Michael Schrader is not one to do the bare minimum in life.
The senior at The Enrichment Cooperative at Bryant Center in Spokane, Wash., wasn’t going to be a student who coasted through his final year of high school. He set lofty goals for himself, and worked hard each day to achieve them.
“I loved being able to have extra work to challenge myself at a higher level through additional focus areas,” Schrader said, in reference to Summit Learning’s Focus Areas that help students gain more background knowledge about certain subjects. “I love a challenge!”
But when Schrader walks across the stage this month to receive his high school diploma at TEC at Bryant, he knows who he’ll have to thank for helping him reach this memorable life moment.
“It helped to work with a mentor to stay focused on the end goal of graduation,” Schrader said.
Each of the 14 graduating seniors at TEC at Bryant have worked closely with a mentor throughout their high school journey. They meet at least weekly—and often more frequently—to connect on topics related to school and life. They also focus on goal-setting and work together on strategies for students to reach their goals.
Mentoring took on greater importance during the 2020-21 school year, which was a mix of remote and in-person learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were able to remain engaged in their schoolwork in large part because of the consistent guidance from their mentors.
“I love having a mentor who can help me plan my course of action for the next week,” senior Pashence Weaver said.
Weaver was a part of a senior class that has worked with the Summit Learning program since they were freshmen. When the school’s building closed in March 2020, Weaver was able to make a smooth transition to distance learning because her schoolwork stayed consistent in Summit Learning. In particular, Weaver enjoyed the visual cues that showed her ongoing progress in certain subjects.
“It helps me keep track of my work and stay on pace,” Weaver said. “I enjoy having access to all my work and my grades all on the same platform.”
Natalie Rogers, a teacher at TEC at Bryant, said the seniors have displayed increased confidence during each of their four years using Summit Learning. Rogers said the students took more ownership of their learning and used group projects to strengthen themselves as individuals.
Rogers said the confidence of the students was also noticeable during mentoring sessions based on the inquisitive questions they asked their mentors.
“Students are totally engaged and not just engaged in what they need to learn,” Rogers said. “They want to learn more and more.”
Senior Zephyr Garrettson has added several new skills since enrolling at TEC at Bryant, which is a K-12 school that was designed as a partnership between parents and Spokane Public Schools. In a 2016 video showcasing the school, Garrettson was featured as an eighth-grade student who was excited for new experiences.
“You get to learn all sorts of new stuff that you wouldn’t normally learn,” Garrettson said then.
Five years later, Garrettson is ready to embark on the next chapter of his post-high school life. He can’t wait to apply the many life skills he’s learned at TEC at Bryant and is thankful for all the people he’s worked with along the way.
“The group project-oriented curriculum really fostered friendships and productivity,” said Garrettson, before adding, “and some friendly competition, as well.”