SUMMIT CHARTER SCHOOL RECEIVES GRANT FROM HIGHLANDS CASHIERS HEALTH FOUNDATION TO FUND SCHOOL NURSE

Full-time Position to Improve Student Access to Health Professionals, Student Attendance, and the Overall Well-being of Student Body  

CASHIERS, NC – November 21, 2019 – Summit Charter School, a tuition-free K-10 public charter school in the Cashiers-Highlands plateau, today announces it has received a grant from the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation to fund a full-time school nurse for one year. Zandra Wingfield has fulfilled the full-time position and started on October 16. This is the first time the school has had the funding capacity to hire a nursing position. Summit strives to graduate students who are academically prepared, engaged in the community, healthy, and strong in character.

“We are extremely grateful for the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation’s generous support of our whole-child focus at Summit.,” says Kurt Pusch, head of school. “For the first time in our school’s history, Summit is able to staff a full-time school nurse to directly serve student and staff wellness on our campus. We believe that as a community school, being able to provide this level of care on campus is an important service to our families, students, and staff, resulting in long-term benefits to our students' growth and development. This would not be possible without the generous support of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation.”

Zandra Wingfield graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a Registered Nurse. During her time at the University of Florida, she received the UF College of Nursing Alumni Council Book Award, the UF College of Nursing MSC Patriot Award, and the LT Fouke UF Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Leadership Award. Her previous work experience includes roles at the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at UF Health, Bayada Home Health, Lifepoints Corp, and Highlands Family Medicine. She is married to Eric Wingfield and has a three-year-old son named Samuel who attends Cashiers Valley Preschool.

"I feel tremendously honored and grateful to be joining the Summit Family! In the four years that my family and I have lived in the area, we have grown to love the unique bond that our small community shares and cannot imagine living anywhere else,” explains Zandra Wingfield, Summit’s new school nurse. “It is a huge blessing to work with an incredible team of people who truly love and care for these students, all while getting to continue pursuing my passion for pediatric nursing in this beautiful town we call home. I have been welcomed with open arms, had some laughs and sweet moments with students so far, and love hearing and watching the vision of Summit's leadership and staff come to life on a daily basis. I'm very excited to grow in my role as Summit's school nurse, and to play a small part in tending to and watching these future leaders grow up to bring change to our world!"

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a school nurse has a crucial role in the seamless provision of comprehensive health services to children and youth. Not only do school nurses have the expertise to provide proper care, they help keep children in class and allow faculty to focus on their core missions. A 2014 Kaiser Health study determined that without a school nurse on campus, teachers spend 26 minutes a day each on health-related matters. With a school nurse around, that number drops to six minutes a day.

“A child’s health is an invariably important factor in their learning,” continues Pusch. “Providing a school nurse for our Summit students will improve student access to health professionals, student attendance, and the overall well-being of our student body.” 

Robin Tindall, executive director and CEO of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, says, “Our Foundation is pleased to support Summit Charter School’s commitment to nurturing the health of its student body. This initiative directly aligns with our focus areas of improving access to healthcare and support for education. We wholeheartedly congratulate them on putting our grant funds to use in fulfilling this important need.”

About Summit Charter School

Summit Charter School is a tuition-free K-10 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.” Learn more about Summit’s transformative place-based education and whole-child approach to learning at summitschool.org.

About The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation

The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation was established on February 1, 2019 as a 501 (c) 3 public charity with a purpose to improve the health and wellbeing of Highlands, Cashiers, and surrounding communities. As the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital conversion foundation we are committed to continuing a several-decade legacy of generosity and vision to ensure vibrant and healthy living for our year-round, seasonal and visiting families and individuals. Through partnerships with organizations, key stakeholders and caring donors, The Foundation aims to make positive and lasting change through investing in projects and programs that advance innovative solutions and improvements in peoples’ health and wellbeing. The Foundation follows best practices in administering and evaluating grants and projects as well as measuring and reporting outcomes. The Foundation also includes collaborative partnerships that serve the health and wellbeing of all people in western North Carolina, with particular emphasis on Macon, Jackson, Swain, Graham, Clay and Cherokee Counties and the Qualla Boundary. For more information please visit the website: www.hchealthfnd.org or call 828-482-6510. 

SCS Zandra Wingfield and Kurt Pusch 112019

 
Summit’s new school nurse Zandra Wingfield with head of school Kurt Pusch on Summit’s campus.

 
Updated Media Statement from Summit Charter School on Safety Matter: October 2, 2019
We have concluded our discipline proceedings in response to the allegations of a student communicating threats to school safety on our campus. As a result of the proceedings, the student of concern has been expelled from Summit Charter School. 
 
We will continue to collaborate with the family of the student and Jackson County as they put in place services and support for the student. This case remains an open investigation with Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Juvenile Justice. 
 
As a school, we will draw on this situation as an opportunity to assess our safety procedures and protocols, and to identify active steps we as a school community can take to ensure our campus remains a safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environment.
 
We will continue to be available for our families for any questions or concerns. 
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Sincerely,
Kurt Pusch, Head of School, 720-266-7695
Andrea Chalker, K-8 Principal, 828-421-7121
Lauren Bennett, High School Principal, 828-200-2663

Media Statement from Summit Charter School on Safety Matter
On Friday, September 20th, students reported to Summit Charter School staff that a student on our campus had allegedly communicated verbal statements to other students threatening the safety of our school. The threat was communicated verbally to other students. There was no incident of weapons on campus, nor an incident of a threat being carried out.

 

In response to the report, school administration immediately communicated the information to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and restricted the student from being on campus at any time. Jackson County Sheriff’s Department responded to the report, and authorities confirmed that the school was under no imminent threat and that the campus was safe. Authorities conducted an investigation of the report on Monday, September 23 and Tuesday, September 24.

 

On Wednesday, September 25, with information verified from the investigation, the school notified parents. School administration held question and answer sessions with parents on September 25 and 26 and continues to be available for our families.

 

The situation is being handled thoroughly in collaboration with Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and multiple agencies and services in Jackson County. We take these matters seriously and will continue to ensure that student safety is not compromised.

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Please continue to contact us with questions at any time.

Sincerely,

Kurt Pusch, Head of School, 720-266-7695

Andrea Chalker, K-8 Principal, 828-421-7121

Lauren Bennett, High School Principal, 828-200-2663

 


SUMMIT HOSTS GRAND OPENING OF HIGH SCHOOL AND SUMMIT CENTER 

SCS Grand Opening 2019

On Thursday, September 26th, Summit Charter School in Cashiers, N.C. hosted the grand opening of its new facilities, including a high school building and the Summit Center, which includes the school's first-ever gym and classrooms for music and art education.
 
The grand opening program included remarks by new Head of School Kurt Pusch, speeches by high school students, and a performance by the middle and high school chorus. Following the program, the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting and guests enjoyed student-led tours of the 6,600 square foot high school and the 18,686 square foot Summit Center. During the 2018-19 school year, Summit welcomed its first ninth grade class and will continue to add a high school grade every year until the inaugural high school class graduates in 2022. 
 
The new high school building includes state-of-the-art classrooms with interactive projectors and a science lab. The building also includes a student lounge, two conference rooms, admin workspace, and offices.   
 
The Summit Center, which in addition to the athletic facilities, houses music & art classrooms, performance capabilities, administrative offices, locker rooms, and a concession stand.   
 
Pictured in Ribbon Cutting Photo 
Summit high school students, Head of School Kurt Pusch, High School Principal Lauren Bennett, the All-Volunteer Construction Committee (John Lehotsky, Ann Betty, Josh Crawford, Wally Seinsheimer, Amy Corcell-not pictured), Capital Campaign Chairman Linda Quick, Neal Conley of Bobbitt Design Build, Cashiers Area Chamber Executive Director Stephanie Edwards and Chamber Board Members Sarah Jennings, Wendy Lupas, Brandy Letson and Mary Lanning. 

SUMMIT CHARTER SCHOOL CHORUS SWEEPS COMPETITION AT CAROWINDS

Chorus Earns First Place Overall and Multiple Accolades in its Second Year

CASHIERS, NC – May 28, 2019 Summit Charter School, a tuition-free K-10 public charter school in the Cashiers-Highlands plateau, traveled to Charlotte on May 18th to compete against 15 schools in the nationwide “Music in the Parks” competition. Summit’s middle school chorus received a Superior rating, took first place in middle school choral, and earned highest choral group overall. Music in the Parks is a nationwide festival featuring performance opportunities for band, orchestra, and choral performers. Each competition features exceptional adjudicator panels sharing their expertise with participants. 

“I am ecstatic for our kids to reach this monumental achievement,” says Jesse Loyd, choral director. “This is only our second year of having a chorus at Summit and our students have blown both the community and their competition away. Music in the Parks provides a phenomenal opportunity for our chorus to experience a world-class stage with renowned judges. And as an added bonus, we rewarded our students with a fun day at Carowinds following their performance.”

Summit’s middle school chorus performed two songs: “The Water is Wide” by Ruth Elaine Schram and “The Drunken Sailor” by Emily Crocker. The award-winning performance at the Charlotte competition concludes an unprecedented season for Summit’s middle school chorus. Prior to sweeping Music in the Parks, the chorus participated in two performances in 2019, including a state competition and a concert at The Bascom in Highlands, North Carolina. Each performance received high accolades and was made possible by a grant from The Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley.

Jesse Loyd concludes, “This is a very proud moment for Summit and myself. It is rewarding to see my students get recognized for their perseverance and dedication to music. I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished this year and hope their success continues to inspire them to pursue a love of music.”

SCS Middle School Chorus

Middle School Chorus, Choral Director Jesse Loyd, Piano Accompanist Tracie Jernigan 

About Summit Charter School

Summit Charter School is a tuition-free K-10 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 learning at summitschool.org.


SUMMIT CHARTER SCHOOL HIRES DIRECTOR FROM NATION’S TOP CHARTER SCHOOL NETWORK

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 summitschool.org.