06 Aug

Community Celebrates the Opening of New High School in West Seattle

Nearly 100 families, students and community leaders from West Seattle, White Center and surrounding communities joined Summit Public Schools in officially opening their new school building, Summit Atlas High School.

At the event, students and families from the community helped cut the ceremonial ribbon then toured the new school building and classrooms. They also listened to the Summit Atlas Directors, Katie Bubalo and Andrea Klein, talk about the school’s values and commitment to the community.

“We are very excited to welcome our high school students and community into their new building,” said Katie Bubalo. “The design of the building enhances teaching and learning and will be a space that will always have open doors and encourage collaboration with our families, neighbors and community.”

Summit Atlas opened last year to a founding class of 6th and 9th graders. This year, the school will add 7th and 10th graders, and over the next four years, the school will grow to serve grades 6 through 12. The first day of school for new students is Monday, August 20, and for all students, Tuesday, August 21.

Summit Atlas is the second Seattle location for Summit Public Schools and its third in the Puget Sound region. Summit Sierra, Summit’s first Seattle school in the Chinatown-International District, and Summit Olympus in Tacoma will serve grades 9 through 12 in the 2018-19 school year. All Summit schools are tuition-free and open to all students.

Summit Public Schools prepares a diverse population of students for success in college or university by ensuring high-quality teaching meets each student’s individual needs. The Summit model includes collaborative project time, personalized learning time, elective courses to explore their passions, and one-on-one mentor time for all students.

Summit Atlas is currently accepting students for the 2018-2019 school. Learn more at here.

11 Jul

Students Visiting their Futures in College

When you were in high school choosing a college may have seemed a long way off, but making this big decision can sneak up fast if a student is not prepared with the right information and experiences to draw from. Although looking at brochures, social media accounts, and photos can tell you a lot about a college, nothing beats a campus visit.

Historically, 99 percent of Summit Public School graduates are accepted into college, and Summit Public Schools graduates complete college at double the national average. Part of setting up our students for success is giving them a complete picture of what college is like, which includes an overnight visit to a variety of schools to give students the full experience.

“Our goal is to expose students to a variety of schools that they could be a good fit for as well as future career opportunities,” said Denice Randle, Assistant Director of Summit Sierra High School in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. “Visiting a college helps students think about their goals and what they need to do between now and graduation to help them get in their dream school.”

This year, Summit Sierra freshmen went on their first college visits at Portland State University and Highline College. These two institutions were chosen to show the students the different types of institutions they can attend, whether that’s a two-year or a four-year college or in state or out of state. While the freshmen were visiting an out-of-state college, Sierra sophomores stayed in state and visited UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, St. Martins University, and the Evergreen State College. At Evergreen State College, students saw a great example of a college that offers more flexibility than most schools, where students can design their own degree and major. Many students liked this model, as it is similar to Summit’s personalized learning model.

Sierra juniors traveled across the state for their overnight college visits to Whitworth University, Washington State University, and Gonzaga. A college visit across the state is not accessible to all students, that’s why the faculty wanted to give them this opportunity. The students asked great questions to the professors and student advisors about the programs and culture of each school and supports for students of color. The overnight trip also gave students the time to visit and bond with their mentors.

Now that Sierra students have a clearer picture of what different colleges offer, students and families can talk to people that went to a college that the student wants to go to, go on a college visit together, take advantage of office hours and research scholarships and financial aid opportunities, or attend a college night.

If you’d like to learn more about how Summit can prepare your child for success in college, attend an open house or schedule a tour. Summit Sierra, Summit Atlas, and Summit Olympus are all enrolling students for this school year.


27 Jun

Students connect with each other and give back to the Tacoma community

Developing community leaders can take many different forms. At Summit Olympus High School in Tacoma, students learn leadership skills like public speaking and teamwork and also have the opportunity to learn leadership skills through a strong tradition of volunteerism.

Madeline Diaz is one of the first people you see when you walk through the doors at Summit Olympus High School. Ms. Diaz joined the Summit Olympus faculty recently as the office assistant after serving 22 years in the U.S. Army as a healthcare specialist, where she was last stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord. One of the things she enjoyed most while serving in the military was volunteering at Nourish Pierce County, a South Sound food bank. She brought an idea of a food drive to help Nourish Pierce County to a group of active Olympus students.

“There are students and families in the Tacoma community that rely on food banks,” said Ms. Diaz. “We all have different experiences and sometimes there are people in our community that need help. The students are learning that they can do a lot to help their fellow students and families.”

With Ms. Diaz’s support, four student volunteers placed posters and bins around the school and spread the word to their classmates and the school community. They tracked the amount of donations and coordinated messages to families. These students were also responsible for delivering the donations to Nourish Pierce County. Along with learning teamwork and organizational skills, the food drive also gave students the opportunity to get to know each other and strengthen their bonds as peers.

After just two weeks, the students collected more than 80 non-perishable food items to donate to Nourish Pierce County. They are really excited about the results and plan to make it a bi-yearly event with two drives per school year.

“It was really exciting to see the school rally around to support a common goal, giving back,” exclaimed Ms. Diaz. “I’m excited that I can use the skills I learned in the army to help students and the community. We can all come together and help take care of each other and help Tacoma’s students accomplish their goals.”

Do you want to learn more about how our students connect with the Tacoma community? Schedule a school visit or learn more about Summit Olympus today!

Have you ever been involved with a food drive? Tell us below!

20 Jun

Thank you for a great year!

Dear Summit Washington Community,

As we wrap up another milestone filled year at Summit Olympus in Tacoma and Summit Atlas and Sierra in Seattle, we’re already preparing for an exciting 2018-2019 school year where our schools will:

•  Sierra and Olympus will grow to full 9th – 12th grade high schools! This means we will have our first graduating classes at  Olympus and Sierra in 2019. With dedicated faculty, families and students, we are on our way to seeing nearly 100 percent of students being accepted to college.

•  Summit Atlas will add more grades and families, growing to a 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th grade middle and high school.

•  Welcome new faculty members to our growing school communities.

We also wanted to take this time to reflect on this year and want to express our gratitude to you – our families, faculty and surrounding communities – for all you have done to help prepare our students for success in college and life, as well as becoming contributing members of our community.

The center of Summit Public Schools’ work every day is our amazing students. They have grown so much this past year and have shown compassion and empathy to the communities our schools serve and their fellow students. They have given blood to help save lives, volunteered at food banks, and advocated for volunteering at community organizations. We have also seen our students grow academically as they take steps closer to being 100% college-ready by graduation day. Students have also helped tell the story of Summit’s schools and the challenges students overcome every day. They inspire us daily to be better educators and community members.

Supporting our students on the pathway to success are Summit’s families. They volunteer at our schools, help make our annual camping trips a success, and encourage students every step of the way.

The backbone of our students’ success and school culture is our faculty. They work hard to make sure every student has a personalized education to help them achieve their academic goals. Our ability to serve more students and families and provide them with a high quality education is because of their hard work.

It has been a honor to be a part of the Seattle and Tacoma communities. Thank you for continuing to welcome us with open arms and trust us with educating their children. We look forward to continuing this exciting journey as we build thriving school communities.

Have a wonderful summer!

Have any exciting summer plans? Tell us below!

11 Jun

My name is Jalen Johnson. I’m a junior at Summit Sierra

This originally appeared on the Washington Charter Schools Association Blog

Let’s flash back to 8th grade. I was a quiet and anxious kid, feeling defined and constrained by my diagnoses of Autism and ADHD. I was a B/B- student, and not hopeful about my prospects for college – and I know that a lot of kids who look like me, kids who have the challenges I have, too often don’t make it.

As a Black student in the public education system, historically and systemically, the odds are not in my favor. Then I found Summit Sierra – and high school has been exponentially better than I imagined it could ever be for me. Today, I have a 3.9 GPA, and I am thriving in my school community.

My courses are challenging, but what keeps me going is the nonstop support I receive from teachers like my mentor Mr.Sobiek, who on the very first week of school made a trip to each of his mentees homes, just to meet us, and learn how to best support us.

My teachers here are so committed, selfless, and passionate about my success. When I ask my Math teacher Ms. Temes a question on polynomial division I am dumbfounded at how any one person can be so enthusiastic about math! And my English teacher – Ms. Visperas – every morning and every afternoon, she dedicates time to help me prep for my AP exam.

Today, college is well within my reach. To say that Sierra has transformed me is no exaggeration. This time next year, I’ll know where I am going to college! My top choice is UC Berkeley. I think I’d like to study urban planning. College will be challenging but I’m not scared – Sierra has taught me to have grit and persevere.

I see myself and other students of color thriving at Summit. This is how every school should be – our success should be the norm, not the exception. I don’t know how things would have played out for me had I not found Sierra, but what I do know is that it has forever changed me, and I know that I’m worth it.

Because of Sierra, the unsure kid I once was has been replaced with a confident and comfortable young man. WE ALL deserve an equal opportunity to a great public education. And for me and so many kids like me, charter public schools provide exactly that – an opportunity to succeed.

The testimony above was originally shared by Jalen on May 17th, 2018, at a press conference in Olympia.

22 May

Award Winning Sierra Students Share Their Story, Amplify their Voice

Two Summit Sierra High School students received first and second place in the We.App’s Rising Voices Oratory Competition. Congratulations to Oscar Cortes, an 11th grader, who finished first and N’dalo Mawamba, a 10th grader, who finished second. Along with Oscar and N’dalo, 10th grader Torin Petke also participated in the event. Watch Oscar’s and N’dalo’s award winning performances below!

Summit Sierra High School students participate in expedition courses that are taught by experts in their field and community organizations that have a long standing commitment to the community and young people. Expeditions also give students the opportunity to engage with organizations in our community.

One of the groups the school works with helps students learn and succeed in a skill most fear – public speaking. Established in 2012, We.App stands for we act, present and perform and provides public speaking and performance art courses, teaching youth the art of authentic communication by giving them a voice to impact the world.

Throughout the academic year, Sierra students gained skills such as critical thinking, improvisation and presentation and projection to help them write and perform a speech. Every day of their courses  filled with rewriting and rehearsing their speech and thinking about their own voice and how they want to communicate their message.

The students participated in an oratory competition with students from other Seattle schools. This was Oscar’s second year participating in the competition and was one of the students featured in this KUOW story last year.

Congratulations to Oscar, N’dalo, and Torin on sharing your voice and story with the community!

15 May

Student-led club gives back, help save lives

Students can find which causes they are passionate about through many different avenues. Some find it in the classroom, while others discover their passions during an internship. At our schools, our faculty give students the freedom to pursue their interests with student-led clubs.

During National Volunteer Week, one of the student-led clubs at Summit Sierra in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District organized nearly 40 students and teachers to roll up their sleeves at the second annual Summit Sierra High School Blood Drive. The amount of blood donated by the Summit Sierra community is enough to save approximately 60 lives!

“The blood drive is a way for Sierra students to get active in causes we care about and have a positive impact in the community and our school,” said Jibrel Isse, a 9th grader.

The blood drive was organized by the school’s Activism Club, a student-led service group, to benefit Bloodworks Northwest, a non-profit organization harnessing donor gifts to provide a safe, lifesaving blood supply to more than 90 northwest hospitals.

Student organizers say the Activism Club’s goal is to create opportunities for students to get involved in their community and make a change. The club is brainstorming ideas for future community service activities in the coming months.

“I’m so impressed by the compassion and hard work of the students,” said Ms. Crystal Visperas, an 11th grade AP Language teacher. “Organizing the blood drive takes time, but they happily do it because they know what a difference in makes and how much it helps others in the community,”

The activism club did everything from outreach, to coordinating with Bloodworks Northwest, to scheduling and checking in students at the blood drive – transferable skills that the students will benefit from in college and career.

“The students did a great job organizing the blood drive,” said Cecily Nagel, donor resources representative at Bloodworks Northwest. “This is the second blood drive we’ve worked with these students on and I always come away impressed with their spirit of giving back.”

Summit Sierra students are also learning how they can be contributing members of their community. Other Summit students have organized a food drive for a community food bank and won an award for their volunteer service in Tacoma. These activities are not only building relationships in school between students and faculty, but also building bonds with the neighborhoods and community members our schools serve.

Do you want to learn more about how we connect the communities we serve with our students and faculty? Schedule a school visit or learn more about Summit Sierra, Summit Atlas, and Summit Olympus today.

09 May

Writing an essay in Mr. Leon’s class

Do you remember writing a book report in high school? Do you remember sitting at your desk at home after school, turning the essay into your teacher and getting a grade back with a few notes written in the margins?

In Jacob Leon’s, class things are different. Students are engaged from the start, get feedback along the way, go at their own pace and are in charge of their own learning.

Mr. Leon is a founding teacher and student mentor at Summit Olympus High School in Tacoma, WA where he teaches Advanced Placement (AP) English. At Summit Olympus High School every student takes at least six AP courses and one AP exam before graduation. Jacob’s students wrote a literary analysis about the theme and the plot of the book the Great Gatsby.

Each day the class read a chapter and discussed a chapter in the book. Once the students finished the book, they wrote their first draft of their essay. Like most first drafts, it gets revised with feedback and one-on-one help. Jacob meets with each student to review their essay and make it stronger by citing evidence from the book to backup their writing and show they understand the book.

“I want my students to be good writers, but also know good writing when they see it,” Mr. Leon, a Tacoma native said. “It’s important that they are always growing so they are set up for success when they go onto the next grade.”

After the first meeting, the student takes a few days to revise their first draft in class and tighten the structure and organization of their essay. During this time, students work independently and at their own pace. Mr. Leon checks in with each student during the class on their progress and help each student one-on-one. Students are encouraged to ask for help when they need it. Teaching students to advocate for themselves will help them succeed in college when there aren’t teachers there to check in on them on a regular basis.

Students are also encouraged to collaborate with other students to improve their writing. While meeting deadlines is encouraged, Jacob knows that some students will need a extra help along the way to master concepts. In Jacob’s class the focus of the grade is learning the content and the skills, not meeting an arbitrary deadline.

“Time management is important, but student growth and mastering concepts is one of the most important things students can learn,” Jacob said. “What they learn in my class doesn’t stop at my classroom door – it’s reinforced in their other classes at Olympus.”

Want to see great teaching and a tight knit student community in action? Schedule a visit to Summit Olympus today. Learn more, schedule a tour, or enroll your child here.

What’s your favorite book and what lesson did you learn from its theme? Tell us your story in the comments.

08 May

Thank you to our teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Summit Public Schools wants to express how thankful we are and how much respect we have for the work teachers do every day in the classroom to help students succeed in school, college, and life.

If you visit any classroom at Summit Sierra, Summit Atlas, or Summit Olympus, you will see teachers:

•  Engaging and challenging students to reach their goals and do their very best.

•  Mentoring and supporting students through good and challenging times.

•  Introducing students to new activities and ideas that help them find their passions and causes they care deeply about.

Every day, teachers are working hard to meet each student where they are to personalize their instruction and meet the needs of every child in their classroom. Teachers also make sure every student knows that they are known and cared for. Our teachers are truly making a difference in students’ lives and futures.

At Summit, our teachers are also teaching students what it means to be a contributing member of their community. Whether it’s volunteering at the White Center Food Bank, organizing a blood drive or volunteering at a nonprofit, these experiences show students the positive impact they can have on their own communities.

As our schools grow, we will be welcoming more amazing teachers to the Summit family. The growth and success of our schools is made possible because by the dedication of our teachers to serve our students and families everyday. Thank you for all you do for our students, families, and the communities we serve.

10 Apr

How Students and Mentors are Building Trust at Atlas

When you were growing up did you have a friend or group of friends that were by your side throughout your middle and high school years?

At Summit Public Schools not only does every student have a mentor that stays with them throughout their time at school, but every student has a mentor group that sticks together. At Atlas these mentor groups are called pods, just like the family groups that Orca whales swim in.

“Each pod group has each other’s back,” said Nick Woodruff a history teacher and pod leader at Summit Atlas. “It’s a really cool, tight bond they have. They are a support system and also hold each other accountable.”

Mentor groups are one of the many reasons Dawn Clafin chose Summit Atlas for her son. She liked the idea that he would have a mentor and a group of students that would stick together throughout his time at Summit. Dawn added that it was encouraging for her to send her son to a new school with new students knowing someone was looking out for her child’s social and emotional wellbeing and growth.

Tahlia Calderon, a 6th grader, likes how her mentor group is a safe place where the group of students can share their feelings and challenges and won’t be judged and that they will listen to each other.

At least once a week each pod has circle. Circle is a time where the students, in their pod groups can talk about their week, what’s going on in their life and what’s coming up.

“What I like about circle is you feel you have a connection with everyone in my pod that’s unbreakable,” said Khalid Hussein, a 9th grader at Summit Atlas.

Abdirahman Mukhtar, a 6th grader at Atlas, has circle every Friday with his pod. During circle his pod uses the time to get to know each other better and check in on what’s going on in their lives.

“It feels good because everybody wants to know how you’re doing,” Abdirahman said. “If you’re doing bad then everybody is going to try to help you and feel better.”

Positive adult mentors and a close knit student community have great benefits for student development. When students feel connected and feel like they can trust their school faculty and friends they have a support system that can help them succeed in school and life.

Want to see mentorship and a tight knit student community in action? Schedule a visit to Summit Atlas today. Summit Atlas is enrolling 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th graders for the next school year. Learn more, schedule a tour, or enroll your child here.

Did you have a group of friends or a mentor that helped you on your pathway? Share your story in the comments.