The Upper Elementary program at Summit comprises fourth, fifth and sixth grades, combined in a multi-age classroom.
As students progress, the most senior of them become classroom leaders,
continuing a cycle of peer mentoring and cooperation. Students in the Upper Elementary school engage in individual work, partnered work and small group work, depending on levels of ability. Mathematics, language, and cultural studies represent the three main areas of study.
The beauty of Summit's Upper Elementary lies in our warm classroom environment, our personalized approach to education and our low student: teacher ratios. As with all class levels, students find inspiration and encouragement within our walls. The students receive a comprehensive, progressive education but are allowed to embrace their strengths and areas of interest.
Upper Elementary math lessons build on those of the Lower Elementary. Students continue to practice the four arithmetic operations leading to abstraction, and fractions, ratio and percents. A substantial portion of the curriculum is working with data and graphs, giving students an introduction to statistics and probability. An emphasis on geometry materials allow in-depth presentations of geometric statements, including fundamental concepts, congruency/similarity and the Pythagorean Theorem. Squaring/cubing of numbers, square root and Pre-Algebra are also introduced.
The language curriculum is composed of core reading and writing programs implemented in small groups. Literary genres from folk tales and fantasy to science and historical fiction are included, as well as current newspapers and magazines. Students read and analyze works of fiction and non-fiction; they produce essays, research papers, and creative writing including poetry; they give oral presentations and participate in debates. Teachers build on the fundamentals with a focus on advanced vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure.
Subjects like geography, the arts, economics and science are covered in a three-year cycle, so that each focus area is repeated every three years in greater depth and detail. Upper Elementary students conduct topic research and give presentations to their class. Because Cultural Studies are synchronized throughout the school, there is opportunity for shared arts and enrichment activities. Study of the Spanish language also continues in the Upper Elementary.
Nature's Classroom is one of the programs unique to Upper Elementary. Nature's Classroom is a residential outdoor environmental education program. All Upper Elementary students and teachers spend three days living and working together at one of the programs New England locations. Here, they develop a sense of community and appreciation for each other as well as confidence in themselves.
The Upper Elementary program culminates in sixth grade with some special opportunities for students, including participating in the Montessori Model United Nations in New York City. This initiative to illustrate conflict and promote world peace is an extremely popular program that students usually do not participate in until secondary school. Summit sixth-graders attended for the first time in 2007, and this is now part of the Upper Elementary curriculum each year.
The graduation of sixth grade students leads to continuation at public, and private, middle and secondary schools. In either case, these students are well prepared to think, to speak, to write, to respect each other and the environment. Each graduate gives a graduation speech, reflecting on his or her time at Summit and the personal meaning gained from these years. We are proud that our alumni are indeed life-long learners — for that is Summit's mission.