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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Innovation High School: Tayevius Allen is no longer coasting along

Tayevius Allen, of Innovation High School, plans to study electrical engineering and Washington State University.  (Courtesy)
By Joe Everson For The Spokesman-Review

When senior Tayevius Allen found himself sleepwalking through his first two years at Innovation High School, all it took to turn his life around was a wake-up call from English teacher Jeremy TeGrotenhuis.

From that lackluster beginning, Allen has progressed into an Innovation all-star who is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, is ASB president and a founding member of the Black Student Union and Outdoor Leadership Academy groups. He also wrestles for Rogers High School.

“Jeremy knew my work ethic was poor,” Allen said, “but he saw my potential and knew that I was capable. It started when he put me in 10th grade honors English. It took a while to take hold, but I got the best grade in the class, and I realized then that I can do hard things.”

Allen had previously been enrolled at PRIDE Prep, which like Innovation is a free public charter school, but hadn’t really applied himself in a way that tapped the potential that TeGrotenhuis observed. So what happened?

“There was a point where I looked at my family and the people around me, and it wasn’t an environment that was really encouraging to going on to higher education. My freshman year was the COVID year, too, and so I didn’t really get the experience of what Innovation offers, and was just kind of coasting along.

“But I have always been open to new friends and new experiences, and the student-teacher dynamic at Innovation is what makes it different from a regular high school. Classes are pretty small, and the relationship with teachers is friendlier. It’s not all textbooks and taking notes.”

Allen attended Lidgerwood during elementary school, and says he had disciplinary and behavior issues there, identifying himself as a “slow learner” in those years. He improved at PRIDE Prep, where the smaller school and project-based curriculum helped him.

After an uneventful first couple years at Innovation, his turnaround included not only improved grades but increased involvement in activities.

“I was probably more open to physical challenges before the last couple years,” he said, “but my teachers and mentors have encouraged me in other directions too, and I have been able to keep up with coursework.”

Allen will attend Washington State University in the fall, majoring in electrical engineering. Because of his IB program at Innovation, he will enter with several college credits.

“Tayevius has grown from a student who was happy with C’s to pushing himself in everything that he does,” TeGrotenhuis said. “He was clearly a very smart kid earlier in high school, and I’m so proud of him for how far he’s come.”

“Because of the small class sizes at Innovation,” Allen said, “my teachers have been able to recognize when I’m struggling, and they help me to push through. Their encouragement has helped me to prove to myself that I am intelligent.”