Getting Parents Involved at Coastal Academy High

Coastal Academy High School (CAH) isn’t your average high school. Students are partially homeschooled and only attend school on-campus on a part-time basis.

Since they spend more time at home than average students, Coastal Academy High School puts a strong emphasis on empowering parents to be part of — and deeply engaged with — the learning process.

One student’s journey at Coastal Academy High School with Summit Learning.

Principal Samantha Bartrom describes the parent-student-teacher relationship as a stool with three legs, “The three legs being the student, the parent, and the teacher. In order for the stool to stand and stay strong, all three legs must be intact.”

And Coastal Academy High School stays true to this philosophy daily. Thanks to their hard work, they’re one of this year’s Summit Learning Spotlights.

What is Summit Learning Spotlight?

Summit Learning Spotlight is an annual program that shares the stories and best practices of both schools and educators who partner with Summit Learning. Spotlight showcases exemplary models of personalized learning implementation and instruction.

The best part is that members of the community — mentors, educators, parents, and more — personally nominate the schools or educators we spotlight.

Putting the spotlight on Coastal Academy High School

CAH parents love Summit Learning, but that wasn’t always the case. When they first implemented the program, parents were worried because they didn’t know what to expect.

How did they put parents at ease?

Samantha and her team of educators put parents at ease by creating a Parent Learning Institute. This 4-week program gave parents a comprehensive overview of Summit Learning.

The group met once a week for one hour. Half of the class was spent learning about specific areas of Summit Learning. The other half of the class was spent in classrooms watching projects in action. They were even tested on what they learned afterward. (We know, we’re impressed, too.)

Here’s a breakdown of the topics CAH covered:

  • Habits of Success
  • Understanding grading
  • Understanding projects & math concept units
  • How to facilitate crucial conversations with your student at home

Samantha shared more about the program with us, “I think the reason that most parents struggle with Summit Learning initially is because it is different from what they experienced growing up. [With the Parent Learning Institute] we’re able to sit down together and address concerns and questions. Then, we discuss how we problem-solve and move forward together.”

She also recorded screencasts like the one below and sent out weekly newsletters with information parents could use to stay involved with their child’s learning.
Coastal Academy High School Principal, Samantha Bartrom showing parents how to use the Platform to track their student’s progress at school.

Those who attended the Parent Learning Institute grew to love Summit Learning so much, they formed a Parent Ambassador Program. The group of parents mentor other parents who have questions about Summit Learning.  

Samantha says keeping lines of communication open is always the best way to start off on the right foot. “At Coastal Academy High School, having our parents support our students’ learning and be active partners in education allows us to work as a team.”

We see you, Coastal Academy High School, and we commend the hard work y’all have been doing to enlist parents as partners in learning. You guys are making a difference, and it shows. Keep shining bright like a spotlight!

Check out other inspiring Summit Learning Spotlight stories for more tips on how to keep parents engaged at your school.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.