¡Ven Conmigo! ¡Mira The Summit Difference!

1st grade students learn while dancing during Spanish class in the 2019-2020 school year prior to Distance Learning.

At The Summit, we see things differently. Our mission is to prepare learners for success by providing a progressive education with a challenging curriculum in a supportive environment. We refer to our unique approach to education as The Summit Difference. To achieve this mission, we have adopted three factors that set us apart. We are small. We are independent. We are progressive.


The sense of community at The Summit is strong. Our intentionally small class sizes, limited to 18 students per class, enable us to foster personal relationships between teachers, students, administrators, and families. Our faculty engages each learner in reaching his or her highest potential. Collaboration with others and effective communication of independent thought are modeled and encouraged. Summit learners are partners in the process of discovering and constructing knowledge, with educators providing a balance of autonomy and structure, ensuring students feel both challenged and supported. We welcome parents as active participants in the learning community. Many families engage in volunteer opportunities and community building events that help to build and promote our positive school culture.


As a fully accredited independent school, our teachers have the freedom to develop an integrated, hands-on curriculum that reflects constant evolutions in technology and culture. Instead of teaching to a test, we teach to a vision: to prepare life-long learners. By developing the skills of curiosity, creativity, and critical-thinking, our students look at challenges from a higher perspective—one that considers content in context, and challenges them to not just have the right answers, but also to ask the right questions.


In an ever-changing world, current research and social priorities are continuously redefining educational standards. The skills of tomorrow require students to think more deeply about topics in context of modern-day realities. At The Summit, our progressive approach to education means our students learn by doing, not just memorizing. Instead of giving students a body of knowledge, we embed both traditional and modern skills in real-world applications to deeply explore interconnected ideas. The result is well-rounded students who are prepared to think critically and creatively about life’s challenges, and to adapt quickly to what’s next.

Spanish Teachers at The Summit 2019
Señoras Cassandra Raven and Sarah Leighninger celebrating Día de los Muertos, October 2019.

With our dedicated and experienced faculty, spacious classrooms, and four and a half acres of green space in the heart of Springfield, our students have the physical space, academic freedom, and social-emotional support to open their minds and spread their wings. The Summit is committed to providing academic opportunities and learning experiences that will help our students grow into the responsible global citizens of tomorrow. One of the ways we do this is through our focus on daily Spanish instruction.

All Summit students, from three-years-old through high school, receive daily Spanish instruction…todos los días! Señora Sarah Leighninger says, “I love teaching at The Summit because I get to teach Spanish to each grade level every single day. The integrated approach we utilize allows for students to make meaningful connections across multiple disciplines. One of my favorite trimester themes is Nuestro Sistema Solar (Our Solar System). While students learn about the planets and solar system during science and social studies with their classroom teacher, we also research and learn together in Spanish class. Students select a planet to research, write a report, and then present to their peers, all in Spanish!” Señora Cassandra Raven adds, “Offering Spanish at The Summit for our students beginning at age 3 is such a game changer because it allows Señora Leighninger and I to create a bridge between them and a culture that would likely be absent and/or harder to relate to until a later time in their youth.”

4th grade students playing Mono Loco in The Summit’s backyard, August 2020.

The Señoras also love incorporating physical movement into their Spanish lessons through dancing and games in The Summit’s big backyard. Señora Leighninger says, “Adding physical movement to the classroom is a powerful tool when learning a second language.” This approach is known as Total Physical Response (TPR), “a method of teaching language or vocabulary concepts by using physical movement to react to verbal input. The process mimics the way that infants learn their first language, and it reduces student inhibitions and lowers stress. The purpose of TPR is to create a brain link between speech and action to boost language and vocabulary learning” (The Teacher Toolkit). 

2nd grade students learn about the geography of Spanish-speaking countries across the world, September 2020.

Becoming proficient in a second language is not solely about  memorizing vocabulary, learning new phrases, and conjugating verbs. It is also important to develop a better understanding of the culture of other countries and how their unique qualities compare and contrast to our own. Familiarizing ourselves with other ways of life helps to broaden our global lens. Señora Raven says, “We have the unique opportunity not only to teach them another language but also to demonstrate the importance of diversity, ethics, and compassion for a group of people that share different customs and beliefs, and how that’s perfectly okay. Learning Spanish at The Summit opens up doors to endless opportunities for our students, and that’s something to be very passionate and excited about.”

Students made authentic tortillas during Distance Learning for The Summit’s Virtual Culture Day, May 2020.

At The Summit, Fridays are dedicated to exploring various Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Students learn about the geography, flag, coat of arms, popular landmarks, animals, music, and more. Upper grades choose one specific country for an in-depth learning project that culminates in a presentation component. Past presentations have included musical performances of a traditional song or dance, cooking demonstrations of an authentic dish, travel videos, and board games. Viernes Culturales, or Culture Fridays, is an important element to The Summit’s Spanish program and our progressive approach to education.

The Summit also offers students the opportunity to take their learning abroad. In June 2019, a group of students, parents, faculty, and staff traveled to Spain for 11 days, exploring the east coast from Barcelona to Madrid. While there, students participated in a scavenger hunt in Grenada, interacting with locals and speaking entirely in Spanish, tasted authentic paella and other traditional foods, played in the Mediterranean Sea, and visited historical sites, including La Sagrada Familia, La Alhambra, and the Plaza de España. Speaking of their time in Spain, Señora Leighninger recalled, “What an amazing first Summit Study Abroad Trip, and certainly not the last. Our remarkable group of students, parents, faculty, and staff completed its journey around Spain and returned to Springfield with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the Spanish culture. We each had a unique experience and walked away with memories that we will always cherish.” The Summit’s future international travel plans include a trip to Peru to explore the Sacred Valley, the ruins of Machu Picchu, and the capital city of Lima.

Middle and High School students working together on a scavenger hunt in Grenada, June 2019.

We invite you to experience The Summit Difference for yourself by calling to schedule a tour today! The Summit is still accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year, offering seated instruction five days per week, with hybrid options for interested families. To learn more, please contact our Admissions Team at admissions@thesummitprep.org or by calling 417-869-8077.

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