JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dr. Elmer Gregory is the principal at Tempette Learning Academy. The inner city school is made up of about 90 students who are troubled.
"It breaks your heart to see that not their families but society has said 'this is your last chance,'" said Gregory. "That they are castaways or that there's nothing good that can come from them."
Gregory said the majority of his students are from this crime-riddled and poverty strict neighborhood in Northwest Jacksonville, students who in most cases have to raise themselves.
"I believe that if you can reach their hearts you get them to trust you. And if you can get them to trust you then you can reach their minds," said Gregory.
Dr. Gregory knows he was once like them. At age 13, he was out on his own and forced to figure things out as a teen.
"Things that have come in my life has prepared me just for this moment."
That is why this principal, with seven degrees, refuses to write any of these students off.
"When they are brought into an environment where they are loved and cuddled and cared for and shown love that is real love. Not love that changes when adversity comes, but is there no matter what, they seem to respond," said Gregory.
But he admits, getting these kids to trust him is most times difficult.
"There are plenty of heart aches. There are many of days when I've had to leave out of chapel after heartfelt talks with them or having to chase them on the floor, and come back in this office here and cry," Gregory said.
But he doesn't allow challenges to take his focus off the master plan.
"The goal is to reach one of these children every day."
Dr. Elmer Gregory is our Hero Next Door
"It's a joy to me just to come and be a part of their lives and be an answer to the problems they find themselves in," he said.