Center for Excellence & Innovation

Professional Development Workshops, Visit Days, & Consulting

Consultation Services & Offsite Workshops

The Center for Excellence & Innovation offers consultation services and off-site workshops offered by our teacher leaders and experts. Examples of past topics include:

  • Triad Academy | Summit School Merger- models, schedules, lessons learned
  • Mindfulness for Educators (2, 3, or 6 hour workshops)
  • Creating a Culture of Thinking (Typically a series of 2 hour workshops)

Please contact us with questions about content and pricing.

What our participants say....

I gained many resources that I could immediately use in my classroom. I also met many wonderful and brilliant people that were happy to exchange ideas with me.

Because it trained me (ongoing) to learn how to help my students understand Spanish in class (how to ‘comprehensify’ input), the impact that an increased focus on INput instead of OUTput can have on language acquisition, and what it looks like day to day to make this shift in instruction.

Responsive Classroom helped me the most. It reminded me to stop, focus and listen to the students. It gave me tools to deal with students who struggled to get along. It helped me achieve a calmer environment.

Summit School’s Center for Excellence & Innovation (CEI) was founded in 2012 with a mission to offer professional education workshops and conferences that use the latest research, science and best practices to develop the talents, skills and passion for teaching among faculty and administrators.

Located in Winston-Salem, NC on the campus of Summit School, the Center for Excellence & Innovation invites independent, public, parochial, and charter school educators who are committed to creating powerful learning experiences drawing on the research and ideas of leading educational thinkers and child development experts. Our workshops and conferences blend theory with practical application, including the opportunity for teachers to observe, network, and/or develop their craft.

To learn more about course offerings, please email the appropriate Division Director below. 





Previous Workshops

Introduction to Responsive Classroom Sampler

Professional Development Workshop for K- 8 Academic Leaders, Advisors, Guidance Counselors & Classroom Teachers!

In this one-day introduction to the Responsive Classroom approach you’ll learn how Responsive Classroom practices and strategies help teachers to foster positive community, integrate engaging academics with the teaching of social and emotional skills, and create the conditions for positive student behavior.

- Hear about the characteristics of teacher language that promote respectful, kind, and positive classroom communities
- Explore interactive modeling—a structure to introduce routines and procedures in a clear and concise way
- Participate in interactive learning structures you can use with your class to make lessons more engaging
- Examine how the Responsive Classroom approach to discipline can establish a calm, orderly, and safe environment for learning

You will also have an opportunity to discuss ideas with colleagues, experience Responsive Classroom strategies as an adult learner, and see video of Responsive Classroom teachers implementing the strategies with students in grades K–8.

Learning to Breathe: Mindfulness for Students & Educators [Grades K-12]

Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Parents, Community
Grades K-12+

Learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating are skills that depend on the ability to understand and manage emotions. Studies have demonstrated the power of mindfulness training in schools to help students (and teachers) to understand the mind body connection, thus increasing their metacognitive awareness. Practicing mindfulness - committing fully in each moment to be present; with the intention to embody calmness and equanimity- offers a way to cultivate that awareness and grow those skills. Session participants will engage in several mindfulness practices, learn about the neuroscience behind ‘brain downtime’ and will take away easy-to-implement strategies.


I. Introduction

II. What is mindfulness?

III. Neuroscience of mindfulness

IV. Why mindfulness for the classroom?

V. Mindful Practices, Part I


VII. Mindful Practices, Part II

VIII. Bringing mindfulness into the classroom

Bee Cause: Beekeeping at Your School [Grades K-12]

Teachers, Parents, Community
Grades K - 12+

Keeping honey bees at school is very possible. In this workshop, Chris Culp, Director of Technology, and Summit Beekeeper, shares his story of how he worked to install a beekeeping system at Summit School and, as a result, has increased opportunities for educating our students and the community. And, it's not just about the honey - having a beekeeping system on campus inspires students to look at the world from a different perspective and creates a "campus consciousness." Along with the bees comes responsibility that builds a broader understanding of the ecosystem as a whole. Spend the day with Chris learning more about bees, the logistics of setting up a system at your school (and/or home!), and lessons learned from the experience.


I. About the Bee

II. Why Bees at School?

III. Out and about with our bees


IV. Logistical considerations

V. Lessons Learned

VI. Opportunities Realized: Summer Camp, Selling Honey, Afternoon Academy, Flourishing Gardens

Creating a Culture of Thinking: Where Thinking is Visible & Actively Promoted [Grades K-12]

Teachers, Administrators
Grades K-12+

What messages are we sending students about what learning looks like? How often do we talk to students about their work (doing) habits versus their thinking habits? SInce thinking causes learning -shouldn’t we focus our time, opportunities, and expectations on THINKING?

Based on the works of Harvard’s Project Zero researcher, Ron Ritchhart, this workshop will focus on creating school and classroom cultures that nurture, make visible, and promote thinking in a world where Google provides students knowledge-level information instantly. Creating a culture of thinking is not about just adhering to a particular set of practices or a general expectation that people should be involved in thinking. A culture of thinking produces the feelings, energy , and even joy that can propel learning forward and motivate us to do what at times can be hard and challenging mental work.

Creating, Coding, and Making: Hands on Higher Order Thinking [Grades 3-12]

Teachers, Administrators, Parents, & Community Members!

Grades 3 - 12+ (eligible for NCDPI Math renewal credits)

We all interact with our digital environment. But are we simply following a script designed by someone else? Experience digital interaction from the ground up. Get hands on creating game controllers using repurposed household items with Makeymakey. Explore coding for interactive devices with Arduino Esplora. No experience necessary.

The Makeymakey component allows for exploration of the physical, tangible side of interaction without the need for sophisticated coding. The Esplora component introduces the basics of interactive code without having to build circuits and devices. Together they present an accessible path to build understanding of the creative processes behind our digital experiences.

This workshop, led by Summit’s Director of Technology, Chris Culp is designed to engage participants in hands-on exploration of a variety of tools that we use in our Design Center to engage students in creating, coding, and making. Additionally, participants will learn about designing curriculum, setting up spaces, purchasing materials, and identifying resources.

Reinventing Mathematics: Inspiring Students in a Self-Paced Model [Grades 3-12]

Teachers, Administrators
Grades 3 - 12

How do you run a classroom where each student is working on a different thing at a different speed? In this workshop, 5th grade Math Teacher, Tim Musser will guide participants to an understanding of his instructional design model that meets students where they are. Rather than forcing students to follow the same path in lockstep with one another, practicing page after page of skills they already have down, this model gives them a chance to build the metacognitive muscle they’ll need to become lifelong learners.

A snapshot of the goals & advantages of the model:

  • Allows for motivated students to move faster/go deeper.
  • Allows teacher to instruct more individually rather than whole group.
  • Encourages students to take ownership of their work responsibilities/learning.
  • Students know what they missed when they are absent & can work at home.


I. Why self-paced math?

II. Elements of the system: Learning Targets, Assessments, Assignments, Lessons, Practice

III. What does class time look like? (includes observing a class in action)


V. Lessons Learned - What to avoid and what to emphasize

VI. Adopting and adapting the model for your classroom

Teaching Music to Students with the Dyslexia Superpower

Teachers, Parents, Community
Grades 2-12+

Students with dyslexia do not have flat learning profiles. While language-based learning may be difficult for these students, they often have a strong propensity towards learning music. And, the good news is, learning music doesn’t need to begin with reading it. In fact, it ’s better to start with just listening to music, playing it, and moving musically. In this workshop, Drew Holgate, 5th-grade teacher in our Triad Academy Division and professional musician will engage workshop participants in a day dedicated to learning about teaching music to students with dyslexia. Participants will learn techniques to get students making music right away, multisensory techniques to help them learn and connect patterns, and motivational techniques that focus on student choice and passion.

This workshop will use guitar, voice, and rhythm instruments to convey ideas and techniques that are broadly applicable to music instruction. Have a guitar? Bring it - no experience necessary! Don't have one - we've got you covered!

Tinkering: Playful Inquiry [PreK-8]

Grades PreK-8

Join us for a workshop in our tinkering spaces centered tinkering - a process that marries play and inquiry. Bring back ideas you can use in just about any space and with children of ANY age. Where and Why Tinkering?It is simply a prepared environment with multiple materials where kids are inspired to dig deeper, try again, learn from failure, help each other, and create. Thinking becomes visible...ideas within our minds are able to be expressed in this playful and inspiring environment. Giving young people the tools and space to explore, create, experiment, and try again empowers them to believe in their ability to solve problems. Through experimentation and each small success their competence develops and confidence grows.


i. What is tinkering? What is not tinkering?

ii. Why tinkering? Merging play, inquiry, creativity, exploration

iii. The How: Spaces, materials, funding

iv. Lunch

v. Tinkering in action: students and you

vi. Tour of Tinkering, Inquiry, and Maker Spaces

Booking Binding Studio: Making & Publishing [Grades 4-12]

TeamBuilding & TeamPlay: Guiding Community and Connection

Professional Development Workshop for Academic Leaders, Advisors, Guidance Counselors & Classroom Teachers!

Please join teambuilding gurus Jim Cain and Claire Marie Hannon in a workshop that supplies participants with an amazing collection of activities that build unity, community & connection in active, engaging, memorable, effective and fun ways! Jim and Claire will begin the workshop with a discussion of the psychology of purposeful play and the stages of group development followed by a collection of group activities that are not only fun, but build valuable life skills, connection, trust, character, leadership, teamwork and more.

This workshop will be limited to 25 participants so that participants will have time to work with Jim and Claire on designing a set of purposeful experiences to bring back to school the very next day.

3D Printing: For Real Learning [Grades 4-12]

Professional Development Workshop for Classroom Teachers (Grades 4-12), Educational Technology Specialists, Librarians, Administrators, or anyone else interested in the possibilities of 3D printing.

3D Printers have been gaining in popularity in schools and are sometimes the central 'tool' that defines a school's makerspace. But how we do move this tool from cool gimmick to a tool for authentic learning experiences? This day has been crafted for the novice 3D printer enthusiast to the seasoned 3D printer leader. The workshop will be limited to 15 participants so the experience can be an interactive, hands on, growing experience.

I. Brief History and Evolution 3D Printing

II. What we've learned from students to spaces to support

III. Examples of projects and their evolution

IV. Nuts & Bolts: Software & Hardware


V. Time in the Design Studio

VI. Interactive observation of students in action

VII. Workshop impact: Action items & take aways

Workshop Facilitator: Chris Culp, Director of Technology

CONTEXT: Design and making have long been a part of Summit’s progressive education tradition. Design thinking is one of our school’s signature throughlines. We are the first school in the region to have a dedicated makerspace and have been developing our design program for over 15 years. This day has been crafted with the goal of sharing our unique integrated, personalized approach to helping students gain a sensitivity to the designed world by looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunities while also building the skills necessary for students to become independent designers.

.5 CEU's Available

Questions? Please email

Orton-Gillingham Associate Level Training for Educators

Orton-Gillingham Associate Level Training for Educators & Community Members

Course: November 9 - 10, November 30 - December 1, February 1 -2, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM (*February 22 is an inclement weather makeup day)

Seminar Evenings: February 21, February 28, March 14, April 18, May 2, 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Course Description: An intensive 70 hour course for individuals with a bachelor’s degree, it is the fundamental course in learning the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching. Participants will learn and gain an understanding of the structure of language and multisensory teaching.

Application is due by October 9, 2018. Applicants will be notified on a rolling admissions basis.

Public and Charter School Application

Community Member Application

Independent (non-public) School Application

Early Childhood Summit

Early Childhood Summit

"Perspectives on Early Childhood Literacy"

Educators, community members and parents are invited to join us for a day of explore perspectives in early childhood literacy. After an address by keynote speaker, Beth Moore, participants will attend sessions around topics including:

  • Connecting Spoken Language and Literacy
  • Supporting Gifted/Early Readers
  • Early Intervention Signs & Goalposts

William Van Cleave | Writing in the Content Areas


Please email Suzanne Davis, Program Coordinator if you would like to be placed on our mailing list for future events like this.