09 Mar

A Window into Atlas

By Katie Bubalo, Executive Director at Summit Atlas

Last month, we welcomed the West Seattle, White Center, and surrounding communities into Summit Atlas’ new home at the corner of 35th and Roxbury. Although the renovation and construction is just underway, our future home already has the feeling of community, promise and educational opportunity.

Home is not so much a place or a fancy building, but all the things that bind a community together: beliefs, values, and choices to make our lives better. Even in our early stages, we can see and feel this sense of commonality. Allow me to share a view into our home. When you come inside, you will find:

•  All are welcome! Families and students from different backgrounds, neighborhoods, socioeconomic positions, races, creeds, religions and languages not just working together but binding together.

 Professionals who care deeply about young people succeeding. Teachers who fight for equity in education and believe the opportunity gap is something we will close together, and who believe every child, no matter how far behind they may be or where they come from, can succeed in college.

 Education’s higher purpose. A deeply rooted belief that the purpose of education is not just to better ourselves, but ultimately, to help us in serving our community.

In our Summit Atlas home, we will practice grace and grit and work with urgency on rigorous academic projects that make learning fun. Project-based learning allows students to think about and work on issues applicable to our lives. Each project is designed to push students closer and closer to college-readiness. We will take joy in helping others and be grateful to have the opportunity to do so. We will sit around the table and set goals together, work to meet those goals, and then set even higher goals the next time.

Perhaps most importantly at Atlas, we keep our doors open and we have high expectations. We are excited to collaborate with our neighbors at other schools and community members. We invite anyone and everyone who is interested in these values–diversity, inclusivity, compassion, excellence, growth–to join our family.  

We invite you to learn more about our new home and how we help 98 percent of Summit students graduate with a college acceptance letter in hand.

Summit Atlas is now enrolling 6th and 9th graders for the 2017-2018 school year. Families and students can find more information including how to enroll at www.summitps.org/schools/washington/summit-atlas

09 Feb

Working Together at Summit

Dear Summit families and community,

Last week we hit a milestone at Summit Washington as we broke ground at our newest state-approved charter public school, Summit Atlas on 35th and Roxbury in Seattle. As we write this new chapter in Summit’s story in Washington state, I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce myself to you.

Before I do that, I want to take this time to thank Jen Davis Wickens for her courageous work and leadership for four years helping build a solid foundation for Summit and charter public schools in this state. Thanks to her dedication and commitment to public education, our families and students have this amazing public school choice in our state.

My name is Jill Riemer and I am Summit WA’s new Director of Partnerships. In this role, I will be leading on policy, external relations and have the honor of working closely with Summit’s WA Board of Directors. My entire career has focused on education and strengthening public schools to ensure we are doing right by our kids. My experience has focused on policy at the national and state level, starting a statewide nonprofit lifting up after-school and summer learning programs, and advising various organizations with national educational campaigns and networks around STEM, Grade-Level Reading, and reducing chronic absenteeism. My first exposure though to education was my mother, who was a middle school Spanish teacher. Now, even as my mom is retired, she still gets up and is at her local public school every morning by 6:30 am to provide staff support to the before school program. Devoting time to helping students is a part of my DNA like so many of you and our growing Summit WA family.

From the first moment I walked into one of our schools, I could tell there is something special happening at Summit. I saw high engagement at all levels, from families, students, faculty and our board of directors. Everyone has a real sense of ownership of and pride in their school. I saw teachers committed to their craft and doing whatever it takes to ensure every student is successful and active in their learning journeys. I was drawn to join Summit because of the power and potential this approach and model has for public schools and all the ability to serve all of WA’s students effectively. I’m also excited to work alongside Abigail Cedano our Senior Director of Schools who started six months ago. Abby’s leadership in supporting our school leaders and direct experience in the classroom and in schools will be an invaluable asset to us as we forge new, stronger partnerships with community partners and other public schools.

We find ourselves in a unique moment in our country where education is a key driver to help kids take advantage of new opportunities. Yet, often we get distracted by our differences, instead of focusing on the commonalities we share. At Summit, we’ll have a laser focus on the long game and doing everything possible to help all kids in Washington state succeed. We will also continue to be a powerful voice in the education discussions in our state and always keep you and your child central.

As we move forward, I’m excited to meet and work with you and do my part to nurture and cultivate partnerships and build communities that will serve and benefit all students in Washington’s state. Working together we will help all of our students be successful in middle and high school and beyond in higher education as they make their way to being thoughtful, contributing members of society.

With great respect and in partnership,

Jill Riemer

03 Feb

Community and Summit Public Schools Break Ground on New Charter Public School in Seattle

West Seattle, White Center and surrounding communities joined Summit Public Schools in a groundbreaking ceremony for their new charter public school, Summit Atlas.

Summit Atlas is located on the southwest corner of 35th and Roxbury in Seattle and will open in August for the 2017-2018 school year to its first class of 6th graders and 9th graders. The school will grow each year to eventually serve 6th – 12th grades.

“Summit Atlas is an opportunity for our community to come together to help students achieve their dreams and close opportunity gaps,” said longtime West Seattle resident and Summit Public Schools Washington board member Shirline Wilson. “This school brings high quality, personalized education programs that will put students on the pathway to success in college, career and life.”

Summit Public Schools has successfully opened two other state approved, public high schools in Washington state, Summit Sierra in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and Summit Olympus in Tacoma. The Sierra and Olympus campuses currently serve grades 9 and 10 and will grow to serve grades 9-12 by the 2018-19 school year.

“I’m so excited for the students in this community who will have the opportunity to experience a school like Summit,” said Jayla Foster a 9th grader at Summit Sierra. “From learning skills like public speaking, visiting a college campus and teachers that help you reach your potential, Summit helps me achieve my goals in the classroom and encourages me to get involved in my community.”

Summit Public Schools prepares a diverse population of students for success in a four-year college or university by ensuring high quality teaching meets each student’s individual needs, including collaborative project time, personalized learning time, elective expeditions to explore their passions and one-on-one mentor time. Summit Atlas is now enrolling for the 2017-2018 school year. Families and students can find more information including how to enroll at the new school at www.summitps.org/schools/washington

“After more than a  year of conversations with the community we heard there is a need for a Summit option in this community,” said Katie Bubalo, founding principal at Summit Atlas. “Every student that walks through the doors of Summit Atlas next fall will receive an education from teachers who care deeply about every child and will prepare them for success in a four-year college or university. Summit has the flexibility needed to provide a high-quality education to a diverse student population.”

Also at the event the community saw architectural renderings of Summit Atlas and met Jill Riemer, Summit’s new director of partnerships. Jill will help lead Summit’s schools in Washington state with Abigail Cedano, Senior Director of Schools who supports school leaders across the organization.

“It’s an honor to join this dedicated team of educators and leaders who are working diligently to help our students succeed,” said Riemer. “I believe that the power and potential of our schools will fuel our partnerships and help more students in Washington state be prepared to succeed in college and life.”


23 Jan

Summit Washington Transition

Jen Wickens (center) with Olympus and Sierra students

Dear Summit Community & Supporters,

I’m so proud of the work we have done together at Summit Public Schools. It has been an honor to help bring Summit to Washington state, providing families and students with a new public school option. I’m truly grateful for the lasting friendships I’ve made with our stellar faculty, families, students and community supporters. The Summit community is a talented, committed, action-oriented, strategic, caring and wonderful group of people. Thank you for sharing your stories, passions and expertise with me. These relationships have helped me grow as an educator, leader and champion for change, and will continue to fuel my commitment to closing the opportunity gap across our state.

Now that the foundation for our region is built, it’s time for me to transition to a new role. My last day with Summit will be Jan. 31, but I won’t be going too far, as I’m currently working on the launch of a new, local charter network called Impact Public Schools. Our first school will open in 2018 as a PreK-5 in the Puget Sound region – a feeder for Summit Atlas and Sierra – with expansion plans to serve students throughout our state. Together, we will continue the work of providing high quality, public school options for families across Washington. I couldn’t be more excited about this new role, and I look forward to working with many of you in the months and years to come.

Summit Public Schools WA will remain in excellent hands, led by our incredible Board of Directors, regional and school leadership teams. As we continue to welcome new families and students to the Summit Public Schools community, I’m excited to announce that Jill Riemer joined our team as the Director of Partnerships. She will lead on development, policy and external affairs. Jill brings extensive national education policy and nonprofit management experience to our team. Her expertise and passion for providing every student a high quality, personalized education is of tremendous value to Summit and the charter public school movement in Washington state.

Jill will join Abigail Cedano, Summit’s Senior Director of Schools, to lead our Washington state region. Abigail joined Summit over six months ago to support our school leaders and teachers across the network. She is originally from Seattle and has been a teacher, school leader and founder of a high performing charter public school in Brooklyn. Her extensive experience as an instructional leader gives her a unique perspective on our work developing vibrant school communities and providing a world class education to students. I’m extremely confident that Abigail and Jill will continue to provide strong, supportive, urgent and joyful leadership for our growing school communities.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support over the last four years during Summit’s launch and for your dedication to our mission. I’m so grateful to the entire Summit community for helping us make history. Not only did we build a strong and determined community, but we helped cultivate a powerful movement that will continue to grow. We all know that this work isn’t done – I’m proud to continue standing by your side as we push to ensure students across the state have the opportunity to attend a school that best meets their needs. Together we will continue to write the story of charter public schools in Washington state, ensure equitable outcomes and help all students reach their potential.

I will forever be Summit’s biggest fan – you will hear me cheering loudly for you along the way!

With gratitude, love and great respect,

Jen Davis Wickens

18 Jan

You’re Invited! Learn more about Summit Learning on Jan 31


Join Summit Public Schools and the Puget Sound Educational Service District at our Sierra campus in Seattle for a collaborative opportunity to share with regional partners how we are personalizing learning for our students. We hope to share the Summit Learning program and our best ideas, tools, resources, and professional development models. We also want to hear from you about how we personalize learning as a Pacific Northwest community. We look forward to learning and partnering with you.

You’re Invited!

We welcome you to join one or all of the following events:

Summit Learning School Tour
For principals, admins, superintendents, curriculum directors  – See personalized learning in action at a Summit Public School: Sierra Campus.
Tuesday, January 31st: 2:00 – 3:30 PM
Summit Sierra
1025 S. King Street
Seattle, WA 98104

Summit Learning Workshop
For teachers, teacher coaches, instructional coaches – Gain a deeper understanding of Summit Learning through a hands-on, personalized learning experience.
Note: Please bring a personal laptop and headphones to use during sections of this workshop.
Tuesday, January 31st: 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Summit Sierra
1025 S. King Street
Seattle, WA 98104

Summit Learning Happy Hour
For everyone – Chat with our team as well as educators currently participating in our free program in your region.
Tuesday, January 31st: 6:30 – 8:30 PM
We will email you when the location is finalized.

To register for one or all of the events click here. We look forward to seeing you soon!

23 Nov

Summit Gives Thanks to our Growing Community


This week we want to pause and say thank you to our students, families, faculty and our larger community. While as a nation we face unsettling political times, it has been comforting to find community in our schools. Our students know they have a safe place to learn and grow. Our families know that we celebrate their diversity. And our team remains deeply committed to ensuring each and every student has the tools needed to succeed.

At the foundation of our schools is community. Community is what supports our students and families during challenges and helps us celebrate our successes. Our communities in Seattle, Tacoma and next year, White Center have been nothing short of amazing, helping us provide this much needed public school choice to diverse families and students in Washington state.

So we give thanks. We are grateful to see the amazing stories every day of students who are now reaching their potential. We are thankful for our faculty members for working so hard to encourage, challenge and support our students. We appreciate our board members, who give of their time to help us achieve our joint vision of creating thriving public school communities.

We created history in Washington state when we opened our doors two years ago as the first public charter high schools in the state. Because of our families, students, faculty and community we have the opportunity to continue to write our own story and provide a high-quality personalized education to even more students in Washington state. It’s your courage, strength, voice and belief in our students that we are thankful for and what will help create more equitable outcomes for all.

We hope all of you find time this week to reflect on all that we have accomplished together. We will not let down our guard in our fight for more high quality public school options. We will always make sure our school communities are inclusive, safe, diverse and open to all families.

Thank you for joining us on this important journey. We remain grateful for your support.

With Great Respect,


The Summit WA Leadership Team

17 Nov

Students finding their passions through community partnerships

denice_randleBy L. Denice Randle, Assistant Director, Summit Public Schools-Sierra

At Summit, helping students find their passion is part of getting them ready for success in college, career and life. Students can find their passion in different places so that’s why we give them many different avenues through our expeditions program to explore and dive deep into their interests and career opportunities they’re considering.

Expeditions also give students the opportunity to engage with organizations from the communities our schools serve. From learning break dancing from the world famous Massive Monkees who have roots in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, just a few blocks from Summit Sierra to learning culinary arts at Coyote Central in the central district, the students learn from experts in their field that have a long standing commitment to the community and young people.

One of the groups we work with helps our students learn and succeed in a skill most fear, public speaking. We.App stands for we act, present and perform and was established in 2012. We.App provides a public speaking program to some of the largest companies in the region and our students.

“Public speaking is a skill you use throughout your whole life,” said Toyia T. Taylor, founder of We.App. “Students will need to speak up for themselves whether that be at school, on the job or at an interview for a scholarship. We help students find their authentic voice and recognize who they are and become who they choose to be.”

During the two-week expedition students learned a new theme like critical thinking, improvisation and presentation and projection to help them write and perform a speech. Every day was filled with rewriting and rehearsing their speech and thinking about their own voice and how they want to communicate their message.

“The kids want to learn and be challenged, they want something different,” said Olivia Thomas, a teacher at We.App. “The public speaking expedition gave students a platform to be themselves, come out of their comfort zone and be more confident while supporting their fellow students.”

At the end of the two weeks, the students participated in an oratory competition with students from other Seattle schools, and one of the Sierra students finished third. We’re proud of all our students for having the courage to try something new and share their voice with the community.

As our students participate in the expeditions they are not only building skills and self esteem that will help them succeed in college and life, but they are also building awareness of what’s going on around them. From Black Live Matter to homelessness the students learn how they can use their voice to be change agents in their community.

We’ve heard from our families that the students are enjoying the process of starting and finishing a project and that expeditions give students a space to talk about real things that are going on in their lives. Our students have told us that while the expeditions are a challenge, they are learning to stick with things. If they can shine in a newfound passion, they can also shine in the classroom.

“Summit has created a foundation for its students that meets them where they are,” said Taylor. “I’m blown away with the type of learning environment at the school. They are truly a family.”

07 Nov

Summit Sierra recognized as a world leader in education

Summit Sierra in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District was featured in the Business Insider as one of the 14 most innovative schools in the world!


We’re incredibly proud of our students in Seattle and Tacoma for their hard work and commitment to personalized learning. Our Washington students have achieved great gains in academic growth and our two school communities are thriving. We’re excited to share the power of personalized learning with more students and educators throughout the state. If you’d like to learn more about personalized learning and our schools come to one of our information sessions. Check out our calendar page to find out when the next one will be in your community.

Spread the word – we’re hiring!
As our schools expand, our Summit WA team is also growing. This is an incredibly exciting time to make a difference in the lives of our students and families and to make a significant impact in public education across the state.

At Summit, the voice of our faculty matters. We value collaboration and faculty input, and we put strong emphasis on personal development. Please help us spread the word about the following exciting opportunities in Washington state:

•  Director of Partnerships

•  Community Engagement Manager

•  Summit Tutoring Corp – Tacoma role available


04 Oct

Welcome Our New Washington State Board Members

Summit Public Schools is pleased to announce a new six-member Washington state board of directors to help ensure students will be prepared to succeed in a four-year college or university, regardless of their previous academic preparation or background. The board members represent the diverse communities that Summit serves in Seattle, Tacoma and White Center.

The board members will be charged with the governance of Summit’s schools in Washington state. These duties include adopting policies, approving budgets and ensuring the schools meet the needs of the communities they serve.

After almost three years of hard work and dedication to Summit’s students and families, Summit Washington’s founding board will transition to an advisory role to ensure a stable and smooth transition for Summit’s faculty, students and families, as new board members adapt to their role.

“I want to thank our founding board members for their leadership in developing a solid foundation and strategic plan for our schools,” said Jen Wickens, Chief Regional Officer at Summit Public Schools Washington. “Their knowledge of the organization will compliment our new board’s deep connections to the communities we serve. This partnership will set us up for success as we continue to provide a high-quality, personalized education to our students.”

Learn more about our new board members below.

kathi-littmannKathi Littmann
Kathi is a passionate education advocate and community builder. Ms Littmann is currently the CEO of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, an organization supporting Pierce County through charitable giving, grant making, and collaborative leadership. Ms Littmann spent 2 years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading a redesign of professional learning for educators and piloting the program with 23,000 teachers. Since 2002, she has worked closely with charter networks in the areas of strategic planning and model design. She lives in the Tacoma area near Summit Olympus.

Amy Liu
Amy joins from a professional background spanning external and industry relations, grant management, and consulting. Ms. Liu is the past Policy Director for the League of Education Voters (LEV), holds a JD from University of Michigan Law School, as well as a B.A. in Political Science. She is transitioning from her role at LEV and embarking on the next phase of her career. She lives in Seattle.

deanna-sandsDr. Deanna Sands
Dr. Sands’ career spans many roles in education, as a teacher, scholar, and leader. She is deeply dedicated to diversity and inclusive education, and has devoted much of her career to enhancing educational opportunities for people with disabilities. In her leadership roles, she has worked closely with community partners, enhanced faculty mentorship initiatives, forged ongoing partnerships with school districts and has led and supported initiatives to develop or refine doctoral programs in the area of leadership for educational equity. Dr. Sands holds an Ed.D., Special Education Research and Administration from the University of Alabama and an M.A., Special Education, University of Michigan.

omar-vOmar Vasquez
Omar is an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, with a practice in corporate law, and mergers and acquisitions. Omar has experience advising education-related nonprofits, ed tech startups, and charter schools. Prior to law school, Omar taught AP Calculus for six years in Arizona through Teach for America, and he continues to serve as an active alumnus of the Washington region of Teach for America. Omar holds a JD from the University of Arizona and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. He lives in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle, near the Summit Sierra campus.

stefan-weitzStefan Weitz
Stefan has an extensive background in technology and business. Mr. Weitz joined Microsoft in 2002, leading diverse projects across strategy, education partnerships, and engineering. He has served on advisory boards for many startups, ranging from biometrics to advertising to virtualization. Mr. Weitz is currently the CPO of Radial and holds an M.A. in Political Science and Physics from Gonzaga University. He lives in Seattle.

shirline-wilsonShirline Wilson
As a longtime resident of Seattle and the mother of three children, including a student at Rainier Prep, Shirline has come to the Summit Public School Board to join the visionaries who believe that a sustainable world class education system in the Pacific Northwest is critical to the advancement of our goals to significantly narrow the Opportunity and Achievement Gap. A 20 year career spanning Accounting, Information Technology, Business Continuity, Organizational Change and Transformative leadership grounds her in her advocacy for innovation in the education system. When not working tirelessly for kids and families, she enjoys camping, hiking, board games and family time.

27 Sep

Letter to White Center and surrounding communities from Summit Atlas Principal

Dear White Center and surrounding communities,

I am honored to introduce myself as the founding principal for Summit Atlas, a charter public middle and high school opening in the fall of 2017. Like you, I am deeply invested in providing our young people with the opportunities for success they so richly deserve, and I am committed to serving the students and families of White Center. Summit Atlas will be a rigorous, college preparatory school in which every child, regardless of background or circumstance, will graduate ready to become a college graduate and ultimately a thoughtful, contributing member of society.

I am extremely excited to be a part of this community after just having relocated to be closer to my family. My career as an educator began as a college student when I became a volunteer basketball coach for the girls basketball team at a high school in my community. I quickly realized my players were struggling because their individual needs as learners were not being met. Ashley, my incredibly gifted post player, was unable to pass basic math and reading courses; Karla, my shooting guard, desperately wanted to succeed in school and on the court, but was not given enough support as a Spanish speaker. A fire had been lit: I changed my major to Education, and upon graduation from the University of Tulsa, headed to New Orleans where the need to transform the educational system was profound.

In 2011, I began teaching at Sci Academy, a Collegiate Academies high school in New Orleans East. Over my four years teaching sophomore English, my students posted the highest test scores in the city for any open-enrollment school, with 81% of students scoring proficient or higher the last year.

My students there instilled in me the grit and grace it takes to achieve what others may believe to be impossible. Many entered reading years below grade level; they graduated as exceptional readers, writers, and critical thinkers. We exceeded our goals all because my students had a growth mindset, a belief in themselves, and a belief in me. Together, we made our community better.

After teaching for six years, I took on an administrative role, coaching dozens of teachers across our network and designing systems to increase reading growth across three high schools. As a result of our work together, our network experienced its highest reading growth in its eight year history. I am proud to have been a part of Collegiate Academies, which sends over 90% of its graduates to college.

Summit Public Schools shares the same commitment to create educational opportunities for every child. Our personalized model puts students at the center of their own learning, empowering them to be self-directed learners with the habits and mindsets that lead to academic and personal success. We support a world-class teaching faculty who come from the nation’s top teaching preparatory programs and care deeply about each and every child. It is no wonder that Summit students consistently outperform students at neighboring schools, and 95% of Summit graduates are accepted into college.

For me, for us, for others– this motto is part of the vision for Summit Atlas. Education is the key to personal success, for our success as an Atlas team, and for the betterment of our society. I believe there is no more important group of people in our country than our children, and that the school we will create is a precursor to a better country and a better world. I am incredibly enthusiastic to help launch a new public school in our community, to give families a choice when it comes to public education, and to ensure that every student who walks through Summit Atlas next fall gets the world-class education they deserve. I cannot wait to partner with you, your family, and the incredible White Center community.

We’re hosting information sessions for the community to learn more about Summit Atlas. Just click on Seattle, WA on our events calendar webpage to find the Summit Atlas info session near you. I also invite you to save the date for our groundbreaking ceremony on November 15 at the site of Summit Atlas. We’ll post more information about the event on the blog soon.

I would love to hear from you. Please contact me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns. Summit Atlas is our school; I welcome your innovative ideas in building this community together.

Warm regards,

Katie Bubalo
Founding Principal | Summit Atlas
kbubalo@summitps.org | Summit Public Schools Website
We are currently accepting 6th and 9th grade student applications!