Three years ago, Olivia Steffes found a home at Pivot Charter School. When she got to Pivot, “no one could picture me graduating. I wasn’t planning on finishing school, but last year, when my mom saw me volunteering at graduation, she told me she was proud of me and she knew I’d make it through my senior year.”

Olivia, who graduated in June, started attending Pivot as a sophomore. She chose Pivot after not feeling in control in a “normal” school setting where she developed anxiety and depression. “The longer I went to big schools and the longer I was in these intense environments, the worse I got.” After researching several charter schools in the area, she chose Pivot because she felt that it was the only school that accommodated her needs. “I wanted a safe and comfortable place to get my work done, and Pivot was just that. The staff not only respected me but made sure I felt comfortable and in control all the time.”

While every student’s Pivot experience is unique, Olivia says that Pivot helped her succeed through words of encouragement, which allowed her to be independent and “become her own boss” by figuring out how many assignments she had to complete or how many volunteer hours she had left to fulfill. “Pivot staff and educational coordinators still check on me to see how I’m doing. I don’t doubt that we will keep in touch for many, many years.”

Olivia says that it’s the people at Pivot that sets them apart from other schools. “It’s not just the staff, but it’s all of the interesting people you meet [at school]. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they came from or what they are doing in life, they all have such a unique story to tell.” Olivia enjoyed the one on one connection between students and their educational coordinators and said that students know a lot about their classes, but also learn about who the educational coordinators are as people. “You get to know their hobbies and know where they got married and why they became a teacher.”

Olivia feels that Pivot staff and educational coordinators listen to the students, which is something she didn’t experience at a traditional public school. “A wonderful thing about Pivot is how loud your voice is. If you want a club about making ice cream, or the history of mountains, or something else you are passionate about, they will listen and make it happen.”

Now that she’s graduated from Pivot, Olivia plans to attend cosmetology school in the near future but also wants to spend time traveling, too. “Right now, I’m focusing on myself and ways to better the life that I live, but I am most excited about learning new things; the things that make me want to go out and try something new are the best adventures. I love traveling, and since I have a car and a license now, my best friend and I get to explore all around the country. I’m super excited to be on my own and become the responsible adult that I know I am.”