This month, beginning with National Charter Schools Week, we will feature stories from charter school graduates from across the country. Check back every day to see a new student feature in our 30 Days of Grad series.
They say that you get this weird feeling when you are about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people that you know, but also the person that you are right now at this time and at this place. Over the past nine years, with its colorful hallways and beautiful family of students and teachers, Harmony School of Innovation in Fort Worth, Texas has become my second home. It is a place where students are constantly talking about starting something new. It’s a place where hands-on learning takes priority over textbooks. It’s a place where late evenings and early Saturdays are spent on the individual growth of the students. It’s a place thriving off of ambition, support and dedication.
My journey with Harmony began as a fifth-grader. As I walked into what I like to call the sea of red uniforms, I was absolutely intimated. Here was a world I did not know. And a world that did not know me. Yet somehow, the people around me recognized the “new-girl confusion” and lent a hand. And over the years, as we all outgrew our red shirts and entered the world of blue shirts in high school, we began discovering the very things that interested us. For me, that was Science Fair.
What began as a school-wide mandatory assignment quickly transitioned into something I looked forward to every year. After hours of playing around with solar panels, hydrogen fuel cells and likings of the sort, I found a passion for research. Once that passion was recognized, Harmony provided me with the resources to pursue it. They opened up their labs to me and when that wasn’t enough, helped me find a lab at Texas Christian University. My simple renewable energy projects transitioned into using nanotechnology to improve antibiotic drug delivery. Representing Harmony at the Texas State Science Fair became a tradition, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a two-time winner at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I’ve had the opportunity to converse with Nobel Laureates. I’ve been blessed with experiences that have helped me find my place in the world. And while those achievements may sound good on a resume, they bear witness to Harmony’s mission: turning the dreams of its students into a reality.
Harmony has become a place of both first times and last times. It’s become a place where the teachers invest their own personal time into their students’ success. A place where friends read over each other’s college essays. A place where counselors hold mock interviews for students. A place where alumni and retired teachers always come back to visit. It’s become a place that stands testimony to the beauty of human connection. And while the reality of leaving behind this world to pursue biomedical engineering at MIT (aka the school of my dreams) is bittersweet, Harmony is a place that I will always look upon with pride. Because it is at Harmony that I became the person that I am right now, at this time and at this place.