Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Getting to Know Our Teachers

Our teachers are the backbone of Summit. They are inspiring, dedicated, and simply amazing. They also each have a unique story about their path to Summit and to teaching their area of passion. Learn more about our teachers in our new Teacher Profile page on our website (http://summitps.org/whoweare/Teachers). As part of an ongoing series, we're currently featuring the below six teachers. 

Holocaust Survivor Brings Hope and Strength to Summit

The Expeditions Holocaust class at Summit Prep welcomed the start of their Holocaust Survivor’s speaker series this month. The class invited Helen Farkas, an Auschwitz and death march survivor, to share her story with 150 students as multiple classes attended her presentation. Helen bravely shared stories of her arrival to Auschwitz and the terror she saw as her mother & father stood in line for the gas chambers. And while Helen’s story was filled with tragedy, she expressed an unrelenting positive message of strength and hope.
Helen left our students with this thought:“...anytime someone is targeted because of their race, their ethnicity, their gender, their sexuality, their religion, anyone one who has been picked on, made fun of, bullied or beaten. For anyone who has experienced any of this, which is all of us, at some point in our lives, we are forever connected to those who have suffered in the past. These are the ties that bind us together, to each other and to me. You are me, and I am you. We are all human beings and we must fight against the injustices of the world we are living in.”


Reflections from a Summit Prep Alumna in College

Jenny Gonzalez, a Summit Prep alumna who graduated in 2012, is currently a senior at Sonoma State University and graduating Spring 2016. She is majoring in Communications with a minor in Spanish. Even though Jenny graduated almost four years ago from Summit, she couldn’t stay away from the community and has interned with multiple Summit teams.
“I’m really grateful for the habits and skills I learned at Summit that prepared me for college.”
How did Summit prepare you for college?
If Summit didn’t have office hours and really encouraged me to go when I was in high school, I don’t think I would have even known what office hours really were. When going to my professor's office hours, I know how to ask questions and share concerns I have. Also, going to office hours in college has really helped me have a good relationship with my teachers. Building a relationship with a teacher during office hours could benefit for writing letters of recommendation or references.
What advice would you give to a Summit student?
Really make the most of high school. Four years go by really quickly and then you’re on your own. Make sure to give it your all with your academics because they matter when it comes to classes in college, or even the colleges you are eligible to apply to. Also, join school clubs, go to all the dances, have school spirit, be proud to be a part of the Summit community.
What are you looking forward to after college graduation?
Finding a job where I can help my community be seen as a positive place. As an East Palo Alto native, I know that it isn’t just a city full of violence -- that’s how the media always makes it seem. I majored in Communications to change that perspective of my city. So whether it is a job in media or a non profit organization, I just look forward to helping people that have gone through the same struggles as I have.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Check out Summit's Personalized Learning Plan

Summit’s Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) allows every Summit student to have a personalized learning experience, and connects our students' long-term college and career goals to their daily decisions and actions. The PLP also houses all of our student’s curriculum, and provides real-time access to a student's academic coursework, goals, and performance to students, teachers, and parents.

Get a glimpse into Summit's Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) at app.mysummitps.org. Take a look at the powerful tool enabling our students to learn at their own pace and apply their thinking skills to deeper learning projects that reflect real-world situations. You can also browse all of Summit’s curriculum from 6th to 12th grade and see all of our projects and content knowledge areas of focus. 

The PLP also highlights Summit’s Basecamp program, which is is a free program we offer that helps public schools across the nation bring personalized learning to more classrooms and students. Learn more about it here

How Does a Ferris Wheel Work?

What do Ferris Wheels, sound waves, hours of daylight, moon phases, and ocean tides all have in common? All of these natural phenomenon can be modeled with mathematics and represent natural periodic patterns. In 11th grade Pre-Calculus, some students are currently working on the Modeling Periodic Function project. They’re learning how to analyze patterns and phenomena in the real-world, starting with a Ferris Wheel.  As their final product, students will present a report or poster that shows the mathematical model of a phenomena of their choice. Next time they go to an amusement park and ride the Ferris Wheel, they’ll know the mathematical modeling to making it work!

In Mr. Lajoie’s (left side of left picture) class at Summit Shasta (Daly City), students are in the early stages of the Modeling Periodic Function project and learning about the angles, coordinates, and degrees in a unit circle (or the outline of a Ferris Wheel).

Students Self-Reporting Grades is Top Strategy for Improving Student Achievement

“Our job is to help kids exceed what they think they can do” John Hattie

John Hattie, who is a renowned researcher in education, synthesized thousands of research studies and ranked what has had the biggest impact on student achievement in his book, Visible Learning. Much of Summit’s student experience and academic model is based on this research.

The top strategy that his analysis points to is “Student Self-Report Grades” where students set goals for themselves and guess how well they are going to do on a project or test. With hundreds of other approaches ranked, nothing predicted how a student would do better than the student making that prediction himself. However, the act of just setting the goal isn’t really what made the difference. It was the teacher’s knowledge of those goals and the student’s abilities that allowed teachers to push students to achieve more that made the difference. If the student set lofty goals, the teacher could hold them accountable to their high expectations. If the student set “safe” goals," the teacher could push them to go beyond what they think they could do while giving them the confidence and skills to do so.

That’s why we continually stress goal-setting at Summit and mentors are constantly discussing both long-term and short-term goals with students. In the PLP, students are able to set college goals, year-long grade goals, and even goals for each cognitive skill measured in the projects they're working on. This critical information shapes the conversations between our students and mentors.

Summit Schools are Among Top Bay Area Public Schools for Underserved Students

Innovate Public Schools, a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring that all Bay Area students receive an excellent education, has named Summit Tahoma and Summit Prep among the top Bay Area public schools for underserved, low-income students in a recent reportWe are proud of our schools and students for the strong results they achieved on their CAASPP exam.

Monday, October 12, 2015

TechShop: An Inventor’s Paradise at Summit Denali

At Summit Denali in Sunnyvale, middle school students are making their ideas a reality in their TechShop Expeditions course. They’re building lots of things with their hands and the help of a few tools like a laser cutter, 3D printer, solderer, and vinyl cutter to name a few.

This week, students were designing their very own t-shirts! Mark, an 8th grader at Denali, who competitively rock climbs drew the below design about a controversial topic in the world of rock climbing -- bouldering (no ropes) versus lead climbing (with ropes). After creating the design on a computer software program, he cut the design on a vinyl cutter (see pictures below). The next step is to then heat press his design on a t-shirt so he’s ready to wear it at his next climbing competition!
Which side would Mark pick?
The left side, bouldering, of course (no ropes!).

A Closer Look in the Day in the Life of a Summit Student

The beginning of fall is just around the corner, and Maria is settling into her 2nd year at Summit. When she first came, she had trouble keeping up with deadlines and figuring out what she needed to work on, but with the help of her mentor during Friday check ins, she learned to prioritize her work, make a plan, and follow it.

Her first class is English Project Time, and she is working on the Dystopian Narrative. When she gets to class, the teacher has set up three different stations around the room for students to attend depending on where in the project everyone is. After a whole class mini lesson on how to write detailed imagery, Maria chooses to go to the peer feedback station because she already has a basic draft of her story and would like someone else to look at it. There, she partners up with Jake, and they read each other’s drafts with the specific purpose of applying what they just learned-- how to write detailed imagery-- and give feedback on how to improve the descriptions in their partner’s story. The teacher walks around to check in with students at each station, stopping at Maria and Jake’s table to give feedback on their comments and how to make them more specific. After pairing with Jake, Maria goes through his comments to revise her story. The teacher has reserved the last 30 minutes for writing conferences, so Maria signs up for a 5-minute slot to get a second round of feedback.

Next, Maria goes to Summit Reads, where she is working on 5 assignments in Reading Plus for the week. After completing one assignment, it’s her turn to check in with her teacher. She reflects that she is one assignment behind given that it’s Wednesday already, so she needs to be more focused during class.

After grabbing a snack during brunch and hanging out with her two best friends, Sara and Lily, Maria attends Personalized Learning Time. Based on the goals she set for this week, she has to finish at least one playlist today and pass a content assessment. She chooses to work on “Transformations of Functions,” a math playlist. She knows she doesn’t do very well learning from videos, so she chooses the non-video resources and takes notes specifically on how to identify transformations based on graphs. She knows she needs help on this topic because of the diagnostic test she took yesterday. Before she asks to take the content assessment, Maria completes the check for understanding to make sure she understands the content and check her work against the answer key. She sits down to take the content assessment and passes! She high-fives her teacher on her way to the lunch line, feeling proud of her accomplishment.

Monday, July 13, 2015

San Mateo Daily Journal Features Summit Public Schools

We're so excited that the San Mateo Daily Journal recently featured two of our Summit schools in Redwood City, Summit Prep and Everest, in an article about our high college attendance records. The article features some of our students and faculty, and we wanted to share with you some of their inspiring thoughts.

  • “The teachers drove me to understand that college truly is for everyone.” Summit student
  • “These people are not just mentors, but they become family and friends as well.” Summit student
  • “Just seeing what other people are doing has inspired me to go beyond what I wanted to do.” Summit student
  • “They inspire us, and keep us going to inspire them and reach their goal of college,” Summit faculty
  • “Every adult comes with high expectation for every student, that they can grow and be college ready." Summit faculty
  • "All the teachers and students are completely invested in the mission of the school...It is so exciting and rewarding and truly a collaborative effort for all our students.” Summit faculty

What does the Rubik’s Cube Teach Us?

Ernő Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s cube, posits that “questions are more important than the answers.” Because when the right person finds the right question, we nurture scientists, engineers, artists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and everyone else who is pushing our world to be a better place.

Be inspired by watching the video below.

Summer of Summit Kicks Off!

We're halfway through our four weeks of Summer of Summit where both new and returning students joined us for skill-building challenges, community-building activities, and fun adventures exploring new interests! We are so excited to spend this summer with 1,500 students!

Here’s a glimpse of what students have been up to:

“My day starting Summer of Summit was pretty great, I didn't realize how many people were interested in Summer of Summit, and we were all working together on a series of questions just to know each other and that makes me think that we're all a community.” Jordan, 11th grade student

“I've never experienced summer school like this, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Today was very productive for me because I got to help create a plan for the freshmen socratic seminar and I participated in some film takes.” Marcy, 11th grade student

“I’m excited to be in a diverse community that accepts one another and that support each other.” Luai, 9th grade student

The Stories that Change Our Lives

We all have those moments in our lives that fundamentally shape us to be the person who we are today. Usually, these moments are the ones that push us beyond what we thought was possible or challenged our thinking about the world and ourselves. In 9th grade English this year, students wrote an essay about a crucial moment of conflict and change in their lives in their Personal Narrative project.

In Ms. Lee’s class at Summit Everest, students created short and compelling videos about their essay so that they could share their stories with each other, their friends, and their family.

Listen to one student’s story about his “Bike Ride of a Lifetime.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

Students Share Stories of Growth During Mission Masters

Last Friday, Summit Rainier held Mission Masters 2015, a conference style event where all students shared how they grew and made progress toward our mission of success in college, career, and life. Parents and family members were invited to attend the event and see how their students have made strides to meet this mission..

This celebration of students and their growth was powerful for all involved.Many Bulldogs took this opportunity to share moving personal stories about overcoming obstacles they have faced during their academic journey. One Rainier student, Jonathan, gave an interesting and impactful presentation about deportations and immigration, incorporating parts of his own personal immigration story. Another member of Jonathan’s group responded by sharing her own story of immigrating from the Philippines in 6th grade. It was very moving to see them recognize something they had in common, and feel like an accepted part of a community where they could share this type of story.

Students across the school were all reflective and focused on important topics. Numerous students expressed their appreciation for the event, explaining that they were able to see various situations from a different perspective. Rainier teachers echoed this sentiment, expressing that it made them proud to be a part of the Summit community.

Summit Sierra Hosts Mini-Expedition Artist Event

One of our values at Summit is that every second counts. On Tuesday, Seattle Public Schools were closed due to a strike, but Summit Sierra was ready to make the most of the day with its incoming students. Sierra planned an engaging educational experience that embraced the unique culture and diversity of Seattle. Andrew Morrison, a Washington-native, gave an inspirational talk and art lesson. His session focused on how art can be both a reflection of culture and a life-saving mode of expression.

Above, you can view students practicing the art of expression while receiving their first taste of an Expedition-like course. We are thankful for all our community partners throughout the Summit network who engage students in such perspective-changing experiences.

Senior Spotlight: Juliet from Summit Tahoma

As we continue our senior spotlights, this week we share with you Juliet’s favorite memories and reflections from her time at Summit Tahoma, as well as her college plans.

Juliet says her one piece of advice to other students is, "take advantage of the time you have at Summit with your mentor.  Your mentor will help you as much as they possibly can. They will reach out to colleges, and help you in every aspect of your life."
What does the future have in store for you?
I officially committed to Westmont College in Santa Barbara. Making the decision wasn’t easy. I was choosing between two of my dream schools: Pepperdine University and Westmont. Recently, I took part in an overnight stay at Westmont, which convinced me it was the perfect college to attend. I had an opportunity to sit in on a social justice class where the students were engaged in a debate. It was wonderful seeing the student perspective in and outside of the classroom. Westmont has also awarded me the Dean Scholarship and a few grants!
What will you major in and why?
As I was looking for schools, my mentor, Megan Toyama, encouraged me to apply with a major in mind. She asked me to describe what type of career I would want in the future and consider the subjects and experiences I’ve enjoyed in the past. This made me realize that I valued the experience I had interning with my church last summer. I worked with their communications team on community outreach. I had an opportunity to interact with new visitors, speak with them about their faith, and analyze how we can improve our outreach strategy to get people more involved in the church community.That is why I applied directly to the Communications major at Westmont.
What is one of your favorite memories from Summit Tahoma?
This year, while all the seniors were all applying to college, we had a weekly meeting on Fridays in Summit West where we checked in on everyone’s college application process. Anyone who was accepted to college wrote it down and put it up on the wall for everyone else to see. The whole room would clap and cheer for you during these celebrations. This year, in particular, there are a lot of memories that I will reflect on for many years to come.
As graduation nears, what are your reflections about your time at Summit Tahoma?
Ms. Toyama has been my mentor since Freshman year. She’s been very mindful about getting to know all students in our mentor group on a personal level.  She knows how involved I am with my school and church communities. She also knew that I wanted to stay close to home because family is an important part of my life. This year, she proofread all the essays I submitted and wrote amazing recommendations for the schools I applied to. If I didn’t have Miss Toyama as a mentor,  I wouldn’t be where I am now. It really was the support from her and my entire mentor group that led to this. It’s going to be very emotional on graduation for all of us.

Expedition Students at Summit Flex Their Coding Muscles

Students in the Computer Science Expedition class at Summit Shasta flexed their coding muscles as they created bots to battle it out in a freeware game called vindinium. Vindinium involves 4 bots that are competing for mines. The students have created detailed code to move the bots based on a variety of factors in the game. At the beginning of the year, many of these students had never written code before, but now the students have skillfully mastered the game and continue pushing themselves to learn more.

Summit Tahoma Senior Shares Her Story at NewSchools Annual Conference

In May, NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education for low-income children, hosted their annual conference. This year, the organization emphasized the importance of personalized learning  and student agency in the classroom. Over 1,000 teachers , school leaders, and policymakers flocked to the Bay Area to learn best practices, hear student reflections, and take design features back to their own schools.
Not only did these educators have an opportunity to visit our schools during a deep-dive tour, one of our seniors at Summit Tahoma, Sofie Canela, was featured in a documentary during the event and participated in a panel.There, Sofie shared the story of her immigration to the United States when she was nine, and how she tirelessly worked to overcome a language barrier in order to excel academically. This fall, she will be the first in her family to attend college thanks to the support she received from her family, mentor, teachers, and friends.
Want to hear Sofie's story firsthand? Watch this video, made possible by NewSchools Venture Fund and StartupEd.

Summit Students Practice Their Civic Duties During Mock Trial

Summit students in Lissa Thiele’s Sociology of Law class put on a Mock Trial during their Celebrations of Learning event. Students presented the case of The Republic of Rome v. Marcus Junius Brutus. The entire class participated and no one had any idea what the verdict would be! Present at the trial was the Prosecution Team, Defense Team, numerous witnesses, the Judge and the Bailiff. The jury, made up of peers and one parent participant, deliberated at the end of the trial and handed down their verdict.
Want to learn if justice was served? You can check out the mock trial in its entirety by visiting the following link: https://youtu.be/Jx34MdR-XBw

Students were asked to reflect on their experience participating in the mock trial. Here are a few excerpts of what they had to say:

“I am now really excited to serve in a jury. It seems very interesting to have a say in the government and how people get prosecuted. I also really liked the case because I was leaning towards both sides and it was cool to see how the jury gave the final verdict. It was a truly unique learning experience I am sure not to ever forget.”
 - Elias A.

“Everyone was able to see, first hand, the effort and dedication that people put into the trial. There was so much passion that people had and who you are as a teacher was really able to shine through. My parents were going on and on about it in the car. They were saying this was the best class I could have possibly taken and that it was obvious I got a lot out of it.” - Christina K.

“I have no other words to describe last night's trial other than amazing. It completely exceeded my expectations.” - Madison S.

Freshman Speeches to Senior Political Activism Projects

In the last weeks of schools, students were intensely working on culminating projects from freshman speeches to senior political activism projects. At Summit Prep, senior Laurel N. passionately pitched how we would have enough food to feed the world if we reduced global food waste and loss. Laurel is heading to the University of Montana in the fall to participate in the Global Leadership Initiative and study community health. She “wants to help to bring food security around the world.” She argues, “we have the resources to save our food but we take it for granted.” Laurel’s passion was sparked during her time volunteering in Latin America, as well as helping to hand-pick 20,000 cucumbers that would have been tossed from a plant and instead donating it to Northwest Harvest. We are excited to see the changes she and other students will make in their community and our world as they continue their education!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Glimpse into an Algebra 2 Class

Mr. Tran teaches 10th grade Algebra 2 at one of Summit’s Redwood City schools, Everest, and one of his projects this year was Setting Up Sprinklers. In this project, students used mathematical models to propose placements of sprinklers to maximize the amount of grass that gets watered. What a key skill to learn with California’s drought! He’s excited that “this project gets students to think deeply about what it means to defend their argument using mathematics.”

Watch an engaging glimpse into Mr. Tran’s class and learn more about the project!

LearnStorm Grand Finale Recognizes Summit Student Achievement

After months of heated competition, Khan Academy's LearnStorm challenge finally came to a close. During the final event on Google's campus, students from Summit Prep, Tahoma, and Denali were split into teams to test the skills they have been developing throughout the competition.

Over 76,000 students participated in LearnStorm, and more than 50% of Bay Area schools took part. Out of all these competitors, Erin from Summit Prep took 1st place among all juniors in the competition! Jocelyn and Emma from Summit Prep also took 3rd and 2nd place, respectively, among all seniors in the competition. Eleven other representatives from Summit Prep, Denali, and Tahoma also did a great job at representing Summit throughout the day! 

Kai, from Summit Denali, was excited to take part in the day's events and said it was, "...an awesome experience to be at the first ever Khan Academy Learnstorm event."

Summit's high participation rate in LearnStorm earned a special shout-out from Sal Khan at the closing ceremony. Other Summit schools have received similar recognition for their achievements throughout the competition, including a technology grant awarded to K2, and Denali claiming the Monthly Hustle Cup in March. Congratulations to all LearnStorm participants, including their teachers and mentors who supported their students every step of the way!

Summit Prep and Everest Named Top Schools in the United States and California

We are proud to share that U.S. News & World Report named two of our schools, Summit Prep and Summit Everest, among the Best High Schools of 2015. They are also ranked among the top 20 high schools in California. This comes on the heels of both schools being ranked by the Washington Post among its 2015 America's Most Challenging High Schools.

We are incredibly honored by all the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty, and parent community. We look forward to all Summit schools joining these ranks as they become fully enrolled!

U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools of 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Makes a Great Teacher? Summit Teachers Share

Our teachers are the backbone and the heart of our schools. They work tirelessly to ensure that each student is reaching their potential, is individually supported, is deeply learning and engaged, as well as building authentic and meaningful relationships. And, they do this with care, compassion, commitment and, simply love. 

They also have a passion for the craft of teaching. They work hard at becoming a better teacher, mentor, leader, and thoughtful, contributing member of society. They dedicate themselves to individually supporting and understanding each student both inside and outside the classroom. And, they leave a lasting impression on their students, truly helping to make the world a better place one student at a time.

In honor of our amazing teachers and this week’s Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked our teachers “What Makes A Great Teacher?” Here's what they have to say. These statements embody what our teachers are doing each and every single day.

“Love. Deep, critical love. Love so deep and critical that you see students and say to yourself, 'how can we do and be better for you today in order to achieve your dreams?'”
-Aukeem Ballard, Summit Prep

“A great teacher values taking the time to build relationships with students. In order to figure out how students learns best, teachers need to know what motivates them, how they handle stress and setbacks, what they like and don’t like about school or the course, and how they are impacted by their learning environment. Learning these things about a student takes patience and involves building a lot of trust, but the impact it has on knowing how to support each student in the classroom is REALLY exciting.”
-Katie Goddard, Summit Rainier

"You love your students, you always do what's best for them and never stop improving on your practice."
- Brian Johnson, Summit Denali

“A great teacher is one who can make mistakes in front of the students and is real with them. This teacher encourages building authentic community in the classroom and values where each students comes from.“
- Nanor Balabanian, Everest

“A great teacher is someone who is passionate, committed, and able to roll with the punches. A great teacher is passionate about the subject and skills they teach and is able to make it engaging for students to become just as invested in the subject matter as they are. A great teacher is also incredibly committed to his/her students. They take the time to learn about the whole child, not just how they are as a student in their class. A great teacher is flexible and always finds a learning opportunity in even the toughest situation.”
- Shilpa Duvoor, Summit K2

“Great teachers aren't made. Great teachers are in the making. They, like their students, are constantly learning, changing, and growing. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite coaches sums it all up: "No written word, no spoken plea, Can teach our youth what they should be. Nor all the books on all the shelves, It's what the teachers are themselves," by John Wooden.
- Erica Baba, Everest

“A great teacher is passionate about both the social-emotional development and academic growth of students. A great teacher collects and uses a ton of data to inform practice, but remembers that at the end of the day the work is with individuals and it is the individual that matters. A great teacher has a hunger for searching out and implementing the best research based practices that she can find.”
- Ron Delaney, Summit Denali

“I believe that a great teacher is able to efficiently and accurately assess individual student's developmental needs and then through strategic lessons, encouragement, and support, works like mad to meet the specific needs of the students.”
- Rick LaTorra, Summit Shasta

“True learning can only be accomplished when content and projects can resonate deeply with students on a personal level. A great teacher both understands that and works actively to encourage students to make those connections. This teacher is one who creates the safest, most inclusive environment for learning by acknowledging the unique perspective of a diverse group of learners. Through this trusting and safe classroom, this teacher allows opportunities for students to not only grow and develop academically, but also to develop pride in their cultural background and personal story."
- Cady Ching, Summit Prep

"A great teacher ensures that the teaching and learning taking place in the classroom extend beyond the four walls of institutionalized education, so that students can become effective agents of change in their own lives and the lives of their family and community. A great teacher has the ability to empower others with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed within the larger sociopolitical contexts. A great teacher has the unique opportunity to positively influence our youth, which in turn positively influences our collective future."
- Julio Navarate, Summit Tahoma

Summit’s Celebrates Over 99% of Graduating Seniors Accepted to a 4-Year University on National College Signing Day

Summit Public Schools is thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of our four graduating high school classes, where over 99 percent of seniors have been accepted to at least one four-year college! We are especially excited for our San Jose high schools, Summit Rainier and Summit Tahoma, who will have their first graduating class this year.

On Friday, May 1st seniors from across our high schools shared their college aspirations as part of the White House’s National College Signing Day. As part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher InitiativeSummit's celebration on Friday encouraged all graduating seniors to sign a pledge to invest in their education beyond high school, drive their own learning and success, and become thoughtful, contributing members of society.

Many Summit students overcame strong obstacles to reach this point, with nearly half of our graduating seniors the first in their family to attend college. Sofia Canela Torres, who will graduate from Summit Tahoma, is bound for Mills College this fall. “Even though I will be the first in my family to go to college, I am confident that I will succeed because of all that I learned at Summit, and through everything my teachers at Summit did to prepare me for this next step,” said Torres. “Everyone in my family is so proud of me and we are all so excited for me to start college.”

This year, our students have been accepted to an incredible variety of colleges across the nation. Many have options to stay close to home in California, including all the California State Universities, University of California Berkeley, Santa Barbara, and Davis, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University. While others may be headed east to Duke University, Syracuse University, Boston University, or Washington University.

We wish all of our seniors the best of luck as they embark on their college journey. When obstacles appear on this winding path, we know our students will have the skills to preserve through all challenges that come their way!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Every Summit Student Takes AP Courses & Exams

At Summit, we hold high expectations for each and every one of our students. No matter their background or prior educational experiences, our goal is the same: to ensure that they are truly career and college ready when they graduate our schools. To prepare our students for college, we strongly believe in the value of our students taking AP classes and exams because:
  • Research shows that preparing for and taking AP exams leads to success in college 
  • AP exams prepares students for the rigor of final exams in college-level courses 
  • Taking and getting a good score on AP exams strengthens college applications 
  • Most four-year colleges in the United States provide credit and/or advanced placement for qualifying scores (usually a 3 or 4). Find a college's credit policy
That's why all of our juniors and seniors will take at least 6 AP courses across their core academic areas: english, history, science, and math, with options to take more if they like. Summit will also pay for all our students to take at least 3 AP exams before they graduate! And, our students are passing AP exams at over 3 times the rate of US high schools, on average.  

What can you do to reduce your impact on the Earth?

As we celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd) this week, let’s remember that every one of our actions has a consequence on the environment -- how we commute to schools/work, what we eat, what we buy, what we recycle or trash. In AP Environmental Science, seniors have been hard at work on their Personal Impact Project to understand exactly how their personal actions impact the environment, ultimately understanding how humans impact the sustainability of the Earth.

At Everest, one of our high schools in Redwood City, seniors selected one behavior they could change to reduce their ecological footprint. Over two weeks, they changed their behavior and quantified the impact of that change. Students then presented their projects to freshman Biology students and other community members, including a data visualization analyst from The Climate Policy Initiative. The students’ ideas were wide-ranging. Chase adopted a pescatarian diet to reduce his food consumption impact. Lena and Jessie limited personal electronics usage. Clayton donned a sweater instead of turning on the heat while at home. He plans to keep up his "Hoodies, not Heaters" protocol even after the project has ended.

Want to know your energy consumption and how to reduce it? Download the app My Earth — Track Your Carbon Savings. The app tracks your energy consumption throughout the day and gives you suggestions on how to conserve energy. As you change behaviors, you’ll earn carbon units so you can see how much you’re saving!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Peer Tutoring Club Transform Student Body

We want to share with you one of our favorite stories about a student at Summit Tahoma, Rama Prasad, who founded the school's Peer Tutoring Club where students tutor other students during lunch and on Fridays. While students start new clubs at schools all the time, Rama's club and the events leading up to the creation of it are extra-ordinary.

Through her club, Rama has tutored close to half of the entire student body! And, the members of the club has tutored two-thirds! This one club transformed the culture and spirit of the student body.

While it may be easy to see these results and think Rama had a history of leadership at the school. The opposite is true. Rama was a shy and introverted freshmen student when one day a couple students extended their friendship and she started coming out of her shell. Through that experience, she started looking for ways to pay it forward. She started tutoring some students and that led to tutoring more students, and then the Peer Tutoring Club was born!

"What I believe is that students who are doing really academically well, they should help other students who are less fortunate, who need help."

NBC Bay Area found her story so special that they did a news story on her. Watch and read the story here.

Summit Prep Senior, Cliona, Seeks to Make a Positive Impact in Her Community

Continuing our series on senior spotlights, this week we turn to Summit Prep. There are many phenomenal seniors in Summit Prep's Class of 2015, including Cliona, who is ready to use college as a launch pad for innovation and creating positive change throughout communities. Cliona believes all Summit students should aim to, "make an impact on your community and be mindful of the differences of those around you."

Where will you be attending college and why?
After weighing my options, I’ve chosen to attend Berkeley in the fall. When I first started the college exploration process, I thought it was too close to home. But then I was awarded a scholarship that also has a mentorship component. Much like Summit, I will have access to advisers who I can turn to for both academic and personal advice. This mentor-like program really motivated me to make the official decision to attend Berkeley.

What was your mentor’s role in your college application process?
My mentor, Mr. Alcala, has played an important role in motivating me to reach my full potential. He helped me choose the topic of my personal essay, and it was really helpful to talk through the experiences I’ve had and how to convey that narrative. He worked with me to pinpoint exactly what I was passionate about. Before Summit, I didn’t have someone like Mr. Alcala, and I think it’s really important and valuable to have someone you can reach out to on a personal level.

What will you major in and why?
I’m interested in pre-business or neuroscience. My interest in neuroscience stems from my enjoyment of meditation. I’m fascinated by the effect it can have on the brain, especially how this impacts relationships and work performance. I also may want to study entrepreneurship because now living in Silicon Valley I am surrounded by innovators who have thought of things that have never been done before.

What experiences have shaped your passions?
Last year I was selected as a Bank of America Student Leader. Through their program, I worked for a non-profit in the Bay Area called Citizens Schools. The program flew me to DC where I could meet other students who are making a positive impact within their communities either locally or nationally. This really helped me refine what I wanted to do in order to make an impact. I was also given an opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica during sophomore year, where I taught English to younger children. I value both of these experiences because they allowed me to connect with other students who were passionate about altruism.

Prevent “Summer Slide”

Did you know that all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer? Students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. This is called “Summer Slide,” and it is not the fun, water one we usually think of with summer.

While summer is still a couple months away, it’s important to start planning for the summer now to ensure students use that time productively and are engaged in thoughtful activities. We encourage students to participate in activities that will help them reach their personal and academic goals. For some, that may be more math, writing, and reading practice so that they can improve their grades or ACT scores. For others, it may be engaging in a passion project or developing new leadership skills. Or, it can be a combination of all of the above.

To help with “Summer Slide,” here are a few things you can do:
  1. Summer of Summit New Student Program. All incoming students at Summit schools are invited to a 2-week New Student Program during the summer where they'll meet teachers and other students and start getting a feel for the our amazing Summit student experience. There will be lots of fun community-building activities and projects where students will be able to unlock their creativity and focus on personal growth. It’s a free program, including lunch. New students will be able to sign up during the registration process. 
  2. Parents and students can jointly choose a book to read, and hold their own book club 
  3. Find a summer internship, job, or volunteer service 
National Summer Learning Association

Summer Learning Loss Study: Can Summer Slide be Prevented?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Summit Rainier Senior, William, Shares His Dream to Become a Mechanical Engineer

William’s one piece of advice to other Summit students? “Don’t be afraid to take risks.”

Summit Public Schools currently has a 95% college acceptance rate across our 4 high schools with seniors (Everest and Summit Prep in Redwood City as well as Summit Tahoma and Rainier in San Jose), and acceptance letters are still coming in! 

Meet William, a Summit Rainier senior, who was recently accepted to Harvey Mudd College, one of the top-performing engineering schools in the country.On his acceptance letter, the Vice President of admissions wrote, "The strengths you have developed as a self-directed learner will serve you well at HMC!"

Which colleges have you been accepted to, and are you leaning toward one in particular?
For me, making decisions is never easy. Right now, I’ve been accepted to UC Irvine, two Cal Poly Universities, University of the Pacific, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Harvey Mudd is at the top of my list. It’s going to be a tough decision, but in the end, I know I’ll make the right one. Also, my mentor, Mr. Lee, set aside time to look over my application essays. I really appreciate all of the effort he’s put into supporting me throughout this long process and wanted to thank him for that.
What college major are you interested in pursuing?
I am interested in mechanical engineering with a focus in civil or aerospace. When I was younger, I would always look at roadmaps and attempt to understand where the connections went to. On road trips I would never sleep; I would look out the window to see what’s out there, what’s new. As a teenager I became fascinated with airplanes for the same reason. I’d love to more thoroughly explore flight mechanics in college.
How do you think Summit has prepared you for this new journey?
My time at Summit has taught me that change is a good thing even if it can be rough at times. You’ve got to practice perseverance. Also, the independence and taking ownership of my education will be a great benefit at any college. All the programs I’m interested in are project-based and emphasize collaboration. Definitely taking notes and focusing on what’s important is something that I’ve learned at Summit. I took a summer course at Evergreen last summer which reinforced the importance of studying outside of school. I had to take control of my own education, just like I’ve been practicing during high school, and make the right choices.
Outside of the classroom, what activities are you involved in?
I’m a player on  an intramural hockey team. I enjoy it because it’s a fast paced environment that forces you to think on your feet. It also reinforces group skills that we learn at Summit like trust, compassion, and understanding.