With the return of another school year, Green Dot’s Destiny Middle School proudly reflects on how much it has grown in the past two years. Destiny is a space for learning and growth for students from diverse neighborhoods in the greater Tacoma area. It has expanded from its first sixth grade class to a full middle school serving grades 6-8, and prioritizes putting all students on a path to college. Last year, Destiny enrolled 275 students from different backgrounds and learning abilities. Currently, 12% of students are English Language Learners and 23% of students participate in their Special Education programming. All students take college preparatory math and humanities courses and can choose from STEAM-focused electives that include computer science and the arts.
Growing to full capacity while maintaining a positive school culture would not have been possible without the leaders who have been with Destiny since day one. From their commitment in the initial planning phases of the school to their continued dedication today, their insight and hard work have helped create a school that has become a home for hundreds of students.
Meet some of our founding members of the Destiny family who are excited for the opportunity to make this school year a memorable one for all students and families.
Katherine Kleitsch, Assistant Principal
Katherine is a proud Washingtonian with strong family ties in both Seattle and the Yakima Valley. She grew up in Kent and went on to become a Husky at the University of Washington, where she helped establish the UW Dream Project—an initiative aimed at assisting low-income and first-generation high school students in attaining higher education. She wanted to make her fellow students aware that not everybody grew up with the same educational opportunities, and that we should be working to make quality education more accessible for all students. This inspired her to pursue a career in education.
After a few years teaching high school math, coaching teachers, and running summer programs in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina, she decided to return to Washington and joined the Green Dot family. As a founding staff member at Destiny Middle School, she hoped to bring quality education and provide paths to college for students in the community she calls home. She continues to bring her vast experience and passion for quality education access to her role at Destiny and loves seeing her students succeed every day.
Fun Fact: Katherine served as a coach in 2014 for Girls on the Run International, an organization that runs youth development programs like interactive lessons and running games for girls in third through eighth grade.
Gary Mayne, School Counselor
Gary wears many hats—he is a mental health professional, an educator, and a musician! He graduated with a B.A. in Music Teacher Education from University of North Colorado and earned his Masters of Education with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Trinity University. He worked in a metropolitan-area community health agency in community support and has served as a teacher in both the Washington D.C. and Colorado Public School systems. He also served as a Community Support Specialist and a Clinical Associate at mental health and family crisis clinics in the D.C. area.
He joined Destiny in its planning year in June 2015 and has since helped build a comprehensive counseling program that aims to help all students with any social, emotional, behavioral, or academic challenges they face in middle school. Gary is thrilled to work with the students of Destiny and is passionate about students’ well-being and providing them the best care possible during their time at school.
Fun Fact: Gary is a seasoned trombonist and continues to perform. He is passionate about Latin music and has served as band director at multiple high schools prior to joining Destiny.
Kara Hayes, Special Education Teacher
Kara arrived in Washington by way of the U.S. Army. Originally from Louisiana, she decided to stay in Washington after finishing her tour and went on to work with high school seniors as an Army Recruiter. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Special Education and remains dedicated to giving every child—no matter their physical or mental learning abilities—the opportunity to succeed. Currently, Kara is a Special Education teacher and founding Destiny parent. She was one of dozens of parents that helped provide community input for parent and partner engagement strategy and student program design before Destiny opened its doors and engaged with local neighborhoods.
Last year, Kara was a finalist in the “Education Support Professional of the Year” category at the Fifth Annual Golden Dot Awards.
Fun Fact: Kara has many hobbies—ranging from creative writing to bike riding. She enjoys debating politics and current events with her child.