As our students prepare to head back to school, the League of Education Voters is highlighting a few of the new public charter schools opening this fall. We recently sat down with Rainier Prep’s founding leader Maggie O’Sullivan to hear about the school’s opening.
School begins at Rainier Prep on September 1 for students in grades 5 and 6. Based in the Highline area of Seattle, Rainier Prep’s mission is to prepare all students to excel at four-year colleges and become leaders in their communities. At full capacity, Rainier Prep will serve grades 5-8.
Rainier Prep will use a model of inquiry- and project-based learning that complements college readiness curriculum. It all comes back to the people, however, according to school founder Maggie O’Sullivan: “The number one difference at Rainier Prep is our teachers and our staff.”
Maggie has taught in and led Washington public schools for more than 18 years as both a teacher and a principal. Her commitment to helping all students succeed is clear through her work. As a principal in Federal Way, Maggie received the Martin Luther King Closing the Achievement Gap Award.
Maggie and the rest of the founding team moved into the school on July 1, and staff began on August 3. All of the students have already met with their advisors and after four days of orientation, school will start tomorrow, on September 1.
Maggie says that the biggest challenge for her in opening a school was simply the “sheer number of details” to track, from registering and welcoming families to making sure they had the correct license for food service.
One of the most gratifying experiences, though, has been the community support. Rainier Prep had 25 volunteers helping to get the school ready on August 14 (Washington’s Charter Champions Day of Service). Families are excited for the school’s opening and have been pitching in to paint or make bulletin for the school. Maggie says that it has been fun to welcome family and community members. Lots of people “just drop by” to learn more about the school and see how things are going.
Maggie says she’s most looking forward to the first day of school. Their board members and supporters will be present to greet the 160 students getting off the school buses for their first day at Rainier Prep. Maggie also describes herself as a “doer, not a planner.” After 2-and-a-half years planning to start a school, Maggie is excited to jump in and get going with the new year.