Susan Summers says an award that has her name on it really is an award for all of Homestead High School.
On Nov. 22, the Indiana Association of School Principals honored Summers as the 2019 state assistant principal of the year.
She was surprised and remained in disbelief the following Monday, she said. She said her job as an assistant principal is to make things happen, and she is pleased that everything that’s happening at Homestead is being recognized.
Summers said the award cites two achievements, “the new teacher training program that I helped to develop and dual credit.”
“We created a book for all the new teachers,” she said. “Every single person in this building helped make that book happen — the custodians, the cafeteria staff, the teachers’ aides, the secretaries. As a new assistant principal, you don’t know all the interworkings of the building. So everybody helped make that book.
“Our teachers volunteered their time and their skills and our master teachers came in and helped build them up on skills and subjects that we concentrate on, to help learn Homestead’s culture. Everybody on the admin team helped create those. So when you’re an assistant principal in a school there’s nothing that’s really yours, it’s really ours.”
“The dual credit is the same thing,” Summers said. “We couldn’t do it without teachers. The teachers don’t get any extra pay for teaching collegiate level classes.”
Those classes create more bookkeeping for the teachers meeting dual syllabus requirements, she said.
Due to recent legislation, dual credit teachers must have their master’s or six graduate level courses in those subjects. “We have a lot of dual credit teachers who have gone back to school on their own dime so that Homestead students can continue to have that experience,” she said. She noted that counselors, too, have additional responsibilities.
Summers explained that the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation in 2012 requiring that all public colleges and universities must accept dual credit courses taught on high school campuses. “At first it tended to be business courses, that was the natural transition at first, and it started to grow from there,” she said.
She said the dual credit program has grown from about eight courses eight years ago to 53 courses this year. “We have 52 teachers that are credentialed to be able to teach those courses. So that’s pretty exciting,” she said.
She said a student can have completed all college general education courses upon graduating high school. “The record is we had a student with 59 credits so they started (college) as a junior,” she said.
“And the cool thing for the kids is they can pick up maybe another major, they can graduate early, or they can just take some fun classes they wouldn’t have had opportunity for before.”
“They rise to the challenge,” she said. “That’s kind of a big opportunity when you’re 14, 15 years old, deciding on taking college classes. But with the support of their parents, their counselors, our kids are just grabbing that challenge. We have over 1,000 taking those classes this year so far, so that’s pretty great.”
Summers and her husband, Lowell, also an SACS teacher, graduated from Snider High School. “I graduated from Ball State in 1980 and my first teaching job was in a little country school, South Decatur Jr./Sr. High,” she said.
The couple returned to Fort Wayne and began a family, and Susan left teaching for 13 years. She was hired at Woodside Middle School, where she stayed for 12 years before moving to Homestead where she taught advanced placement economics, advanced placement U.S. history, and world history. She has been an assistant principal for eight years.
She said she and her husband enjoy live music music performances and reading. “We have three great kids,” she said. “They don’t live in town anymore so we travel a lot to visit them.”
Before being named the state’s top assistant principal, Summers was chosen as assistant principal of the year for District 3, which is made up of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.
The state award was presented at a school principals luncheon at the JW Marriott Indianapolis. Southwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Phil Downs and Homestead Principal Park Ginder were on hand for the presentation.
District assistant principals of the year are elected by their peers. One assistant principal is honored from each of the 12 districts.
The IASP serves over 2900 building level administrators in Indiana.