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Head's Corner

Dear Summit Parents,

One of Summit’s key strengths lies in the very high quality and dedication of its teaching staff. Parents have told us this repeatedly through the vehicle of our end-of-the-year Parent Satisfaction Surveys.  Our visiting Accreditation Teams (2015, 2017) commended us for this as well. Common sense so indicates:  the strength and scope of the Montessori educational philosophy is impressive and far-reaching, but without the delivery system of highly trained and skilled teachers, the method would be but beautiful words in a book.

Research informs us that in order for teachers to not only survive their teaching experience but to thrive as educators, they need continuous opportunity to professionally grow and develop. These professional development experiences should ideally be varied and substantial, should support each individual teacher as s/he grows in the field, and should honor the individual’s choices relating to areas of interest and/or need. They should also offer opportunities for reflection and practice rather than simply offering one-and-done workshop solutions to common problems; this latter type of professional development is often quickly forgotten, well-intentioned PowerPoint notes lying stranded under forgotten piles of paper.

Here at Summit Montessori we work hard to provide a professional development program that is comprehensive, substantial, and tailored to both the needs of individual teachers and also to larger, more comprehensive school goals.  Throughout each school year teachers are encouraged to participate in a wide range of professional development experiences that include workshops (in-house and external), webinars, conferences, observations, and trainings. Teachers are expected to accumulate at least 20 hours of approved professional development each and every school year.

Next Tuesday (Tuesday, October 10) we have no school due to a Teacher In-Service Day.  We have chosen to use this day to give our Beginners and Children’s House teachers the opportunity to visit other schools in order to do in-depth observations in classrooms.  Successful implementation of the Montessori philosophy requires that teachers become astute observers, learning and practicing the science and craft of observing children’s learning in order to inform next steps in the educational process.  This skill requires constant honing, and so each year we send our teachers out to a variety of high quality Montessori and other early childhood programs in order to do just that. Each teacher is required to identify specific goals related to her observation, to create a detailed record of the observation, and then to report what she learned to the greater group upon return.

What are the plans for the Elementary teachers on Tuesday?  We will meet as a group with our in-house consultant Nancy Schlussel to further refine the elementary classrooms’ record keeping, assessment, and planning systems, the goal being to integrate the many data collection systems that teachers are currently using into common unified documents with the purpose of streamlining our assessment and planning processes for each class and for each student. This is enormous work, a focus that we have undertaken with Nancy’s support since early last summer. For the teachers, the opportunity to spend the entire day working with the new systems, refining them, and inputting student data, is priceless. The Elementary teaching team will find individual times during the coming months to conduct observations in external classrooms, just as the Early Childhood group is doing now.

Why, you may ask, is all of this important?  Because teachers who thrive come to work each day eager to learn, grow, and reach for the stars, right along with their students!  Who is the ultimate beneficiary of this work?  You guessed it…your child and every child who is enrolled in our program.  

Kind regards,
Martha Torrence
Head of School