Letters to the Editor

Crest a ‘perfect place’ for engagement, learning

You know when you find “that perfect place” and you want to share it, but selfishly you don’t want it to become too well known? That’s how I feel about the Crest Learning Center (Alternative High School) at Mercer Island High School. Now that my son is graduating and continuing onto college, I feel it’s OK to let the secret out:

For those of us whose kids may not learn in the traditional way, Crest has a team of dedicated teachers who will try anything and everything to engage students to learn in their own way. The focus at Crest is to encourage children to learn to their own passions while challenging them fully. Before moving to Crest, my son got lost struggling to concentrate on the traditional “lecture and discussion” methodology with 25+ kids. The same class at Crest with 12 kids is at a different pace, allowing students to cover the same curriculum but integrating more intimate discussions and group projects. The teachers are able to address a student’s individual concerns and learning styles with respect and creative ideas to reduce the stress.

The “Crest Essentials” – Community, Work Ethic, Healthy Relationships and Fun - establishes a healthy, caring group of young adults that don’t just tolerate different students, but accepts and even celebrates the uniqueness of each person. The goal is to learn to work hard, but then celebrate successes. These celebrations create a community sense of pride in accomplishment – which spurs greater achievement. Crest kids have each other’s backs, which can be rare in a competitive high school atmosphere.

It’s no secret that we are lucky on Mercer Island to have great school programs. But if your kid struggles with traditional learning, we also have a terrific alternative option. The secret is now out - the Crest program is part of a comprehensive approach to reach all children. I want to personally thank Sally Bartow, Nancy Kidder, Mike Neff, Patrick Rigby, Lois Sargent, Sarah Shannon, Shannon Verschueren, and Patrick Zanders for taking a kid who could have fallen through the cracks and turning him into a college student.

Carolyn Barbee


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