News from the Superintendent

Greetings Summit Hill School District families,
The reality is setting in that we have completed the school year and students and staff have taken off for the summer. Where does the time go? How can it be that our kids are now a year older, heading into the next grade, or maybe even the next school? As I reflected on a year of in-person schooling, so many ideas come rushing into my mind, but I keep coming back to the idea that we did this together. Our families, our students, our staff, our community…all coming together to support the learning of our young people. It was a total team effort to make it through the school year and here we are, on the other side of it, still together. The theme of this past year was to “Flourish, together.” Seldom do we flourish alone, it takes others, a community of people to help us, support us, and allow for the right environment to grow to our full potential. This is what we desire for our schools, a place where students and staff come together to talk about learning…to stretch one another, to pass on knowledge, to help one another flourish.
Looking ahead to next year, and building on the momentum created this year, we will begin to “Think Big…” We asked everyone who works at Summit Hill School District 161 this same question, if you were going to think big about next year, about your own development and growth, about your future students…what would you think big about? The responses were amazing, and will become a part of how we approach next year for our students. I would ask the same of you. When you think big about next year…what would you want for your children, your school, and your District? This starts some really interesting conversations about how to move our whole District forward. How exciting!
Have a wonderful summer, one filled with happiness, joy, and peace.
Dr. Paul McDermott
Your Superintendent
PS. Please watch your mailboxes, as the inaugural Engage161 Community Newsletter will be mailed out soon. Just another way for us to connect

May 2022
Greetings Summit Hill 161 Families,
As we began this week, turning the calendar to May brought about a degree of both relief and surprise. How could it already be May…with graduation and the end of the school year so near? With that being said, we have remained open for in-person learning throughout the school year, and students are growing, staff is facilitating a top-notch education for our students, and we have re-opened for all of our end-of the-year activities. This is the perfect time to come to school, watch a performance, or a match, and reconnect with the school District serving our students and their families.
And…what an amazing school year we’ve had. Kudos to our students and staff for our State-qualifying/sports and activities like baseball, basketball, volleyball, cheer, scholastic bowl, bowling, chess and more!!! Thank you also for your patience as we took some time to re-learn what it looks like to be in school full-time, for building the stamina to apply ourselves to learning for an extended period of time, and for treating each other with trust, compassion, and kindness. In the end, all the knowledge in the world is useless if we don’t understand how to use to help one another.
Along these same lines, our theme for this school year was “Flourish.” As we investigated this theme, we found that it’s incredibly hard for people to flourish alone. People were built for community and if the school system provides this kind of healthy, stimulating, relevant environment for students and staff, we could maximize growth…leading each of us to Flourish. It has definitely been a successful year…and as we look to next year, we are starting to “think big.” Additional details about how we intend to do this will be coming soon…and we could use your help when the time comes…so please be ready to jump in!
The inaugural Engage161 Newsletter will be arriving to homes and businesses throughout our community soon. This bi-annual newsletter will offer a review of the school year each spring, and a look at the year ahead each fall. We think it’s vitally important to share information about our school District with everyone in our community, so stay tuned.
Once again, congratulations again to our students for a year well done. Thank you to our staff for their amazing work, and thank you to our families for helping this be a wonderful place to learn for all. Enjoy the summer…as we busily prepare for another year of extraordinary learning in Summit Hill School District 161!

Your Superintendent

Dear Summit Hill School District 161 Students, Staff, and Families,
I am so excited to be joining the SHSD161 team as Superintendent and enthusiastically look forward to partnering with you to make the upcoming school year a refreshing and positive experience for our entire school community. While my position officially began on July 1, I have frequented the District to visit each school, meet people, listen, learn, and begin to develop the relationships necessary for us to carry out our important work.
As I reflect on my initial interactions across the District, thank you for the warm welcome and for your trust, confidence, and partnership as we ensure that school is a place for every child, where they are known, and where they can learn and grow. The preK-8th grade years help shape our students into the adults they will become, so our work caries significant importance for our students, their families, and for the health of our entire community. The learner experience should be rigorous, supported, and enjoyable; demonstrating cooperation, collaboration and wisdom in how we approach our learners so they can safely and appropriately flourish.
It is also important that we acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of our teachers and staff, ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to carry out their work inside our classrooms and in our schools as they facilitate a relevant, student-centered learning experience. Listening and responding to our team members is critically important and helps provide ownership and voice to the kind of school system so desperately needed in today’s ever-changing world. When we all work together, our student’s learning is accelerated and everyone wins!
I look forward to meeting you and becoming a part of this amazing team. Thank you again!
Dr. Paul J. McDermott
Your Superintendent