History

The History of Summit

Today Summit employs a staff of more than 500 and serves more than 1,350 individuals. But it all started with with one woman at her kitchen table.

Our Founder - Nancy Harris

In 1973, Nancy Harris, founder of Summit (originally known as the Language Development Program), was interested in expanding the speech and language skills of her son who was born with a severe hearing loss.

Nancy strongly believed that children with communication disorders could best develop meaningful speech and language during their everyday experiences, and developed a program for four children in the kitchen of her Williamsville home.

Timeline

1973

Nancy Works to Expand Speech

Nancy Harris, mother and teacher, begins working to expand the speech and language skills of her son, Stefan, along with three other preschool students at the kitchen table in her home. Soon, Nancy joins forces with another teacher to provide services to six children with communication challenges and the Language Development Program moves to an office basement on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

1978

LPD Becomes Affiliate of UB

LDP becomes affiliated with University at Buffalo’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences serving as a training center for graduate students.

That summer, with a personal $10,000 loan from Nancy, LDP leases a wing of the Brighton Elementary School in the Town of Tonawanda, a site the agency continued to utilize through 2005.

In the fall of ’78, 84 children are served by a staff of nearly 40 professionals including a school nurse, social workers, psychologists, audiologists, and occupational and physical therapists.

1981

Serving Children Ages 6-10

LDP is approved to serve children ages 6 to 10 with speech-language impairment.

1983

Green Acres Elementary School

The Brighton Elementary School site is fully occupied, and Green Acres Elementary School in Kenmore becomes an additional site for services.

1989

New Offerings

LDP begins offering occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education services to preschool children in homes and childcare centers throughout the community.

1977

LPD of WNY is Approved to Provide Services

Program moves to Trinity United Methodist Church and more children enroll. Program is private pay and costly. Local public school officials suggest that Nancy seek NYS Education Department approval. Later that year, The Language Development Program of Western New York (LDP) is approved to provide special services to preschool children with speech, language, and hearing disabilities. Nancy and six staff members offer afternoon sessions to 25 preschool children who attend at no cost to families for tuition or transportation.

1979

Satellite Location in Lockport

LDP opens satellite in Lockport to serve children in Niagara County. Later, satellites also open in the Frontier and Sweet Home School Districts and in Kenmore.

1980

Developmental Evaluation Center

Developmental Evaluation Center offers multidisciplinary evaluations for children from infancy through age five.

1982

Serving “Multiply handicapped”

LDP is approved by NYS Education Department to serve “multiply handicapped” children.

1987

Numbers Increase

Staff of 172 full-time, part-time and contractual employees serve 375 children from 27 school districts and five Western New York counties.

1973

Nancy Works to Expand Speech

Nancy Harris, mother and teacher, begins working to expand the speech and language skills of her son, Stefan, along with three other preschool students at the kitchen table in her home. Soon, Nancy joins forces with another teacher to provide services to six children with communication challenges and the Language Development Program moves to an office basement on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

1977

LPD of WNY is Approved to Provide Services

Program moves to Trinity United Methodist Church and more children enroll. Program is private pay and costly. Local public school officials suggest that Nancy seek NYS Education Department approval. Later that year, The Language Development Program of Western New York (LDP) is approved to provide special services to preschool children with speech, language, and hearing disabilities. Nancy and six staff members offer afternoon sessions to 25 preschool children who attend at no cost to families for tuition or transportation.

1978

LPD Becomes Affiliate of UB

LDP becomes affiliated with University at Buffalo’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences serving as a training center for graduate students.

That summer, with a personal $10,000 loan from Nancy, LDP leases a wing of the Brighton Elementary School in the Town of Tonawanda, a site the agency continued to utilize through 2005.

In the fall of ’78, 84 children are served by a staff of nearly 40 professionals including a school nurse, social workers, psychologists, audiologists, and occupational and physical therapists.

1979

Satellite Location in Lockport

LDP opens satellite in Lockport to serve children in Niagara County. Later, satellites also open in the Frontier and Sweet Home School Districts and in Kenmore.

1980

Developmental Evaluation Center

Developmental Evaluation Center offers multidisciplinary evaluations for children from infancy through age five.

1981

Serving Children Ages 6-10

LDP is approved to serve children ages 6 to 10 with speech-language impairment.

1982

Serving “Multiply handicapped”

LDP is approved by NYS Education Department to serve “multiply handicapped” children.

1983

Green Acres Elementary School

The Brighton Elementary School site is fully occupied, and Green Acres Elementary School in Kenmore becomes an additional site for services.

1987

Numbers Increase

Staff of 172 full-time, part-time and contractual employees serve 375 children from 27 school districts and five Western New York counties.

1988

Multi-cultural Program

Multi-cultural program established for children with developmental disabilities whose primary language is Spanish.

1989

New Offerings

LDP begins offering occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education services to preschool children in homes and childcare centers throughout the community.

1995

Dr. Stephen R. Anderson named Executive Director

Facing personal health concerns, Nancy Harris retires. After a national search, Dr. Stephen R. Anderson is named Executive Director.

1996

Daycare Opens

On-site daycare facility opens, offering integration opportunities for Summit students.

1997

Early Autism Program Begins

Early Autism Program, unique in Western New York, offers intensive, home-based instruction for preschoolers.

1998

Expansion of Programs

LDP offers service coordination, respite care, and home-based training services to a handful of families. Focus on applied research begins with introduction of “Connections” – a summer treatment program for children with Asperger’s Disorder.

1999

Name Change

LDP changes its name to Summit Educational Resources.

2000

New Vocational Training Program

Summit is approved to serve students through age 21 and establishes Vocational Training Program.

2004

Summit Adventures Begins

Summit offers expanded respite services through Summit Adventures, an on-site after-school program. Formalized use of Augmentative Communication Services begins.

2005

New State-of-the-Art Facility

Summit opens new $7.5 million, state-of-the-art school with administrative offices on Stahl Road in Getzville.

2006

Oishei Grant

Summit receives $660,000 grant from The John R. Oishei Foundation to support research on intensive social interventions for children with autism.

2007

Respite Expands

Respite services expand with addition of evening and weekend programs.

2009

Summit Purchases Creekside Site

Summit purchases and renovates 165 Creekside Drive in Amherst to serve as educational/vocational training site for students ages 16 – 21. The purchase of the building is funded in part by grants from Paddock Chevrolet and The Buffalo Sabres Foundation.

2010

Summer Treatment Program Begins

Summit acquires the Summer Treatment Program (STP) for children with ADHD from the Center for Children and Families at the University at Buffalo. The STP has been named a Model Program in Child and Family Health by the American Psychological Association and SAMHSA.

2012

Opening of Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic

Summit’s Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic opens to offer services for children and adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, and behavioral or emotional challenges related to ADHD or ASD.

2014

First S.T.E.P.S. Location

Summit expands its services for adults with the opening of a day habilitation program, S.T.E.P.S.

2015

Another Name Change!

To better reflect the breadth of programs and services offered, the agency name changes from “Summit Educational Resources” to The Summit Center. Summit also opens a Pediatric Feeding Clinic, offering an outpatient program providing assessment and behavioral treatment for childhood (birth – 12 years) feeding problems.

2016

Safeguard Protective Apparel

As a means of diversifying its revenue streams, Summit launches its first for-profit venture, SafeGuard Protective Apparel.

2018

Building Hope Capital Campaign

Summit announces $3.7M “Building Hope” Capital Campaign to fund construction of an intensive treatment unit for children with autism as well as additional classrooms, new clinic space  and conference space.

2019

Where We Are Now

With a staff of nearly 500 employees, Summit serves more than 1,350 children and young adults each year through our four divisions: Early Intervention & Education, Adult, Community, and Behavioral Health services.