This week, a beautiful pair of bald eagles soared playfully over the Summit parking lot, inspiring staff as they headed off into the afternoon. The birds, graceful and strong, were a symbolic reminder of why the eagle has a special place throughout Summit School.

In addition to being our school mascot, the eagle is the inspiration for our positive behavior program,the EAGLE Plan. The EAGLE Plan (Excellence, Achievement, Goal Setting, Learning and Entering) is a level system that guides students in the self-evaluation of their positive behaviors. As students strive to grow and advance in their individual plans, a soaring eagle serves as the symbol of their achievements.

Equally symbolic at Summit School are an eagle’s feathers. These magnificent birds depend on 7,000 strong, but light, interlocking feathers in their wings to take them to amazing heights. To be successful in their EAGLE Plans, our students came to realize that just as eagles need their feathers, they need their fellow students to reach their goals.

Last year, Summit’s students decided to celebrate the importance of lifting each other up by creating the Eagle Feathers Recognition Program. Within the program, eagle feathers represent the network of support and encouragement with which students try to surround one another every day. As the idea has expanded, Summit counselors and speech language pathologists have incorporated the practice of writing feathers into their social pragmatic groups. As a result, Eagle Feathers provide a simple way for students at any age level to build the social skills that are an important component of their personal growth at Summit.

At any time, students may submit eagle “feathers” to the Principal recognizing the actions of any fellow student. The Principal shares these bits of inspiration school wide and posts the feathers on a student bulletin boards. Both the supportive student and the nominating student are recognized and entered into a drawing to win a special prize. Prizes vary to be meaningful to the winning students and range from lunch with the Principal, snacks and other encouraging winnings to celebrate students coming together to support one another and reach their goals.

As the Eagle Feathers carry meaning beyond when they are first shared, students take them home at the end of each semester as an inspirational reminder. It’s Summit’s hope for its students that they not only share and earn more eagle feathers, but the meaning behind them stays with the students long after they leave Summit School.

Click here to learn more about Summit’s EAGLE Plan.