Summit Learning Coming to GMS
On May 1, parents of incoming sixth graders packed the Georgetown Middle School library. They were there to hear about Summit Learning, the exciting new program the school is implementing for 6th graders next school year. Summit is a free online tool that gives students the freedom to learn at their own pace, in the style they feel most comfortable with. It combines content knowledge with real-world projects focused on cognitive skills, as well as goal setting and mentorship. One-on-one, weekly mentor sessions will help build relationships, set goals, and keep students on pace to complete all their work.
The Summit program is currently implemented in over 100 schools across the nation. The program started in the Summit Public School District in California and Washington. It was extremely successful there, with 99% of the school district’s students being accepted into at least one four-year college, and its graduates completing college at double the national average. In addition, students who were the furthest behind (in that lowest MAP testing bracket) outperformed the national U.S. average by 1.23 in math and 1.95 in reading. This impressive data is at least part of the reason the program has grown so quickly.
GMS principal, Cari Boyd, brought the idea to the sixth grade team earlier in the school year. “I have been a participant in the Next Generation Leadership Academy this year where the focus was on student engagement and student centered learning for the 21st century learner. When the presenters introduced Summit Learning I was intrigued and thought it might be a perfect fit for Georgetown Middle.” After several conversations at the school level, Mrs. Boyd sent the sixth grade teachers on several school visits. “My teachers took time to research the program and once they were sold we began moving forward. Since starting the application process, we never looked back. The excitement for this program has been infectious and I cannot wait to watch these remarkable educators soar and take our students to new heights.”
Summit being an online platform presents a unique challenge for GMS. Every student will need a device with internet capabilities in order to complete their schoolwork. The staff is hopeful that many students will be able to provide their own device, which is preferable because students will have 24-7 access to those devices. The school is prepared to help students who cannot afford their own, however. Megan Bechard, 6th grade Language Arts teacher at GMS says, “The thing I love about GMS is that we always find a way to get everyone what they need for success. Whether it’s clothes, or a hot meal, GMS finds a way. I do not doubt this won’t be any different. Every student will get what they need.”
Parents seem excited about this new endeavor as well. Heidi Marsh, parent of an incoming 6th grader says, “I hope it will be a good thing because kids can go at their own pace, so if you have a bunch of kids in a class who have learned it, they don’t have to keep relearning the same info. Kids who are falling behind can get the help they need instead of being forced to move on. I’m going to have to learn it with them!” Another parent, Catrina Mendez, says, “As the parent of a new sixth grader, I’m so excited about this new program. It sounds like a truly amazing new way for the students to learn at their own pace. I think Summit will help students develop a skill of independence, which they need out in the real world.”
Anna Clements, 6th grade team leader at GMS, says, “I am excited about the opportunity to get the program into our school. I am hopeful for the success of this program as it is truly meant to foster 21st century skills in our students while simultaneously tackling state curriculum. I believe that the technology combined with the great team of teachers I work with, will give us the ability to truly differentiate for the diverse learning needs of our students.”