New Summit leaders name academic success, supportive culture as goalsFeb 08, 2021 10:17AM ● By Julie Slama
New Summit Academy Draper Campus Principal Lindy Hatch and new Summit Academy Executive Director Michael Clark have goals to creative a positive, supportive school culture and offer a strong academic program. (Photo courtesy of Lindy Hatch/Summit Academy)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Students and faculty at Summit Academy’s Draper campus not only had to face the uncertainty that has come along with COVID-19, but also who would take the helm of the charter school as the former principal departed early in the school year.
Many probably breathed a sigh of relief when Lindy Hatch was named principal in early winter after former principal Gary Tucker took on a superintendent position in Idaho. Hatch has been an elementary teacher, literacy director and instructional coach at Summit Academy for 11 years.
“This is just the next step,” she said. “I love Summit students, parents and the school. During this crazy time of lots of anxiety during COVID, I want to provide them a familiar face in a place I call home.”
Hatch has her family science and psychology degree and a reading endorsement, and is working to complete her master’s degree in administration and leadership from Western Governor’s University—the same school the new executive director, Michael Clark, was enrolled to earn his master’s in education with a focus of learning and technology.
Clark, who has his administrative license from Utah State University, took the role after former director and former principal Tyler Whittle left. Clark comes from a strong charter school background, having taught chemistry at Success Academy in Iron County, being an assistant principal for Merritt Academy and principal at Ascent Academy. Most recently, he served on the state charter school board.
Together the new leaders have come up with ideas for growth in the school the next few years.
“We still have opportunities to grow and show our school spirit that’s in line with our school motto, Together We Soar,” Hatch said. “We are cheering each other on in announcements as a way to unify our school.”
Recently, with the return from winter break, Hatch greeted students by a balloon arch, welcoming them to the first day of school in 2021.
“We’re finding ways to show how we soar, how we lift each other up, and are resilient,” she said. “I want to have a lot more presence in the school, wish kids good morning, give teachers breaks, and help them know what good teaching looks like so they can be the best teachers they can.”
Academic rigor and success are goals of both leaders.
“I want to be able to support all students in their learning so students who come in and struggle, I want them to feel supported and get the help that they need to be successful, and then, push them to greater heights,” Clark said. “I really believe that all students can perform and it’s really the expectation that you set for them and the support that you provide.”
He said that many of the high school students take advantage of Salt Lake Community College concurrent enrollment classes so when they graduate high school, they also have earned courses toward their associate’s degrees. Students also are enrolled in the rigorous and prestigious Advanced Placement Capstone program, which also prepares them for college and earns them college credits.
At the elementary campuses, the classes are offered a plus-one, so students who are proficient at their grade can learn at an accelerated level, studying the curriculum of the next grade to challenge themselves. And at Bluffdale campus, Spanish dual immersion will begin in fall 2021.
However, he said without students taking year-end exams in reading and mathematics last spring, it was hard to judge what material they learned and where to start this year.
“As I transitioned to this position in July, I realized that not having that data season where we collect that student data, really impacted schools across the state, not being able to see where the students are and the plan for next year,” Clark said. “It’s been tough, for sure.”
Hatch wants to increase literacy at the school, using reading interventions to continue to improve students’ success.
“We’re looking at our Acadience (reading scores gathered in the fall, winter and spring of every year), and it shows that first graders are struggling the most after being in remote learning last March through May. We see the largest growth in kindergarten as they are working on blending (their sounds),” she said. “We want to meet the needs of every student this year and see growth.”
In early 2021, the school’s parent organization plans to hold a literacy contest and it will be coupled with a time they will drop everything to read. A STEM night is planned for March. The events support the school’s focus on academic growth.
“With COVID-19, this year we might not have all the traditional events or they may look different, but we’ll still be making connections and having this be a place where students feel welcome, cared for and supportive,” Hatch said.
That supportive culture is something Clark hopes for all Summit students at all the campuses— Draper, Bluffdale, Independence, the high school and preschools as well as about 200 online K-12 students.
Without having visitors and parents on campus or being able to hold carnivals or large assemblies to celebrate achievements that the school has made has been tough, he said.
“We (normally) would gather our community together and have fun together and laugh and really build relationships and (without) those types of things, it’s been really, really hard on us,” he said. “You need to make sure that experience is special for each student and when you don’t have a way to help build that culture, it’s really difficult.”
He said at each campus, principals are finding a way to communicate positive ways to make every student and faculty member feel special. For example, he said that Hatch and others recently served pancakes to seventh- and eighth-grade honor roll students, while at the Independence campus, they were still able to hold a school fundraiser just reorganizing and rebranding their fun run to a “coRUNavirus” fundraiser.
Clark also is planning to have a fun engaging experience for students. As a “huge Volkswagen Beetle guy,” he has a light blue 1968 Bug that he has fixed up and drives. However, this Beetle, he has yet to name. So, he’s looking to hold a naming contest for the students and hopes to have a personalized license plate with its name.
In addition, Summit leaders are planning to hold open houses this spring, so parents and future students can come in and see the “loving, supportive, caring culture we have,” Clark said.