Middle School Electives


Summit School of Ahwatukee electives add further dimension and depth to an advanced middle school curriculum. The electives are designed to broaden and enrich each students understanding of the possibilities and directions their lives can lead.

Quarterly electives are offered in nine week blocks, which meet four times per week. The elective choices include:

  • Visual Arts
  • Band
  • Culinary Arts
  • Debate
  • Forensics
  • Game Design/Programming
  • Physical Education
  • Robotics
  • Theatre
  • Video Production
  • Yearbook

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Elective offers studio courses aligned with the National Core Arts Standards of creating, presenting, responding, and connecting.

Topics of Study:

  • Fused Glass Art / Ceramic Art / Sculpture / Installation Art
  • Fine Arts:  Painting / Drawing / Printmaking / Book art
  • Design:  Architecture / Interior / Graphic / Product
  • Fiber Arts:  Sewing / Textiles / Art Spinning / Weaving
  • Media Arts:  Photography / Animation / Motion Graphics

The Vitruvius Program is the heart of the Summit School of Ahwatukee art curriculum. In 2011, this exceptional program was named The Best Art and Architecture School Curriculum in the United States, by the Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO).

This art, architecture and design program enables students to use their creative intelligence to express ideas and concepts in tangible forms. As students engage in work based on real and imagined projects, they deepen critical thinking, narrative problem solving, spatial reasoning, and visual perception.

Design and architecture projects bring an important dimension of thinking to the program. The students learn to find reasons for their work outside of artistic self-expression, becoming divergent thinkers, and gaining a foundation for understanding a changing world.

By studying works from history and the present, students understand how art and design have made significant contributions in the shaping of culture. Students see that their creative work is part of a continuum with other artists, architects, and designers. Critiques develop the ability to observe, discriminate, compare, and contrast creative works. Students learn how to use critical language to interpret work and explain their understanding of its purposes.

The Vitruvius Program curriculum was developed with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

In 2011, this exceptional program was named the best art and architecture school curriculum in the United States, by the Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO) and winner of the National School award. Summit represented the United States in the UIA Golden Cubes International Competition in Tokyo.

In 2009 Phoenix Magazine recognized the Vitruvius Program as one of the top five education programs in Metro-Phoenix.

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art invited the Vitruvius Program at Summit School to create two different exhibitions for their young@art Gallery.

The first exhibit, Bridges: Connecting Earth to Sky, displayed from October 2010 to January 2011, and included architecture and design work from each Summit student in kindergarten through sixth grade. The second exhibit, Cycles From Fields to Cities, displayed from February through April 2013, also includes student works from Finland, France, Russia and Sweden, features designs from third and fifth grade Summit students. The architectural project was co-created by Summit art instructor Kathleen Kupper. This project asks children from many countries to think reflectively about the current state of their city’s design, and challenges them to share how they would reconstruct and reconfigure old and new elements. Artworks range from architectural models and drawings to animations.

Kathleen Kupper

Art Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Kathleen.Kupper@SummitSchoolaz.org

Kathleen Kupper is Summit School’s Specialist in art, architecture and design. Her education includes a Master of Architecture degree from UCLA and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the Southern California Institute of Architecture [SCI-Arc] and the ASU College of Architecture. As the co-founder of the Vitruvius Program, she developed and taught architecture, art, and design programs in the United States and Switzerland. Mrs. Kupper brought the Vitruvius program to Summit in 2001.

Mrs. Kupper was the Recipient of the Prestigious Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, ACSA, Creative Achievement Award. Kathleen, Selene, and Eugene Kupper were awarded the “Creative Achievement Award” by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, ACSA, at the ACSA National Conference in San Francisco in March 2013. The Creative Achievement Award recognizes a specific creative achievement in teaching, design, scholarship, research, or service that advances architectural education. This award recognized the Vitruvius Program research and curriculum integration at the Summit School of Ahwatukee.

Selene Kupper

Art Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Selene.Kupper@SummitSchoolaz.org

Selene Kupper has been recognized nationally for part in developing and teaching the Vitruvius Art Program, which is the art curriculum at Summit School of Ahwatukee. She brought her astounding talents to Summit School in 2008.

Ms. Kupper has developed projects and taught in the Vitruvius Program at the ASU Center for Academic Precocity, Design Discovery at the ASU College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Tesseract School Paradise Valley and North Scottsdale, and the University of Wisconsin. She studied graphic design at ASU, and has worked as a general manager, buyer, and designer for a five store corporation. As an artist and designer, her work has been exhibited internationally and she continues to create design work in the area of textiles and graphics. At Summit, she presents integrated design exercises and art principles to the students.

Ms. Kupper was the Recipient of the Prestigious Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, ACSA, Creative Achievement Award. Kathleen, Selene, and Eugene Kupper were awarded the “Creative Achievement Award” by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, ACSA, at the ACSA National Conference in San Francisco in March 2013. The Creative Achievement Award recognizes a specific creative achievement in teaching, design, scholarship, research, or service that advances architectural education. This award recognized the Vitruvius Program research and curriculum integration at the Summit School of Ahwatukee.

Band

The Sabre Cat Band is a pop/rock performance ensemble featuring vocals, guitar, bass, piano/keys, drums, horns, strings, and percussion. Repertoire is primarily student driven music that is meaningful to students, supplemented with music from other genres and cultures. They also explore songwriting and improvisation.

Students develop an appreciation for a variety of popular music genres as well as an awareness of popular music in culture and history. The band often performs at Summit’s fall, winter, and spring concerts, open house, school-wide spirit days, Summit fundraisers, and the Ahwatukee Easter Parade. Students may elect to participate for all four quarters.

Dr. Christopher Dorsey

Band Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Chris.Dorsey@SummitSchoolaz.org

Dr. Chris Dorsey was born in Byron, Georgia, and began formal guitar training at Georgia Southwestern University. Continuing at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. He earned his Master of Arts in Guitar Performance from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Guitar Performance from the School of Music at Arizona State University in 2005.

 Dr. Dorsey has studied and performed throughout the world, including Spain, Argentina, and locally in Phoenix and Sedona. In 2000, the Arizona State University College of Fine Arts and the “Friends” of the ASU Center for Latin American Studies awarded Chris grants to study tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is active both as a soloist and as a member of the Santa Fe Guitar Quartet of Argentina. He has recorded three albums with the quartet: Journeys (2003), Wapango (2007) and Antiguo Canta (2007).

Dr. Dorsey began teaching classical guitar at the university level in 1996 and has been teaching children and youth since 1999. In 2005, he established the Dorsey Guitar Studio in Phoenix, Arizona, which offers high-quality instruction in music and classical guitar to children and youth. In 2007 he joined Summit School of Ahwatukee.

Culinary Arts

The Culinary Arts Elective class is designed for hands-on learning to develop lifelong skills in the fundamentals of cooking.  Subject areas to be covered are cooking techniques and tools, deciphering recipes, selecting ingredients, exploring diverse foods, nutrition, food presentation, kitchen safety, and proper food handling.

Culinary Arts Elective – Sample Newsletter sent to Parents

Students begin building their cooking skills on the first day of class. We started with breakfast foods because they are familiar foods and it assisted the students in getting use to the kitchen, working with kitchen tools, induction burners, recipes and in working together. Generally I have the students work in groups of 2, 4 or as a whole class depending on the recipe. We also sprinkle in discussions of nutrition as we cover each recipe.

The 2nd week, we moved into some lunch time favorites of panini/grilled sandwiches, soup, salads and homemade salad dressings. These are all items that the students can  make for themselves at home. In addition we had a great discussion about diets and the way people eat. This included talking about the history of the American diet, food allergies, and different types of diets such as vegetarian and religious based diets. We ended the discussion by being more aware of how we can modify what we cook to meet the dietary needs of a friend or relative and how to respect others who eat differently from us.

This week we introduced kitchen knives and knife skills. I was impressed with the way all of the students respected the knife policy and the comfort & confidence level that they displayed in working on their knife skills. I reminded the students to seek permission from you prior to working with kitchen knives in your home kitchen. Don’t be surprised if your child recommends that your kitchen knives be sharpened for safety reasons.

We ended this week with phyllo dough today and the students made spanakopita (Greek spinach and cheese) pies. They also indulged by making dessert ones stuffed with bananas and chocolate chips. You may find a package of phyllo dough added to your shopping list soon!

Are you getting hungry yet?  You have a budding cook in your family. If they have not already started cooking for you, encourage your child to prepare some of the class recipes for you, they take great pride in their work and you will be pleasantly surprised by their tasty creations!

Next week the culinary students will work with puff pastry, make Smart Brownies (yes, they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast!) and we will decipher food labels to assist us in making good food choices.

Thank you have a great and tasty day!
Laura Bachrach
Culinary Instructor
Summit School of Ahwatukee

Laura Bachrach, RN, BSN, MSL, CCM

Culinary Arts Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Laura.Bachrach@SummitSchoolaz.org

Laura Bachrach started her career in healthcare over 30 years ago receiving her BSN at Arizona State University.  She developed a passion for teaching others while working as a certified nurse case manager.  She taught patients and their families how to advocate and self-manage their own health care, including nutrition, diet, and healthy eating.   Following her passion for education and leadership, Mrs. Bachrach received her Masters’ of Science in Leadership through the Ken Blanchard School of Business at the Grand Canyon University.  This allowed her to open up her arena in education.

Her youngest son started at Summit in kindergarten, graduating in 2017. During that time Mrs. Bachrach has held many volunteer positions at Summit School, including BEST President, Volunteer Coordinator, middle school Rep.  She also served on the Summit School’s Board of Trustees, with the duties of Facility Strategic Committee Co-Chair for the last four years.  She was a part of the team that worked on the kitchen renovation, transforming the kitchen into the culinary classroom it is today. She began teaching the elective in 2016.

Mrs. Bachrach volunteers her time to several non-profit organizations focused on education and leadership development.  Her favorite times are when she is conducting an educational seminar or presentation, developing a leadership program, or working one on one with students and adults.

Debate

This elective will focus on introductory policy debate.  It is designed to introduce students to argumentation, analysis, reasoning, delivery skills, organization, writing techniques, research, and techniques of cross-examination.  Students will learn several styles of structured argument as we debate important public issues of the past and present.

Allison Lee

Debate Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Allison.Lee@SummitSchoolaz.org

Allison Lee earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Human Development and a minor in English.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Library Media Science with a certification in School Library Media. Ms. Lee’s teaching experience spans preschool, elementary, middle school and high school. Summit proudly welcomed Ms. Lee to the teaching staff in 2016.

Forensics

The focus of forensics is on effective public speaking techniques using the speech categories of the National Speech and Debate Association.  These include impromptu speaking, declamations, and prose interpretation.  Students will learn how to deliver speeches in an effective, concise manner while also practicing the essential skill of how to be a good listener.  Participation in a local speech tournament may be part of the class (depending on scheduling of local tournaments.)

Allison Lee

Forensics Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Allison.Lee@SummitSchoolaz.org

Allison Lee earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Human Development and a minor in English.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Library Media Science with a certification in School Library Media. Ms. Lee’s teaching experience spans preschool, elementary, middle school and high school. Summit proudly welcomed Ms. Lee to the teaching staff in 2016.

Game Design/Programming

In this elective, students will use various programs to design and create computer-based games. They will also have the opportunity to learn about and use different programming languages.

Jeremy Douwstra

Game Design/Programming Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Jeremy.douwstra@SummitSchoolaz.org

Jeremy Douwstra holds a BS in Elementary Education and a Masters in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University. His extensive background teaching technology to both students and teachers in the Kyrene and Chandler Unified districts stretches to 1994.

Mr. Douwstra brings a range of experiences coaching students in web design, desktop publishing, animation, video production, podcasting, coding, and robotics. He has also served in the role of district technology trainer and coach in support of teachers. As member of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Jeremy is dedicated to staying current with emerging technologies, and will be attending the annual ISTE conference this summer.  Mr. Douwstra joined Summit’s teaching team in 2016. His expertise and skills make him perfectly poised to provide the technological leadership needed to continue to enhance Summit’s integration of innovative technology across the curriculum.

Physical Education

The physical education elective will encompass lifetime health and wellness based on the melding of the Fitness for Life and Sport Education curriculums as well as health resources and “SPARK!”  Students begin the quarter with Fitnessgram® testing followed by personal goal setting.

The units for each quarter will focus on healthy lifestyle principles, lifetime sports and activities and biomechanical applications and principles.  Activities will be determined by the students’ interests for the quarter. Such activities will include but are not limited to net sports, individual and dual sports, field games and health related activities such as yoga, Pilates, dance and stress management techniques. Elective Physical Education will include at least one field trip as a culminating event for the quarter. All units will follow the newly revised Arizona State Standards for Physical Education and Health.

Kathy Dean

Physical Education and Wellness Specialist
Physical Education Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Kathy.Dean@SummitSchoolaz.org

Kathy Dean attended Indiana University and Indiana State University, earning a BA degree in health, physical education, recreation and dance and music education. She has a Master’s degree from Indiana State in Exercise Physiology. Mrs. Dean is a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and earned an
Exercise is Medicine Certification Level 2

Under Mrs. Dean’s leadership, Summit’s Physical Education curriculum and before school running club was named one of top schools in the United States for the “Let’s Move in School” program developed by First Lady Michelle Obama. This designation was earned in 2011 and again in 2015!  In October of 2013 Mrs. Dean became one of the first Physical Activity Leader Trainers for the Let’s Move Active Schools Programs.

Mrs. Dean also received recognition in 2011 for her achievement in helping improve school wellness by serving as a Fuel Up and Play 60 program adviser. This program is sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture.

She is also the former president of the Arizona Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AzAHPERD), and served on several committees including Action for Healthy Kids and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Recently, Mrs. Dean earned the Active Learning Specialist certification from Harrisburg University and became a National “PALS”, Physical Activity Leader Specialist, Train the Trainer, from SHAPE America.

Her mantra for physical education and wellness is “Exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”, Dr. John Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor, Harvard Medical School.”

Robotics

Robotics elective students will design and build robots using the VEX IQ system.  Students will learn how to operate their creations using a remote hand controller or by programming using the computer.  The curriculum expands to include science, technology, math, and science topics.  Competition opportunities will also be offered.

Jeremy Douwstra

Robotics Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Jeremy.douwstra@SummitSchoolaz.org

Jeremy Douwstra holds a BS in Elementary Education and a Masters in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University. His extensive background teaching technology to both students and teachers in the Kyrene and Chandler Unified districts stretches to 1994.

Mr. Douwstra brings a range of experiences coaching students in web design, desktop publishing, animation, video production, podcasting, coding, and robotics. He has also served in the role of district technology trainer and coach in support of teachers. As member of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Jeremy is dedicated to staying current with emerging technologies, and will be attending the annual ISTE conference this summer.

Mr. Douwstra joined Summit’s teaching team in 2016. His expertise and skills make him perfectly poised to provide the technological leadership needed to continue to enhance Summit’s integration of innovative technology across the curriculum.

Theatre

Theatre elective will culminate with a production of a one act play to be performed in front of parents and peers. Students will gain an understanding of the basics of theatre performance including dialect and articulation on stage, stage movements, developing a character, improvisational theatre, and the importance of teamwork on stage. Students will also explore introductory technical skills in set design and lighting.

Matthew Feller

Theatre Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Matthew.Feller@SummitSchoolaz.org

Mr. Feller teaches two dynamic electives for middle school students: Theatre and Yearbook. Additionally he serves as the school’s athletic director for the fifth through eighth grade sports teams, and coordinates after school enrichment programs for all grade levels.

Mr. Feller is a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a degree in business administration. He earned his certification as an Interscholastic Coach, through the National Federation of Associated High Schools. Additionally he is certified by the American Camp Association as a summer camp and youth program director.

His extensive experience includes working in after school programs, summer camps, and athletics programs in multiple cities across Arizona, beginning in 2005.

His theatre experience began in middle school, through the school theatre club where he fell in love with theatrical arts. Mr. Feller has performed in high school plays and musicals that have won state-level competitions, and was a member of a traveling acting troupe performing across Arizona.  Mr. Feller joined Summit in 2012.

Yearbook

The yearbook elective will be responsible for the online production of the Summit yearbook.  Photography, layout, design, and writing skills will be developed in the planning and creation of the treasured book.  Students will choose the theme, colors, font styles, and cover design as well as the overall content.

Matthew Feller

Yearbook Elective, Sixth through Eighth Grade
Matthew.Feller@SummitSchoolaz.org

Mr. Feller teaches two dynamic electives for middle school students: Yearbook and Theatre. Additionally he serves as the school’s athletic director for the fifth through eighth grade sports teams, and coordinates after school enrichment programs for all grade levels.

Mr. Feller is a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a degree in business administration. He earned his certification as an Interscholastic Coach, through the National Federation of Associated High Schools. Additionally he is certified by the American Camp Association as a summer camp and youth program director.

His extensive experience includes working in after school programs, summer camps, and athletics programs in multiple cities across Arizona, beginning in 2005.  Mr. Feller joined Summit in 2012.