Small, Independent, Progressive: Why Choose an Independent School?

The Summit’s academic philosophy emphasizes collaborative, hands-on project-based learning with a challenging curriculum in a supportive environment.

Selecting a private school for your child can be a daunting task for parents given the variety of options and educational philosophies to consider, including independent, parochial, laboratory, charter, Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and more. Springfield, Missouri offers several private education opportunities with The Summit serving as the only fully-accredited independent school offering five days of seated instruction. Here are a few commonly asked questions from families considering an independent school for their child:

What is an independent school?

Independent schools are close-knit communities that provide students with individualized attention. They prompt students to think creatively and spark their curiosity with a challenging curriculum while encouraging social-emotional growth beyond academics to develop responsible, globally-conscious, and community-oriented students.

Are all private schools also independent schools?

All independent schools are under the umbrella of private schools. But not all private schools are independent.

A private school can be run by a for-profit company, a non-profit company, a church or diocese, or other non-governmental organization.

An independent school is run by a board of trustees that is truly independent (hence the name) of any other entities. The Summit Preparatory School is a private, independent, non-profit school.

Students engage with technology in meaningful ways as a tool to enhance their learning and encourage the development of 21st century skills.

What makes independent schools independent?

Independent schools are independent in philosophy and management.

    • They adhere to their own academic philosophy and are driven by a unique mission. At The Summit, our mission is to prepare learners for success by providing a progressive education with a challenging curriculum in a supportive environment for ages three through high school.
    • They are governed by a board of trustees and are primarily supported through tuition payments and charitable contributions.
    • They are accountable to their school communities and are accredited by globally-recognized accrediting bodies.

Are independent schools accredited? What organization accredits independent schools?

Accreditation means that the school has been found to meet standards and achieve a level of quality established by the accrediting body. Accreditation standards are qualitative judgments and typically not used as the basis for comparison between schools.

International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA) is the international leader in independent school accreditation. By working directly with accrediting associations, ICAISA advances excellence and upholds standards in order to ensure quality and accountability in independent schools across the globe.

The Summit is accredited by the Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS), which is a member of ICAISA. The ISACS standards meet or exceed Missouri state standards at each grade level.

The Summit received renewal of the organization’s full accreditation in March 2019. The Summit is currently in year four of the seven year, cyclical accreditation process through ISACS.

The Summit also belongs to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which is an association of independent schools providing a network for professional development and best practice exchange.

These national and regional organizations anchor The Summit to the tenets of independent education and ensure continual improvement and growth.

How does Springfield benefit from independent schools?

Through deliberate education of the whole child and academic excellence, The Summit creates thoughtful and responsible community members for Springfield. A critical component of progressive and independent education includes service learning. Each year, The Summit organizes an all-school service day where all students, faculty, staff, and parent volunteers work together on a project to benefit a local organization. Upper school students participate in internships with local organizations. Job shadow and internship opportunities are an option each year through Cox Hospital’s Medical Explorers, GO CAPS (Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies), and the Springfield Leadership Academy. These community partnerships allow students to gain career insight and valuable civic experiences while building connections with local businesses for future talent.

As residents consider moving to the Springfield area, The Summit offers a truly independent (non-religious, non-university affiliated) option for private education. Adding a competitive edge against neighboring cities, such as Bentonville, Joplin, Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Tulsa, The Summit’s accredited independent status brings Springfield up to parity when comparing education options.

Faculty and administration support the education of the whole child by modeling compassion, upstanding character, and a joy of learning.

Whether you are considering The Summit or another private school, we encourage all families to ask the following questions on your school tour:

  1. Are there dedicated facilities and programs to accommodate early childhood, lower, middle, and upper school students?
  2. Is this a classroom environment my child would love to spend time in?
  3. Are the teachers dedicated to helping children learn?
  4. Does this school seem capable of bringing out the best talents of my child?
  5. How will I know if this school will be a good fit?

To learn more about how The Summit can answer these questions for your family, we invite you to watch this short informational video about our school. To experience The Summit Difference in person, please contact our Admissions Team at admissions@thesummitprep.org or call 417-869-8077 to schedule your personal 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.

Additional Resources:

The Independent School Advantage
10 Questions to Ask to Find the Right Independent School for Your Child
Finding the Best School for Your Child

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