Summit International Schools is currently a K-12 American curriculum school. From KG2-Grade 9, we are aligned with the California Common Core. KG1 follows an Early Childhood “learn through play” curriculum. We are currently operating from four new buildings and a state-of-the-art campus. The school is co-educational in grades k-4 and separated in grades 5-12.
SIS is a leader in technology that uses a blended learning approach to encourage all students to become independent learners. Our classrooms all use a similar lesson structure. Classes open with an engaging warm-up, a lesson introduction, an activity (hands-on/technology/movement), and a check for understanding. Our curriculum is resourced by the teachers and very few subjects use textbooks. In place of textbooks, we offer a nearly 1:1 Chromebook learning experience. Learning resources are mainly online through various learning platform memberships. SIS uses external and internal assessments and adaptive software to determine individualized learning paths for every Climber on Mount Summit.
All stakeholders are referred to as “Climbers”, and our goal every day is to climb higher every day. Ask any Climber, student, parent, or teacher, where he or she is going today, and you will hear an energetic and genuine “TO THE TOP!” Get on the rope with us. Let’s climb together.
History (About Summit)
Summit International School (SIS) opened in August of 2013. It is one of the very few schools still located in a very desirable location in Abu Dhabi City. At the time SIS was a Request for Proposal (RFP) private international school using an American curriculum under the auspices of the Virginia Depart of Education Standards of Learning. The tuition for SIS is classified as a “good value” (intermediate) tier of tuition. The population of students represents a great diversity of middle eastern and pacific rim ex-pats with a typical middle-class income for the area. Our staff also represents geographic and ethnic diversity that spans a large portion of the world.
In the first year of operation, Summit had 465 students, 33 core teachers operating in 27 classrooms, and a very limited Learning Resource Center (LRC). During the first year a basic academic curriculum was provided in Math, Science, English, English Social Studies (ESS), Health & Physical Education (HPE), Islamic Education (IE), Arabic Social Studies (ASS), and Arabic Language (AL). SIS hired a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) to begin addressing the academic needs of students with exceptionalities. Within seven months of opening, SIS experienced its first ADEC academic inspection referred to as the Irtiqaa Inspection. SIS received the highest rating attainable for a new school in Band C (Needs Improvement Band) in 6 of the eight standards and the lowest score attainable in the Band B (Satisfactory Band) achieving an overall rating of the highest rating in Band C (Needs Improvement). (2013-2014)
In the second year of operation, SIS expanded to 665 students, 46 core teachers, and 32 classrooms. Our LRC continued its expansion and maturation while SIS added Visual Arts and Music programs to its course offerings. Summit formalized an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) program with a technology lab fully equipped with 30 computers network printing and SmartBoard technology. The MAP Assessment was once again administered to provide baseline data of student performance at the beginning of the year. During this academic year, Summit began a Chromebook Initiative with 60 Chromebooks on Carts on Wheels (COW) to be used in the classrooms to support the learning of the grade 5 – 8 Students. Once again within seven months of the last Irtiqa’a Inspection, we had a second inspection (typically they are 18 months apart). This inspection assessed the school in the same Eight Standards. SIS scored the highest score attainable in Band B (Satisfactory Band) in 6 of the eight standards and the lowest score attainable in the Band A (High Performing Band) achieving an overall rating of the highest rating in Band B (Satisfactory).
In the school’s third year the school and Summit grew to 960 students, 55 core teachers operating in 35 classrooms. SIS expanded its KG 1 and KG 2 program from 3 classes to 4 classes of each. The existing course offerings are the same and they are evolving and maturing as the staff is presented with Professional Development (PD) opportunities that expand their knowledge of Best Practice and the development of 21st-century skills in our students. As a result, SIS is evolving into a more authentic and less textbook centered; a more student centered and less teacher centered learning environment. The Chromebook initiative continues to grow and mature with additional Chromebooks being added for a total of 150. The Chromebook technology is being used by grades 2-8 in the classroom as a tool for learning in an evolving student-centered classroom. (2015-2016)
In the fourth year of the school, our student population and course offerings have remained the same with an increasing emphasis on authentic student-centered instruction, working to improve student’s literacy and 21st skills. MAP assessments will be administered two times this year. This will provide the first picture of student growth and will be supported with a PD focus on the use of Data to make informed decisions regarding individual student learning plans and organization approaches to teaching and learning. This will be accomplished with PD opportunities for staff and the development of PLC teams within the Pods and grade levels to identify areas for improvement, development of action plans, implementation, and assessment of the strategies employed for effectiveness and to make changes if warranted along the way. (2016-2017)
In the fifth year of the school, the population and offerings remained the same. There was a significant addition of Special Needs students to the school and so a Learning Support Team was created. In addition, the management company was dismissed, and the principal left in December (retirement). The new administration was a principal and 2 VPs. There were coordinators at 3 levels and the beginning of standardizing a teaching practice was created. The California Common Core was adopted. The school also started using “Summit” as a branding tool and the climb was applied to the 4 steps of a Summit brand lesson structure. This is when we started calling our students and other stakeholders “Climbers”. The four steps are Warm-ups, Activity-Based Learning, the use of technology, and a Check for Understanding or Next Steps. All lessons had to incorporate this model. (2017-2018)
In the school’s sixth year the size, diversity, and course offerings were the same. There was one less VP. Among the jobs created for the new year was Director of Assessments and Student Services, the Teaching and Learning Coach, the Community Connections Coach, and the school hired a full-time, licensed school counselor. The school also purchased 350 more Chromebooks and stopped using textbooks as the sole curricular resource. It was announced that there would be another inspection from ADEK in October 2018. The inspection was highly successful earning the school an “A” rating. During the same year, the school broke ground for a new school. The build site is three meters from the current school building. This meant a loss of 8 potential classrooms, a full football pitch, basketball courts, and outdoor space used for recess and P.E. This is also the first year MAP scores were used to analyze learning growth trends and to identify gaps between external and internal assessments. As well, we discovered deficits in Reading and Math. Teachers spent every Monday of the school year working on MAP data and how to use it to teach. (2018-2019)
During year (7), the whole school has moved to a blended learning platform. English and Math are resourced entirely by the teachers. They use a combination of MAP scores and adaptive software (Edmentum/Exact Path) to deliver individualized instruction for each student. While the adaptive software helps the students get up to grade level (and offers a challenge to those above), the teacher ensures that the students are learning grade-level standards using the Summit model. The Learning Support Team now has a referral process for students presenting symptoms; so does the Counselor. The school is in the process of setting up a Student Council and has implemented student Community Conflict Managers to help solve issues in free areas. After 7 years of consideration, the school was very excited to finally welcome an accreditation team from MSA-CESS in America. This is crucial to the development of the school as there were plans to open up a grade 9 when the new building opens in August 2020. (2019-2020)
Due to the global pandemic, we opened the new building in a limited capacity as directed by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health. The KG 1 and KG2 Climbers attend daily in bubbles of 10. There are two sessions, morning and afternoon. Grades 1-5 are on an Alternating Weeks model with the option to attend 100% Distance Learning. The two face to face groups (Apex and Peak) meet in classes of 15 or less every other week. Phase 1 of the project is complete with a new school building of 90 classrooms and multiple offices and meeting rooms. All grades, KG1-Grade 9 currently occupy the building. The classes are mixed gender through Grade 4. Grades 5 and up are separated. Each room is equipped with WiFi to connect our expanding number of Chromebooks. As well, each room has an 86-inch (218cm) Interactive Panel with touch technology for use by teachers and students. All rooms have sanitization stations with gel, masks, and wipes. There are also science labs, Art and Music Rooms, Computer Labs, a clinic, and a Library. The second building of Phase 1 contains a full-size 7 lane swimming pool on the ground floor and a multi-purpose gym with a theater-stage equipped with lighting and soundboard. There is also a machine workout room, dressing rooms, and showers. Phase 2 will be ready in August 2021. Phase 2 will include an administration block with a large library, science labs, computer labs, a clinic, gender-based canteens in one building, and a second building that will house boys grades 6-12.