After building one of the most effective charter school programs in the Victor Valley, Bill Postmus Sr., handed over the reigns to Summit Leadership Academy last summer to Philip Dotson.


Dotson, a former police officer, is determined to build on his predecessor's success.


"The school is doing great," Dotson said to a reporter during the school's career day last Friday. "It's a really tight-knit staff. Everybody works well together."


For the past few years, the school has had one of the highest high school Academic Performance Index scores, trailing only the Academy for Academic Excellence in Apple Valley, Serrano High School in Phelan and University Preparatory in Victorville. In 2008, Summit had an API of 753, an increase of 33 points over the previous school year. The school located on Hesperia's west side also has one of the highest attendance rates in the area.


"They have high standards for those kids," said Robert Kirk, president of the Hesperia Unified School District's school board. "And each student has a plan."


Summit Leadership's annual career day not only plants seeds for students hoping to some day go into the military or study police or fire sciences in college, but there were recruiters on hand to help them move into careers just a few years away. The recent event included representatives from the National Guard, San Bernardino County Sheriff's SWAT, the U.S. Marine Corp., and County Fire. Others participating included an emergency room physician, representatives from county and Phelan Equestrian on Patrol units, and Rialto police K-9 Unit, including an energetic K-9 dog named "Gilley."


While the board is officially chartered through the HUSD, the 164-student academy has its own five-member governing board that currently includes Capt. Lance Clark of the Hesperia Sheriff Station and County Fire Division Chief Tim Wessel.


Kirk fully expects the Summit Leadership program to continue moving forward under Dotson's leadership.


"I think they're going to continue the same path," Kirk said. "The dream continues."


In fact, Dotson believes his entire professional life has led to this opportunity. He served four years in the U.S. Army followed by nine years as a police officer. For eight years he was an educator and coach at Silverado High School in Victorville followed by a stint in the county's special education department.


"I've done it all, the whole gambit," he said.


Ironically, it was Dotson's participation in a previous Summit Leadership Academy career day several years ago that introduced Dotson to the campus and started a new dream.


"When I first saw this place I said, 'God, if I'm ever a principal this is where I want to be.'"