Last week I had the opportunity to share the role of principal for a day with Attorney Myles Conway of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt and Mark Fairbanks, CEO of The Center. We were greeted by two enthusiastic and dedicated vice principals, Al Hulbert and Michael McDonald (Summit Principal Dr. Lynn Baker would arrive later following a dental appointment).
In just its ninth year Summit is still a young school and working to integrate itself in a traditional school system as the newest kid on the block. (Bend and Mt. View have had a rivalry going on since 1978.)
While our job for the day was ‘acting principals’ we quickly learned that we were actually there for an education and an opportunity to fully appreciate what goes on in our public schools. This is a school that is providing a sophisticated education for its students while serving as a significantly important liaison between students, parents, community….anything that has an influence over young people while they’re preparing to become an adult.
As in every area of our lives today the economy has added additional challenges to the staff and teachers at Summit (free and reduced lunches are up; school district wide it’s now at 42 percent and students are stressed and oftentimes embarrassed to admit that their parents are struggling with finances and how to provide for the families).
As Al Hulbert pointed out in our morning conference: ‘we start the day with the best plans, but in a high school of 1,340 some students, nothing goes according to plan.’
Summit is an unusual school in that it has a very open design and you can see what’s going on from many vantage points. It gives the impression of a cooperative effort between teachers and students and there’s a sense that kids really like being there, feel comfortable there and will blossom there.
Which, evidently they have. Summit was awarded the Oregonian Cup for being outstanding in its category. The award is based on many factors including overall school experiences, GPA, extracurricular activities including athletics and sportsmanship. Summit was the only public school that received an award, the other honored schools were all private.
When we had an opportunity to meet with Principal Lynn Baker he graciously shared what he thinks are the two biggest challenges at Summit: 1) getting a high performing school to continue improving, 2) meeting the challenges of the diverse and changing social economic background of students now attending Summit.
My favorite visit was with Kent Child, school-to-career program manager who hosts what they call the Future Center. This is the jumping off point for students, a place to help plan your college or vocation after high school as well as find ways to intern at local businesses while testing the waters for your career choice. Kent told us that her department plans to speak directly to every single student in the school, encouraging them to make plans and know specifically what they will do following graduation.
Mark Fairbanks said he found Summit High to be a terrific place of learning, thoughtfully organized with a healthy atmosphere for the students. “I am encouraged by the way the administration and teachers anticipate best practices and the continued impact of accelerated technologies and their implications to classroom and social learning,” he concluded.
Myles Conway added that he found Summit to be a well organized and thoughtful learning environment with a committed staff and community atmosphere. “Students, faculty and the administration were actively engaged in creating an environment where the students can thrive.”
Yes they are! pha
FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
The Principal for a Day program is part of the Education Foundation for the Bend-La Pine Schools. The non-profit Foundation seeks funding support for general operations, a Classroom Grants program and activity fee scholarships. Donations can also fund awards designated for a specific project, subject, technology or school.
The organization launched a new membership opportunity called Friends of the Foundation. For an annual contribution of $10, $25 or $50 you can become a member and enjoy not only helping the schools but invitations to foundation and educational events throughout the year.
To participate call 541-322-5493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drew Bledsoe’s Thunder Struck Chips for Teens
Mark your calendars for Saturday, January 23, 5:30pm at the Seventh Mountain. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit summit High School Technology and athletic department needs. $100 per person Poker tournament, $50 person for Monte Carol Nigh Only.
Sponsorship Opportunities/Tickets: www.chipsforteens.eventbrite.com, 541-408-2450