Learning looks differently

We light the fire of learning in kids and cultivate intrinsic motivation so that they will be lifelong learners. Children are born curious and come equipped with the desire to learn that rivals that of even the most determined scientists. Intrinsic motivation is all too frequently extinguished by the extrinsic set expectations of a school. Fortunately, there is research-based evidence that says it is possible to rekindle this natural motivation to learn. We do this by designing environments that are supportive and engaging our learners in the simple activities.

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A Community of Learners

Summit students thrive because of the partnership between educators and parents in supporting their development.  Research shows that teachers, parents and the community working together is a key factor in student success.  At Summit, parents are very involved in school life and culture. They develop close relationships with teachers, staff and each other. This community spirit surrounds our students with a shared commitment to their success.


Next Generation Education

Truly preparing students for their future also looks differently in a rapidly evolving world.  Many of our students’ future jobs do not currently exist, and the problems they will be required to solve are unpredictable.  Summit equips them with both the knowledge and the tools they will need to thrive.  In addition to state standards, our curriculum is informed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework (link) and research such as the World Economic Forum’s report on the most essential skills for future employment, which includes:

Complex Problem Solving



Critical Thinking




People Management


Coordinating with Others


Emotional Intelligence

Judgement and Decision Making


Service Orientation


Cognitive Flexibility


We Teach Our Students The “Super Skills” of the 21st Century

The 4C’s


Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions


Working together to reach a goal by putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work

Critical Thinking

Looking at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines


Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention

The 4C’s and their descriptions are taken from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills


Elementary School

Middle School

Frequently Asked Academic Questions

What is An Integrated Thematic Curriculum?

Integrated thematic learning is one of the many benefits the private education of Summit School provides students. Throughout the year, each grade delves into many different topics of study that are reinforced in the grade level classroom through reading, writing, math, social studies and whenever possible, include related projects in the specials classes: art, technology, music, library, Spanish, science and physical education.

Many of these projects have special “culminating events” allowing students enhance public speaking skills, as they present many facets of the project in group or individual presentations for parents, and the school community.

Integration ties subject matter together and allows for skills to be taught in a meaningful context. Summit has a private school education curriculum that is aligned with state standards and national norms. In an integrated thematic curriculum, skills are continually woven into all the classroom activities.

In the lower grades, learning centers focus on specific skills that relate to the theme and the learner outcomes. Skills that are taught have reason and a purpose, and students are taught to use the skills to think critically and formulate answers based on theory, investigation, and research.

Benefits of Private Education: A Reading Program in Kindergarten through Third Grade Supports Each Child's Needs

At Summit School, as part of our private education we have created a balanced literacy program that provides individualized attention and instruction to all students in kindergarten through third grade. Students thrive in small reading groups of three to six children, reading books specifically chosen for them, at their current instructional level. In kindergarten and first grade, the reading program is supported by a reading specialist and two instructional assistants, who join the classroom teachers. Many of our elementary teachers have earned a reading endorsement, by taking additional studies specifically related to teaching methods for reading instruction.

As a result of the small reading groups and the individual attention it allows, there is no limit on what children can achieve as part of a private education. Students do far more than learn to read. They develop strong reading, comprehension and strategies for deeper thinking, as well as a life long love of reading.

How Does Summit Work with advanced students?

Summit School is a unique setting. Our students average two years ahead in reading and three years ahead in math. Yet, we have students who exceed those levels. We have developed an enrichment program for both reading and math that provides small groups of students the advanced curriculum they need. In some cases, this enrichment is provided as an enhancement to the classroom curriculum. When a student’s progress warrants, the enrichment becomes that child’s math or reading class. For example, a student may attend a small group advanced math class rather than attending the regular class assigned to their grade level. Our goal is that every student makes a year’s worth of growth.

How do you teach children to read and write in a private school education setting?

A private school education enables all children to use their visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities to learn about correct letter formulation, letter sounds and using letters to build words. At the same time, students are busy with activities that support literacy development.

The goal of the Summit School language arts program is to help children see that writing doesn’t have to be a hard process and that is has real world application. Students will use a number of techniques throughout the year to help them become better writers.

Creative Writing:

The emphasis is on writing for real purposes (letters, lists, cards). The children use a variety of materials in our creative writing bin.

Writer’s Workshop:

This time focuses on using the writing process (brainstorm, outline, rough draft, edit with teacher, and final copy). Children create a story, non-fiction piece, song, or poem. They use rubrics to check their writing and ensure that they have applied skills that were taught in mini-lessons previously.

Journal Writing:

This writing style centers on a personal responses to questions: “Where in space would you travel to?” or “Why should you not be afraid of spiders?”

Beginning Reports:

Students learn to organize facts to create a report on a subject related to the current theme.


The emphasis is on using descriptive language and phonemic awareness to write about a topic from the current classroom theme.

Conventions Check:

Through writing practice and reinforcement of conventions students gain skills to write and edit their own work.

6 + 1 Trait Writing:

This is a comprehensive, reliable, and teacher- and student-friendly method of teaching and assessing writing. Expectations are clearly stated and children and teachers use rubrics to ensure that they are meeting the expectations. The children are held accountable for producing quality writing every time, whether it is a poem or a report. The traits are conventions, ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and presentation.

How do you assess what students are learning?

Students are assessed in a multitude of ways. Students in third through eight grade take the Arizona state assessment, and students in fifth and eighth grade also take the Arizona state science assessment. In addition, students in grades K-8 take the STAR assessment for literacy and math and are assessed on their reading using the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. Students are also assessed on daily work through the end-of-unit tests, projects, research reports, presentations, and homework. In kindergarten and first grade, students are regularly assessed on specific reading and math skills.

What is the Personal Educational Plan?

The Personal Education Plan allows teachers, parents and students to work together to set and monitor appropriate educational goals for the school year.

What specialist classes are included in the instructional program?

Students attend classes dedicated to music, art, physical education, science, Spanish, technology, and library.

How do computers fit into your curriculum?

We are a one-to-one technology campus. Students in grades K-2 each have an assigned iPad for use as a tool in the classroom. Students in grades 3-8 have assigned Chromebooks. 

Elementary classrooms are equipped with the latest SMART board technology. Upper grade classrooms have smart TVs that allow both students and teachers to cast their presentations and projects.


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