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The Vision of Summit Public Schools

Video length: 3 minutes 34 seconds

 

[scene of children arriving to school]

Diane Tavenner, Co-founder & CEO, Summit Public Schools:
The vision of Summit is to transform public education.

Lizzie Choi, Chief Program Officer, Summit Public Schools:
The vision is that every single student can be who they want to be, and they have a pathway to do that and so that they’re fulfilling their unique potentials.

Diane:
We wanted to start a high school where we guaranteed that every single student who came to our school, no matter what, would graduate and be accepted to a four year college.

Adam Carter, Chief Academic Officer, Summit Public Schools:
In 2011 our first graduating class at our first school was four years out from graduating from Summit. About 55% of our first graduating class was on track to graduate from college in six or fewer years.

Kelly Garcia, Executive Director, Summit Public Schools:
It’s double the national average, which is good, but for Summit, great is never good enough.

Diane:
We were shocked and, quite frankly, disappointed. We didn’t start this for 55%. We started it for 100, and so that caused us to rethink everything we were doing.

Kelly:
We tracked alumni data, trying to figure out what factors influenced why they hadn’t graduated.

Adam:
We had provided so many supports while they were with us at Summit that they hadn’t experienced the type of challenge they were going experience in college, where they were alone and they didn’t have a network of support around them.

Kelly:
We’d missed that kids needed habits, not just content knowledge.

Diane:
We decided to start small with a little pilot and give kids one to one devices and rearrange the classroom and partner with this group called the Khan Academy.

Kelly:
We started exploring — what did it mean to personalize education for students? What did it mean to empower them to be in the driver’s seat?

Lizzie:
So we said, why don’t we let the students decide to show us what they know? Like if we design a system where students are empowered to make the choices we want them to make, will they rise to the occasion?

Kelly:
It was definitely frustrating at times. Reimagining what schools look like is hard.

Adam:
You have to repeat why we’re doing this many times, especially in November, when everybody is feeling tired, it doesn’t feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Lizzie:
There are going to be people and parents who come to you incredibly frustrated that they don’t know if this is what they want for their student.

Adam:
You’re going to see kids who are encountering a lot of struggle. And now it’s a matter of how do you help kids work through that struggle? Because in the long run, that struggle is much better for them because they have mentors who are there to help support them.

Kelly:
The vision of how to achieve our mission really just took on a life of its own.

Lizzie:
And before you know it, there is a literal line outside of this room of teenagers eager, waiting in line to take an assessment.

Adam:
There’s going to be some moments in this journey that are very hard, and how you respond to those challenges is going to define the culture of your school for years to come.

Lizzie:
You are going to have to stand firm and you’re going to have to look them in the eye and say — this is the world I want us to live in, and I want this for your child and that is what I want to do together.

Kelly:
I think people are going to start finding success much earlier, because there’s a ton of support and from our lessons learned.

Diane:
Everyone plays a role in this work, and I think we’re at this moment in time where we can link arms and be unstoppable.