Lower School

Summit has earned an outstanding reputation in the field of special education by providing a flexible holistic approach. We focus on the academic, social, emotional, and prevocational development of each child.


Academic Transcendence

What distinguishes Summit from other schools is its combination of rigorous academics and therapeutic support. Our interdisciplinary team of Teachers, Social Workers, Speech Pathologists, and Occupational Therapists address the needs of each student.


Getting 5% Better

Measurable Success

Watch Lower School Teacher, Matt Foley, talk about how Summit creates the structure for success, with the opportunity to improvise.


Hear what our students think…

Summit’s Lower School academic curriculum meets the NYS learning standards and core curriculum requirements. Students engage in academic studies, furthering their reading and writing development, while building on their basic understandings of mathematics, social studies, science, and the world around them through practical, engaging, and hands-on activities.

A multidisciplinary approach is used by our teachers to immerse students in their studies throughout every aspect of the school day. Additional subjects include art, music, technology, second language instruction, health, and physical education, as well as student activities and an after-school program.


A Collaborative Team Approach

Related services are an integral part of The Summit School’s philosophy of providing a collaborative, team-oriented approach towards a student’s overall development. Our service providers work closely with classroom teachers to ensure each student’s success. The Summit School offers Counseling, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Services.


At Summit, school-based counseling is provided by our licensed clinicians during individual and small group sessions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques, frustration and stress management, social skills instruction, and self-esteem enhancement are among the methods used. Students learn specific strategies to help them sustain appropriate student behavior, develop and use positive coping strategies, successfully problem solve, and establish and maintain appropriate peer relationships. Developing time management, study, and organizational skills are also a focus of counseling. Clinicians work collaboratively with all members of the school community, parents, and outside service providers to help students participate to their fullest potential.

Occupational Therapy

Working closely with classroom teachers, Summit’s occupational therapists address areas that may interfere with a student’s educational performance. These include fine and gross motor skills, oral motor function, visual motor and perceptual abilities, sensory awareness and processing, self-care, and prevocational requisites. A variety of intervention strategies are implemented. Handwriting support and the use of assistive technology are also a major focus of the occupational therapy program. Students are seen for individual and small group sessions depending on their related services mandates.

Speech & Language Services

Speech/Language Pathologists work closely with teachers to help students manage the language demands of the curriculum. Weekly pragmatic language classes at the Lower School and social skills modules at the Upper School enhance essential social communication abilities.

The major goals of the speech and language department are to:
• Improve receptive and expressive language skills necessary for academic success in both oral and written modalities
• Facilitate pragmatic language skills for social/emotional growth and development
• Effectively partner with school staff and families to ensure generalization of skills and strategies

Students are seen for individual and small group sessions, depending on their service mandates. All clinicians are licensed by New York State and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


    The primary focus of Summit’s reading program at the Lower School is to develop competent readers who are able to obtain and analyze information from written language as well as to develop in each child a desire to read for enjoyment as well as information. Students are exposed to a variety of texts and formats throughout their years in the program. In grades 3-8, students participate annually in the NYS ELA assessment.

    Elementary School: Our elementary reading curriculum provides students with instruction in decoding, comprehension, and vocabulary skills. Reading skills and strategies are taught in formats such as shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, and interactive word study. Students use both developmental reading texts and children’s literature. Author studies, book reports, and multimedia projects enhance the curriculum.

    Middle School: Summit’s middle school reading curriculum continues skill development and extends information and literary knowledge. There is an emphasis on vocabulary and comprehension skills. Students in grades 6-8 participate in individual, small group, and whole-class reading experiences, and share their thoughts and interpretations through class discussion and written assignments. Students use self-selected materials as well as those selected by the classroom teacher. Reading selections are drawn from literature anthologies, novels, magazines, electronic media, and newspapers. Book reports and digital media presentations are used to enhance instruction.


    The primary focus of Summit’s language arts program in the Lower School is to improve oral and written communication skills. Students learn to write sentences, paragraphs, and essays through the use of specific strategies. This step-by-step approach is success oriented and creates confident and creative writers. Our approach is interdisciplinary and is supported by our related service providers. Technology is used to facilitate the writing process.

    Elementary School: While teaching sentence and paragraph writing strategies, our program also incorporates grammar, vocabulary, and structural analysis. Students write for a variety of purposes including journals, friendly letters, and personal narratives. Graphic organizers are used for brainstorming and organizing, and a proofreading strategy is used for editing. A writing portfolio tracks each student’s progress.

    Middle School: Graphic organizers are used to develop and expand students’ writing. Students are encouraged to expand their writing through the use of descriptive modifiers and various sentence types. Additionally, a proofreading strategy is used for editing throughout the writing process. The curriculum incorporates grammar, vocabulary, and research skills. Students write for a variety of purposes including journal writing, business letters, and descriptive multi paragraph essays. A writing portfolio is kept to track each student’s progress.

  • MATH

    Summit’s Lower School mathematics program is aligned to the NYS learning standards and core curriculum. Our program focuses on the development of concepts and proficiency of math skills through the integrated study of number sense and operations, measurement, algebra, geometry, and statistics and probability.

    In addition to the development of basic skills, students learn to communicate and reason mathematically and to become effective problem solvers by using appropriate strategies and tools effectively.

    Students in grades 3-8 participate annually in the NYS Mathematics assessment. These tests are designed to measure conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and problem solving.

    Elementary School: The primary focus of our elementary program is to help students build a solid foundation in mathematics. Students are grouped according to skill level. Small-group instruction allows teachers to accommodate each student’s individual learning styles. The use of manipulatives enables children to enjoy a hands-on approach to learning. Computer software is also used to facilitate the acquisition of basic math skills.

    Middle School: The middle school program is designed to help students deepen their understanding of mathematics using a hands-on and spiraling approach. Real-life applications and collaborative learning experiences put mathematics in a meaningful context. Problem solving and pre-algebra skills are the main focus of our curriculum in preparation for high school level mathematics.


    The Summit School’s science programs in the Lower School are aligned to the NYS learning standards and core curriculum. Our programs focus on the mastery of science concepts through the development of science process skills, critical thinking skills, and informed decision-making skills.

    A hands-on and inquiry based approach is used in our elementary and middle school programs. Laboratory experiences are an integral component of each program. These activities are designed to enhance student performance and science communication skills. Students learn to use appropriate scientific language and to demonstrate understanding of science concepts and procedures.

    Students in grades 4 and 8 participate in the NYS Science Testing program.

    Elementary School: Science instruction in grades 3-5 uses a theme-based and interdisciplinary approach. A variety of topics are explored from the life, earth, and physical sciences. Field trips extend learning beyond the classroom.

    Middle School: Science in grades 6-8 uses an integrated instructional approach. Course work involves a greater mastery of topics related to the life, earth, and physical sciences. Laboratory experiences are more complex in nature. Accelerated students may have the opportunity to complete a Regents-level science course in grade 8.


    Summit’s Lower School social studies program helps students understand their role and place in our global community through the study of history, geography, government, civics, and current events. Our social studies teachers incorporate art, reading, writing, and field trips for further exploration.

    Elementary School: Our program is designed to provide understanding of historic, social, geographic, economic, and political elements of communities. Students learn to gather, use and present information, participate in collaborative groups, and consider different points of view and interpretations of events. Students are introduced to the use of primary source documents (photos, editorial cartoons, charts, and graphs, etc.) with the goal of acquiring the skills needed to construct meaning and understanding.

    Middle School: The 6th grade social studies curriculum emphasizes the Eastern Hemisphere, providing students with a basic understanding of the geographic, social, economic, and political elements. In grades 7 and 8, the program focuses on American history. It begins with understanding how Colonial America was a fusion of cultural elements of the New and Old Worlds, and culminates with a consideration of recent events and concerns in our country. Civic values reflected in the U.S. and New York State Constitutions, as well as rights and responsibilities of citizens are explored. Skills introduced in the primary grades are further developed.


    Students in grades 7 and 8 complete coursework in introductory Spanish unless exempt by the CSE. The purpose of this introductory Spanish course is to provide our students with exposure to the communication and cultural standards as outlined in the NYS Learning Standards for Languages Other Than English. Students gain familiarity with reading, listening, speaking, and writing.


    The Summit School recognizes the role information technology plays as a valuable tool in supporting our educational program. Our vision is to create a learning environment in which all learners are technologically literate and have the necessary skills to successfully achieve their personal, educational, and workplace goals.

    Every classroom at the Lower School is equipped with a SMART Board and an audio amplification system to enhance instruction. Students have access to mobile computing labs that provide flexible and convenient access to technology. Digital Citizenship is an integral component of our instructional technology program.

    Our instructional technology program uses both an integrated and direct instructional approach. Students learn to use a variety of productivity, multimedia, and Internet applications in order to produce products that reflect authentic learning experiences. Project-based learning gives our students the opportunity to:
    •  Develop oral, written, and online communication skills
    •  Work collaboratively with others
    •  Develop critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills
    •  Prepare for life beyond the classroom

    The Summit School’s instructional technology program continues to evolve in order to keep pace with the rapid rate at which new technologies emerge.



    Learning about the visual arts gives Summit’s Lower School students an opportunity to see the world around them. Through art, our students learn about their own history and culture, as well as those of other people. Art also promotes self-expression, imagination, creativity, and visual communication of ideas. Working together on projects teaches students tolerance and cooperation in order to achieve a goal. Finally, creating art can help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and improve self-esteem.

    Summit’s Lower School art program teaches students about color theory, art and design techniques, artists and art history, art from other cultures, interdisciplinary art, architecture, as well as three-dimensional forms. Our students also learn different techniques and use a variety of materials to create their works of art. Lessons encourage students to express their originality and point of view. Projects have included monochromatic paintings, 3-D building designs, recreating famous paintings, creating masks, and collaborative group murals and projects.


    Summit’s music education and band program are an important component of our arts curriculum at the Lower School. We firmly believe that music instruction helps our students to foster self-expression, understand music as a universal language, communicate with others through music, connect music with other disciplines, as well as to make social, cultural, and historical connections through music study.

    Our band program originates from Paul Effman Music, which provides instruments, in-school music instruction, and program leadership. Parents work directly with the music service to arrange for instrument rentals and lessons. Groups are formed based on instrument and skill level. Instruction is provided on a weekly basis.

    Participation in this program offers our young musicians a variety of listening, participatory, and responsive opportunities. Parents are invited to winter and spring concerts.


    Physical Education & Health Programs

    Good sportsmanship is a key component in both the elementary and middle school physical education curriculum. Participation in physical education activities encourages our students to maintain lifelong fitness as well as general good health.

    Elementary School: The goal of the physical education program is to develop gross motor skills. Students participate in cooperative games using basic movement skills, such as running and jumping. With the competitive element removed, students work on achieving their “personal best.”  Their enhanced self-confidence and physical skill competency facilitates participation in team-oriented activities.

    Middle School: Our theme-based middle school physical education curriculum introduces a new team sport each month. Emphasis is placed on developing basic athletic motor skills and team participation.

    Middle school students complete coursework in health education, which includes understanding human growth, development, and sexuality, learning to make healthy decisions and develop a healthy lifestyle, as well as identifying personal and community health resources.


    The primary goal of Summit’s organizational skills program is to help students become
    independent learners.

    Our organizational strategies include:
    • Schoolwide binder system ensures consistency throughout our elementary, middle, and high school programs
    • Daily homework sheets enable students to independently record current assignments
    • Monthly calendars provide visual reminders for long-term projects
    • Use of Learning Style Inventory (LSI) assesses individual learning styles
    • Behavior Motivation Program: students practice appropriate behavior to be successful in school, work, and life
    • Time management
    • Study skills


    Science Trips

    Motto of Summit’s science program:
    I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
    —Ancient Chinese Proverb

    Summit’s Lower School science trips extend learning beyond the classroom with school-day, extended day, and multi day experiences. Direct experience can be a better teacher than books. It helps our students learn things in a more accessible and enduring manner. Going to a new place to see, touch, smell, hear, and, even taste, provides an excellent way to learn new information that has real-life meaning.

    Children’s minds are filled with awe and wonder about the world around them. We foster the inquisitive nature of our students by providing multi-sensory experiences through a hands-on and inquiry-based approach to learning.

    Multi day field trips have included NASA Space Camp, Sea World, The Franklin Institute Science Museum, the Liberty Science Center, and environmental centers.

    Student Activities

    At Summit’s Lower School, students can always find something to do to develop and strengthen their skills and talents, or just to have fun.

    Basketball Teams: Summit’s basketball teams welcome students of all skill levels. Practices focus on court fundamentals, offensive and defensive strategies, and competitive play. Players learn good sportsmanship and a dedication to team success, while improving self-confidence and engaging in cooperative play. All players receive uniforms in the beginning of the season and individual trophies during a ceremony/ pizza party at the end of the season. Go Team, Go!

    Friday Clubs: Friday Club Time is a part of Summit’s school wide motivation program. Students register for a preferred club and earn points during the week to attend. The choice of clubs varies each school year but typically includes: basketball, indoor sports, computers, art, board games, Legos, and movies. Our students enjoy participating in a fun activity where they can make new friends and can pursue a personal interest or talent.

    Student Council: The goal of the Lower School Student Council is to help students learn leadership skills to improve both the school and the community at large. An annual election is held and members meet regularly throughout the school year. Some projects have included implementing a recycling program, raising money for a charity, and organizing social events for students.

Interested in applying?

The Summit School serves children sponsored by local school districts in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Westchester County. Summit admits special needs children from third grade through high school. To begin the process of applying for enrollment, please click on the button below to learn more about the admission process and to download our application packet.