Friday, March 27, 2015

Summit Public Schools Applying to Open New Middle and High Schools in Redwood City, Richmond, and West Seattle

Each year, Summit evaluates the needs of our existing communities and the demand for schools like Summit in new communities. We reflect on our capacity and engage in numerous conversations with families and community members to determine where and when we should open new schools. We are excited to share that we are applying to open three new schools in fall 2016: a middle school in Redwood City, a middle to high school in Richmond in the East Bay, and a middle to high school in West Seattle in Washington.

Redwood City: We founded our Redwood City high schools, Summit Prep and Everest, in 2003 and 2009 respectively, and each year we have significant demand for our schools. Many of our families have also told us that they wished they started at Summit during middle school. Now, we hope to provide that opportunity to families. The new middle school will initially serve 6th grade and will grow each year to eventually serve 6th - 8th grades.

Richmond: This year, we opened our first school in the East Bay, Summit K2, with overwhelming demand. It's currently serving 7th grade, and will add a grade each year to eventually grow to serve up to 12th grade.  We hope to serve more students in the community, specifically in the northern region of the West Contra Costa County School District, and are applying to open another 7th – 12th grade school.

West Seattle: As we prepare to open Summit Sierra in the International District of Seattle, there have been many applicants outside of that area in South and West Seattle. There have also been many families interested in a middle school option. In response to this interest, we are applying to open a middle to high school in West Seattle. The school would start with 6th and 9th grades and grow to serve 6th - 12th grades.

How You Can Help: To open a new school, we need the support of YOU -- our community. If you are interested in helping us with the charter petition and recruitment for the new schools, please let us know at

A Peek Into Personalized Learning Time and Mentor Check-Ins

“I know when I’m ready to take a content assessment when I pass the diagnostic assessment and can teach it to another person.” Summit student

During Personalized Learning Time (PLT), students focus on mastering the content knowledge (facts and information) they need to apply to their projects during Project Time and become college ready. Students work at their own pace and learn how they best learn through diverse learning resources (videos, text, audio, exercises) on an online playlist. They may also attend teacher-led workshops, get 1:1 teacher support, or be tutored by a peer. Students self-direct their learning with the support of their teachers so they learn how to learn and become confident in their ability to tackle any challenge.

"PLT gives students a time to learn self-directed learning skills and get feedback on these skills in real time." Ava Petrash, Summit teacher

"PLT helps me learn because I'm able to work through what I know and if I truly get stuck I can ask questions from peers and teachers." Nitasha K., Summit student

One of the key supports for students is their mentor. Each student is assigned a teacher mentor who is the student’s coach, college counselor and advocate, and supports them to excel both inside and outside the classroom. The mentor and student meet 1:1 each week to discuss both challenges and success as well as goals and plans for the following week. The mentor coaches the student to take responsibility over their own success by setting and meeting personal goals. One of our Summit Shasta mentors shares in the above video how he supports students in completing their projects and playlists during their 1:1 check-ins.

The Season of Study Trips is Upon Us!

Throughout the Summit high school network, students have been stepping out of their classrooms to explore university campuses and museums across California. From the Monterey Bay Aquarium to the UCs and CSUs, grade-level study trips broaden the horizons of Summit students and help them visualize what they want their future college experience to be.

“It was an amazing opportunity to bond as a Class of 2018 and to meet students who went from Summit Prep to the universities. We got to hear their views and perspectives, and how they were able to transition from Summit to college.” Angel, Summit Prep 9th Grader

Pictured Above (clockwise):

Summit Tahoma 9th graders enjoy their time on the beach in Santa Cruz after touring CSU Monterey Bay
Everest 11th graders tour Dominican University in San Rafael
Summit Tahoma 10th graders visit Santa Clara University
Summit Rainier 10th graders tour Scripps College in Claremont

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sal Khan Visits Summit Denali to Give LearnStorm Award

We are very excited to share with you that Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, visited Summit Denali in March! He honored our students with a special award for ranking number one in the Bay Area in Khan’s LearnStorm challenge for Hustle Points!

Teachers across Summit have been utilizing LearnStorm in their classes due to its powerful focus on growth mindset - the belief that we can always learn and grow. LearnStorm is a three-month challenge where students can earn recognition for themselves and their school by mastering math skills and building a growth mindset. Hustle points are designed to reward students who push themselves to keep learning, no matter what their level. Students earn hustle points by taking on challenging skills and working hard to complete them. Out of 1,500 participating schools, Denali took first place this month in Hustle Points. Additionally, six individuals from the school were honored for their leaderboard achievements out of more than 50,000 total Learnstorm competitors.

The pictures below highlight a few phenomenal moments as Sal awarded the Hustle Cup, while also recognizing individual students who have gone above and beyond on the LearnStorm leaderboards.

"Summit’s performance in LearnStorm truly demonstrates the grit and perseverance of [their] Students."
-Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy

All of our schools are participating in this competition, and out of the entire Bay Area, Summit students are leading the way. Summit K2, Shasta, and Tahoma have also been recognized for their outstanding performance. This achievement is a testimonial to Summit’s dedication to coaching students on their Habits of Success, including perseverance, goal setting and strategy shifting.

We are truly honored to receive this award from Khan Academy, and are proud to have such driven and accomplished students.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Forming a Nation of Strong Self-Directed Learners

At Summit Public Schools, we believe that every student should be prepared with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of family circumstance or background. While first and foremost we work to provide a high-quality, world-class education to our own Summit students, our vision extends beyond our own walls. We want to support educators and schools across the United States in readying their students for college and career.

The best way we can support other educators is to share our school model and our learnings, and there is no better way to understand a Summit school than visiting it in person. That’s why over 420 visitors from 88 different organizations have visited our campuses this year alone. Our visitors include San Jose Unified, Denver Public Schools, Connecticut Department of Education, the Education Secretary from the UK and many more! 

Last summer, Summit also hosted over 150 educators over two two-day consultancies where participants dove deep into our model and worked on their own school redesign based on their learnings. One of the high schools in North Carolina who participated created a video sharing their students’ experiences with self-directed learning (SDL). The team sent it over to show us the positive impact that Summit’s work and the consultancy is having on their school. Watch the video here. It reminds us that we are models in a growing community of empowered and self-directed learners.

“It built confidence within myself because I know now I don’t need to have someone teaching me step by step by step. I can see what I have to learn and I can do it on my own and do a good job with it.” 

Through these opportunities to share Summit's model and learnings, we are realizing the promise of charter schools as agents of innovation, cultivating partnerships to further and improve our own practice, and fulfilling our vision of having a broader impact on public education. 

Top 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates

As our students look ahead to their future in college and beyond, they should be focused on developing the below top 10 skills that employers are seeking (per a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers).

At Summit, our students are building these exact skills through their projects. They learn to work in a team through our collaborative projects. They learn how to make decisions and solve problems through projects that mimic real-world problems and require information gathering and analytical thinking. Many times, students are presenting their recommendations to their peers and teachers, learning not only how to communicate verbally and create reports but also how to sell to others. Everything we do is underpinned by our aim to cultivate strong self-directed learners who can plan, organize, and prioritize their work so that they can reach their academic, professional, and personal goals in life.  

Top 10 Skills Employers Want

1. Ability to work in a team structure

2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization

4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

5. Ability to obtain and process information

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to the job

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. Ability to sell and influence others

Read more

Summit’s Genius Project Inspired by Google’s 20% Time

At Summit, we believe when people are given time to pursue individual passions, they become better self-directed learners and can influence their communities in a direct and meaningful way. One of the many compelling projects our students are working on includes the "Genius Project" in 10th grade English. This was inspired by Google's "20% Time” policy, where all employees have the freedom to use 20% of their working hours to work on an individual project that energizes them. In the pictures below, students from Summit Tahoma are presenting two of their inspirational projects.

On the top, a student is collecting food donations at school and working with a local food shelf to distribute food at St. James Park in San Jose. She'll also be creating posters to place around the school to spread awareness about hunger in San Jose.

On the bottom, a student is creating, testing, and sharing a series of healthy recipes to post on a blog. Her main goal is to help families improve their eating habits via healthy, tasty food that can be easily made at home.