In The Classroom: Knowing, growing and unicorns at Summit Middle  

Today we are IN THE CLASSROOM at Summit Middle School with sixth grade language arts teacher Ashley Smith. 

Mrs. Smith has been teaching at Summit middle for 18 years – and collecting orphaned unicorns almost as long. 

“I have a chair stuffed with stuffed unicorns that kids have donated over the years,” Mrs. Smith tells Krystal 93. “It’s a family. We’ve named all the unicorns.” 

Does she have a favorite? 

“We’re starting to forget, there are so many,” she laughs.  

But you can’t miss the unicorns in Mrs. Smith’s class. They make it a comfy and welcoming place to learn, and that is just what sixth graders need. 

“They are hilarious. They are ridiculous,” she says. “It’s really cool watching them find themselves and learn and grow.” 

Her students today are two weeks out from summer break and wrapping up their final unit, called “Know and Grow.” 

“They’re teaching the class something they love,” she says. “It can be a hobby, something they do in their free time, and they’re telling the class the benefit. Pretty much anything and everything goes. Whatever it is they’re passionate about, we want to foster that.”  

The unit goes for two weeks. After learning what their classmates love, other students are encouraged to try it at home. 

“How to care for a rescue dog, how to braid hair, how to make a friendship bracelet, how to do a rainbow kick and soccer,” she says. “We’re probably going to have rodents behind my desk for the next two weeks with kids like how to take our hamster. 

By summer break, her sixth graders have gone from quiet kids in a big, new school, to confident learners with lockers, new friends, and more independence than ever. 

But she knows being a middle schooler is tough, no matter what grade you’re in. 

“To a middle school kid, something with their friends or something that happened in school is a big deal,” Mrs. Smith says, and she encourages parents to remember what it’s like to be that age. “So just really validating and listening to kids. I think that really goes a long way.” 

Some days, that means getting goofy with a unicorn. 

“Just have some fun with them,” she says. “They’re really funny.” 

IN THE CLASSROOM is proudly presented by Heavenly Times Hot tubs and Billiards and The Summit Foundation Bright Futures Fund.