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Kurt Pusch joins Summit after leading six charter schools in Colorado serving pre-K to high school students

CASHIERS, NC – March 1, 2019 – Summit Charter School, a tuition-free K-9 public charter school in the Cashiers-Highlands plateau of North Carolina, today announces the appointment of Kurt Pusch as its next director, effective July 1. Pusch will succeed Billy Leonard, who has served Summit as interim director since July 2018.

In making the announcement, Edward Cole, board of trustees chair and search committee co-chair, says, “We consider ourselves very fortunate to have someone of Kurt’s award-winning experience as an administrator and educator. He has spent the past 15 years with KIPP, the nation’s largest and highest regarded network of public charter schools.” Cole continues, “Kurt’s demonstrated ability to lead a school to high ranking academic achievement, increase faculty retention and decrease student attrition was quite impressive. He is well-versed on the advantages of a charter school, has a passion for outdoor education and aligns well with Summit’s place-based and whole-child approach to learning.”

Most recently, Pusch served as Chief Schools Officer at KIPP Colorado Schools, overseeing six charter schools serving nearly 2,000 students from early childhood through twelfth grade with the mission of educating students to develop the knowledge, skills and character for success in college and life. Prior to his tenure at KIPP, where he also served as principal, academic dean and middle school history teacher, Pusch was a Teach For America Corps Member, serving as a fourth grade teacher at Northside Elementary School in Norlina, NC. He graduated from The Lovett School in Atlanta, Colgate University in Hamilton, NY and received his Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from National Louis University in Chicago, IL. He will receive his Executive Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in June 2019. He is married to M.C. Pusch and has four children, Briggs (8), Kate (6), McKinley (4) and Henry (2).

“My wife M.C. and I feel deeply privileged by this opportunity for our family to join the Cashiers-Highlands community and to serve Summit Charter School,” says Pusch. “In our time getting to know the staff, students, families, and supporters of Summit, we have felt the values and sense of community that clearly make the school such a special place. I look forward to joining the team at Summit, and doing my very best to serve the school as director over the years ahead.”

Pusch was selected following a highly-competitive national search. The seven-member search committee included Lauren Bennett (High School Principal and Guidance Counselor), Ann Betty (Board of Trustees Vice Chair), Travis Boswell (Board of Trustees), Edward Cole (Board of Trustees Chair), Amy Corcell (Foundation Board), Jim Hendrix (Former Summit Interim Director) and Lisa Lehotsky (School Office Manager and Former Teacher). Ann Betty, search committee co-chair and board of trustees vice chair, says, “Kurt was an enthusiastic and unanimous choice. As both a professional and cultural fit, Kurt is a win-win for the Summit community.”

Josh Crawford, foundation board chair, explains, “We are all so excited about Kurt, but don’t want to forget what a tremendous job Billy Leonard has done this year as interim director. We are very thankful for his leadership and steadfast devotion to the school during a year of major transitions and milestones. Billy will certainly leave a lasting legacy at the school.”

About Summit Charter School

Summit Charter School is a tuition-free K-9 public charter school in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina that engages students in learning experiences that stimulate discovery, inspire excellence and nurture a positive influence in an ever-changing world. A picturesque mountain campus and state-of-the-art facilities in the Cashiers-Highlands plateau provide an ideal setting for students and teachers to embrace high expectations, build meaningful relationships and practice the seven virtues of the school’s daily Summit Pledge: “Each 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.”

During the 2018-19 school year, Summit welcomed its first ninth grade class and will add a high school grade every year until the inaugural high school class graduates in 2022. Following this spring’s opening of the Summit Center, which houses athletic facilities, a performance area and music and art classrooms, the school will open its new high school building. Learn more about Summit’s transformative place-based education and whole-child approach to learn at

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