She started at WMAES as a sixth grader. She took AP Biology as a sophomore with a class full of seniors. By the time she graduated as the 2018 salutatorian, she had her CNA and 13-credits from Kent Career Technical Center (KCTC) that she could apply to her undergraduate studies at Davenport University. Through hard work, she earned the Titanium Scholarship which will cover a large part of her annual tuition. She is successful. She is proud. She is a WMAES Eagle!

Her name is Ashleigh Breton and she is a 2018 graduate of West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science. She came to WMAES as a sixth grader once her family learned about the school and its offerings. She excelled in the WMAES’ environment where she was able to learn through the use of the outdoors as well as get her questions answered by caring teachers.

“Our school focuses on college readiness. I think our (secondary) classes are harder than other public schools’, but all of the teachers know and care about their students, so they were always there to help me which encouraged me to work hard,” Ashleigh explained. “Tough curriculum starts early. Math was my hardest subject, but it was taught in a different way, which helped. We did a lot of presentations and projects – groups and solo – which helped me learn in a different way.”

Ashleigh’s opportunities at WMAES enabled her to excel in her secondary education through their Advanced Placement (AP) classes on campus as well as their partnership with KCTC. She started at Davenport University in September with 13-credits that will go towards her degree in health.

“I really want to work with children,” explained Ashleigh. “I’d love to be a pediatric nurse, so I plan to apply for DU’s Nursing Program this month. I did a 15-week internship at Spectrum and a one-week internship at Mercy Health. I job shadowed nurses and was able to work in the neonatal intensive care unit, help in pre/post operation, and found that I really enjoyed all of it. I could work as a CNA right now, but I want to continue my education.”

Ashleigh was accepted to Grand Valley State University as well as Davenport University but committed to DU because of its similarities to WMAES.

“I chose Davenport because their class sizes and learning environments are similar to WMAES’ – at West Michigan Academy the environment was comfortable and everyone genuinely cared about each other. I want to be in college classes where I can build relationships and get to know my classmates. At WMAES, the teachers cared about students and were there to help you succeed. That’s their main focus – teachers spend their time helping you learn to understand.”

In her time in WMAES’ high school program, not only did Ashleigh earn her CNA and 13-credits toward college, she also took AP Bio with Mr. Barrett as a sophomore (with a class full of seniors) and did her Senior Capstone presentation on childhood obesity.

“I learned a lot about nutrition and healthy habits. It interested me, so I researched it and studied it. I researched exercises and ways to prevent childhood obesity and discovered that children who are obese can still be malnourished because they aren’t consuming actual nutrition. I hope in five years from now I’ll pass the state test (on the first try), be a registered nurse working in after-labor with healthy babies at a hospital in Grand Rapids – that’s my goal!”