Kelly Cunningham, Rebecca Ellis, Tina Geygan, Jasmine Rengh and Amy Smialek have been named directors, respectively, of Summit Academy Community School – Painesville, Summit Academy – Youngstown, Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus, Summit Academy Community School for Alternative Learners – Lorain and Summit Academy School – Lorain. The newly installed directors collectively expressed their delight and enthusiasm for a 2022-2023 school year rich with opportunities for students, families and staff members.
Summit Academy Community School – Painesville
Summit Academy Community School – Painesville’s new director, Kelly Cunningham, has dedicated the past three years serving Summit Academy Community School – Painesville students as a therapeutic martial arts instructor, third- and fourth-grade teacher and Title 1 teacher. In her most recent position as dean of students for the 2021-2022 school year, Cunningham worked in collaboration with the school’s past principal on day-to-day operations, staffing and meeting students’ and families’ needs.
Among her many duties as dean of students, Cunningham was responsible for providing staff professional development, coaching with accountability to the school’s regional ODE State Support Team and serving as a community resource coordinator. Cunningham’s multifaceted role provided her with a wide range of experiences she anticipates will serve her well in her new post. Likewise, with her extensive martial arts background, which includes 13 years of training and teaching at Karate Institute of Mentor and first- second- and third-degree black belts, Sensei Cunningham brings abundant attributes as a leader.
“The discipline, leadership, community engagement and customer service learned through martial arts are all complementary skills to my current position,” Cunningham says.
With a focus on increasing learning through students’ personal professional growth and ownership of their learning, Cunningham says she is ready to hit the ground running. She intends for her school community to maintain social and emotional learning through PBIS and the Zones of Regulation curriculum. In addition, Cunningham plans to increase her school’s enrollment, which is currently at 36, mentor her staff as highly effective educators and strengthen the school’s community ties. She also looks forward to nurturing students’ individual progress as they participate in daily learning and additional opportunities such as math tutoring from Lake Erie College.
Prior to joining Summit Academy in 2019, Cunningham served as a primary teacher for Lakeshore Intergenerational School in Cleveland. Earlier, she worked as a Title 1 teacher at Collinwood Village Academy in Collinwood, as a toddler lead teacher for Kiddie City Child Care in Euclid and as a kindergarten/first-grade teacher at Hope Academy Chapelside in Cleveland. In addition, she has served as a martial arts instructor at Karate Institute in Mentor for the past 12 years. Cunningham earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Kent State University, K-12 Reading Endorsement from Notre Dame College in South Euclid and Master of Education in Curriculum and Development from Lake Erie College.
In her free time, Cunningham enjoys long-distance walking, power yoga and waterside mediation.
Summit Academy – Youngstown
While Summit Academy – Youngstown Director Rebecca Ellis has served as the interim director for Summit Academy – Youngstown for the past year, her career at Summit has spanned more than a decade, beginning as a teacher at Summit Academy Community School – Warren in 2009.
“My entire career as an educator has been with Summit Academy,” Ellis explains, adding that after teaching at Warren Elementary for a few years, she became the IEP coordinator at Safehouse Residential, one of Summit Academy’s previous CRCs. Ellis then advanced to the position of program manager at Belmont Pines Residential and eventually transitioned as the program manager for Safehouse, Youth Intensive Services and Village Network Salem, in addition to Belmont Pines. She also served as a co-principal for a year at Summit Academy Secondary School – Youngstown before returning to the CRCs full time.
Ellis says the most rewarding aspect of serving as a Summit Academy school director is the opportunity to build successful relationships with students and staff. “I am given an opportunity every day to see not only the students grow, but the staff grow as a team as well,” she says.
In 2022-2023, Ellis says her students and staff can look forward to the implementation of Responsive Classroom. She explains that the Responsive Classroom program will allow Summit Academy – Youngstown to build a positive community throughout the school.
When asked for her perspective as a member of the Summit Academy family, Ellis did not hesitate with a reply.
“Each year that I am at Summit, I become more amazed by the dedication the Summit staff has for our students and making our school the best it can be while treating all students like family,” she says.
Ellis earned her Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Youngstown State University and Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Phoenix University.
Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus
Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus welcomes Tina Geygan as its new director. Geygan says she was drawn to Summit Academy for its fine reputation.
“Parents have said nothing but positive things,” says Geygan, noting that her professional goal to serve a school that works as a family matches the ethos she shares with Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus.
Most recently, Geygan served as the director of programming and operations for MY Project USA – Columbia, Ohio, a national initiative to protect and empower underserved youth and families. At the local level Geygan assumed a multitude of responsibilities for the organization, from directing human relations activities to overseeing project-based learning to managing meetings with government officials. Concurrently, she worked as a provider of operations for DODD/MRDD in Columbus, providing services to children and adults with special needs, as well as organizational leadership and teacher training.
Among her previous positions, Geygan was the Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) coordinator for charter schools in central Ohio as well as a professional provider and billing agent for independent providers for the State of Ohio, DODD and MRDD. Prior, she served as the dean of students and earlier as a K-8 language arts and social studies teacher for Columbus Charter Schools.
Geygan says her school community can look forward to a new year focused on students reaching their education goals and building foundations for their futures, as well as successful parental and staff communication. As the sister and caretaker of a brother with special needs, Geygan says values the opportunity to extend her experiences and service to her new Summit Academy family.
“I’m very family oriented and excited to build longevity at Summit Academy, working with students, families and staff,” she says.
Geyan is currently working toward a Doctor of Education in Organizational Management, Diverse Culture and Educational Leadership from Northcentral University, California City, Calif. She earned her Master of Arts in Psychology from NCU – San Diego and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in Sociology and Specialization in Early Childhood Education from Ashford University, Clinton, Iowa.
Summit Academy Community School for Alternative Learners – Lorain
Jasmine Rengh joins Summit Academy Community School for Alternative Learners – Lorain from Garfield Heights City Schools where she has served for the past three years. She brings a rich blend of experiences to her post, from implementing intervention groups for reading and math to creating formative and summative assessments that align with the Common Core State Standards, among many others.
Most recently, Rengh was the Kinderbound Program principal for William Foster Elementary School in Garfield Heights. She also taught second and third grades for a combined three years at William Foster Elementary. There, she also served as a PBIS committee member and math advocate. Prior to joining Garfield Heights City Schools, Rengh was a first- and second-grade teacher at Imagine Bella Academy in Cleveland.
Rengh says she is excited to get to know her school students, families and staff members. “Students and staff can look forward to a positive and new perspective in the school year,” Rengh says. “My hopes for the coming school year are simple; I want our students to enjoy learning, and I want our teachers to love teaching. I hope that our students feel engaged and challenged while in the classroom and can take that knowledge and apply it in their home lives.”
Rengh, who was attracted to Summit Academy’s smaller-size classrooms, is a two-time graduate of Baldwin-Wallace University. Rengh earned both her Master of Arts in Education in School Leadership and Bachelor of Arts in Education at BW, in Berea.
Summit Academy School – Lorain
After serving as interim director of Summit Academy School – Lorain for the past year, Amy Smialek was promoted as the school’s director. She brings 17 years of academic experience to her role.
Smialek’s career in education began in 2004 at Magnificat High School in Rocky River where she served as an English teacher for nine years and as the director of theatre for seven years. She later joined Lorain County Community College as an adjunct English instructor as well as Seeley Test Pros as a writing, language arts and trained ACT, SAT and HSPT tutor and teacher. Smialek has served Summit Academy School – Lorain since 2017 as a literacy coach and administrator. Among her many achievements, Smialek researched, collected and analyzed data to develop the school’s first literacy needs assessment and its first schoolwide literacy plan.
A lifelong learner, Smialek says she is passionate about instilling a love for education in her students.
“Being in school is where I am meant to be. I love the joy that children bring to adults. I love being there for kids; showing them all the different possibilities they could experience in their futures,” Smialek says. “I want them to do well and to make the right choices for their lives.”
Smialek says she plans to carry last year’s school theme of kindness into the new school year. She wants to ensure her entire staff embodies a state of happiness, well-being and respect, which she anticipates will create a domino effect that impacts students in the same vein.
“We want to make sure we are addressing every student in a positive and encouraging way,” she says.
Smialek earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Baldwin-Wallace College, where she also received her licensure and certification for Ohio Education – Young Adult Integrated Literature and Language Arts. Smialek earned a Master of Arts in English – Literary Analysis and Theory with Scholarly Writing and Presenting from Cleveland State University, where she is currently completing coursework toward Educational Leadership and a principal license.