Teacher becomes parent to student being shuffled through foster care

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Boca Ciega High School Senior Robert Hurley has gotten into a lot of colleges. First, it was the University of Florida, then Penn State and Duke, and then came the Ivy Leagues; Stanford and Yale.

Hurley has always loved learning. He says it comes easy. But life hasn't always been easy.

"My mom was a drug dealer," Hurley said. "My dad was only around until I was 6 years old and he was a drug addict."

The teen was raised in a neighborhood riddled with drugs and crime.

"People would come into the house and constantly be in my mom's room, and then leave," he said. "There were just lots of different people coming in and out."

He was 9 when he was taken from his mother and stayed in several foster homes. He lived in a group home until his sophomore year. That's when the Florida Department of Children and Families said he exceeded the amount of time he could stay. Its policy was one year in a group home. Hurley had already exceeded that.

His math teacher, Amy Krusemark says she remembers the day she got an e-mail about Hurley's situation.

"I got an e-mail from an administrator, and in the e-mail, they were asking if I could say something special on behalf of Robert," Krusemark said. "I learned that he was going to be in the court systems, and they were thinking about moving him out of the county, or maybe even out of the state, and he was looking for a teacher that could speak on his behalf."

Krusemark says when she realized Hurley was living the last two years in a nearby group home, she felt compelled to ask more questions.

"I let him know that I had a foster care background, and I let him know, 'If you're interested, I can talk to my family,'" she said.

The rest, as they say, is history. Hurley became part of the Krusemark family.

"It seems like just yesterday, but he's been with us the last almost three years of high school," she said.

Hurley says he feels like a normal kid in a normal family.

"If anything, it's better than normal," he said. "They've taken me to plenty of different places like Costa Rica, and I went to the northeast to visit all of these colleges.

Right now, Hurley has it narrowed down to two universities. He says his foster family's support has made all the difference.

"I don't think I could have even gotten into these universities without their help," he said.

Krusemark says that goes both ways.

"He has a way of bonding, not just with me and my family, but with his teachers. So they definitely are going to miss him when he leaves," she said.

Hurley recently visited Yale, and he's traveling out west to see Stanford next week. He says he wants to study chemistry.