Summit Learning Program Gives Seventh Grade Students More Say in Direction of Education

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 04/22/2019 - 12:18

Roughly one year into the summit learning program, the numbers are telling a positive story for Saline Area Schools seventh graders.

"We've had a lot of successes along the way and we want to tell the story of what our school year has looked like ... how it's transformed out school," said Saline Middle School Principal Brad Bezeau.

SMS Math Teacher Amy Robke along with language arts teacher Staci Nazareth, special education coordinator Rachel Smeltzer, and social studies teacher Kristen Schwartzenberger.

The seventh grade summit learning team gives the school district coverage of the entire middle school span of grade years under the umbrella of a popular learning concept that puts students' hands on the steering wheel of their education by allowing them to set goals for themselves and derive education from the pursuit of those goals.

Teachers provide guidance and mentoring, as well as context for why students learn what they're learning and how what they learn applies to their everyday life and will continue to do so into the future.

"Two thirds through the year we see growth within our classrooms," said Robke, who reported that 50 percent of students are meeting growth expectations.  Adding students exceeding the expectation, 66 percent of students are in good shape.

With math ,in particular, Saline Middle School seventh graders meeting or exceeding the goal in that area at a rate of 77 percent as of the last completed summit learning seventh grade team snapshot this past February.

A seventh grade student identified as Nancy stood before the SAS Board of Education and spoke publicly about how she appreciated the freedom and "choice" of the Summit Learning program.

"It felt previously like someone was pushing me along, but it doesn't feel like someone's pushing me in summit, but there's always someone there to help," she said.

Another student identified as Kevin didn't make it to the meeting to speak like Nancy did, but the SMS teachers giving the presentation conveyed his appreciation for the "ownership" he feels about his education, which makes him a more "engaged" student.

The seventh grade summit learning teaching team said they were particularly pleased with how it allows students with individualized education programs and other special learning situations to keep up, while students who excel can reach their full potential.

The program is expected to show greater results in the seventh grade team as teachers leading the program come to better grips with the sixth to seventh grade transition. Students making that leap go from having two to four teachers and much more learning content to deal with.

Sean Dalton's picture
Sean Dalton
Sean Dalton is a veteran of the Washtenaw County journalism scene. He co-founded WeLoveDexter.com and WeLoveAnnArbor.com and also worked for Heritage Newspapers.