History of Crest Learning Center

  • Crest Documentary



    The East Seattle Years - 1971 through 1981

     Crest Learning Center began as the brain child of high school counselor Bill Pattie in February, 1971 with two half-time teachers and 13 students. It was called Contract High School. Karen Hagen and Dottie Roberts each ran the program for one half of the school day, often communicating by note as they arrived from or went to other teaching jobs. Michael Hagen, Bob Maier, and Patty North all joined the staff within the next two years as Contract High School grew to about 80 students.
    1971 staff
    L to R: Bill Pattie (counselor), Karen Ruskan, Michael Hagen, 
    Dottie Roberts, Ken Seng (administrator).

    After five years in an old adjacent building, the program moved into the north end of the East Seattle building during the '75-'76 school year. The original building, on the site of the ball field at the former Boys & Girls Club, was demolished shortly after Contract HS moved out.

    From 1976 to 1979 Contract HS shared the East Seattle building with S.W.I.S. (School Within a School), the junior high alternative program.

    East Seattle



    By 1975, Lynn Watts had joined the staff of Contract High School. Bob Maier left to teach Language Arts at MIHS.

    75 group staff
    1980 staff
     L to R: Dottie Roberts, Michael Hagen, Bob Maier, Karen Hagen, Patty North.

    1981 staff of Contract High School.


    Wanda Kulman began as secretary in 1980. Bob Maier returned from the High School in 1978. Brian Scheussler and Tom Tivnan added their expertise part-time during the 1981-82 school year.

    At this point, Contract was sharing the East Seattle building with the Boys and Girls Club.

  • The North Campus Years - 1982 through 1987:




    In 1982, Contract High School moved to the North Campus. This building had previously been North Mercer Junior High but presently was being used as additional classroom space for the high school. We shared the building with the Math department, Special Education, some district administration, and a day care center.

    Contract High School purchased its first two computers during the 82-83 school year.

    Bob Maier left MI for a job in Olympia as a legislative assistant with WEA .

    Crest 1982 staff
    L to R: Karen Hagen, Michael Hagen, Dottie Roberts, Patty North, Wanda Kulman. 

    Annual camping trips, mostly to Ozette, continued until 1988.

    hikers 86
    Michael Hagen, Michael Soltman (school psychologist), and Patty North at Ozette in 1986. 
    Ozzette 83



    Staff in 1985: Patricia Malatesta, Patty North, Karen & Michael Hagen, Wanda Kulman.

    Patricia Malatesta joined Contract in 1983 as an aide, then was hired as a teacher in 86-87.

    After several years of serving about 125 students, enrollment was trimmed back to 80.

    By 1985, the greenhouse program was established and growing.

    During the summer of 1986, the staff took Feuerstein training and began to focus on cognitive development.

    The program evolved from serving students almost exclusively through independent contracts to offering two morning classes each day and the rest independent contracts.

    Patty 1985 Patricia 1985  
    karen and michael hagan

    The Mercer Crest Years - 1987 through 1997 

     In 1987, Contract High School moved to the site of the former Mercer Crest Elementary library and assumed the name Crest Learning Center.

    In 1988, Crest received its first Mercer Island Schools Foundation grants. During the next few years, the Foundation generously supported Crest by funding visiting artists, habitat development, library books, and computer equipment.

    Crest began to offer a formal summer program.
    Crest 1988
     The first of two Crest buildings at the Mercer Crest site. This building was a remodel of the previous Mercer Crest Elementary School library.


     Patricia 1990
    Patricia Malatesta, teacher 
    Wanda 1990  
     Wanda Kulman, secretary.
     Jackie 1991
    Jackie Hallett, administrator. 


    The program expanded.

    Nancy Kidder replaced Wanda Kulman, who went on sick leave in 1993, then stayed as a parapro when Wanda returned in 94-95. Brian Berghout and Carol Heltzel joined the staff in 93-94, followed by secretary Linda Holt and parapro Karrey Rigby in 95-96.

    1995 Staff of Crest Learning Center 

    Crest staff 1995
    L to R: Carol Heltzel, Patricia Malatesta, Brian Berghout, Michael Hagen, Nancy Kidder, Linda Holt, Chris Allen, Patty North, Karen Hagen.

     Jason 1996
    Jason Porter 
     In the spring of '96, Jason Porter finished his student teaching and joined the staff in 96-97, splitting his time between MIHS and Crest.

    Enrollment remained steady at about 115 students, but more students were taking classes all day at Crest.

    Michael Hagen's district technology duties expanded enough so that substitute Joyce Hedlund was a regular in the building for several years.
    Joyce Hedlund with
    student Rick Hervey. 

     90's Activities

    Crest continued to offer hands-on experiences throughout the 90's.
     Jodi 1999
    Art projects with visiting artist Jodi Waltier. 
    coldframes 1993
    Coldframes in the early horticulture program. 

    Ropes Course
    1997 Ropes course 
    snoqualmie falls
    Hikes to Snoqualmie Falls. 

    1997 Expansion 

    quiet time
    In the mid-90's, Crest began to outgrow its "Great Room" as more students enrolled in the morning English/History Block. 
    Two portables were added until an enlarged building was ready in the fall of 97. 
    New start
    Construction began on the building expansion in March, 1997. 
     Moving Greenhouse
    The greenhouses were moved to make way for construction. 
     building 1998
    In the fall of 1997 Crest moved into its newly remodeled and expanded home.