk through things, then get back to work. She made sure that I wasn’t behind in any of my subjects and if I was ever stuck on a question or not able to do the homework, she would never get mad.

“If I didn’t know how to do something, she would teach me how to work through it. And Jessica is the only reason why I understand math. I’ve never passed a math class in my life…she sat there with me through it all. She would keep repeating it and explaining it in different ways until I understood. Because of her, I passed three math courses!”

According to Ellis, Mainstay Academics and Bridgeway Academy were the reasons why he was able to achieve a full high school education. By using their partnership program, Ellis actually understood what he was learning instead of just sitting mindlessly in a classroom with a bunch of other students, not comprehending what everyone else was learning. Ellis found the classroom setting distracting, and he couldn’t concentrate when surrounded by his friends. Using Bridgeway Academy and Mainstay meant that he could work at the time best for him, in the way that worked best for him, and at the pace that worked best for him.

Now that Ellis is a high school graduate, he is looking forward to taking a gap year and working hard with his grandfather in his wholesale electronics business before determining his next steps. Before working with Mainstay and Bridgeway Academy, he never gave higher education a thought. Now he knows he can accomplish whatever he puts his mind to, and his family at Mainstay Academics and Bridgeway Academy can’t wait to watch him continue to grow and do great things!

Founded in 2020 by Corinna Goold, Jessica Lemoine, and Corinna’s husband Billy, Mainstay Academics uses a team of academic coaches who are fully invested in helping students find academic success regardless of their situation. To learn more, visit

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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