What an amazing testimonial presented by Mt. Scott Learning Center graduate Taylor Peters (Class of 2008) at our STRIVE! event on May 15th. Here’s a summary of her message:

Thank you all for your time and attention while I share some of my life story and specifically my experience with Mt Scott Learning Center. I have shared several positive reviews of my high school over the years, but today I will share a more unfiltered version. I think many young people can relate to things I have experienced, and I hope to give you all a real glimpse of why Mt Scott is important to me, the students it serves, and the health of our community. 

I graduated from Mt Scott in 2008. High school years are challenging for most. My younger brother and I had an exceptionally difficult time, as there was much instability in our lives at the time. Our mother worked long hours in efforts to provide for us on her own. We were surrounded by negative influences. Our peers’ lives and our own were filled with crime, unhealthy relationships, drugs, and alcohol. We were drowning in the public school system academically and socially. Other than our hardworking and at no fault of her own, absent mother, we had no adult that knew us past our names and failing grades, we had nothing to strive for, and had no reason to believe that we were capable of anything more. 

Desperate for any hope of her children graduating high school, my mom found Mt Scott Learning Center. I went reluctantly, but the staff quickly won me over with their genuine care and desire to know me. They treated me as the young adult I craved to be. They wanted to know who I was, and they saw who I could become.

Mt Scott became our safe place and an opportunity to choose a better life for ourselves. With recovered grades and a new positive outlook on my future, I got a full-time job my junior year, bought my first car and started contributing to my family while also saving for college and my life after graduation. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies from then on. I was a teenager still experiencing difficulties. Occasionally I would fall asleep in class, have disputes with classmates or fall behind on an assignment. Bit instead of disciplinary notes home and marks against my grades, the staff treated me with a gentle kindness first and willingness to support me in doing better. These efforts were so appreciated that I WANTED to do better. By the end of my senior year, I felt prepared and confident for the next phase of life. I was accepted to attend Oregon State University and graduated with a Bachelors in Science a few years later. 

I now have four children and a wonderful husband. We started our own photography business six years ago and it is thriving. Our business allows us a lot of time with our family, creating a life that neither of us even knew was possible for us. We also serve youth in our community through a mentorship program around teen suicide prevention, and my husband goes beyond that to mentor youth through his work as a football coach and chaplain. I can’t imagine that I would be living a life filled with healthy relationships, family time and giving back to my community if it weren’t for my path being redirected during my high school years. 

Looking back now, 15 years after graduating, I know that the biggest impact Mt. Scott and the staff had on my life is belief. Belief in myself and that there was greatness within me, within all of us in our own ways. That I was capable of accomplishing whatever I set my mind to. I credit many of my greatest successes so far in life to that belief.

While I almost called Tom to back out of this speech everyday leading up to today, I didn’t. I’m here because I know I am capable of more than my doubts, more than my circumstances. 

I’m sure that the Mt. Scott staff that were there for me at the time, many of whom were around the age that I am now, were facing their own struggles, busy lives and circumstances. But they showed up for me every day. I hope I showed up today for them and for youth that need a school like Mt. Scott Learning Center. 

Mt. Scott Learning Center and Sackcloth & Ashes teamed up for a special donation and day of service at the Laurelwood Center shelter in SE Portland on Wednesday, February 21.

A Mt. Scott teacher and team of students were at Laurelwood Center early preparing and serving a delicious lunch for the shelter residents. This was part of our schoolwide monthly service learning day and Mt. Scott’s long-time service partnership with Laurelwood Center, which is operated by Transition Projects.

Capping off the day was a generous donation of 100 blankets to the shelter from Sackcloth & Ashes, an amazing mission-driven company that served as Mt. Scott’s business partner for the recent two-month Willamette Week Give!Guide campaign. Thanks to Mt. Scott’s Give!Guide donors and Sackcloth & Ashes, we were thrilled to provide Laurelwood Center with this blanket donation.  

Mt. Scott students model our core value of Citizens through monthly off-campus service opportunities. All students take part in supporting our local community, while building practical and people skills, strengthening connections with each other, and making an impact in areas that are meaningful to them.


“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.

“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.”


“I am so proud of the progress my son has made while at Mt. Scott Learning Center. And I can’t imagine where he would be without the support of the caring and amazing staff.  Thank you for recognizing that different students have different needs, and that NOT every path to graduation looks the same.” 


“I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Before Mt. Scott, I was consumed everyday with trying to get my son to school on time, even 10:15 was a stretch once he became depressed, emailing teachers and counselors for extra time on assignments, getting 504 accommodations in place, etc… I was constantly crossing over the line of accommodating a teenager too much but also fearing that if I didn’t he would drop out, run away or worse. 

“He has had some stumbling blocks for sure at Mt. Scott, but I feel like I can let him fall down on his own and feel confident that it’s the right kind of falling. The kind he can learn from and get up from. “


“As a parent, it has been astonishing to witness the difference between my daughter’s struggling start to high school at a large comprehensive school to her thriving transformation at Mt. Scott Learning Center. Thank you Mt. Scott!”



“I would like to share our exciting news that your former Mt. Scott student and graduate, Marcus, is graduating from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication!

“We are so proud of this kid who had basically dropped out of high school his freshman year. Then we found Mt. Scott Learning Center. As I write this note, I find myself in tears remembering those dark days of struggles and frustration trying to find a way to get my son through high school. I had started looking for a boot camp to send him to. I was so desperate for help. Finally, a counselor recommended Mt Scott Learning Center.

“From the first days of school to the final day of graduation, the staff at Mt. Scott was incredibly supportive and dedicated to the success and acceptance of each student there. Marcus’s experience at Mt. Scott was truly a life-changing direction.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”


“I spent a lot of my high school life skipping class and goofing around, or just sitting in class not caring whether I understood the lesson or not. At one point, the school administrators told my mom that if I stayed I wouldn’t be eligible to graduate. This was devastating, I thought of myself as a failure.

“I came to Mt. Scott as a depressed junior thinking this school was going to be just like the rest, but I was wrong. I felt the open arms and genuine smiles. I could hear in the teachers’ voices that they wanted me to stay and that they wanted to see me graduate.

“This school gave me a chance to feel confident about my abilities. Now I’m about to graduate and it’s all thanks to the support of Mt. Scott.”

“I felt the open arms and genuine smiles. I could hear in the teachers’ voices that they wanted me to stay and that they wanted to see me graduate.”



“At my previous school I didn’t receive much support and was skipping and not showing up to class. I needed a smaller space and to get away from people that were influencing me in a negative way.

“My counselor told me about Mt. Scott Learning Center. I knew I needed a change and was desperate for Mt. Scott to be what I was looking for. Fortunately, it was.

“What I noticed most was a great group of teachers that support me in my schoolwork and are always checking in with me. The people here care about me and make sure I am doing the right things to stay on track to graduate and get my life on the right path.”

“What I noticed most was a great group of teachers that support me in my schoolwork and are always checking in with me.”



“My lifestyle before Mt. Scott was a huge mess. I never thought about my future and was only focused on childish matters, thinking more about wants than needs. I was skipping and failing classes, fighting and arguing, and constantly getting suspended. And when I was at school, I spent most of my time in the principal’s office or the counselor’s office. That’s the only thing I knew how to do.

“Coming to Mt. Scott was definitely a big change for me. It opened my eyes and I began to see that everyone is different and special in their own way. I became a better person because the teachers here really saw the potential in me. They knew I could be better than I was in the past, and they were right. Even if they didn’t think I did, I always listened to them – because I knew they wanted the best for me.

“Three years ago, I didn’t know if I would even graduate. Now I’m graduating on time and excited about my future.”

“I became a better person because the teachers here really saw the potential in me.”



“I used to think my anxiety would be something I would not be able to deal with. I was always second guessing myself to the point that I would feel debilitated. After I was hospitalized, I knew my previous school would not work for me.

“I remember walking into Mt. Scott and meeting members of the staff for the first time. It was like I could breathe again. Mt. Scott helped me become more stable. The small classes and supportive staff made such a difference. Mt. Scott became a safe place for me.

“Graduation means the world to me and my family. Before Mt. Scott, I didn’t know if I would graduate at all. Now I feel like I’ve taken charge of my future again and my future is going in the direction I want it to.”

“Mt. Scott helped me become more stable. The small classes and supportive staff made such a difference. Mt. Scott became a safe place for me.”



“Before Mt. Scott I was attending a large traditional high school and wasn’t getting the support I needed to succeed. I was ready to drop out, give up, and leave all my hopes and dreams in the dark. I started skipping school and playing basketball at the local community center, where I met some teachers and students from Mt. Scott. 

“I enrolled at Mt. Scott and experienced an energy that felt so much different and better than at a large school. The staff made me realize who I was again and pushed me to do my best. They helped me with whatever I needed in and out of class. I discovered the hope and motivation that I had lost at my previous school. I began to realize my full potential for the first time.

“Before Mt. Scott, people always told me I would never make it to graduation, and that I was going to end up in jail or out on the streets or even dead. But I cleaned myself up and made a new name for myself. And now I’m graduating and can finally say ‘I did it.’”

“…I cleaned myself up and made a new name for myself. And now I’m graduating and can finally say ‘I did it.’”



“I came to Mt. Scott from a school that had put me in a dark place. A former math teacher flat out told me I would go nowhere in life because I failed his class, and he told me I was worthless and would never graduate high school. Other students were bullying me. It was the worst school experience possible.

“Mt. Scott saved me. It gave me hope from the first time I walked through the school doors. I met teachers who had smiles on their faces and a look in their eyes that told you that you can go anywhere in life. And with their help and support, I am graduating with the opportunity to provide a better life for my mom and me.

“I hope to go to college to follow my goal of becoming a preschool teacher. Thank you Mt. Scott for always being there for me.”

“Mt. Scott saved me. It gave me hope from the first time I walked through the school doors.”



“I was born in Nepal where only a small percentage of women graduate with higher education. As a middle schooler I thought I would probably join the 80% who drop out. I suffered from severe depression and anxiety and I hit rock bottom as a sophomore. Before I knew it, I had been out of school three months and attempted to take my life multiple times.

“After a month in an inpatient rehabilitation center, I was discharged and luckily enrolled at Mt. Scott Learning Center. I was immediately accepted by the community there, giving me a safe space to learn and cope. Mt. Scott provided me with the support I needed that I couldn’t get anywhere else.

“If I hadn’t found Mt. Scott, I probably wouldn’t even be alive today. I know that sounds drastic, but I used to think there wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel, and Mt. Scott became that light for me.”

“Mt. Scott provided me with the support I needed that I couldn’t get anywhere else.”