About . . .


Welcome to the 5/6 classroom at Summers-Knoll! Here’s a little bit about our classroom and how we approach each subject. There’s a common theme though: toolboxes! What tools does each discipline give you to explore your world? By the end of 5/6, you should be well-equipped with the tools of a writer, a mathematician, a historian, and a scientist–as well as the tools specialists teachers will teach you in art and music.

How does a poet look at a tree? Is it any different from the way a scientist might look at the same tree? Would they ask the same questions? What about a painter or a mathematician or a woodworker or a chef? Throughout this year, we will think about how the subjects we study are really just different ways of looking at the world, and how the ways they look at the world can be defined by the tools they use to study it.


In 5/6, we study world history. During our fall semester, “Renaissance and Revolution”, we will look at the way civilizations and nations have evolved, and students will do an in-depth project on a “revolution in thought”.

As we study history, an important question to keep in mind is this: whose history are we studying? If history is a story, can you tell that story in different ways? Is the same story from a different point of view even the same story anymore? What happens when there are multiple stories about the same event?


Scientific tools give us the power to explore our world in a whole different way. We will study concepts in science while practicing observation and questioning skills and learning to design our own experiments. Our fall semester will focus on classification, biodiversity, and evolution, all themes we will explore at least partly in the context of Michigan wildlife and ecosystems.

We start off science this year very close to home, with a unit about the bass that lives in our school. Students will be the scientists who guide our study of this local creature, the economists who discern how important it is to Michigan’s welfare, the architects who design it a home.


The tools of a writer are powerful and necessary no matter which subject you want to specialize in. We practice brainstorming, questioning, making connections, and communicating ideas both through fictional themes and nonfiction thesis statements. We explore a wide variety of genres including nonfiction, poetry, historical fiction, and many more. Students keep a writing journal and mine it for ideas when it comes time to write a final draft of something.


Students continue with the Singapore math program and are placed in the math class that best first their current level of study. Our math class will mix teacher-directed lessons with student-directed work, hands-on exploration with textbook and workbook skills practice, and timed exercises designed to help students get comfortable with review material. Math is also integrated into many other projects and lessons.


Wendy Lawrence is super excited to get back into the classroom. Before taking time off to work on her writing and be a full-time mom, Wendy worked at Eastside Prep in Kirkland, Washington, where she was a Middle School Head, in addition to teaching science and history, working on all subjects as the Dean of Curriculum, and being a part of their founding faculty. They started the school in the first floor of an office park with 16 students and when she left 6 years later, they had over 200 students and multiple buildings! Developing curriculum and hanging out with middle schoolers was always her favorite part of that job, so starting all over again is a dream come true!

In addition, Wendy has served on several Ann Arbor nonprofit boards, and volunteered her time all over the place. She developed curriculum in Lesotho in southern Africa during a stint in the Peace Corps, taught elementary school in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts, and served as a volunteer fire fighter. She earned an M.ED. in Elementary Education from Boston College and a B.A. with high honors in Biology and Economics from Swarthmore College.

Lisa Johnson

As a kid, Lisa’s fascination with biology was obvious–she had an ever-growing menagerie of slugs, roly pollies, and other “pets” that her friends referred to as “Lisa’s Zoo”. She’s worked as a veterinary assistant and as postdoc at UCSD before settling into a role as a Research Specialist at the University of Michigan Medical School in the department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, where her husband Scott is a tenured professor.

Lisa’s relationship with Summers-Knoll began when her daughter became an SK student in 2013. “My own early interests in science were nurtured in elementary school by a particularly inspiring 5th grade teacher who started an aquarium club in my school that we called “Fish Lab”. Mindful of the activities that had so inspired me as a young girl, I wanted to pass some of these experiences on to my daughter and her friends.” Lisa started Fish Lab at SK which was an immediate success and soon found herself shifting from her role in the research laboratory to a new role in a classroom laboratory as SK’s science teacher. She’s excited to expand her teaching role this year in the 5/6 classroom.

Lisa Johnson has a PhD in Biology, focusing on developmental neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, as well as a B.S. in Microbiology with a minor in Biochemistry from Colorado State University.