“Faces of Mt. Scott” is a series of short videos spotlighting a day in the life of the amazing people who make up the Mt. Scott community. Click here to see and hear their inspiring stories. Watch our first featured story above.
KATIE & RAY TURNER, Grandparents of MSLC junior academy student
“We are raising our grandson, Marcos, who attends Mt. Scott Learning Center. When Marcos graduates from high school, he will have been at Mt. Scott for seven years. He will also be the first of our children to graduate from high school at all.
“Until we found out about Mt. Scott, the words ‘middle school’ struck fear into our hearts. We knew that Marcos, with his anxiety issues and never having been in a ‘mainstream’ school setting, would struggle to make it.
“Then we had an interview at Mt. Scott. Marcos, barely out of fifth grade was visibly relaxed. It was like coming home. A safe environment where a child can reach his potential and succeed, surrounded by a staff that is like family with the caring and follow through that is needed to make it in this world.
“We no longer have any doubts about our grandson’s future. He is thriving at Mt. Scott and brimming with self-confidence. We can see the years ahead and can only say ‘thank you’ to Mt. Scott for making it possible for Marcos to shine and be the young man we are so proud of and the future adult that is going to be phenomenal. Thank you Mt. Scott.”
DEANNA KAGAWA, Parent of MSLC junior/senior academy students
“My youngest daughter, who has high functioning autism, was actually recommended to Mt Scott Learning Center’s middle/high school by her speech pathologist. I cannot praise this school or its staff enough. Both of my daughters go to Mt. Scott and are ‘A’ students and thriving.
“My daughter with a specific learning disability is thriving, not only academically but emotionally and socially as well. I know if we did not have this wonderful school and staff she would have fallen through the cracks of the educational system.
“We need more schools like Mt Scott Learning Center.”
TERRIE BUTLER, Parent of MSLC junior academy student
“I knew early on that the traditional classroom wasn’t working for my son. We lived in a good area near an excellent elementary school and he hated every minute of it. He made decent grades and had good friends yet every morning it was a struggle to get him out the door and every evening was a nightmare of frustrating busy work in service to the idea of academic rigor. He was miserable.
"With middle school approaching we knew we had to make a change. I researched education, I talked to and asked questions to friends and strangers alike, I considered homeschooling, I visited private schools, and then I stumbled upon a speech titled “The (Alternative) Schools our Kids Deserve” by Alfie Kohn and I knew I needed to find something like the innovative, “working with” schools that he discusses.
"With that destination in mind, I waded through the Portland Public Schools website and found Mt. Scott Learning Center. My son has been there for two and a half years now and we have not once regretted enrolling him there. The staff really embraces the idea that addressing the emotional and social needs of a student can lead to great academic progress. Only through seeing their support and commitment in action have I come to understand how woefully neglected this aspect of a young person’s life can be in a large, traditional school and how that can be a real barrier to academic success.
"I no longer worry about my son not graduating and going on to college. He likes school now; some days he even loves it. Even on bad days he knows there is someone there to support and guide him. The teachers spark his imagination and curiosity and I often find him investigating school topics on his own time. Our dinner table has become a much livelier place thanks to the challenging ideas that are raised in class. A few years ago I never imagined myself saying such things.
"Mt. Scott Learning Center IS the alternative school our kids deserve. Finding it has been life-changing.”
JESSICA VOLENSKI, MSLC graduate
“’Mt. Scott really reflects its four core values of Healthy, Citizens, Prepared and Scholars. Every staff member pushes each and every student to do their best. The school has one of the greatest support systems around for students, not only for when they are at Mt. Scott but also after they graduate.
“The transition to Mt. Scott from my previous school was not easy. I was suffering from anxiety and depression and had left all my friends behind. I was shy and the thought of a new school was terrifying to me.
“But the shy girl who once thought she 'sucked' at school soon realized that with the right support and friends she could do anything she set her mind to. Mt. Scott became more than a school for me, it became a home.
“The support I received at Mt. Scott made it impossible not to continue pushing. It gave me a reason not to give up. There was always a helping hand, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and hugs when needed.
“Mt. Scott made a huge impact on my life and shaped me into the woman I am today. I have so much respect and thanks for the Mt. Scott community for everything they have done for me.”
ANGELA STONE, Parent of MSLC senior academy student
“I have noticed vast positive differences in my sons’ behavior since he transferred into Mt. Scott Learning Center. He has made profound gains in his academic performance, his confidence in social settings has improved tremendously, and he has emotionally matured very quickly as well.
“While attending his previous large high school, his progress and grade reports consisted of D’s and F’s, he was bullied and struggled socially, had chronic attendance/tardiness and disciplinary issues, and was not emotionally vested in his education or his personal success. Since attending Mt. Scott he seems excited to go to school. His confidence has soared. He participates more in class, as well as in discussions at home that require critical thinking.
“The community-based value structure that Mt. Scott promotes has been extremely effective for my son. The structure promotes that he have respect not only for himself and his ideas, but for others and their ideas as well. The community-based learning, small class sizes and focus on each student competing only with themselves, in my opinion, is an essential part of preparing our children to become the leaders of tomorrow and work effectively within group settings. I am grateful my son has been able to attend this school. It has enhanced the quality of his life and it is my sincere hope that many more of our young people will be able to equally benefit from the existence of this program.”
NICOLE ARANDA BERUMEN, Parent of MSLC junior academy/senior academy students
“I am a parent of two students attending Mt Scott Learning Center. My oldest daughter, Amber, is a junior and has been attending Mt Scott since she was in the 7th grade. My youngest daughter, Macie, is a freshman and this is her first year attending the school.
“Prior to our family moving to Portland from California in 2010, Amber had been struggling to succeed in elementary school. I would dread the parent teacher conferences because the teacher would almost always have something negative to say about my daughter's school work. But somehow Amber was able to proceed to the next grade, even though she was slightly behind. During my search for a school to enroll my children, I came across Mt Scott and was impressed to learn of how small the class sizes were. Instead of being in a class size of 30-35 students, it would have been cut in half to 15-18. I definitely knew Amber would get a more personal education if I enrolled her here.
“Fast forward to the present. I am proud to say Amber will be graduating from high school this year! I must give credit to the amazing staff and teachers here at Mt Scott. She has excelled above and beyond what I could have expected.
“The teachers at Mt. Scott give much more than just their time, they put a lot of themselves into how they teach their students. I have also noticed a positive change in my youngest daughter Macie since she has been attending this school. She went from just barely passing her classes last year, to getting all A's with the exception of one C this past quarter. I know this has to do with the personal connection her teachers strive to have with all their students. They take the time to get to know them and help them to find out what learning styles will work best for them.
“I know I made the best choice for my daughters by enrolling them into Mt. Scott.”
DAVID ALLISON, Parent of MSLC graduate
“Before enrolling at Mt. Scott my son was restless, moving from school to school and facing the familiar distractions that come with being an active teenager. But Mt. Scott clearly was the best fit for reaching him where he was at. The school has a unique, emotionally genuine chemistry to it.
“I highly recommend Mt. Scott Learning Center. They simply are just that much more efficient. The difference is something you have to notice in your child's eyes for yourself. Thank you.”
ANETRA ALLEN, Parent of MSLC senior academy student
“I want to thank Mt. Scott Learning Center for being such an awesome school. My son Kaleb was struggling with the traditional school setting. We tried classes at PCC and K12 online and nothing was working out for him. It was obvious from our initial interview at Mt. Scott that this school was different.
“Kaleb always had difficulty in school but since enrolling at Mt Scott his whole school experience has improved vastly. He no longer skips school and he is earning not only class credit but he has become a student that earns special recognition for his grades. The staff is wonderfully supportive and they keep me closely in the loop of what is going on. They have even called just to let me know what a great job Kaleb is doing.
“This school is amazing and I can't express enough how the atmosphere and the teachers make Mt. Scott a perfect choice for students having difficulty. I highly recommend this school.”
KATHY REYNAUD-ALVARADO, MSLC graduate
“Getting a high school diploma means a lot to my family and me. I will be the first person in my family to earn a high school diploma. It's an achievement that will be celebrated not only in my family but also my extended family. When I was at two other high schools and one online program, it didn't look like I was going to make it.
“If it wasn't for Mt. Scott, I'm not sure I would even be graduating. Mt. Scott gave me the support I needed to keep coming to school and to think about my future. I'm grateful for everything my teachers and friends did for me. It really helped get me on the right path and do what I had to do to be here today.”
PAUL & DIANE MAYER, Parents of MSLC senior academy student
“Mt. Scott Learning Center has been incredibly important and valuable to our daughter and to our family as a whole. While our daughter has been in both the private and the traditional public school systems, neither was the right fit for her. Diagnosed with a learning disability but blessed with a keen intelligence and many artistic and verbal gifts, our daughter thrives in the alternative high school setting Mt. Scott offers.
"At Mt. Scott, with its smaller class and school sizes and excellent teaching staff, our daughter is not overwhelmed socially or emotionally or academically. Instead, she finds herself able to focus on her classes and become more independent and self-confident. In our experience, all of the MSLC staff strives to provide a supportive, nurturing, and accountable environment so that each student can become an independent and successful high school graduate.
"While the private and traditional public school systems are able to provide effective and efficient education to most children and young adults, other children and young adults truly do have either special needs or special challenges. For our daughter and for our family, Mt. Scott Learning Center provides what our daughter needs in a high school. We are deeply grateful to Mt. Scott, its teachers, its staff, and to all of the individuals and organizations that support it."
CHERYL CHRISTMORE, Parent of MSLC senior academy student
“This is my daughter’s second year at Mt. Scott and this school has been a lifesaver for both of us. Before Mt. Scott, my daughter was depressed, unmotivated and failing all her classes. Now she is happy and motivated, loves going to school, and is getting good grades. My daughter is now a different kid and I can’t thank you enough!
“The staff at Mt. Scott are caring, wonderful people and the school is much more than just teachers and students – it’s a family. A lot of kids can’t function well in large, traditional schools, and Mt. Scott is a godsend to those who are fortunate to go there. Thank you for all you do!”
JESSE MARSHALL, MSLC graduate
“At my previous high school I struggled with passing classes because there were about 40 students in each class and it made it very tough to learn. Many teachers didn’t seem to have the time or interest to help you if you were struggling with the material.
“Mt. Scott was a life-changer and I truly don’t know where I would be without this school – most likely I wouldn’t have graduated and be headed to college. I have learned so many things thanks to the staff at Mt. Scott, and I think the most important is how to persevere.”
JOYCE WELSH, Parent of MSLC graduate
“I want to express my profound gratitude to the Mt. Scott staff for the time afforded my son these past couple of years. There is no doubt in my mind that he would not be holding a high school diploma today without the continual efforts and community offered by Mt. Scott Learning Center.
“My son was not successful at his previous high school and was not playing basketball, which he loves, due to his grades. Immediately I saw the impact Mt. Scott had on him. He was engaged with students and teachers, and he started playing basketball again.
“My son has had difficulty during his teenage years. His father passed away, we made a big move, and there were some issues with addiction. I expect children to want to separate from parents and that’s okay. The fact that my son had teachers and a community to watch out for him when he wouldn’t allow me to any longer was a huge relief.
“My son is now employed, living on his own, and making positive choices to better his future. He also has a high school diploma and I couldn’t be more proud of him or more thankful to the staff at Mt. Scott.”
DANA AMELLE-MILES, Parent of MSLC senior academy student
"Thank you Mt. Scott Learning Center! We have had a multitude of struggles in the past before Mt. Scott, so it makes my heart so happy to know my daughter is now not only attending school, but feeling and achieving success!
"I feel like a cheerleader for your amazing learning environment, and people close to my daughter see and comment about how much she has changed since attending Mt. Scott. Kudos to all of you for making such a remarkable difference.”
CYRUS DESALLE, MSLC graduate
“I actually thought at one point I wouldn’t be able to graduate. But the teachers at Mt. Scott helped me come out of my shell more and they helped me realize I could be successful.
“Just being able to graduate now and finally get my diploma, it means everything. It means I get to go on to college and have a better future, It means a lot.”
SATIVA NEWCOMER, MSLC graduate
“I came from many different struggles; a home of substance abuse and domestic violence, which led to being placed in the foster care system. I bounced around schools a lot throughout my childhood, including seven different elementary schools.
“During my freshman year at my old high school my father died, and my teachers were not empowering me in my education. I dropped out for the majority of my freshman year. The following year I enrolled at Mt. Scott Learning Center, a year behind in credits and not on a path to graduate on time. During the beginning of my junior year, I found out I was pregnant.
“The environment at Mt. Scott helped me and empowered me to push through my struggles and succeed in my education. I did what I needed to do to catch up, maintain a GPA of 3.68 and graduate on time. Mt. Scott’s small community brings many different students together who have faced their own struggles and connects them with teachers who care about their success.
“Now I am on a path to college as a Future Connect Scholar, with funding from the Pell Grant and an Oregon Opportunity Grant. I am enrolled in Portland Community College to begin my prerequisites to assist me in transferring to the Nursing Program at Oregon Health Sciences University to become a registered nurse. Thank you Mt. Scott for making this possible.”
TRAVON BRASWELL, MSLC graduate
“Mt. Scott helped me find a balance between my home life and school. Some things I deal with outside of school are a father I’ve never met, gang influences, and housing that sometimes has mold, decomposing walls and, at times, lacks basic utilities.
"The transition into Mt. Scott from bigger schools put me at ease. The small community here gave me the opportunity to connect with students and teachers while providing access to resources. This also helped me build confidence and gave me a space to express myself.
"I really don’t feel like I would have received this in a bigger learning environment. Being able to have bonds with teachers has empowered me to be confident while working towards my own success. For this I am grateful to Mt. Scott, for it has fueled my completion of high school and given me the gas to find my drive into my future."
SERENA WEATHERLY, Parent of MSLC junior academy student
"I was at a loss for what to do to help my son succeed in school. Although he tested well academically, Chase was failing his classes at his previous school. He was overwhelmed with the chaos of crowded classrooms, and I was frustrated with staff’s inability to give him the attention he needed. It felt like a sink or swim situation and Chase was being left behind.
“Mt. Scott Learning Center offered a teaching environment suited to my son’s learning style. Staff consistently communicates with each other and with parents on a one-on-one basis, acting as a team with a plan. It feels good that everybody knows your name! MSLC also maintains partnerships with the community, giving the kids real world experience and taking learning outside.
“A community atmosphere, caring and enthusiastic staff, and kids that are supported where they’re at: Mt. Scott Learning Center provides the tools for success. My son has not only succeeded but THRIVED, bringing his grades up and even earning high school math credit for Algebra as a 7th and 8th grade student.
“MSLC is a model that we should look to replicate. My family feels extremely lucky to be a part. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!"
VAILE FUJIKAWA & KATRINA BROADWATER, Sisters of MSLC graduate
“A couple of years ago our youngest sister told us that she had been accepted to Mt. Scott Learning Center, and to be frank we were a little skeptical. She had spent the previous few years trying to find a place to fit in at a public and online high school and it was mostly unsuccessful. She was unhappy with her educational situation and we were worried. We have always known that she is a bright young lady, but various circumstances have not always made it possible for her to achieve to the best of her ability. So when she told us about Mt. Scott we were concerned that this choice might set her further back, but tried to remain cautiously optimistic.
“We can say now, with pleasure, that our reservations were totally unfounded. Mt. Scott Learning Center understands young people. The staff and teachers care deeply about their students and work with them so that they can do their very best. Mt. Scott fully embraces that kids and teens are not all cut from the same mold, that they do not all have living situations that support a traditional academic schedule, and that kids and teens need different levels of emotional and academic support. Students and teachers work together to make a plan of action, allowing young people to have a sense of agency and to take pride in their education.
“Our sister went from a student who was barely passing her classes to an all-star learner at Mt. Scott. Watching her grow, ask questions about the world around her, and make plans for her very bright future has been one of the absolute joys of adult life. We remember fighting with her about homework when she was younger. Those arguments always resulted in tears and frustration, not anymore. We remember recommending books to her to no avail. Now she recommends books to us. Seeing her transformation has been a remarkable thing. We could not be more proud of her. We are so thankful to Mt. Scott for their progressive approach to education and dedication to their students. Mt. Scott has not only helped our sister, but hundreds of other young people in need – what a gift to the community! Thank you Mt. Scott for helping Amanda become the confident and strong young woman she is today.”
LORRAINE KNUDSON, Parent of MSLC students
“Mt. Scott Learning Center provides a learning environment that promotes success for students with a variety of learning styles. Both of my students attending Mt. Scott are enjoying renewed success, confidence and excitement for school.
“The community is lucky to have Mt. Scott and its wonderful nurturing staff, and so is my family. Thank you!”
TARYN COLD, Parent of MSLC junior academy student
“My son, Asa, is a bright and sensitive person who loves to engage with other people. He has a strong sense of morality and nearly unwavering integrity. He has found an educational setting at Mt. Scott Learning Center where he can be himself and fearlessly flourish.
“Asa was raised in an oppressive environment. He was not allowed the freedom of expression that every person deserves. He was exposed to violent acts that have made him aware of the dark potential in many human beings.
“When Asa was old enough to attend school, he was excited to make friends and learn new things. However, he was not able to retain the concepts his teacher taught. His progress fell substantially behind his peers. His teacher tried to reiterate the lessons she had previously taught, but the class size made it impossible for her to give Asa the time and instruction he needed. Asa was highly sensitive to his shortcomings, and developed migraine headaches due to the stress. He missed many days of school, which compounded his lack of progress.
“We attempted other methods of education, including home schooling and online school. He still struggled to retain concepts, and he missed the interaction of learning alongside other students.
“Two years ago, Asa’s household went through a drastic transition for the better. The violent aspects were eliminated and healing began to take place. During this time of change, we discovered Mt. Scott Learning Center. We walked down to visit the school together. Asa was enthralled with every aspect of the school on that day: the historic building, the encouraging office staff, the arrangement of the classrooms, and the greetings from students. He was convinced that this was the perfect school for him, and was determined to attend. He was put on a waiting list, which was torture for Asa. He was enrolled in the fall of 2013.
“Mt. Scott Learning Center is a perfect fit for Asa. He has grown emotionally and intellectually since he has been in attendance. His teachers offer open communication about his learning, while maintaining a certain sensitivity to the newness of his educational experience. His individuality is accepted and encouraged. He has received extra support in his weaker areas, and he believes he is excelling in his classes. His confidence is overwhelming. Success in his studies does not come easily for Asa, but he sees this as a good thing. In Asa’s own words, ‘Isn’t learning supposed to be challenging?’”
REBECCA TORRES, Parent of MSLC graduate
“My daughter started at Mt. Scott Learning Center her freshman year and it was the best choice for us and for her to attend school here. She was very shy and lacked confidence in herself. Now, after a few years at Mt. Scott, she is completing all of her courses on time to finish school and has really come a long way. She speaks up and participates more and is excited to learn and do more outside of her comfort zone.
“The attention and support this school has given has been a great benefit, making sure my daughter is getting the help she needs and just being supportive in her education and outside interests. Thank you.”