Summit School demonstrates that education is more than the lessons taught in a classroom.
Summit School in Montreal is paving the way for positive change by providing opportunities for neurodivergent students to flourish, while celebrating their contributions to our communities.
Established in 1963 as a summer camp, the private school now has more than 600 students aged four to 21 — and a mission to support students’ needs and foster the skills and confidence that will help them thrive after graduation.
The Azrieli Foundation and Summit School’s unique partnership is guided by our shared dedication to bringing inclusion to all areas of life. In 2019, the Azrieli Foundation was the first major donor to commit to Summit School’s current capital campaign with a lead donation of $3 million, which inspired other funders to get involved.
The campaign will support the construction of a creative arts centre for neurodivergent youth. The initiative builds on the school’s excellent performing arts programs, which “focus on the exploration of student identity, the fostering of self-confidence and encouraging access to different modes of communication and expression,” says Director of Development Jesse Heffring. “Not only do we see these as foundations of creativity, but as the foundations of selfhood.”
The new building will serve as a hub for the student community and have dedicated spaces for multiple programs, such as music, media production and dance. Construction is slated to begin in summer 2023, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of the school.
The creative arts centre will also provide opportunities for the school’s multidisciplinary research centre, the Summit Center for Education, Research, and Training (SCERT), to investigate and apply therapeutic and educational best practices. Also powered by the Azrieli Foundation, SCERT helps bridge gaps between researchers, educators and people across the spectrum of neurodevelopmental disabilities, with the aim of supporting neurodiverse communities.
To share its findings, SCERT organizes a conference every 18 months. The Conference on Neurodevelopmental Conditions is a place for professionals and community members to connect and learn from one another — and for Summit School students to showcase their academic achievements and artwork. The most recent conference took place in October at McGill University’s New Residence Hall and hosted about 200 guests from across Canada.
With impact extending far beyond the classroom, the Azrieli Foundation is honoured to be a champion of Summit School’s work in furthering inclusion and excellence.