As the only charter school in Tomball, ComQuest Academy offers smaller class sizes than traditional public schools, a workforce development program and a tailored curriculum geared to help students from different backgrounds succeed.

"We're pretty much a traditional high school except workforce development is our big focus," ComQuest Academy Superintendent Tanis Stanfield said. "It's just a win-win deal to work while you're in high school. It gives kids a chance to cut their teeth [and decide] either, 'I want to do this' or 'this is not what I want to do.'"

Founded in 1999, ComQuest offers alternative, tuition-free education for students in grades seven–12 with traditional and specialized classes, such as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM subjects

Last year, the academy debuted a kindergarten through sixth grade program called A Lone Star Academy with traditional classroom curriculum integrated from a former on-site charter school. An estimated 170 students attend ComQuest each year, with class sizes averaging less than 20, Stanfield said.

"That's why we're called the school of choice for parents who can't afford private school but feel like traditional public school is not really a good fit," Stanfield said. "We feel like a small learning community works, and we've been successful at using that model."

Before launching ComQuest Academy in 1999, Stanfield worked at Houston ISD for more than a decade and at Tomball ISD for four years.

While at TISD, Stanfield tutored children who struggled with classwork and passing state assessments. After attending a presentation by former Gov. George Bush on charter schools, Stanfield was inspired to open ComQuest due, in part, to the close-knit feel of the Tomball community.

"ComQuest was the name we came up with to represent communication and community, and that's what the 'Com' stands for," Stanfield said. "I've got many teachers who have raised their own kids, and they are dedicated to pulling the kids along when they see them starting to stumble."

Though ComQuest is located in Tomball, the school has open enrollment year-round and accepts students from several other public districts based on individual evaluations, such as Magnolia, Spring, Klein, Conroe and Cy-Fair.

Stanfield said ComQuest has forged a relationship with Lone Star College–Tomball, which she describes as a diamond in the community for students looking to further their education on a tight budget.

"As the college has been more proactive in coming and meeting the kids so they see a familiar face, the number [of ComQuest students attending Lone Star College–Tomball] is growing," Stanfield said. "The college gave two of our students scholarships last year."

With ComQuest's large focus on STEM classes, instructors offer extra tutorial sessions, assign project-oriented classwork and bring students to visit companies, such as Baker Hughes for on-the-job training, Stanfield said.

"[ComQuest is] a slower and more personal style of learning for the kids," ComQuest instructor Hannah Foster said. "We meet [the students] as individuals and what their abilities are to learn and let them take off from there."

Despite repeated budget cuts by the state, Stanfield said she is determined to continue improving and adding new ComQuest programs for students.

ComQuest maintains a second campus at 612 Malone St. in Tomball—the original location of the school before it moved to 207 N. Peach St. in 2005.

Stanfield said she is in discussions with academy officials to determine the fate of the Malone Street campus, a potential expansion of the North Peach Street location and improvements to the on-site computer lab.

ComQuest Academy, 207 N. Peach St., Tomball 281-516-0611,