Mr. Kyle Allen named Teacher of the Year by Junior Achievement/BizTown

Junior Achievement has equipped more than 2 million students to succeed in work and life during the last 60 years.  One of the many ways that they do this is through the JA BizTown program.  Through this program kids are taught about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.  Junior Achievement of Arizona works with over 250 schools each year and a lead teacher at each of those schools.  Lead teachers take on the responsibility of ensuring that their colleagues and students are prepared for their visit to the JA BizTown facility.  To this end the lead teacher is assigned an education manager at JA with whom they work closely throughout the program.  At the beginning of each school year the JA BizTown education managers nominate and vote on a teacher of the year from the previous school year.

Summit School of Ahwatukee is thrilled to announce that Mr. Kyle Allen has been named the 2016-2017 Junior Achievement Biztown Teacher of the Year! Mr. Allen was the unanimous selection of the committee, who considered more than 250 teachers for this prestigious honor.

Codie Cancellieri, Senior Education Manager for Junior Achievement/BizTown, says, “Kyle Allen has done an outstanding job in his role as the JA BizTown Lead Teacher for Summit School. His sincere belief in the mission of Junior Achievement is very apparent and he takes the time and care to ensure that all of the students at Summit school receive a quality JA program.”

All of us at Summit know that Kyle is an outstanding educator who makes a tremendous impact on our students. It comes as no surprise that Junior Achievement saw Kyle’s gifts just as clearly as we do.

Please join us in congratulating Kyle on this well-deserved recognition!

Launch of Math Monday by K-5 Math Specialist, Molly Danforth

Our goal in creating the Math Specialist position was to provide additional instructional support for students and teachers as we further enhance our mathematics program at Summit.  We’ve asked Ms. Molly Danforth, our Kindergarten-5th Grade Math Specialist, to share more of her background and approach to the role, as well as make a special announcement—the launch of Math Mondays!

Dear Parents,

I am a National Board Certified Teacher, with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Elementary Education. I have taught at Summit since 2007 and have been in the classroom for more than twenty years. My parents were strong advocates for education and always encouraged me to continue on this path.  After receiving my Masters, I decided to further my understanding of how students learn and became a National Board Certified Teacher (2004 and 2014). It was during this process that I realized that students need a balance of procedural, conceptual understanding, and application techniques in order to understand mathematics deeply.  Students need to conceptually understand math concepts before learning the abstract.  Throughout the year, I will be sharing information on how Summit teachers create a balance to develop mathematical thinkers and provide opportunities for parents to be involved in their child’s mathematical development. You will see what is taking place in the classroom, ideas for reinforcement at home, research studies, recommended apps and games and even a parent challenge or two!


Ms. Danforth

Follow Summit’s Facebook page  to see Ms. Danforth’s Math Mondays posted weekly.


$6,000 preschool scholarships available at Summit School of Ahwatukee

Summit School of Ahwatukee is proud to partner with Quality First, First Things First, and the United Way. Through these programs, Summit can offer $6,000 needs-based scholarships, enabling children to enroll in Summit’s NAEYC, nationally accredited preschool. Summit is also ranked as a five star program by Quality First, the highest recognition awarded to the best Arizona preschools.

Preschool scholarships are for Summit’s academic school year, August 9, 2017 through May 25th, 2018, for a five day program. School hours are 8am – 3:15pm.  The scholarships are based on family income, with limits set by the state. Qualifying families are responsible to pay the tuition not covered by the scholarship, and the cost of before and after school care, if needed.

1st Place Best Of 2016Learning in Summit’s NAEYC accredited Preschool is fun and enriching. The developmental, emergent, play-based curriculum utilizes Teaching Strategies Gold objectives for teaching and learning. The curriculum is research-based, developmentally appropriate, and taught by experienced teachers, who nurture cognitive, social and emotional growth.

Preschool also includes classes in art, Spanish, music, tumbling and library. Preschoolers can range in age from 30 months to 5 years old, but must be fully independent in the bathroom.

Ahwatukee Foothills News voters have named Summit School of Ahwatukee one of the Best Preschools for 9 years in a row!  Why? Students gain skills above and beyond those needed, to thrive in kindergarten. They develop a joy of learning and inquiry.

Summit is a private preschool, elementary and middle school. Call Summit’s admissions office at 480-403-9506 to see if your family qualifies for a scholarship, or to schedule your personal tour.

Announcing dynamic additions to Summit School of Ahwatukee teaching staff

One of Summit’s top strategic goals over the past several years has been the creation of a full-time Mathematics Specialist role to further enrich our mathematics program.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Summit’s sound financial planning and recent fundraising success will allow us to make this goal a reality for the 2017-2018 school year.

Molly Danforth will be Summit’s new full-time Math Specialist for Kindergarten through fifth grade next year.  A National Board Certified Teacher, with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Elementary Education, Ms. Danforth has taught at Summit since 2007.  Her passion for mathematics and extensive experience inspiring students to develop the math knowledge, understanding and skills they require to excel, will significantly bolster our elementary math program.

As our Math Specialist, Ms. Danforth will provide additional differentiated mathematics instruction to students in Kindergarten through fifth grade in a variety of settings, including one-on-one, small group, and whole class instruction.  The new role adds an additional layer of support to our classroom teachers, ensuring that high achieving mathematics students are adequately challenged, students on grade level make solid progress, and additional support is provided for students who require it.  The mathematics instruction all our elementary students receive will be enhanced by the creation of the Math Specialist role.

I’m also delighted to announce that Faith Angelakis will be our new Second Grade Teacher for the coming year.  Mrs. Angelakis is best known to our community as our Literacy Specialist, and her recent experience teaching third grade has fueled her desire to return to a homeroom teaching role. Over her twenty four year teaching career, Mrs. Angelakis has taught every grade between Kindergarten and seventh, and is particularly excited about returning to second grade.  She holds a Masters Degree and teaching certificate in Elementary Education, and her extensive experience includes working as teacher consultant and trainer for the Everyday Mathematics company, designing and scoring teacher evaluation portfolios, and teaching special education. The Math Specialist position allows Summit to augment the learning support we provide elementary students at all learning levels.

In addition, please join me in welcoming Samantha Arce to Summit as our new Third Grade Teacher for next year.  Ms. Arce is a graduate of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, and is completing her Masters Degree in Instructional Leadership, with an emphasis in Math and Literacy Education.  Ms. Arce began her teaching career as a student teacher under Summit teachers Molly Danforth and Erin Vosseller, and her four years as an full-time elementary teacher since that time have equipped her well for teaching third grade at Summit. In the words of one of her supervisors, Ms. Arce’s “performance was stellar, and she demonstrated a strong ability to connect research with her practice as an educator and teacher-leader.”  This assessment was confirmed to the search committee as we observed her teach a sample lesson with the skill and seasoning of a veteran Summit teacher.

As we wrap up this school year, we eagerly anticipate the positive impact the new Math Specialist role and these outstanding teachers will have in challenging our students intellectual, social and character growth in the years to come.

Forward together,
Mark Bistricky, M.Ed.
Head of School
Summit School of Ahwatukee

Building Math Minds in preschool and kindergarten: An informative parent presentation open to the community on April 5th from 6 – 7:30pm

Summit invites parents of preschool and kindergarten aged children to learn how to support your child’s learning in math. All in the community are welcome – Invite your friends!

A complimentary light dinner will be provided.  RSVP requested:

Building Math Minds: April 5th from 6 – 7:30pm

Parent only presentation at Summit School of Ahwatukee ~ 4515 E. Muirwood Dr., Phoenix, AZ 85048

Gain valuable insights into developing important foundational math skills for your child. Learn how numeracy and number sense are developed in preschool and extended in kindergarten. Parents will get ideas to support higher level mathematical and critical thinking skills, allowing your children to excel in elementary and middle school.

The presenter is Ms. Molly Danforth, a twenty year teacher with experience in first through third grades. Ms. Danforth holds both a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Education, and has earned National Board Certification. She has additional training in Cognitively Guided Instruction, Intel Math, as well as several other math courses.  As Summit’s kindergarten – 2nd grade math coordinator she uses her expertise to enhance classroom math instruction and assessments, and further professional development in mathematics.

Summit School of Ahwatukee is a nationally accredited elementary and middle school, and an NAEYC Accredited Preschool chosen year after year as the BEST PRESCHOOL by the Ahwatukee community!

1st Place Best Of 2016

Raising Readers in preschool and kindergarten: A parent presentation open to the community on March 30th from 6 – 7:30pm at Summit School of Ahwatukee

Summit invites parents of preschool and kindergarten aged children to learn how to support your child’s learning in reading. All in the community are welcome – Invite your friends!

A complimentary light dinner will be provided both evenings.  RSVP required to

Raising Readers: Ideas for inspiring literacy skills in preschool and kindergarten children

March 30th from 6 – 7:30pm

A parent only presentation at Summit School of Ahwatukee ~ 4515 E. Muirwood Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85048

Learning to read words is only the first step in developing a kindergartners literacy skills. Discover how comprehension and understanding of language make reading the backbone of learning and inquiry. Gain insights into important strategies that teach children to do far more than read words, but to understand, think and communicate ideas from reading.

The presenter is Faith Angelakis, a twenty year teacher with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, and a Reading Specialist endorsement, a full Structured English Immersion endorsement, and CLIP (Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project) certification. In her role as Summit’s literacy specialist, Ms. Angelakis helps teachers plan literacy instruction, and models and team-teaches lessons with her colleagues.

Summit School of Ahwatukee ~ 4515 E. Muirwood Dr. Phoenix, AZ 85048 ~ 480-403-9506

Summit School of Ahwatukee is a nationally accredited elementary and middle school, and an NAEYC Accredited Preschool chosen year after year as the BEST PRESCHOOL by the Ahwatukee community!

1st Place Best Of 2016


Open House

Summit School of Ahwatukee  ~  LEARN TO LEAD

 Parents and the community are invited Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Open House  /  Curriculum Presentations  /   Student Art Exhibit

  • 5 – 7 pm              ART EXHIBIT:   Preschool – Eighth Grade Art ~  Multipurpose Room
  • 5 – 6 pm              MIDDLE SCHOOL PRESENTATION ~  Knowledge Center
  • 5 – 6 pm              KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM PRESENTATION ~ Kindergarten classroom
  • 5:30 – 6:45 pm  OPEN HOUSE:    Elementary ~ Middle School  ~ Preschool

ART EXHIBIT:   Preschool – 5th grade and Middle School Art Elective:  5 – 7 pm in the Multipurpose Room

The Multipurpose Room is transformed into a gallery under the direction of visual arts teachers Kathleen and Selene Kupper.  Students display creative works related to art, architecture, design, engineering, textiles, and media arts.  Catch a glimpse of a previous year’s exhibition:

MIDDLE SCHOOL PRESENTATION:   5 – 6 pm in the Knowledge Center (Library)

Parents and Students are invited to hear about our highly successful, nationally accredited middle school program from middle school teachers and Head of School, Mark Bistricky. Understand why students excel academically and socially, preparing for success in high school, college and beyond.


Join us in the kindergarten classroom, for a special curriculum presentation given by the teachers. See and understand the differences of a Summit Kindergarten education. View student work, projects, learning materials and examples of thematic integration. Discover why in 2011 The Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO) selected the Vitruvius Program at Summit School of Ahwatukee as the Winner of the National School award: the Best Art/Design/Architecture school program in the United States!

OPEN HOUSE:    Elementary and Middle School      5:30 – 6:45 pm

Parents and students are welcome to a self-guided tour of kindergarten through eighth grade to see examples of student projects and learning that demonstrate Summit’s educational approach of developing thinking and understanding, and to meet our highly experienced teachers.

Explore all grade level classrooms, the elementary and middle school science labs, Spanish classrooms, technology lab, library, and music room. On this evening the physical education teacher will be in the library.  The art studio will not be open, but student works will be on display in the multi-purpose room.

OPEN HOUSE:    Preschool     5:30 – 6:45 pm

At Summit, we are committed to our student’s personal and academic growth from the moment they enter our NAEYC accredited preschool, until the day they graduate eighth grade as young adults. Walk through the environment that ignites learning and joy.

Children and parents invited to experience a “Pop-Up Adventure Playground”: A one day, free community event centered on learning and fun

Summit School of Ahwatukee invites the community to a free event for families with children of all ages, to experience a unique, open-ended, play-based experience that allows children’s creativity and ingenuity to soar.

A “Pop-Up Adventure Playground” awaits your family on December 3rd, from 10am to 2pm, on the campus of Summit School of Ahwatukee, near 46th street and Chandler Blvd in Ahwatukee.   Families from Phoenix, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Ocotillo and the Ahwatukee / Foothills are all welcome!

A Pop-Up Adventure Playground provides an extensive supply of “loose parts” which are materials that can be combined, moved, carried, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with others like large boxes, cardboard tubes, fabric, yarn, rocks, sticks, boxes, tires, markers, tape, and so, so much more.  Children are invited to take home their creations.

This free community event is literally popping up all over the globe, Cairo, Shanghai, Mexico City, New York. The December 3rd event is the first in Phoenix, and will be provided free of charge through a partnership between Treasures4Teachers, Pop-Up Adventure Play and Summit School of Ahwatukee.

“These events are a fantastic way for people of all ages to come together,” exclaims Morgan Leichter-Saxby, Co-Founder of Pop-Up Adventure Play. “Play is so important for children’s growth and development and for their happiness.  Pop-up adventure playgrounds are also a fun way to bridge our differences within the community and connect on a deep level, sending a clear message that you don’t need money to play!”

“Summit School of Ahwatukee is thrilled to work with Treasures4Teachers to host this experience,” exudes Andrea Benkel, the Director of Early Childhood Education. “Loose Parts Play is the foundation for critical thinking and creativity and is the original “Maker Space.”  As a NAEYC accredited preschool and an elementary and middle school devoted to teaching critical thinking skills for all students, we celebrate the “minimakers” in all children and look forward to the engineers, scientists, artists, mathematicians and technology innovators that will have their visions come to life at this event!”

Leading the quest to provide this important play-based learning experience for children in our community is Barbara Blalock, Founder and Executive Director of Treasures 4 Teachers.  “Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds are truly a gift for children and families.  We are on a mission to educate parents on the value of play; especially child directed play, using wonderful materials called “loose parts” which are materials that have no specific outcome other than to build on a child’s imagination.”

Blalock is a leader in our community who has worked tirelessly to enhance educational opportunities to children. She is a former educator, who was later employed to help preschools bring the quality of their programming up to a level required to earn national accreditation through the NAEYC.

In 2004, Blalock witnessed a student having to use her shoe as collateral for a pencil, because the teacher didn’t have enough pencils.  That day, she realized she needed to do something to help teachers who often don’t have even the basic supplies they need for their students. Armed with only her passion and her now emptied Ahwatukee garage, she began Treasures 4 Teachers, a creative reuse center for teachers to get the supplies they need for free or at a low cost, so their students can be successful.

Always thinking big, Blalock was inaugural success was securing donations from Intel, Motorola, the NFL and Goodrich. Today a plethora of local business, schools and private donors keep a 12,000 square foot facility filled in Tempe, serving thousands of teachers and students.

The December 3rd event volunteers will include Summit School students from Spanish Honors Society, National Junior Honors Society, 8th grade ambassadors, and 5th graders who have applied and earned the designation of “self managers”, a leadership position earned by demonstrating strong abilities to independently and successfully manage activities and school. These Summit 5th graders will be entrepreneurs for the day, with the goal of organizing and building a profitable business to sell snacks at the event. Students will select a business name, procure a healthy food choice to sell, set price points, design signage, and create a work schedule. Their profits will be donated to a charity.

How important is play-based learning? To quote a famous supporter of children, the beloved Mr. Rogers: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning.”

Summit School of Ahwatukee is located at 4515 E. Muirwood Drive, one black south of Chandler Blvd on the corner of 46th street and Muirwood Dr.

The “greater” the visual the “less” kids struggle: Teaching greater and less then to your kindergartner. Ideas from an Expert

Author: Erin Vosseller, Kindergarten teacher, Summit School of Ahwatukee
Published in the Ahwatukee Foothills News, October 2016
Picture by Summit staff, Micki McIntyre

Most of us grew up memorizing math facts and definitions of terms. This short term memory trick may work for test success, but does little for understanding and applying math to solve real problems.

Can you recall trying to remember which way the greater than/less than symbol should be placed?  Would it have helped if you first designed your own large alligator mouth to place between real objects?

kindergarten-math_greater-than-less-than-sized-for-websiteChildren excel when math is taught through concrete, sensory experiences. The younger the child, the more important it is to provide hands-on, visual tools to create a deep understanding of concepts. This especially true when it comes to numbers and math symbols.  Children may be able to count very high, but does the number 58 really mean anything to them?

When introducing greater than and less than symbols, kindergartners need to have already built a strong understanding of more and less. My kindergartners do a lot of work with manipulatives when learning this and other math concepts. This helps them build a visual memory of numbers so that they can find patterns and see the relationships that numbers have to each other.

There are many things we do at Summit School of Ahwatukee to help children understand symbols and other abstract ideas. A fan favorite in my class is turning greater than and less than into a very hungry alligator, which would rather eat more, something that children can relate to. Our alligators always open their mouth towards the larger group of objects or larger numbers.

Children who are still working on building a visual understanding of numeric values can use objects or drawings to represent numbers. To create a visual, put items on two sides of a table, or in two boxes, or create spaces with tape for your objects. Many stores have inexpensive buckets of cubes or animals, or you can use Lego bricks, pennies, or other favorite things you have at home.

Ask your child to look at the items and ask which they think has more, from a visual perspective. Next have them count by touching each piece to confirm their prediction. Now place the alligator mouth so he can happily eat the most! Don’t forget to have your child make an equal sign on a card to use as well.

Use sticky notes, cards, or dry erase boards for your child to write the number next to each group.  This helps create a mental picture of the number and what it represents. Another idea is to use balance scales.  Students can weigh groups of objects to help them see more, less and equal while putting the correct symbol in the middle.

Making an alligators is fun, and kids can use it to model and talk about numbers in different ways. The alligator is a visual reminder to them about what the symbol means and they soon move on to using the symbol itself.

As children are ready to progress, use larger numbers or even expressions, such as 3 +2 on one side with 5 – 1 on the other.

It is also very important for children to talk through their thinking, explaining the strategies they use.   Take turns with your child reading the expression he or she made, and ask them to teach you how to determine which is greater or less and why. Explaining their thought process takes understanding to a deeper level.

In our kindergarten classroom, we ask students look at each other’s work, listen to each other describe the strategies they used, and begin to analyze someone else’s approach to see if they make sense.  Learning is enhanced when math is a team sport!  It should be a noisy process as children think out loud, ask questions, and listen to and talk with each other.

They should read the expressions they write, testing them to see if they make sense.  With the alligator project, one child might say, “10 is less than 12” while showing classmates the visual he or she created.  We teach children to listen carefully and either agree or disagree respectfully and explain why, combining a successful social skill with mathematical reasoning.

Seeing + touching + listening + explaining = visualizing and understanding! Why is this important? Think about your job.  How often does your boss ask you what 28 + 52 equals? Isn’t it more likely that you are asked to analyze a problem, and find a solution that can be communicated and implemented? Let’s prepare our children for more than test grades. Let’s help them prepare to be successful in life.

Erin Vosseller enjoys using her 18 years of experience to teach kindergarten at Summit School of Ahwatukee. She holds a bachelors of arts in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona, an Early Childhood Endorsement, a full SEI endorsement, and is CLIP (Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project) certified.  She also volunteers as an Assistant Director of Arizona Camp Sunrise and Sidekicks, a camp for children with cancer and their siblings, sponsored by the Southwest Kids’ Cancer Foundation.

Summit Alum hailed by NASA for winning design

kyle-corretteFormer Summit Student Kyle Corrette creates a 3-D model featured on NASA’s website, as his design was selected as the teen winner of the “Future Engineers 3-D Printing Star TrekReplicator Challenge.

Kyle’s brainchild was one of 405 submissions from 30 states. His design was selected by a panel of judges from NASA, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation and Made In Space, Inc.

Kyle’s success was also featured in Popular Science

In 2016, Kyle was named as semifinalist for a National Merit Scholarship. Finalist will be selected later this year.

When asked about his experiences at Summit, Kyle shared this: “One of Summit’s strengths is the ability to bring out the best within its students; kids can develop their logic skills in Mrs. Yocum’s science classes, while also cultivating their creativity as part of Chris Dorsey’s band. The school environment is geared towards building a stronger all-around person, so that no matter what discipline a student chooses to pursue, they have the ability to utilize more than one intellectual strength in their endeavors – something which I would say is absolutely necessary to be successful.

The faculty also highlights each student’s individual talents, aiding their self-confidence and personal growth. In the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and converse with astronauts, NASA engineers, leaders of nationwide STEM organizations, highly accomplished people within the media, and the CEO of Makerbot, one of today’s most prominent tech companies. If Summit hadn’t helped me to gain the self-assurance needed to be a competitor within this challenge, I would never have had these amazing experiences. In the future, I plan to continue to progress within the engineering field, and be a part of meaningful projects within the technological world. Everyone has to start somewhere- Summit was an excellent place to begin.”  Kyle attended Summit from Kindergarten through 7th grade