Going into his sophomore year of high school, Ka’din Rahman-Adamson was looking for some room to grow.
He found it not on a sprawling campus but in the cozy halls of Dishman Hills High School in Spokane Valley, where smaller was definitely better.
“I got to meet teachers who care about their students,” said Rahman-Anderson, who now plans to be one himself.
“Very proud of his progress,” said his social studies teacher, Gabe Rose. “I’m looking forward to seeing him as a social studies teacher one day.”
That seemed unlikely a few years ago, as Rahman-Adamson struggled with shyness. He stuck with online classes even before the pandemic before fitting in at Dishman Hills, an option school of 300 students in the West Valley School District.
“The teachers made it very easy to better the relationships with them and accept every student that came into class, and that relationship just developed from there,” Rahman-Adamson said.
“At any other school, I don’t think I could have thrived.”
Small class sizes – typically 12 to 14 – helped with the adjustment period; then again, everyone had to adjust when the pandemic forced everyone into online learning. That happened late in Rahman-Adamson’s sophomore year.
“I think I coped pretty well,” Rahman-Adamson said. “But the Dishman Hills perspective has been about helping students – it’s been a huge help in me adjusting to the world.”
“I managed to come out OK, through my own hard work,” Rahman-Anderson said.
But thanks to mentors like Rose, the subject of social students hardly seemed like work. That’s reflected in the school’s mission statement, part of which includes a promise to “set expectations equal to the challenges you will face in life and provide the resources, support, and belief to realize your full potential.”
Rahman-Adamson, who is Black and Native American, found his passion in studying American history – from pre-contact with Europeans and the colonial period.
“I really focused on the period after America was founded, because it ignores Black and Indigenous people,” Rahman-Adamson said. “It’s very important to have that presented.”
That passion spilled beyond the classroom, where Rahman-Adamson earned a 4.0 GPA and evolved into a leader among the students.
“He actively supports students in societal issues, and he wants to be a teacher and focus on social justice and societal justice,” Rose said.
“He’s kind of quiet, very studious and really has a reserved personality, analyzing and building a response to questions,” Rose added. “But he’s really stepped outside his comfort zone and talked to the (school) administration about shifting to a more responsible culture when he saw something thing he thought wasn’t right.”
Looking ahead, Rahman-Adamson said he plans to live on campus at Eastern Washington University and “pursue my passion” and become a high school history teacher – partly to set an example for the next generation.
“I’ve never had a Black teacher,” Rahman-Adamson said.