Our Dream School

Dream School

I had a dream school in mind... where everybody could be a somebody.
~Louise Futrell, Founder of Summit School

Summit School was founded in 1933 on many of the principles of progressive education that continue to underpin the school to this day. Louise Futrell, the school's founder, created a program of active learning, individualized instruction, and attention to the whole child. To her staff, Miss Futrell often said, "until a child has learned, you have not taught."

Summit began in a large home on Summit Street in the West End section of Winston-Salem, but quickly outgrew its quarters and began to overflow into nearby facilities. In 1944, Mrs. Charles Babcock, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Reynolds, offered the school a 4.5-acre plot of land on her Reynolda estate near Reynolda Village. In 1945, construction began on a new building, its design inspired by an exhibit mounted by The Museum of Modern Art and showing the potential of modern architecture in a school setting. The new campus opened in 1946.

In 1957, Douglas R. Lewis became headmaster of Summit, a capacity in which he served for 33 years. Mr. Lewis oversaw the expansion of the school including the 1962 construction of a junior high building and gymnasium, the 1977 construction of a science building and another gymnasium, the 1984 construction of a teaching/learning center, and the 1986 construction of a middle school building. By 1987, the school had three sections at every level from Junior Kindergarten through Ninth Grade.

Summit's Theatre (now the Loma Hopkins Theatre) played host to many productions of the North Carolina School of the Arts (now UNCSA) in the early years of that institution. Summit was among the first schools in the area to use computers in the classroom, and pioneered an experimental math program in the 1970s and 1980s that brought teachers to the school from all over the nation to learn new ways of teaching math.

In 1990, Sandra Adams became head of school, serving until her retirement after 40 years of teaching and administrating in 2008. Under Dr. Adams' leadership, the school built a new three-story Library and began construction on four new buildings–a Second and Third Grade Building (2008), an Athletic Center (2008), an Arts and Technology Building (2009), and Dining Hall (2009)–nearly doubling the square footage of the educational space.

Dr. Michael Ebeling became head of school in 2008, and under his leadership the school realigned divisions in 2009 to create a Lower School (JrK-5) and Upper School (6-9). After a careful self study in 2008-2009, determining the strengths of the school, its program, its students, and its staff, Summit stated its Six Promises, as a tribute to where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed in the future. Louise Futrell once said of Summit, "I had a dream school in mind, where everybody can be a somebody." Now, 85 years later, that dream is still alive at Summit School.


Our Mission

Summit School provides a challenging curriculum within a caring environment to help students develop their full potential.


Our Vision

Summit's vision is for students to develop curious and creative minds, healthy bodies, ethical values, and a commitment to service; for parents to be completely confident in the creative, intellectual, and social education of their children; and for educators to lead their field in preparing students to succeed in a rapidly changing world. At Summit, we educate leaders and innovators who will shape the future.

Six Promises

Six Promises of Summit School

At Summit, our goal for students and for ourselves is to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. And to that end, we make these promises...

Scholarship at Its Best
A Fertile Learning Environment
A Sturdy Confidence
Intellectual Independence
State of the Art Facilities
Educators Who Engage the Whole Child

Scholarship at Its Best

We are tenacious about teaching fundamentals and committed to seeing our students translate proficiency into discovery, expertise and impact.

At Summit, scholarship is about more than citing the work of others. It is the capacity to join a larger conversation that is informed by research and driven by a desire to understand and to see beyond the literal. Scholarship, at its best, is more than learning the answers for the next test, it is learning to anticipate new questions and to pursue complex answers in ways that are personally meaningful and socially responsible.

The rewards of scholarship are infinitely greater as it grows from a short-term project to a lifelong behavior.

A Fertile Learning Environment

Our work is always purposeful. Every aspect of our school, from curriculum to campus, is designed to maximize opportunities for learning. At Summit, learning happens not just in the classroom, but on the sidewalk, on the playing field, in the dining room, and in the in-between moments and spaces that our faculty and facility capture. Summit is a great place to be a child and to become a young adult.

Our curriculum creates a rich arc of teachable moments designed to discover and develop fluency, creativity and competency in every area of a child’s life.

A Sturdy Confidence

Confidence is essential for academic achievement and lifelong success. At Summit, we believe the best way to build a child’s confidence is to build real competence. Confidence based on anything less is unsustainable.

Where do our students land? On their feet.

They land on their feet with a sense of purpose and responsibility. While our youngest children are learning respect and sharing, our oldest students are grappling with what it means to be present to the needs of their world.

They learn to think globally and lead for the good of others.

Every child brings distinctive potential and a unique voice to Summit. We cherish that individuality, and our faculty is committed to discovering each child’s gifts.

Intellectual Independence

At Summit, we help children grow in their ability to meet challenges, take risks and transform their own lives. In short, we teach learning.

Curiosity is the basic fuel of learning. At Summit, we don’t waste it and we don’t squelch it—we leverage it. We give our students the training and the discipline to create without a template, to search out reliable sources, to think critically and to take meaningful action without a script.

We believe knowledge that is earned is the most enduring.

State of the Art Facilities

Our facilities are built with the same sense of purpose that defines our curriculum. They teach and they inspire.

In our Arts and Technology Building, we bring students to the intersection of technology, creativity and expression. Our Athletic Center features a variety of spaces: an indoor track, basketball courts, a fitness center, and studios for gymnastics and aerobics. In gardens and courtyards that are alive with natural growth, we bring the outside world into our curriculum. In our dining halls, we enjoy the “hearth” of Summit with healthy meals and round tables for lively conversation.

And, at the center of it all, we have classrooms and libraries that delight children and adults alike with their state-of-the-art technology and multiple spaces for memorable exchange and individual learning.

Educators Who
Engage the Whole Child

The teachers we remember best are those who came alongside us at vital points in our lives. They helped us to discover our passions and to expand our capacity to master challenging material.

At Summit, our children are surrounded by such memorable teachers. They are mentors and models—encouragers and friends—who engage students in the present and prepare them for the future.

When we work with a student to unravel a math problem, learn to write in cursive, organize a service project, conduct a science experiment or rehearse a scene, we are developing the tools of self-reliant learning, the habits of academic mastery and the vision for creative impact.

We inspire and we equip each student for a rich journey of lifelong learning.

Core Competencies

The Core Competencies

Embracing our Heritage. Reaching into the Future.

Summit’s history is one of innovation. Founded in 1933 when many other schools were eliminating programs and with deep roots in the Progressive principles of John Dewey, Summit came into being as a school featuring multi-disciplinary, comprehensive programs that focus on educating the whole child—a commitment that continues into the present and that positions children to succeed within and beyond the four walls of the classroom.

Each day for more than eighty years, Summit has earned a reputation for living our mission. Summit is well-known for providing a challenging curriculum within a caring environment to help all students develop their full potential. The same combination of courage and vision that led founder Louise Futrell in 1933 to develop a program committed to the richness and complexity of the whole child leads us as educators today to embrace Summit’s Core Competencies.

The culmination of the Summit educational experience is the embodiment in our students of Summit’s Core Competencies. These skills, dispositions and abilities are both timeless and timely, enabling our students to thrive in a future we can’t predict. Summit students are:

Having acquired a strong academic, athletic, artistic, and technological foundation

Operating from an ethical compass, guided by character, confidence and competence

Exhibiting intellectual curiosity, including critical and creative thinking with a commitment to lifelong learning

Demonstrating global awareness, embracing diversity and working collaboratively within and beyond the school community

Committing to civic responsibility, service and stewardship—both locally and globally