What is the history of Summers-Knoll?
Summers-Knoll was founded in 1996 by Ruth Knoll and Jean Navarre. In the years since its inception, Summers-Knoll has remained true to its vision of progressive education for bright, creative and gifted children, honoring the unique qualities of each student who joins our community.
What kind of child does well at Summers-Knoll?
We are a school where a range of different kinds of minds can blossom. We offer challenge without pressure, allowing students to work deeply and joyfully at a pace that is natural for them. They don't have to slow their thinking down or kill time. This means that students progress meaningfully, absorb concepts rapidly and advance their skills in adventurous ways. Gifted students thrive here, as do creative thinkers and rapid learners.
What is the student to teacher ratio?
In 2009, our student to teacher ratio was 4:1. Summers-Knoll is an intentionally small school which allows for exceptional interaction between faculty and students. We have nine faculty members including homeroom and specials teachers.
What is the average class size?
We keep our class sizes at around 14 students per classroom. Small class sizes are key to our educational philosophy of fostering a sense of community amongst students and ensuring individualized attention from teachers.
How does Summers-Knoll prepare students for high-school?
Our focus on fostering intellectual curiosity results in students who are well-prepared for tackling the challenges of middle and high-school. Research indicates that students who learn in a progressive environment like Summers-Knoll do as well or better on standardized tests than students who learn in a more traditional setting. For reviews of research on effective learning visit our resources page. Discover the stories of some of our alumni.
How well do children from Summers-Knoll transition to larger schools?
In a small environment, children learn social skills (such as negotiation, self-advocacy, conflict resolution, compassion and empathy) in depth. Because of this, when they move to a larger school, they are in a good position to connect with other students socially. At Summers-Knoll, they learn to trust themselves and be confident in their abilities, qualities that serve them well as they move to other environments. You don't typically find our alumni succumbing to herd mentality. They have the confidence to make their new space their own.
How do students transferring to Summers Knoll adjust to their new environment?
Extremely well! For many students who struggled finding a place in their previous school, Summers Knoll is a breath of fresh air. Our small class size means that new students' strengths are quickly identified and encouraged. Students learn in caring community, and new students are both welcomed and supported by classmates. If a student hasn't yet studied Latin, for example, both classmates and teachers offer assistance. And because learning is tailored to each student's progress, new students are never held back or left struggling to catch up. Transfer students tell us that it doesn't feel like starting something new as much as finding a home.
How will I know that my child will be equipped for the world?
At Summers-Knoll, we encourage the use of inquiry as a way to understand the world around us and to test our fundamental perceptions of what we believe. Our classroom projects and learning experiences typically start with questions: What do I know? What do I observe? What do I understand? Where am I now? Where do I want to be? What are the next steps? We believe that reflective learners develop thinking habits that make them better at critical thinking and more able to synthesize key information, building strong skills that contribute to a lifetime of learning. Our experience is that children who construct their own understanding through inquiry and experimentation are more likely to embed meaningful academic and life skills.
How are students assessed?
Assessment is a tool not just to audit skills, but to provide meaningful feedback for progress. Summers-Knoll utilizes a comprehensive assessment process based on the Work Sampling System.
Without testing, how do I know if my child is learning effectively?
An education based in testing teaches a child that the goal of learning is to reach a set limit imposed by someone else. When you have met that limit, your work — and your thinking — is over. But learning does not have to have this kind of artificial boundary. We want the students to extend their goals and go further. Children need to experience learning as exciting, joyful for its own sake. Internal motivation is a big part of Summers-Knoll's philosophy. It's why we don't give grades, why we de-emphasize testing, so that children learn with passion rather than depending on external expectations for their motivation.
If a child doesn't get used to taking tests early, when will they learn how to take them?
Children learn how to take tests very quickly and easily, especially if they are used to taking on new ideas and experimenting with new styles. Our students actually tend to be excited and enthusiastic about tests, because they represent a new experience. Studies show that children who learn in progressive environments do as well or better than children who have learned in a more traditional style. Would they want them all the time? Of course not. There's too much else to do.
How much homework do children need? Does more homework mean a better school?
Children are people too. They have lives to live, interests to explore, families to love, pets to care for, exercise to take, and they need downtime just like anyone else. Unscheduled time is not wasted time; it's processing time, reflecting time, regenerating time, creative time. It's a basic human need. People work better when they don't overwork. Children are not the exception to this rule. Better attention to motivation and appropriate levels of challenge are more likely to result in improved academics than excessive amounts of homework.
Do you assign homework at Summers-Knoll?
Yes, of course, when it is relevant and appropriate. What we don't do is numb children's brains and stress them out by assigning homework for homework's sake. Children have small quantities of homework in the early grades and this increases to some extent over time. It never becomes a heavy load. Evenings are for reading a good book, cooking and eating dinner with the family, practicing an instrument, playing in the front yard with neighborhood friends, joining a soccer league or diving deeper into something the child found exciting in school that day. Our students work hard during the day and need a chance to relax with their families and engage in activities and hobbies that give them joy.
What is your policy on recess?
We are big on recess. The children go outside for about half an hour in the morning and about 40 minutes before or after eating lunch. Often they have a recess in the afternoon and are outside during regular class time doing curriculum-related projects. Research shows that regular recess improves academic progress and test scores. Without it, learning is harder, concentration is fragmented, and quality of life suffers.
What are your membership affiliations?
Summers-Knoll is a member of the NAIS and AIMS, and a provisional member of ISACS.
Where is Summers-Knoll located?
Summers-Knoll is an urban school with a rural feel, located on the edge of beautiful County Farm Park but off of Washtenaw Avenue. We are intentionally urban because we believe that children should learn to be an active part of the community in which they live.
I am interested in employment at Summers-Knoll. How can I find out about opportunities?
Contact our head of school, Joanna. Please do not send unsolicited resumes.
Who did the design and photography for the website?
The website was designed by Linette Lao. It was built by Anjanette Bunce, and the photography was done by Leisa Thompson.