Summit Cove goes beyond excellence |

Summit Cove goes beyond excellence

LORY POUNDERsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Summit County CO ColoradoSUMMIT COVE – Summit Cove Elementary School set high education goals, met them and plans to continue climbing to new academic heights.Impressively, the school’s state accountability report card has read Excellent three years in a row, no students scored Unsatisfactory, and a high percentage were rated as Advanced on CSAP state testing. They also received the John Irwin School of Excellence award, a recognition given to schools with an overall standardized weighted total score for academic performance that is in the top 8 percent of public schools.Teacher dedication and constant evaluation to find new ways to reach the children, parent involvement and intervention programs are some of the reasons behind the success, said principal Crystal Miller.”We do have amazing teachers … they’re incredibly dedicated,” she said. “Above all they love the kids and just want to do great, great things for them. They’re always willing to do a little bit more.”

Before school starts, teachers hold interventions for children that focus on reading fluency, reading phonics and math computation. That time is also used for “gifted and talented” students to work on extension programs and for the choir and chess clubs to meet, Miller said.”The school is already abuzz before 8 a.m.,” Miller said with a smile.Then, during the school day, students who need an extra dose of reading and writing get it through what is referred to as “flooding.” Pam Minard, literacy resource teacher, enters each grade to work with those children on their skills through individually customized lessons.”It’s a tough world if reading is a struggle for you,” said Miller. So three years ago, the program came about from a synthesis of many ideas to be proactive and get more adults in the classroom, she said, adding that the staff works together to identify specific needs.And while speaking with Miller it becomes clear her leadership and school involvement is a factor in the school’s academic growth. She looks at data to see in what areas students need help, paying attention to each of the 218 elementary schoolers.

Being able to make assessments for strategies to help further learning is backed by the fact that 90 percent of the children don’t turn over, Miller said. Basically, that means the school works with students for all of their elementary school years so teachers from previous years can help the next teachers understand each child’s strengths and weaknesses even before they enter a new classroom.Also, the combination of new teachers and those who’ve been at the school since it opened creates a “nice blend” of ideas, Miller said.”No one’s afraid to say, ‘What should I do?’ or, ‘This isn’t working,'” she added.For example, writing has become an important focus because those scores were not as high as reading – something they hope to bring up to meet the reading numbers.Last year’s focus work showed in the academic growth rating of the report card. Summit Cove’s status was Improvement, meaning the score was up from the previous year.Having such a close-knit community has also played an important role at Summit Cove, Miller said. Parent volunteer hours total 240 per week, which is the equivalent of having five extra staff members.

Superintendent Millie Hamner agrees being engaged in your child’s learning can make all the difference.”They have amazing parent involvement here,” she said.Another strategy that Summit Cove and schools throughout the district have put in place are “protected, uninterrupted blocks of time” used to focus on specific subjects, like reading or math, to help students keep focused, Hamner said.When the CSAP system of school report cards first began about six years ago, Summit Cove received a rating of Average. From there they climbed to High and then Excellent as they continued working on helpful learning strategies.”That to me tells the story of parents, students and staff coming together,” Hamner said about the increasing scores at Summit Cove.

She said she is impressed with the school’s performance and also of all those in the district that are also constantly exploring ways to improve. In the other schools, six of the eight received a High rating and Silverthorne Elementary, which was rated Average, was just .02 points from being rated as High, Hamner said.The school report cards are based on the 2005/2006 school years’ CSAP tests and in elementary schools the rating combines third, fourth and fifth grade students’ scores, assigning a point system based on their overall grade of Unsatisfactory, Partially Proficient, Proficient or Advanced that each student received.This is just one component of assessment and data that Summit Cove’s staff looks at to find educational needs. Additional standardized testing and classroom judgment are some of the others, Miller said.”The picture of kids is just a lot bigger,” Miller said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at

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