This piece was featured in the 2019 Community Impact Report. 

Many of us struggle in large comprehensive high schools.  Many of us are dealing with personal issues or family tragedies that have impacted our ability to succeed in high school. We understand.

Willie Stewart Academy is an open doors program within Tacoma Public Schools for students who have dropped out of high school, lack credits to graduate on time or have family/job needs that preclude them from attending a traditional high school. Students ages 17-21 work to earn diplomas or GEDs with support from Certificated Teachers in each subject, case managers, a social worker, and a Career Guidance Specialist.

A case manager meets with each student as they arrive at Willie Stewart Academy to create an individual learning plan. This plan enables our students to work at their own pace with support from certified teachers. Our approach to education is blended learning, where we combine online work with in-person support and instruction. Students attend one or two sessions a day from 9:30am-12pm and/or 12:30-3pm. Schedules are tailored to individual needs.

In addition, students who need support in non-academic areas will be supported by our community partners, providing services that include: mental health counseling, anger management, housing, career counseling, support groups, food and clothing, and job internships.

Where there are few resources for students beyond the age of 18 as well as beyond the fourth year of high school, Willie Stewart Academy fills an important gap.

We are named after Mr. Willie Stewart, an icon in the community who worked for 36 years within the Tacoma School District as a teacher, principal, district administrator, and Tacoma School Board member.”


Janet Hopkins is a careers specialist and teacher at Willie Stewart Academy.