Silver Summit Academy construction delay does not hinder learning
At the South Summit School District office building and the Oakley City Hall, school is in session. Despite construction delays for the Silver Summit Academy, school officials said that the pilot year is going well.
When the blended-learning school was originally announced by the district last spring, the plan was to have the building completed in the fall when school started. Construction delays pushed the opening to the first of February. After more setbacks, the opening date is currently set for April 9, said Dari Thacker, a teacher at the elementary school of the academy.
She, along with Jeff Greiner, principal of the secondary school, said that while it has been frustrating for parents and staff, they have been able to make the best of the situation. Students in the elementary school currently meet at the Oakley City Hall for classes while the secondary students meet at the district office.
Shad Sorenson, superintendent of the district, said that delays came because of unforeseen obstacles, such as the contracting company not being able to find enough employees to get the job done in the established timeline.
“They are doing their very best, and so are we,” he said. “We have not shafted our students because they do not have the building that they thought they would be attending.”
Greiner said that one of the main difficulties is space limitation, but students have not complained. Since they often work in small groups, they spread out into different rooms and work on their individual projects.
“It’s all brand new to them,” he said. “They are now getting used to the fact that they can work in small groups. I think they are happy with it.”
Greiner and Louise Willoughby, principal of the elementary school, said that they are grateful that they have the space that they do. They are also grateful to the parents and students who often must drive longer to get to the buildings. But, the administrators are excited to see how they can continue to grow the program once they are in their building.
When completed, the schools will both be located at 6407 N. Business Park Loop Road in Park City. The elementary and secondary schools will be divided, and the building will have makerspaces for students to create projects and collaborative areas for students and teachers to focus on individualized learning.
Willoughby said that providing unique and fulfilling learning for each student is one of the key values of the academy. Teachers work with students individually, and students move through content at their own pace. Students are in the classroom part of the week and at home using technology to further their learning during the other part.
Since the hybrid classes are new to many in the academy, Willoughby and Greiner said that they are learning how to use technology in the most efficient way for students to learn at school and home. The schools plan to write their own curriculum for the following school year after using online learning platforms this year.
“I think to fit our model, it is best if we do it in-house,” Greiner said. “Our teachers understand it and they are eager to do it. They realize that they will have ownership of that course completely.”
Learning as they go has been a theme for school officials this year. Both Greiner and Willoughby said that school schedules will remain flexible next year to meet students’ needs, but there might be an increase in the amount of days in school for some grades in the elementary level.
They also plan to hire one more teacher and two teacher aides at the elementary school and three teachers at the secondary school.
Greiner and Willoughby said that with a new building, the structure of learning will change a little bit. The students will not only have more room, but the makerspaces will allow them to design and create once they have completed their work for the day.
Greiner said that he is excited to see the building in action, not only for his students but for a community speaker series and coding camps.
“It’s going to be unique, it really is,” he said. “I’m ready to start.”
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