Teacher Takes on Motherly Role to Get Student to College

Six seniors at D.W. Carter High School receive $250,000 full scholarships to TCU

Charity Mason spent her junior year at D.W. Carter High School doing homework, preparing college applications, and taking care of her cancer-stricken adoptive mother.

Two days before Mason's 18th birthday her mother died, leaving the teen with the prospect of leaving Dallas and her friends at school to move in with family in Houston.

That was until her favorite teacher, Lara Cardinale, stepped in and offered Mason the chance to live with her.

"I was just trying to be helpful as much as I could because she deserved it," said Cardinale.

For the last four months Mason has been living with Cardinale and her two young children while she finishes school. The bond between the pair has helped propel Mason to a full academic scholarship to Texas Christian University.

"She's done something that I don't think a lot of people would do, or even want to take the risk of doing," Mason said, after receiving her scholarship in a surprise announcement Thursday.

Moving in with a new family was quite an adjustment for the teenager, but Mason said she sees a lot of her adoptive mother in Cardinale.

"She kind of stayed on me like she was my mama. All the time, 'You need to get these essays done. You need to get this scholarship done,'" Mason said.

As she fought back tears Cardinale beamed with pride over Mason's achievement Thursday.

"She's my child," Cardinale said. "She's added so much to our home. My kids call her 'sister,' she calls my mom 'grandma,' and my dad 'paw paw'. She's just become a part of our family and it's been a blessing."

Mason plans to study social work at TCU. She said her mother is looking down on her with pride, while Cardinale, her new "mom," keeps her on a path to success.

"All I can say to (Cardinale) is thank you. A lot of us see her as our favorite teacher, and now I see her as my mom," Mason said.

Mason was one of six seniors from Carter to receive a $250,000 full scholarship to TCU.

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