As one can imagine, I have been thinking a great deal about what it is that makes the “magic” of Summit happen. One parent recently referred to it as “the special sauce.” Well as I thought about this it dawned on me – part of what makes our community so vibrant and exciting is our independence. However, that independence actually depends on many things. The creation of Summit depended on a few bold parents standing up for what they saw was best for their children. If you take this dependence a step further, you might see even more reliance on others. Summit itself depends on parents to choose us as their school. Parents depend on us to teach and nurture your children. Kids depend on teachers to do their job. Teachers depend on kids to listen, to engage, and to learn. Therefore, when I reflect a bit more, it sounds more like interdependence is the real key to Summit’s success.
A school based on interdependence can be just as good in every sense as one based on an individual model. Take a look in the classrooms after school. Check out the library over the course of the day. The teachers are there, guiding, listening, helping, and teaching. Parents communicate weekly with me, volunteer at school events and on our committees, and continue to trust us with their sons and daughters. Students are active learners in our labs and class debates, they help us figure out if it is an A or B Day, and let us know when they are upset or having problems with their classmates. We should recognize this as interdependence – not independence - for interdependence is how our school works best. It is a value statement we make at Summit whether we know if or not, and it keeps us present, where learning and growing takes place, moment to moment, every class, each day.
After many years of being in middle schools, I’m convinced that the quality of relationships is what it is all about. Relationships must have interdependence. Kids who feel that they are known and understood, are simply better learners. Teachers who feel that their individual strengths and needs are honored do a better job. Parents who feel that their opinions are carefully considered and are heard are more satisfied and supportive. I love sorting through all of these human complexities. Perhaps this is why I, and many of you, love being in schools that value relationships as much as they value academics.