Summit School Newsletter


January 21, 2022

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From the Head of School...

Dear Summit School Community,

There are so many big and wonderful things coming up at Summit School! Flag football, volleyball, and Sabrecat Robotics are going strong. Darling Daughter Night is coming up and we are looking forward to sharing information about our Spring Book Fair, a Pop-Up Playground Event, and STEAM Night. The results of our first round of STAR testing will be released next week to our Summit Community. And don't forget, Tier 1 enrollment is open and will end on February 15, 2022.

In addition to all of those amazing things, planning for the 2022-23 school year is underway. Scheduling and staffing is in progress. You may have seen the announcement last week sharing some of our staffing changes for next school year. I have added them below for your review.

In the coming days, Summit School will be posting for staff openings. Currently, those openings include PS-2 art teacher, toddler full-time teacher, 2 part-time toddler teachers, first grade teacher, and middle school language arts teacher.

We are confident that Summit School will be able to find and hire highly-qualified faculty for these positions. Not only do we have small class sizes and active families, we have created a teacher pay scale that compensates our teachers a minimum of 105% of their public school peers. To further support our staff, a teacher mentorship program will be put into place beginning in 22-23 with the help of a committee of our experienced teacher leaders. The goal of teacher mentorship is to help newly hired teachers navigate our unique school environment with success so that they can ensure the success of our students.

Staffing Changes for 22-23 include:

  • Colleen Eckles, our current PS-8 art teacher, will reduce her teaching load to grades 3-8 and Summit School will be hiring an addition art teacher for PS-2.

  • Andrea Yocum, our current long-term substitute in grade 5, will return to Summit School faculty as the full-time grade 5 teacher.

  • Christine Odenkirk, current grade 1 teacher, will become our Summit School Reading Specialist beginning in 22-23.

  • Rachel Jones, current reading support teacher, will move into a classroom position.

  • Kat Glover, current preschool teacher, will move into a first grade classroom.

All of these things, from STEAM Night to STAR testing to teacher mentoring, are parts of what makes Summit School amazing. Innovative teaching. Expert educators. Thriving students.

Thank you for all you do.


Dr. Stephanie Nardi

Vote now! Show your love for Summit School at

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Love Your School Parent Information Session

Learn more...

In person at Summit School on Wednesday, January 26 at 8:30am.

Online on Wednesday, January 26 at 6pm. Go to Webinar Registration - Zoom to register.

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Middle School and Preschool Partnerships

Students in the middle school elective class worked with the preschoolers in the Mouseketeers room to create and experiment with ramps from KODO Kids. They combined their “can do attitude” with problem solving skills to successfully move the balls across the room! #kodokids

Looking Ahead to Enrichment and Intervention in 2022-23

I am excited to share the Summit School Academic Intervention and Enrichment Flowchart below. This graphic represents our school plan to provide needed enrichment and intervention for our students using our on-site, highly qualified staff during regular school hours. These services will begin with data-driven decision making and a team problem-solving approach.

Step one. All students in grades K-8 will be assessed a minimum of three times a year using the STAR assessment tool (Early literacy, reading, and math) and the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (reading). Both assessments are research-based, standardized, and reliable. The results of those assessments will be reported out to individual families after completion, and to the Summit School Community mid-year and at the end of the year. Arizona's Academic Standards Assessment (AASA for grades 3-8) and the AzSci (grades 5 and 8) will also be taken by students beginning in the spring of 2023. As this is a summative assessment, results will not be a deciding factor for enrichment and intervention services.

Step two. Classroom teachers will review all STAR and F&P results. These results will support classroom instructional decisions.

Step three. Students whose results fall into the green, yellow, and red categories as shown on the graphic will be reviewed by a Student Support Team. Student Support Teams (SST) consist of the Head of School, classroom teacher, reading specialist, math coach and interventionist, and school psychologist. Others, including the Assistant Head of School, may also be added to the SST if needed. During this meeting, enrichment and intervention supports and strategies will be determined and evaluated for their effectiveness with regard to a specific child.

Enrichment. Students who show the need for enrichment will be supported with advanced content teaching in the areas of math and reading as described in the graphic. There are also opportunities built into the 22-23 schedule for enrichment in Spanish, STEAM, and technology. The progress of these students will be monitored using the beginning, middle, and end of year assessments as well as regular classroom observations and assessments.

Intervention. Students who show the need for intervention will be supported at three different levels/tiers. The need for increased or reduced support will be determined by STAR and F&P results on a progress monitoring schedule that occurs more frequently than students who do not show a need for intervention.

Tier 1 Intervention. Students who need a boost or slight scaffolding for success (yellow) will be supported in the classroom by their regular classroom teacher. The plan for intervention will be a product of teacher knowledge of the student and SST review. Frequency, method, and materials will be determined during SST meetings and carried out by the classroom teacher. The ability to serve students in this way is made possible by small class sizes.

Tier 2 Intervention. Students who need a "double dip" to support success (red) will be supported in the classroom by their regular teacher and also by a second member of our highly-qualified staff. Schedules, methods, and materials will vary depending on the unique needs of the student, but will be determined during SST meetings. In the graphic below, you can see that there are a number of qualified staff members assigned to provide tier 2 services. In addition to reading and math, support will also be available in Spanish and other content areas.

Tier 3 Intervention. Students who need support beyond what is available through Summit School may be referred for special education testing and outside service providers. In extreme situations, it may be determined that Summit School is not a good fit for the student's academic needs. Summit School does not provide special education services.

If your student shows a need for enrichment or intervention, you will be notified. Ongoing progress monitoring will be shared with you, and if there is a need you may be asked to join a Student Support Team meeting. If you would like to discuss this plan, or have questions, please reach out to Dr. Nardi. We will continue to evaluate the needs of our students and enhance our Summit School programs as we move forward.

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End of the Day Safety Reminder

It is incredibly important that Summit School is a safe and supervised environment from the beginning to the very end of our day. If you are coming to school to pick up multiple children, please do not allow your children to play unsupervised on the playgrounds. Our staff is not scheduled to monitor these areas and we don't want any of our students to be injured. We appreciate your help. Thank you.

We Make Summit Amazing!

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Jeremy Douwstra, Innovation and Technology Coordinator

Mr. Douwstra is the Innovation & Technology Coordinator, teaching Technology & Robotics here at Summit since 2016. Though he wanted to be a computer programmer when he was younger, he has his BS in Elementary Education and a Master Degree in Educational Technology, both from NAU.

Mr. Douwstra is also the coach of the very successful Cybercat Robotics team that competes in the VEX IQ competitions. In 2020, we had an Arizona state champion and runner up, as well as many other awards. These teams qualified for the 2020 World Championships that were unfortunately cancelled due to COVID.

Mr. Douwstra is originally from Kansas City, but has lived in Arizona since he was in first grade. Nowadays, he lives in Chandler with his two beautiful high school aged daughters Kylie and Emily, along with their 10yo dog Patches.

Mr. Douwstra grew up playing soccer, baseball, and swimming. When he’s not here at Summit, Mr. Douwstra enjoys hiking, heading up north, or watching his daughter’s Hip Hop dance competitions. Some of his favorite teams include ASU Football, KC Chiefs, KC Royals, Sporting KC (soccer), Arizona Cardinals, AZ Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns, and Phoenix Rising.

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Jennifer Horne, PS-3 Music Teacher

Born and raised in upstate New York, I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at State University of New York College at Potsdam. I have taught general, instrumental, and vocal music at all levels, preschool through collegiate, during my 20 years of experience. I am currently in my 14th year at Summit School, helping children dig deeper into how music works and setting them up for a lifetime of musical engagement. When not teaching and learning, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two boys, ages six and one.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” -- Victor Hugo

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Faith Angelakis, Grade 2 Teacher

This is my 16th year teaching at Summit School and my 28th year teaching overall. At some point during my 28 years, I have taught every grade from kindergarten to 7th. I am originally from Massachusetts, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Philosophy from Boston College and a Masters of Education from Lesley University. Prior to moving back into the classroom five years ago, I worked as the reading specialist at Summit.

My husband, my son, CJ, and I moved to Arizona in 2004 to be closer to my parents. My daughter, Eleni, was born here shortly afterwards and became the only native Arizonan in our family. Both of my children are graduates of Summit. Eleni is a junior at Hamilton High School, and CJ is a freshman at ASU.

In my free time I enjoy reading, hiking, walking my dog, Copper, heading to the beach whenever possible, and spending time with my family.

Committee Membership Opportunities

Sabrecat Athletics Committee

If you are interested in being a part of the planning, marketing, and support of our Summit Sabrecats Athletics Program, please consider joining our Sabre Athletics Committee. Current members include Mr. Pray, Mr. Hough, Mr. Moreno, Dr. Nardi, and Heather Thomas. We are seeking one or two new members. Please reach out to our athletic director, Mr. Moreno, at

Diversity & Inclusiveness Committee

Summit School is hoping to create a committee of volunteers to work on supporting a diverse and inclusive school environment at Summit School. If you are a professional in a related field, an interested community member, or just have great ideas for diversity and inclusiveness opportunities please reach out to Dr. Nardi or Mary Oakley We would like to meet monthly with a committee of 5-7 members.
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Camp Summit Returns in 2022!

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Camp offerings begin on May 31 and include project-based STEM opportunities from the National Inventors Hall of Fame: Champions, Rescue Squad, and Flight Lab. The last week is a new adventure for Summit School, Camp Invention.

Pre-Camp 5/31-6/3 Games, Games, Games!

Week 1 6/6-6/10 Preschool: Exercise/Athletic K-8: Champions

Week 2 6/13-6/17 Preschool: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle K-8: Rescue Squad

Week 3 6/21-6/24 Preschool: Roads K-8: Flight Lab

Week 4 6/27-7/1 Preschool: Space K-8: Camp Invention - Explore

Camp Summit registration can be found at

Register NOW for K-8 Week 4 Camp Invention at

Find All-New Adventures at Camp Invention in 2022

STEAM Opportunities for Grades 1-8

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A complex, but fun, example...

Rube Goldberg Soap Challenge
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COVID-related Absences

Please communicate all COVID-related absences to both and your child's homeroom teacher. The teacher will then reach out to you within 24 hours to set up a plan for your child's academic success during the absence.

Masking at Summit School

Face coverings should be 2-ply masks that cover the mouth and nose, and fit snugly. Any images or messages on masks must be school-appropriate. Masks with exhalation valves, neck gaiters, bandanas, or face shields are not approved, per the CDC and not approved for use at Summit. (Health and Safety Guidelines, p. 4). Please be sure that your child has a mask and a spare at school each day. Masks frequently get lost, wet, or damaged. A back-up is a good idea.

Summit Apparel Store

Gear up with back to school apparel! Check out the Summit apparel store for customizable shirts, pants, and accessories with your favorite Summit logos!


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Referral Credits

Our families are Summit’s best advocates and we appreciate when you share your Summit story with family and friends. We ask for your help in continuing to spread the word about Summit School!

In addition to helping create a thriving community of learners, Summit School has temporarily increased the Referral Credit from $500 to $1,000 as a credit toward your tuition liability for each newly enrolled student of a new family. This temporary increased referral credit amount is for new students (not applicable for siblings of current students or for returning students) that enroll between April 12, 2021 and March 11, 2022. Each credit is applied to your FACTS tuition account after the new family makes two tuition payments for the new student(s). During these stated dates there are no limits to the number of referral credits you may earn by supporting our school! Please contact Summit Admissions or Business Office if you have any questions regarding the family referral program.

Note: Referral credits of $600 or more require the completing of a W-9 form claiming the income. Referral credits are not applicable for voting members of the Board of Trustees.

Follow Chips and Salsa @chipsandsalsa_tortoise

Follow Sabrecat Athletics @summitathleticsaz

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