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Father’s Day Special For Local Teen Dad Attending School at Travis Technical Center

Father’s Day Special For Local Teen Dad Attending School at Travis Technical Center

by James Coulter

Like any other teenage pregnancy, when 17-year-old Dylan Sox and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Zoie Andree, learned that they were expecting, their world was turned upside down.

Neither of them knew what they would do with their lives with a new life on the way, let alone how they would tell their parents.

However, with the help of their families, along with the Traviss Teen Parent Program and the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County, these two teenage parents were able to balance their new family life with work and school.

One year later, both are enrolled through the Travis Technical Center, where they are both receiving their education with the hopes of pursuing careers that will allow them to provide for their one-year-old daughter, Evealynn.

“There have been challenges,” Sox said. “There is a lot of growing up I had to do. I had to start working more hours at work to make enough money to provide and make sure we have enough for our new daughter.”

Currently in the 12th grade, Sox is studying in the medical program with hopes of obtaining his CNA certification and plans to become employed in the Polk County Fire and Rescue Program following graduation.

When not at school or work, he is spending quality family time with his infant daughter and his girlfriend, soon to be fiancée. They occasionally go on family outings once or twice a week, and he will assist his girlfriend so she can do what she needs.

He owes his success thus far to the Polk Schools Teen Parent Program, which have assisted him and his girlfriend through their new chapter of life together. Without its assistance, neither of them would be able to accomplish as much as they have through work, school, or family.

“The Polk Schools Teen Parent Program has been really good to us,” Sox said. “They have helped with a lot of the daycare workers. They are on top of everything, making sure we have what we need.”

Zoie Andree, meanwhile, is currently is the 11th grade. She is also studying within the medical program to become an ultrasound technician. She plans on obtaining her certifications in CNA, EKG, and phlebotomy. When not at school, she works three times a week to help support her family.

“I think it is certainly a lot of work but I love being a mom,” she said. “Just watching her grow up and thinking that I created that, that has been awesome.”

When she first had her baby, school work proved to be a real chore. However, through the assistance of the Polk Schools Teen Parent Program, she has been able to stay on top of her schooling and work as well as provide for her family.

“One of the biggest challenges is when he is at work and I have to do this alone, but I overcome it,” she said. “I had a lot of help with childcare. I am lucky with that. School has been great this year. But it was a challenge to get my grades up when I had her and I was out for many weeks. It was not my best year, but childcare really helped me out.”

For the past 30 years, the Polk Schools Teen Parent Program has assisted teenage parents dealing with unexpected pregnancies, allowing them to balance their school and new family lives as to pursue their education and career.

LaTonnja Key, Director of the Teen Care Program and Child Services, has been in her position for 15 years. When she first started, there were two locations, now there are five.

Key remains impressed by Sox and his commitment to his new family, education, and career. When most teenage fathers abandon their families and new responsibility, Sox has proven himself to be the upmost responsible and reliable.

For Valentines’ Day, Key often buys flowers and carnations for mothers in the program. However, when she forgot, Sox took initiative to buy the flowers and carnations himself.

“It takes more than one person to make a baby, but usually the young lady end up raising their baby on their own. So Dylan is coming with his mother of his child,” Key said. “I think Dylan sets the bar high for other fathers. If they can see how important it is for them to be involved in their child’s life, they can see that they will change the future if they are involved.”

Marc Hutek, Ed. D, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County commended Sox for his maturity in recognizing the importance of his role as a father. The Coalition provides coaching and support to the child care staff at the Traviss Teen Parent Program’s childcare canter where baby Evealynn is enrolled.

“Dylan’s commitment to his paternal responsibility is a huge undertaking for a teenager today, said Hutek.” Studies have shown that children who grow up with involved fathers are twice as likely to attend college and find stable employment after high school. They are also 75% less likely to have a teen birth themselves! I admire the role Dylan has taken as a father and look forward to having him reap the rewards as Evealynn is currently growing through her most influential years!”

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