Two days after he started fourth grade at The Summit School, Keller Evans sat at the kitchen counter at home and cried.
His mom, Christine, immediately asked him what was wrong.
He didn’t know.
She believes her son was so frustrated after struggling with reading for so long that he just had to let all his feelings out.
Now in eighth grade, Keller has flourished at the not-for-profit school, which educates students in first through eighth grade who have language-based learning difficulties.
“It was an automatic, immediate and amazing change,” Evans said.
The Summit School, which opened in 1989 and moved to its current Edgewater campus 21 years ago, is known for its tailored approach to learning. The school’s students are bright, but disabilities such as dyslexia affect the way they learn.
“Without Summit, I will tell you without a doubt, my child would have been one of those children who would have fallen through the cracks,” said Pauline Pickering-Wade, whose son Marcus is now a sophomore at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney.
“The kid is smart as a whip, he just needed someone to connect the dots,” she said of her son, who has dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Parents like Evans and Pickering-Wade are cheering a project that will give their beloved school a makeover.
ABC2’s Built Upon A Dream project will give The Summit School audio and lighting upgrades to the auditorium, a new roof on the school house, landscaping upgrades and other improvements.
Summit School executive director Dr. Joan Mele-McCarthy said the improvements to the auditorium, which doubles as a gymnasium, will show off students’ performing arts abilities. Right now, the acoustics leave a lot to be desired, a comment seconded by Evans.
“It can be tricky,” she said.
Pickering-Wade called the Anne Arundel campus “beautiful and harmonious,” but said it could use some updates.
“It’s a great environment,” she said. “But this gives them the opportunity to channel these resources and stay current.”
Erin Horst, whose son Griffin is in second grade at The Summit School, is also familiar with the auditorium’s shortcomings. Griffin, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in kindergarten, loves to dance and perform.
Being on that stage gives young students so much confidence, Horst said, and she’s looking forward to an auditorium that can better showcase their talents.
“I always try to go as early as possible so I can get a seat in the front and be able to see and hear,” she said.