Meet Esther.

My name is Esther. I’m in 10th grade and in my second year at Summit Atlas, a charter public school in West Seattle.

I’ve lived in Renton with my mom since July 2017. My mom found out about Atlas before I even moved here; she was doing research on schools focused on college opportunities. My mom never finished college herself, although she’s gone back to nursing school. She works night shifts at adult and family homes. She comes home from work and takes me to school in the mornings. Her number one goal is to get me to and through college, and that’s also my goal. I’m really happy that we found Atlas.

If I had to describe my school in one word it would be “open-minded”. It’s really a place of no judgement. Having social-emotional supports in a community where everyone really cares about each other has helped me academically. With the support of my peers and teachers, I’ve overcome my fear of asking questions. Being in this kind of culture makes it easier to learn.

It’s surprising how supportive students are; we really help each other. Mr. Perez is my mentor, and our mentor group is really diverse. Circle is basically a check-in where we check in about how we are feeling. It’s a place to share anything on your mind, from school to really emotional stuff. Then we resonate. When I say, “I offer resonance” I mean that I know what it’s like to experience that, or “I hear you.” When I need help, I can just ask.

Our principal Ms. B. really goes above and beyond. Last year, I was one of a handful of students on the principal’s advisory board. We met every Wednesday morning to plan events, and we got to help make decisions like what type of chairs and tables to have in our cafeteria space. This year, Ms. B has been helping me connect with a college counselor. She really listens and gives her time to pay attention. It feels really good to feel so known by my principal.

The teachers really take their time to make sure you fully understand. They care about your mental and emotional health and your academics. I’ve struggled with Spanish and also Physics, even though I am usually really strong in Science. I attend “office hours” for extra support in these subjects.

Teachers also keep our focus on college. We get constant reminders about how much our GPA matters, and my mentor helped me with an early draft for my college essay, which I’m already working on as a sophomore. I am interested in volunteering at Children’s Hospital and I’m taking AP Psychology because Psychology is a career interest.

As students here, we have a lot of ownership over our work and our school culture. Outside of school I do dance hip hop on the weekends. Last year I started an afterschool dance/cheer club, and I also co-founded an improv club with a friend. This year, the school hired a drama teacher.

I’m on a path to college, and I’m really enjoying my high school experience at Atlas. I want to find something that I love that is good for my future, and today, because of my school, I believe that is possible.

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