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Summit School middle school teachers, Andrea Yocum, Christy Menard and Amy Lecky, are recipients of this year’s Xavier College Preparatory Golden Gator Award for Excellence in Teaching. Xavier high school recognizes junior high teachers who have been inspirational to Xavier freshmen students. This is the third Golden Gator for Lecky, who teaches middle school language arts and literature, and the second for both science teacher Andrea Yocum, and math teacher Christy Menard.  In previous years, Summit teacher Melissa France has also received this award.

Yocum instills a passion for science in her students. Because her lab class focuses on hands-on, experimental based learning, students are successful in mastering advanced concepts like 8th grade chemistry and physics and 7th grade human body systems. The proof: since 2008, 100% of her students have passed the state’s AIMS science testing with 86 – 96% of Yocum’s 8th graders scoring in the “excelling” range each year.

Yocum’s teaching excellence was also recognized in 2009 when she was one of only 288 teachers nationwide to be selected for the prestigious Honeywell Educators Space Academy Program at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama along with teachers from 16 countries and 47 states.

Lecky teaches both the language arts class and the literature class for 7th and 8th grade where students eagerly volunteer to act the parts from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar! Lecky is also the creator of a program unique to Summit called ROPES (Right of Passage Experiences). Under Lecky’s guidance each student ventures into the community to be mentored for 15 hours in a new life experience. Student’s projects have spanned learning symphony conducting, surgery, journalism, to training for a half marathon.  Research papers and 20 minute presentations to an audience of 100, including demonstrations, mark the culminating event for each student. The experience prepares students for the future, bolsters their confidence and provides a potentially life changing opportunity.

Lecky also created a community service focus in middle school through a Summit program called SERVE, which teaches students the importance and value of sharing their time and talent with their community. To graduate, all eighth grade Summit students are required to donate 20 hours of their time volunteering at organizations of their choice. Often students do far more than required. Students gain insights into the needs of others, fostering a pride in their efforts and a realization of how they can benefit the world around them.

Menard’s 7th and 8th grade math classes are high school level courses: Algebra and Geometry. Her teaching methodology incorporates practical applications and projects to inspire and challenge students, and she has the success to prove it.   Each year, the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics (AATM) sponsors a state-wide Algebra math competition. In 2012, twelve of the Summit School seventh grade Algebra students scored in the top 10% in the state. In 2011, four Summit seventh graders scored in the top ten percent statewide, with two students earning an additional distinction by being among the top 10 highest scores in state.

“This algebra course is equivalent to a high school class and they give it their all,” explains teacher Christy Menard. “My students have such a great attitude about learning, making my job as their teacher extremely fun and rewarding.”

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