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The elementary years: What’s in our secret sauce?

The elementary years: What’s in our secret sauce?

This is a time of year when many parents of elementary-aged children are worried about whether their children are being challenged enough in schools. This is especially true of parents whose children are gifted and in cases where class sizes are too large for a child to get individual attention. 

This concern is, in fact, the primary reason that parents enroll their children in independent schools like The Summit Country Day School.

In a national survey conducted for the Enrollment Management Association, 97 percent of parents said the No. 1 reason they send their children to an independent school is to provide an education that will challenge their child. Other considerations that topped parents’ list, developing the child’s love of learning, individual attention, superior college placement, faculty credentials, access to academic support and a particular school’s reputation or legacy.

national Gallup report conducted for the National Association of Independent Schools indicated that graduates of independent schools:
•    Have higher average SAT scores.
•    Are three times more likely to attend top-ranked universities and more likely to finish college on time.
•    Are more likely to be engaged in community service (activities which develop character, promote higher levels of well-being in real life and teach time management communications and leadership skills).
•    Feel prepared for college.

And while these outcomes speak to college graduates, our own survey of new Montessori and Lower School parents indicated graduation outcomes was a key consideration for enrollment in the early years. And a survey of our own graduates indicated a higher percentage of young Summit alumni felt they were prepared for college compared to peers from other schools.

So the big question is: What is different about The Summit, particularly in those early years? 

According to Donna Orem, president of the National Association of Independent Schools, independent schools have the freedom to determine their own mission statements and then design the programs that will best serve students. “They are accountable to boards, parents and the agencies that accredit them,” she says. “This freedom and accountability provides phenomenal opportunities to innovate and better serve the unique needs of students.”  

They also provide financial assistance so that they are accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds

At The Summit, we are building on 127 years of a tradition of academic excellence. Our “secret sauce” has rigor, faith, opportunity and community as key ingredients. More specifically, focusing on the culture of extraordinary care in grades one through four in our Lower School:

•    We have small class sizes so students get more individual attention. 
•    Faculty is highly trained and classroom teachers get extra help from literacy, math and outdoor learning specialists. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who founded the school told us to know and love each child so we instruction is data-driven to meet the needs of each child.
•    Teachers do their own homework through professional development. Much of the instruction reflects educational best practices rooted in recent brain-based research. We’ve innovated a Five-Star Reading Program that has resulted in the average Summit fourth grader reading at a sixth grade, four-month level. Our Conceptual Math program develops enduring understandings. Science is discovery- and inquiry-based using state-of-the-art laboratories and outdoor learning spaces.
•    We have intentional programs in Character Education and Social Skills to address socio-emotional needs of our children.
•    We have an award-winning art program and integrate art in a cross-curricular way to improve students’ knowledge retention and develop children who can communicate their ideas confidently.      

Enrollment remains open at The Summit’s Lower School. Learn more and request more information here

About the author

Nancy Berlier is Communications Director at The Summit Country Day School. She is editor of The Summit magazine, a former education writer at The Cincinnati Post and former education editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer.