Sharing Success in the Midwest: Summit Teachers Convene in Chicago

Over 200 Summit Learning educators converged on the Windy City last week to explore a very important topic: How do we define, and identify, student success in our community?

This question quickly came to the forefront as teachers and school leaders filled the conference hall at the Summit Learning Midwestern Regional Convening. The lights dimmed and the opening speech commenced with a meet-and-greet activity.

“I want you to turn to someone you don’t see every day at work and discuss your a success story you’ve seen with your students since the beginning of the academic year,” says Maia Petersen, Summit Learning Program Mentor and Chicago training facilitator.

This simple ice-breaker had educators from around the region circulating the conference room — the elaborate Empire Room of the Palmer House hotel — to cheer on each other’s success stories.”

Teachers were so excited to share their favorite stories that it took some time to get back to the kick-off talk. Once the welcome talk came to a close, the teams filed into the various workshops. But the theme of sharing little wins continued to be the constant of the two-day conference.

Gearing-Up For Real-World Challenges

“Our team thinks that working with Summit Learning is going to help students feel like they have real responsibilities so they can be ready future ready,” says Kelly Jenkins, technology integration specialist at Princeville Junior and Senior High School in Princeville, Illinois.

This point was felt across the entire conference. Many teachers discussed their belief that an educator’s success is measured by how they help students to obtain the skills, knowledge, and sense of purpose to live a fulfilled life. This need for students to be ready to deal with an always evolving economy was found in many conversations.

It can be daunting to identify what success looks like for each student. That said, educators participating in the Summit Learning Program are getting to know their students’ future goals and their academic needs like never before.

Student success, whether college readiness to job preparedness, is as diverse as the communities they come from. Many teachers noted that this diverse idea of success comes with the modern world.

“I firmly believe that educators today shouldn’t be teaching kids to be ready for the world we entered 30 years ago when we finished school, but be ready for the world they are going to enter in the next few years,” says Rich Thole, Principal at Princeville Junior & Senior High School.

“I been teaching for many years, and I know new frameworks for teaching takes time,” Thole says. “Still, I firmly believe our work is helping every student reach their full academic and social potential so they can competent contributing members of modern society.”

Thole’s statement echoed a shared sentiment as to why so many teachers made the trek to Chicago to participate in additional Summit Learning training — to find support in like-minded educators and to cheer each other on as they prepare to personalize learning for all students.

About the author

Taylor Stanton
With a penchant for storytelling and years of communications experience, Taylor Stanton is proud to share Summit Learning's vision for education to the community. Prior to joining Summit Public Schools, Taylor wrote breaking e-commerce stories with an international market research firm while also working with the non-profit Books for Africa. He also helped students achieve academic congressional nominations as an aide to a California Congressman.