Redwood City, California
Subject: AP English Literature and Composition
Education: MA, Stanford Teacher Education Program
BA, Northwestern University, English, History
WHO WE ARE • TEACHERS » Dinah Lord
Why teach at Summit?
What drew me to Summit at first was its diverse student population. It’s public, it’s diverse, it has a standard of excellence and it has been successful in getting students of all backgrounds to college. What keeps me here is the people: the other teachers, the director, and assistant director. Everyone is collaborative and supportive. I get so many ideas from my colleagues.
Why teach English?
I like English because it’s so relevant to kids’ lives. Themes are basically life lessons. Books either confirm or expand how we observe the world. And writing helps students to think more clearly.
What makes Summit different from traditional environments?
First of all, we live out our mission: getting kids to actually graduate from a four-year university. The way we do that is by challenging them with projects and having them develop strong study habits on their own. Secondly, we structure our day to allow students to develop cognitive skills. In a more traditional environment you may see students do busy work, whereas at Summit our kids can choose where to focus their energy without waiting for the teacher to tell them. That’s not traditional at all.
How does Summit support you professional development?
My first year teaching was hard. I was struggling. My director stepped into my classroom and co-taught with me for a month. I learned so much from her. We believe in growth mindset here. Now, in my fifth year of teaching here, I receive feedback every week. It’s never evaluative. It’s always focused on how to keep getting better.
What has been the biggest surprise at Summit?
Students at Summit develop a feeling of having a home-away-from-home and being known and understood by adults. The mentoring program makes this happen. Students don’t feel anonymous here, and this impacts how they think about their school work and motivation. With our purposefully diverse student body, Summit students learn to be with other kids who are unlike them. This helps them develop strong social skills and a deep understanding of the world.