Alina Kozora had to find the right community for her education.
The senior began high school at Lewis and Clark, where she felt silenced and uninvited. In her junior year, Kozora knew something had to change.
Two weeks later, she began the application process to attend The Community School and knew that she had made the right decision; she made friends right away and immediately felt wanted.
“I felt like the shiny, new toy. I didn’t even go to school here yet and I had more friends than I ever did at LC,” she said.
But she also carried a lot of anxiety, emotion and uncertainty into her new environment.
Kozora’s adviser, Connie McGaughy, said there was a lot of calming Kozora down.
“I had to go where she was. I was there for her; she knew I was always in her pocket. I held her trust and confidence, always,” McGaughy said.
As she settled into her new school, Kozora became comfortable in her surroundings. She participated in the school’s Ambassador Team and spoke to other students in Spokane about The Community School. Kozora’s love of music led to an internship at Dutch’s Music.
“I learned about music and the music business, and it was part of school,” she said.
Her senior project was another internship, at Woodland Montessori School, Kozora’s first school.
“After finishing my project, I know it’s a possible career. I know I want to work with children, I love kids,” she said.
It was through her projects and her time at the school that Kozora began to find her confidence.
Cindy McMahon, principal of The Community School, explained that at the project-based school the students have to own their learning, and that Kozora did just that.
“I saw her get centered; she found her way and learned to trust herself. She’s owning her life,” McMahon said.
Kozora said that by being her own teacher she’s challenged all the time and that it has helped her think about her future.
McMahon knows her future is bright. “Alina has the opportunity to grow in a lot of different ways because of the challenging and supportive environment we created, where Alina gets to be Alina. She’s absolutely unique. I have no doubt that she’s going to have a life of rich experiences,” she said.
McGaughy said she understood that Kozora wasn’t in a good place when she first came to the school, but her confidence has grown exponentially. “She just shines now,” McGaughy said. “Whatever Alina does she will succeed; she has the skills to do it.”
Most importantly, Kozora believes in herself. She knows that whatever her future holds, there are a lot of opportunities.
“I think my plan, right now, is to move out and go to school. That’s definitely something that I have to do,” she said.
After school, she plans to travel to Europe and possibly become an au pair.
“I’m focused, I have a goal. I’m dedicated to what I want to do and I’m starting to get there,” she said.