History of Summa Academy | Downtown Portland Independent School

History of Summa Academy

In 2013 Summa Academy opened its doors in downtown Portland. This school is the culmination of over 30 years of work in the fields of Holistic Education, human development, experiential learning, family systems, and professional development. It began as a conversation in the Rose Garden of Washington Park. Four colleagues who had worked together for over 15 years were exploring what the ultimate expression of Natural Learning Relationships could look like. The driving question: What would truly change this world for the better?

Summa Academy is a program of Summa Institute

Summa Institute was founded in 1985 by Josette Luvmour PhD, and Ba Luvmour MA to promote positive, healthy development in children and adults. Since its founding, it has brought awareness of child development to thousands of parents and teachers through programs for children, families, and schools.

1985—Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Josette and Ba Luvmour founded EnCompass – The Center for Natural Learning Relationships in order to increase curriculum options for homeschoolers and students challenged in traditional education, and to bring awareness of child development to parents and teachers.

1991 – Combined Natural Learning Relationships insights with challenge course and outdoor education elements to pioneer the field of whole family experiential learning. The first program offered was called Family Camp. The initial camp was a huge success, with two week-long Family Camps filled to capacity every summer for the subsequent 12 years.

1993—Through the generosity of a few involved individuals, we took title to an undeveloped 122-acre parcel of rural land on the outskirts of Nevada City, California.

2000—More than four million dollars were raised. The Conference Center was built in the spring and a School opened to students in the fall. We served thousands of people through our seminars, workshops, family programs, challenge courses, child and teen adventures, school, and conferences.

2003—With brighter prospects ahead and the desire to continue the decades of research and education already set forth, we chose to relocate to the forward-thinking community of Portland, Oregon. The combination of affordable housing, an appealing demographic to engage educators, and a great quality of life made practical and professional sense.

2010—After taking the time to truly learn about the community and engage with partners, families, and teachers in meaningful ways, it was time to re-strategize the business model into the vision you see now, the Summa Institute. We started the search for a permanent home for Summa and the funding to successfully launch. With diligence and clarity of our vision and what we were seeking, we eventually found the best location to ensure the stability and success of our long-term goals.

For a complete history of Summa Institute go here.

Our Founders

Josette received her doctorate in human development in 2009. She is an educator and a developmental consultant specializing in child and adult development, adult transformational learning, and sustainable family relationships. Ba is a master educator with an MA in psychology and education. He has dedicated his life to discovering how to restore and deepen optimal well-being in society and the world. In addition to publishing six books together that focus on building positive relationships with children, their writing has been published in NW Kids Magazine, ENCOUNTER: Education for meaning and social justice, Paths of Learning, Journal of Adult Development, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Parenting Matters, Family Post, Holistic Education Review, Mothering Magazine, and Naturopathic Doctor News.

Josette and Ba Luvmour have lived and worked together since 1984. Together, they created and developed Natural Learning Relationships. They founded a non-profit that has been awaking the greatness in humanity since 1985. They built a 35 acre retreat center and school in Northern California, before moving to Portland Oregon in 2003 where they founded Summa Institute, which runs Summa Academy. Currently Josette is Director of the Parent Education Program (BRIDGE) at Summa Academy and Director of Professional Development at Summa Institute. She also heads up the Research Department. Ba is the Headmaster at Summa Academy in charge of curriculum and educator development.

Josette and Ba, Summa founders