"If I were a teapot, I would pour you hot tea peace."
- support SK
Our students are intellectually curious, explorers of great ideas, solvers of tricky puzzles, and dreamers of big things. There is a palpable joy that pervades this place, facilitated by teachers who scaffold students' learning to new heights, students who learn deeply and support each other's successes, and an administration committed to the potential of each child.
The Summers-Knoll approach develops autonomy in students, involving them in decisions and fostering independent learners. It develops mastery, as students push their horizons, going further and deeper into the skills that support their work. It develops purpose, engaging students in projects that are relevant to their lives, solidifying their understanding of the importance of their work and of their own power to make a difference.
Our teachers have facility with multiple modes of teaching. They are experts in differentiation and multiple learning styles, incorporating sensorial, visual-spatial, kinesthetic and auditory approaches to engage students on all levels. They are skilled in employing techniques from a range of pedagogical practices, and are not limited to one prescribed approach. They employ holistic learning approaches, which include strategies in problem solving, conflict resolution, and mediation in relating to peers at school and later in life.
The backbone of our classroom work is project-based learning. Project-based learning allows a student to work authentically in ways that build powerful academics while developing important collaborative skills. It develops a child’s sense of purpose by integrating learning with life. It encourages problem solving, risk taking, creativity and resilience. It creates space for children to learn from one another, to cultivate and extend the special talents and passions of their peers and to have confidence in their own contributions.
Each year, we plan a curriculum based on monthly themes, selected to offer rich academic opportunities across the range of disciplines. Themes are often targeted towards investigation of particular subjects (art, math, science, language arts, etc.), but each theme is taught in an integrated, interdisciplinary way so that all subject areas are consistently and dynamically explored. Each theme is a platform for developing academic mastery in the context of intellectual inquiry and community awareness.
The whole school works on the same theme each month. This means that all students study various aspects of the theme at developmentally-appropriate levels of complexity and sophistication, generating countless opportunities for sharing activities across the classrooms and age groups. Students learn from students, mentor and inspire each other, share field trips and celebrate their discoveries. They benefit from the varied texture of their learning experiences and from a depth of community involvement. To see a map of how a theme works, click here.
Monthly themes draw from across the disciplines for a balanced program throughout the school year. The themes for this year include:
Our Backyard, Author Studies, The Human Body, Maps, Migrations, Tools, Space, and The Future. Read about them.
EB classes are a chance for children to take a plunge into a special interest or passion, go in depth, and work side by side with other students of all ages in true community spirit. Teachers, parents and experts from the wider community offer classes in an unusual field, and students self-select into the class that interests them most. This means that the groups often span the entire age range from K - 8. These classes generally run four to six weeks and change throughout the year. Topics can range from "Fleece on Earth" (exploring the journey of wool from the alpaca’s back, through all stages to a knitted scarf) to "Approaching Infinity" (an investigation of what infinity really means, including different kinds of infinities, through math, stories and art). These classes are limitless in scope and wildly popular with students, faculty and parents.
We de-emphasize computers in favor of real life experience. As Jane Healey, PhD, said, 'The best multimedia, interactive environment is still the real world.' In 4th and 5th grade we have a laptop program which introduces the students to various age-appropriate tools, allowing them to research, edit and present work with technological support. In younger grades, the use of computers supports activities such as watching nesting birds on web cams or writing a class email to a friend in another country. By middle school, students are regularly making sophisticated use of technology to complement and strengthen their research, projects and presentations.
See a video of our students learning and having fun here.