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Prospective Families Flock to Tacoma Charter Public Schools Open House Tour

For Immediate Release | July 29, 2016

Tacoma’s Small, Personalized, and Academically Rigorous Schools Welcome Families as They Gear Up for Growth in Second Year

TACOMA, WA — More than 70 parents, children, and neighbors gathered yesterday evening for a bustling open house tour hosted by Tacoma’s three charter public schools.

SOAR Academy, Green Dot Destiny Middle School and Summit Olympus High School each opened their doors and welcomed Tacoma families who are exploring their public school options for the upcoming 2016-17 school year. The well-attended event gave potential students, parents and caregivers the opportunity to tour each school building, ask questions and meet school leaders and teachers, and hear the experiences of founding families and students who are returning to Tacoma’s charter public schools for the second year.

As all three of Tacoma’s small, personalized and academically rigorous charter public schools head into their second year of operation, each school is growing to serve new grade levels.

SOAR Academy, which eventually will serve K-8, served K-1 in its first year, and will grow to serve K-2 in Fall 2016. Venetia McCrury is enrolling her daughter in Kindergarten in the fall. “I’m excited about SOAR Academy because I feel they will be able to fulfill my personal goals for my daughter Nevaeh, such as providing a personally engaging quality education from a caring team and assisting in the development of her whole person as she grows.”

Markiss Cooper, Office and Outreach Manager at SOAR Academy reflected: “We’re so thrilled to be broadening our reach to new families, to make them aware of SOAR as an option that will provide unconditional support no matter their circumstance. At SOAR, we go further than believing that every child deserves a quality education. We believe that all children are capable of success, no exceptions! I think this attitude is refreshing for families who naturally want what’s best for their kids.”

Green Dot Destiny Middle School, which served sixth grade in its founding year and will serve grades 6-8 at capacity, is enrolling sixth and seventh grade for Fall 2016. “Destiny Middle School focuses on building powerful teacher-student-family relationships and wrap-around support services – from tutoring to a college prep learning environment to parent engagement,” said Bree Dusseault, Executive Director at Green Dot Washington. “Every Destiny Middle School student receives high-quality, personalized teaching from educators who know that all students can succeed.”

Parents of students who are returning for the second year shared with prospective families.

“My sons’ teachers call and update me on how they are doing; and I even see staff out in the community,” said Raffael Slaughter Sr., a parent of two students at Destiny Middle School. “Both my sons tell me about how much their teachers and the staff care about their success. The Destiny Middle School community has become like a second family for me and my sons.”

Summit Olympus High School, which opened to ninth graders in its founding year, is enrolling ninth and tenth graders for this coming school year. “Last year our founding ninth grade students more than doubled the national average for growth in reading, and more than tripled the average for growth in math, putting Summit Olympus in the top third of schools in the nation in terms of math growth,”* said Jen Wickens, Chief Regional Officer at Summit Public Schools Washington. We are looking forward to building on this progress in year two, as we provide even more Tacoma families with a high-quality, personalized, public education.”

RoQuesia Williams enrolled three of her students at Tacoma’s three charter public schools last fall, and they will each be returning to their charter public schools for a second year. “At Summit Olympus my oldest son has a personalized learning plan, where he can go at his own pace and learn the material.” Williams emphasized how happy she and her kids have been with their charter schools, and in particular, what a great fit Summit Olympus has been for her son. “He has a mentor and teachers that help keep him on track to graduate high school prepared for and ready to succeed in college.”

Enrollment is open for Fall 2016 at Tacoma’s charter public schools. All schools are tuition-free and open to all students. More information can be found at:

*Student growth measured using the nationally normed Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment.

About Washington’s Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. More than 67 percent of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide. Two-thirds of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. At four of Washington’s charter public schools, this number exceeds 70 percent.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. In Washington, African American, Latino and Native American students are scoring between 15-20 percent lower on state assessments. According to mid-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.