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News >  K-12 education

East Valley Parent Partnership teachers say senior Ariel Dillon driven in her love of learning

Ariel Dillon is the valedictorian of the East Valley Parent Partnership graduating class. Dillon is the first in her family to enroll in Running Start.  (Courtesy)
Ariel Dillon is the valedictorian of the East Valley Parent Partnership graduating class. Dillon is the first in her family to enroll in Running Start. (Courtesy)
By Riley Utley For The Spokesman-Review

Ariel Dillon is a firecracker, as her teachers say. She’s always ready, willing and excited to learn, and she hopes to eventually take this love for learning into her own classroom.

“In class she does not back down from a discussion,” said Craig Schaefer, Dillon’s science teacher. “She leans into it with everything she has, in a respectful way. She’s not arguing for argument’s sake. She leans into it and pursues the truth.”

Dillon is a senior at East Valley Parent Partnership. She will be the valedictorian of her class. Both Schaefer and Dillon’s counselor Mary-Hope Lakin expressed how self-driven Dillon is and how that is a main reason she’s found her success.

This year Dillon decided she wanted to take on a new challenge, Running Start.

“My biggest accomplishment was when I started Running Start this year,” Dillon said. “My first quarter I was in an intercultural communications class, it was like a 200-and-something class, and I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. But once I started I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is so hard, what the heck.’ It was so tough I didn’t know if I’d get through it, but I figured out how to do it. I liked it and after a while I got into the groove and realized I could do this.”

She’s been taking American Sign Language along with English 102 and Psychology 101 this quarter.

“She has been a total advocate for herself with Running Start,” Lakin said. “That was all her idea. She was the first in her family to do that. She’s done extremely well. She’s our valedictorian this year even with starting college a year early. Her goal is to become a schoolteacher and I think that’s a great fit for her.”

Dillon said that her goal is to be a teacher. Her love from school and growing up in a big family and being one of the older siblings is what led her to this decision.

“She comes from a family of nine kids,” Lakin said. “She’s the oldest girl, and the third-oldest in line. She’s kind of the second mother of the group. Especially now that she drives siblings all over the place because they are at different ages at different schools. She’s kind of mom’s co-pilot in a lot of ways. She takes that leadership and not only does it in her own family but is a leader and a role model for the other kids in our school as well.”

Her mentorship of her siblings and students has helped her flourish in her leadership and help her figure out that teaching is the career path she wants to pursue.

“I had some really awesome teachers. I think they’re probably what inspired me the most,” Dillon said. “Not only that I feel like having good teachers in the world is really important because if the teacher genuinely cares about the student, I think it can really change a lot of kids’ lives. I’ve always wanted to do something to help people, but I didn’t know exactly what it was.”

Her plan is to do another year at Spokane Falls Community College to get her AA and then to transfer into a four-year university, either Eastern Washington University or Gonzaga University, to get her teaching certification, she said.

“I hope she finds success in everything she’s doing,” Schaefer said. “She’s built a great foundation for it in the way she cares for other people, she doesn’t shy away from anything and she excels at everything she does. I hope she continues down that path.

“I would love to see her as a mentor for people in the future for whatever she does.”

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