With Silver Summit Academy, South Summit provides new option for students
Administrator says school’s approach will give students control
May 23, 2017
The South Summit School District will begin a new era this fall.
That's when the district will open the doors of the Silver Summit Academy, a blended-learning school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade that officials say represents a leap forward in the district's pursuit of offering the type of 21st-century education students need when they head off into the modern workplace.
Jeff Greiner, who will be principal of the school, described the learning environment as giving students the autonomy to fit their education into busy schedules that often include work or athletics, while also providing enough guardrails to ensure the students are actively engaged and absorbing the concepts. Students will learn some lessons online, but will also meet regularly with teachers at the school to complete coursework.
Students, who may choose to attend Silver Summit Academy instead of the district's other schools, will also be able to utilize the labs and collaborative spaces in the school, which is located at 6407 N. Business Loop Road in Silver Summit.
"Let's say you're a chemistry student," said Greiner, who is currently a vice principal and athletic director at South Summit High School. "You can follow along online and learn the basic lessons. But you also need labs. So a teacher can say, 'Hey, on Wednesday at 10 a.m., meet me in the lab at the academy.'"
The overriding philosophy of the school, which is based on the model of several other blended-learning schools around the country, is to give students the opportunity to direct their own learning. Crucially, it will also give them the freedom to make mistakes. Describing the philosophy, Greiner used the analogy of teaching someone how to juggle.
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"If you try to learn with eggs, you're not going to get anywhere because the punishment is too great," he said. "That's a little bit like how we do education now. We sort of put them in the position where, if they make a mistake, we hammer them for it. Here, we want them to learn with bean bags. If you drop it, you pick it up and try again and you learn something."
The model will work exceptionally well for students who are smart but who don't necessarily thrive in a traditional school environment, he added. He's optimistic that both students and the South Summit community will embrace the idea.
"I think people see the value of it in the Wasatch Back for a school like this," he said. "It meets a lot of the needs that our students have."
The South Summit School District is expected to begin accepting students into Silver Summit Academy in the coming weeks. For more information, visit the district's website, ssummit.org.