Saturday, June 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Guest Editorial: Small School, Big Results

// Summit Olympus provides a high school option for Tacoma families

As a teacher and an administrator at Summit Olympus, Tacoma’s first tuition-free charter public high school, I see the benefits this new public school option gives students on a daily basis. Founding ninth graders more than doubled the national average for growth in reading and tripled the average growth in math, putting Olympus in the top third of schools in the nation in terms of math growth according to the MAP assessment. Our parents are also finding and seeing the benefits too.
Roquesia Williams, a parent of a 10th-grader from Tacoma, tried a few options when she was looking for the right fit for her child’s education, but none felt like the right fit her son. Jim Hamilton, an Olympus parent of a ninth-grader, also was searching for a school for his son that would challenge him academically, be a place that he loved going to every day and would get him thinking about going to college and his passions.
Jim and Roquesia share a similar story. Both searching for a school to be the right fit for their child and that would prepare them for success in a four-year college or university. They also wanted their children to grow to be thoughtful, contributing members of society. Hamilton and Williams chose Summit Olympus.
Our goal at Summit Olympus is to meet kids where they are because every student has unique needs. We develop a personalized learning plan with each student and their family. Each student can go at their own pace and learn the material at a very deep level, only progressing once they’ve shown competency in a subject. Personalized learning plans also allow teachers to provide the right support to students at the right time so each student is served in the best way possible and reaches his or her maximum potential. In addition, each student is paired with a mentor who helps them set short-term and long-term goals and check in on weekly progress.
My faculty and I are thrilled to be a part of the Tacoma community – a city with a long tradition of championing education options for students. I have been in awe of both the natural beauty of the area and the active community engagement of the people here. Everybody has such passion for their city and a belief that it can constantly be better, combined with a willingness to roll-up their sleeves and do the work to make it so. Our students have greatly benefited from this community spirit. As part of their school year, Summit Olympus students take four electives in two-week Expedition sessions, where they explore new or existing passions such as culinary arts, drama, music, sports, student leadership, photography, and video and film production. We work with community partners in Tacoma to develop these electives. These electives are driven by our community partnerships and student interests – enabling students to explore their passions and get real-world experiences outside of their core subjects.
In addition to welcoming students in our learning community and providing them with support, the Summit Olympus faculty works hard to engage families and make them feel like a partner in their child’s education. Supporting and listening to our families helps us ensure that every student succeeds in any path they choose after graduation.
Summit Olympus and other charter public schools in Washington state are providing beneficial options for many Tacoma families like Hamilton's and Jim’sWilliams. Our students have achieved gains in academic growth and our school communities are thriving. I invite you to visit our school and observe how we are providing a high quality, personalized education to Tacoma’s students.
Summit Olympus is currently enrolling ninth, 10th- and 11th-graders for the 2017-18 school year. For more information on attending this charter public school high school, visit