At The Summit, we utilize a progressive approach to education that values and supports the whole person. A focus on the whole person means just that– supporting every facet of a student’s well-being from their desire to be academically inspired, supported, and challenged to their development in emotional, physical, and inquiry skills. A culture of well-being is fostered for all, from Early Learners through High School.
Supporting students’ mental health is an educational priority just as much as it is a parental priority. Today, many education leaders are calling for a broader culture of well-being for students in response to the very real rise of mental health crises, especially in children. Mental health professionals urge schools to get creative in supporting students, as not all will need or have access to individual therapy, but many “need opportunities to increase their resilience, build new skills, and connect with one another.” At The Summit, administrators, teachers, and parents are working together to best support students while building grit, resilience, and emotional intelligence.
Carla McCowan, PhD, director of the counseling center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign states, “Students who are struggling with academic demands, for instance, may benefit from workshops on stress, sleep, time management, and goal-setting.” At The Summit, these concepts are embedded into upper school advisory discussions and lower school class meetings and connected to conferencing talk-points among teachers and parents. Intentional opportunities to reduce stress and increase student regulation include mindfulness exercises and yoga classes. A good night’s rest and adequate sleep is important for students to meet the demands of the academic day. At The Summit, classes start at 8:45 am, giving students ample time to rest and eat well before starting their school day. Time management and goal-setting strategies and skills are embedded into The Summit’s progressive environment. Students naturally build these skills through scaffolded autonomy. Periodic check-points, including student-led conferences, allow for natural goal setting. In addition to teaching these skills, schools can consider how to rework the system or turn away from traditional education systems and look to more progressive models. Tim Klein and Belle Liang write about this change in thinking:
“The truth is, the best school systems in the world succeed without homework, standardized test scores or an obsession with rigorous courses. And many U.S. schools have found creative and empowering ways to showcase student merit beyond rankings and test scores. If we aren’t willing to change policies and practices that have been shown to harm students’ well-being, we have to ask ourselves: Do we really value mental health? Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario: We can design school systems that help students thrive academically and psychologically.”
Homework at The Summit is limited and meaningful. Educators use a variety of formative assessments including observation, learning checkpoints, and progress monitoring to create a holistic view of student growth. Standardized test scores are viewed as one aspect of assessment with an emphasis on project-based learning, and summative assessments include opportunities to showcase student work through presentations and celebrations.
The Summit’s progressive approach is an intentionally designed system that weaves student well-being and a whole-person focus throughout the day-to-day experience. Prioritizing recess, allowing for movement, encouraging additional time outside, and exposing students to a wide variety of specials classes are each incorporated with the goal of focusing on whole person development and ultimately improving overall student mental health and wellbeing. Student agency is promoted as students are given choices in their learning, projects, electives, seating, and more. Learning isn’t confined to The Summit’s campus. Students frequently access and engage with the community through experiential learning opportunities, field trips, and guest speakers. By creating a supportive learning environment that emphasizes student agency, project-based learning, and engaging with the external community, The Summit seeks to foster a love and joy of learning that outlasts students’ Summit experience and connects to a life-long pursuit.
To learn more about The Summit’s academic environment, please visit our website. The Summit is currently enrolling students for the 2022-2023 school year and accepting applications for 2023-2024. For more information on our admissions process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.