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!


23 Sep

Welcome to the new school year and a growing community

By Abigail Cedano, Senior Director of Schools

As the 2016-2017 school year takes off we are thrilled to welcome our new students, families and faculty at Summit Sierra and Olympus. Being new to a community can be challenging and just like our new ninth grade students, I’m also new to the Summit community. Thank you for the warm welcome as I get settled in my new role!

I’m originally from Seattle, my lifelong passion for world-class educational opportunities for all students took me to New York 11 years ago where I was a teacher, assistant principal and founded a public charter school in Brooklyn. While I loved my time in New York, the Pacific Northwest was calling and I was thrilled when charters finally came to Washington! I have seen first hand the power charters can have to give parents options they need to make educational decisions that are best for their child. I was thrilled when offered the opportunity to join Summit and have the ability to support this movement in my home state.

I joined Summit Public Schools this year as the Senior Director of Schools. My role is to support our school leaders across the organization as they build beautiful houses of personalized learning. As I am sure you know, our Washington school leaders are phenomenal and it is a privilege to work with them.

I chose to come to Summit because it is an organization that believes every member of the community is an important learner who brings something valuable to the team. I chose to come to Summit because we believe that when every student is treated as a unique learner, students can not only develop strong academics but they can develop into thoughtful, contributing members of society and that will open the doors of possibility for their futures. I chose to come to Summit because I believe in educational innovation and am excited to be on the forefront of education reform.

As we start the school year, our students and faculty are already building strong communities of diverse learners. Our organization-wide faculty team and our schools have already had the opportunity to experience overnight camping trips. This gives us all an opportunity to expand our comfort zones and get to know each other deeply. During our camping trips we share stories about our lives, try out new activities and show off our talents in the culminating talent show!

At the start of the school year the students also reflect on their school experiences and hopes and dreams for the future. They think through how their high-school experience will support these dreams and they go on a college visit so they can see how all their hard work now can lead to amazing opportunities. Each of these experiences lay the foundation for developing vibrant school communities.

The Summit Sierra and Olympus communities are growing. Next year Atlas in White Center will join us as well. Each school has a story to tell and I’m excited to help our students, families and faculty accomplish amazing things, evolve and grow. Just like the Summit Olympus motto, we’re always rising, always together.

24 Aug

Bill Gates writes blog about his Summit Sierra visit

Bill Gates Jr. visited Seattle’s first public charter high school in May, spending time with Summit Sierra High School students and touring the school, which started its second year this month in the Chinatown – International District. We’re are excited to share with you the blog post he wrote and video about his experience visiting our school.  

During his visit, Mr. Gates spent the afternoon with students and teachers experiencing the model and diving into how personalized learning works at Summit. He learned about Summit’s mentorship program, spent time reviewing the Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) platform, walked through the expedition courses, learned how Summit Reads and Summit Solves build students’ reading and math skills,.and unpacked an integrated Humanities project to better understand the day in the life of a Summit student and teacher.

“At its best, personalized learning doesn’t just let students work at their own pace. It puts them in charge of their own academic growth.” – Bill Gates

“I’m so proud of the Summit Sierra students and faculty, many of whom presented to Mr. Gates to demonstrate how personalized learning works at Summit and participated in facilitated discussions with him,” said Jen Wickens, Chief Regional Officer, Summit Washington. “Our community is an incredibly committed and passionate group of educators and young adults who are extremely proud of the amazing school they’ve built together.”

It’s not too late to enroll at Summit Sierra in Seattle or Summit Olympus in Tacoma. Both schools are growing in their second year and are tuition free and state authorized and approved. Applying takes just five minutes and there is no entrance requirement or tuition. Learn more here.

10 Aug

Summit Sierra – Construction Update

SubstandardFullSizeRender (7)

If you have walked by Summit Sierra or drove by on I-5 you may have noticed construction on the south side of the building. We’ve been making some major improvements and we’re excited to share them with you.

Beginning this month we’ll be welcoming new and returning students and expanding to a 9th and 10th grade high school. As a result, we needed to make space to comfortably house all of our students.

We wanted to ensure that our students would continue to have the best and most inspiring school possible, so we enlisted the help of a design team to create new and innovative workspaces for our students.  

To do this, we added an extra 5,700 square feet, including:

  • Nine new classrooms
  • Two outdoor learning areas
  • A deck and two patios with views of Puget Sound and downtown Seattle.
  • Outdoor learning areas for students and a basketball court for students to use during their breaks.

“I can’t wait to see the faces of our new and returning students when they see the new additions to our school,” said Malia Burns, Executive Director at Summit Sierra. “The new Summit Sierra space offers so many areas and opportunities for students to collaborate, learn and bond with their classmates. With breathtaking views from the second story, students will learn and grow in the heart of Seattle.”

During design and construction the Summit Sierra faculty had an opportunity to give their feedback to ensure the new space met the needs of our students. For example, faculty members were consulted early in the design process and proposed a flexible, open learning environment with spaces that could be used for different teaching activities. The faculty also requested large glass garage doors to help connect classroom spaces with the open spaces. 

As the design progressed, faculty, students and families also had the opportunity to give feedback and propose ideas. One of the results of the feedback is the new basketball court, which was added to give the students an outdoor activity to play while being in a city environment.

The contractor also took special measures to ensure that construction had minimal impacts on the students and community.

“We wanted to create and build a positive and inviting learning environment that worked in harmony with Seattle’s Chinatown International District,” said Kevin Brett, project manager at Kirtley Cole the general contractor for the Summit Sierra construction project. “When you walk into the building the success of the design really shows. It has a community feel that I hope the students will hang out in before and after school.”

Summit Sierra is enrolling now. It takes just five minutes to apply, learn more here.