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.

Summit K2’s Success Highlighted by Bay Area Philanthropists

The Contra Costa Times featured Summit K2, one of our middle schools, in this article, highlighting the need for a comprehensive education overhaul in the Richmond area. This year, K2 became our first school to open in the East Bay. We are so honored to have the support of organizations such as the Chamberlin Family Foundation who truly believe in our mission. Their generous donations not only allow our organization to provide a high-quality education to students within our immediate network, but also share our model and vision with others across the United States.

"I love working with such a diverse student body. To see students who would normally not be in the same classroom work together and solve problems is so exciting and incredibly rewarding. In MythBusters (7th grade science), we've done some great projects this year from making the perfect health smoothie to designing a self-heating device for our very own Patti Giamoni!"
- Christina Foust, Summit K2 7th Grade Science Teacher

What Works in Schools is Real World Application & 21st Century Skill Development

A 2014 Gallup study reinforces the Summit student experience!  According to the study, developing 21st century skills, such as real-world problem-solving, collaboration, communication, self-regulation, and technology use, better prepare our students for the challenges of work. Out of all the 21st century skills, real-world problem-solving was the most important, which the study shows that students gained by working on long term projects and developing solutions to real world problems -- exactly what we do at Summit. Students spend the majority of their time in school working on projects. From 6th to 12th grade, our students will engage in 197 deeper learning projects where they will have 1,073 opportunities to demonstrate and develop in 36 college readiness skills.

A few of the key findings in the study are:

1. Graduates who had “experiential and deep learning” have more than DOUBLED the odds of being engaged in their work.

2. Americans who developed 21st century skills, such as real-world problem-solving and collaboration, in their last year of school are TWICE as likely to have higher work quality.

3. Graduates who were “emotionally supported” are nearly 3X 
as likely to be thriving in their well being.

Read the Gallup studies:

21st Century Skills Linked to Work Success

What Works in Schools is Real Work

A Visual Arts Field Trip to Explore Bay Area’s Fine Art to Street Art

During Expeditions, the Visual Arts classes at some of Summit's high schools have taken field trips to artists’ workshops, mural and street art alleys, and multiple museums to deepen their appreciation of art. During Summit Prep’s last Visual Arts Expedition, the students visited the artists' workshop Paulson Bott Press in Berkeley, which specializes in limited edition prints, as well as explored graffiti art and murals around Berkeley Aquatic Park and downtown Oakland.

The class just finished a printmaking project the day before they went to see Master Printers at Paulson Bott create a Mary Lee Bendolph etching. Students had the opportunity to talk with the printers about their art school experiences and internships, and see the extensive printing process up close. The Paulson Bott building is also tagged by legendary Berkeley artist Gats, which provided the perfect segue to discussing murals and graffiti in the community. Students spent the following week in class debating whether public spaces should be designated for street art in order to discourage illegal graffiti. Check out a few snippets of the field trip below.

“One of my favorite parts of this experience was listening to the questions the students asked the Master Printers. Understanding different parts of the art world and what the life of a real artist looks like is a huge part of this course, and it was exciting to see that happen on the field trip!" Kalyn Olson, Visual Arts Expeditions Teacher. Kalyn brings tremendous passion and expertise from her experience working at a fine art gallery and artists’ workshop as well as studying both Art History and Economics at UCLA.