Our Educational Philosophy

For more than twenty years, Summit has been a place-based learning environment. In 2018, we partnered with Teton Science Schools, one of the leading place-based education organizations in the world, to become a member school in the Place Network. As a Place Network school, Summit collaborates with other place-based schools across the country to continually refine, improve, and innovate our place-based education model.

Place-based education is anywhere, anytime learning. The purpose is to bring the local community into the classroom and the classroom out into the community in order to encourage student engagement, increase retention of material, broaden student perspectives and experiences, and build student confidence that they can make a difference.

Key components to this philosophy beyond “place” are: individual student mastery, project-based learning, hands-on learning, student-led learning, small group work, and character building. To that last point, the foundation of all we are and all we do at Summit is the Summit Pledge, which all students recite every morning: 

“Every day, in my words and my deeds, I will do my best to live these seven virtues: honesty, respect, responsibility, compassion, self-discipline, perseverance, and giving.”

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What Makes Summit's K-5 Experience Special?

In kindergarten, our student-teacher ratio is 6:1. In our first, second, and third grade classes, our student-teacher ratio is 8:1. Though we are a tuition-free, public school, student-teacher ratios that low are rare even in private schools, but we believe they are key during these younger years to help students develop. Even our fourth and fifth grade classes have a lead teacher and an assistant in each class.

In addition to this more individualized experience, we believe our weekly exploration classes, wonderful Wednesdays, and WIN (whatever individuals need) classes are important to the K-5 experience at Summit.

Explorations includes music, art, PE, Spanish, library, and STEAM. Wonderful Wednesdays is divided between K-2 and 3-5. K-2 students spend an hour every Wednesday afternoon working on service projects. These projects have blessed so many in our community and beyond. 

WIN consists of 30 minutes every day dedicated to whatever each individual student needs to focus on in various subjects. If you walked into a kindergarten class during WIN, you would find 4-5 different centers all focused on math or reading, but each at different levels or working on different concepts, depending on what each student needs. This is the same time when any of our exceptional children will work with our EC team. 

We invite you to schedule a time to visit Summit, meet with our leadership team, see a class in action, and consider if Summit might be the right fit for your K-5 student!




What Makes Summit's 6-8 Experience Special?

Summit’s focus on individualized education continues from elementary school into middle school. Middle school students also have WIN (whatever individuals need) every day. While K-5 students have WIN for 30 minutes a day, 6-8 students have WIN for one hour every day. These five hours a week include a weekly grade-by-grade advisory, as well as focused time on language arts, math, journaling, and self-reflection. WIN is also the time when our exceptional children work with our EC team. In addition to WIN, we also offer advanced math classes in seventh and eighth grades to continually challenge our advanced students.


Twenty Fridays during the year, we offer Project-Based Learning. Students work with their core class instructors to work in groups completing hands-on STEAM-based projects.

One favorite of our middle school students is our SEEC program. Each semester, students can list their top three choices between a variety of extracurricular classes. Some examples include chorus, Spanish, frisbee sports, and art. Our chorus competes in multiple competitions every year.

Each grade also participates in a special learning expedition, culminating in a week-long trip to the Barrier Islands in eighth grade. Sixth grade spends three days at Camp High Rocks and seventh grade students spend two days on a rock-climbing trip. These are in addition to a number of other field experiences, including a multi-day trip on the Appalachian Trail to conduct water monitoring experiments.

We invite you to schedule a time to visit Summit, meet with our leadership team, see a class in action, and consider if Summit might be the right fit for your 6-8 student!



What makes Summit's 9-12 Experience Special?

The Summit high school experience combines rigorous college preparatory academics with the dynamic LEAD (Learn, Engage, Analyze and Discover) program designed to develop students that are inspired, empowered, and equipped to lead. In order to realize this vision, students take classes that earn them elective credits as they participate in the following LEAD rotation:

Community Engagement 

Students are connected to local organizations through service learning projects and personalized fieldwork opportunities in order to:

  • Develop Empathy

  • Encourage Curiosity

  • Broaden Perspectives

Outdoor Leadership

Outdoor expeditions that cultivate the following leadership skills and traits:

  • Critical thinking

  • Effective communication

  • Confidence

  • Interpersonal skills

Mentor 360

Summit’s Mentor 360 course pairs students with mentors that emphasize goal-setting, character education, and growth mindset. Furthermore, students are connected with younger students in order to gain relevant opportunities to apply lessons, thereby completing the circle of mentorship. A dynamic speaker series enriches the program by exposing students to pillars in the community that embody strong character.

Graduation Requirements 

Graduation requirements at Summit Charter School meet the State requirements for the Future Ready Core. These include the following minimum requirements:

Life Academy

Life Academy teaches students essential skills needed to thrive in college, future work, and daily life. Life Skills include:

  • Time Management and Organization

  • Financial Literacy

  • Public Speaking

  • Personal Safety

After the freshman year, high school students have an opportunity to personalize their LEAD experience by co-creating an individualized leadership plan that evolves throughout high school to help students realize their potential. At Summit, student success is not only measured by academic achievement, but also by strength of character and capacity to lead.

*Electives: A variety of Elective courses will be offered each semester based on student interest and available faculty. Electives include introductory and advanced courses in visual arts, chorus, theater, computer science and various physical fitness activities and sports. Summit also partners with North Carolina Virtual Public School to offer a variety of online elective courses.

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2020-21 Read to Achieve Results: Grade 3

2019-20 and 2020-21 School Performance Scores 

The State of North Carolina did not issue School Performance Scores for 2019-20 and 2021-21 due to COVID-19.

2018-19 School Performance Score: C (69%)

September 2019 Statement on 2018-19 School Performance Grade from New Head of School Kurt Pusch


The State of North Carolina recently released School Performance Grades and state assessment results from the 2018 - 2019 school year. North Carolina’s School Performance Grade represents the state’s overall rating of school performance based on a combination of student achievement levels and student growth on end of year state tests. School performance scores are based on a 100 point scale, with corresponding letter grades assigned as follows: 85-100 = A, 70-84 = B, 55-69 = C, 40-54 = D, and less than 40 = F. Student achievement levels make up 80% of a school’s performance grade, and student growth measures make up 20%.

Summit’s School Performance Grade increased to 69 in 2019, one point away from a B rating, and up from 67 in 2018 and 63 in 2017. We are encouraged to see year-over-year increases in our school Performance Grade, and particularly pleased to see improvements in achievement levels across all content areas and student groups. Summit’s student achievement levels, measuring the percentage of students proficient on state tests, increased to 69% in Reading, 61% in Math, and to 84% in Science--increases from 66%, 59%, and 72% the previous year. Additionally, Summit students met state expectations for growth in both Reading and Math.

We are proud of our students’ academic growth, and see these continued increases in performance as a reflection of the school’s positive direction forward. Our emphasis on academic excellence, community engagement, and strength of character remain our driving focus. With our mission at the forefront, we are eager to utilize these results to help drive our ongoing improvements in the education of our students. As we do, we expect our school performance to only continue to grow and strengthen over the coming years. 

2017-18 School Performance Score: C (67%)


2016-17 School Performance Score: C (63%)


2015-16 School Performance Score: C (63%)


2014-15 School Performance Score: B (71%)