Hannah Pulcastro came to Five Mile Prairie School in sixth grade with a very specific goal in mind. “I wanted to change the speed of my education,” she said. “That wasn’t possible in public or private schools.”
Five Mile Prairie School, which is part of the Mead School District, offers individualized learning plans overseen by teachers and supported by students’ families.
The self-directed learning approach offered at the school meant Pulcastro could choose her classes. “I could take as many as I wanted – as many as I could handle.”
Turns out she could handle a lot. Teacher Pam Predisik said, “Hannah maintained a 4.0 average her entire time at the school. You can just tell she’s a lifelong learner.”
For the past two years, Pulcastro has participated in the Running Start program at Eastern Washington University, earning college credits as she earned her high school diploma. Currently, she works as a tutor in the math lab at the university, often helping students older than she is.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “I’m kind of shy, so it helped me overcome that. I have to talk to people one-on-one every day.”
However, her natural shyness evaporates when Pulcastro dances. Many years ago she saw the Haran Irish Dancers at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I asked my mom if I could switch from ballet classes to do that,” she said. Eleven years later, she’s still jigging.
She also volunteers with St. Vincent de Paul. “We deliver food every month to families in need. It’s been eye-opening. I’ve learned people’s situations shouldn’t define who they are.”
Predisik said Pulcastro is “very even-keeled and focused. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get there.”
What she wants is to become a psychiatrist or neuropsychiatrist. “Next year I’ll be attending WSU to study neuroscience with a pre-med concentration.”
Pulcastro credits Five Mile Prairie for her academic success. “A lot of opportunities opened up for me because of the flexible schedule. I’m so thankful for those opportunities.”
Predisik feels confident her student will achieve her goals. She said, “She’ll be Dr. Pulcastro before we know it.”