Divisions: Lower School

Consider this experiment. Find the most fascinating people imaginable—people who write, paint, compose, and delve deep into arcane passions of all sorts. Then, find the most adventuresome children and families—people who care most that their days are rich, exciting, and full of art. Put all these people together and give them incredible autonomy. Encourage them to create, experiment, and take risks. Trust that academic skills are built best when teachers and students are free to delve deeply into their current passions. Trust that students who are given a taste for this sort of adventurous plunge will keep coming back for more throughout their whole lives.

This is the experiment our school was founded upon, and these tenets are strikingly visible every day at the Lower School. Our Lower School students are independent beings with exquisite minds and a natural desire to learn. They are ready for any intellectual foray and capable of deep, authentic plunges into academic areas and the arts. We give our teachers great freedom to teach what they love—be it a Calvino story, ancient Egypt and Islam, or the Great Depression—and to carry out the joyful task of integrating the practice of academic skills into these meaningful content areas. We think of curriculum as the vehicle that brings sophisticated intellectual and artistic ideas and pursuits into the realm of childhood, and as the terrain in which we build relationships, ask questions of the world, make discoveries, and ultimately cultivate a passion for life-long learning. The recent launch of an anti-racist curriculum review process in the Lower School seeks not to replace these distinctive fields of study, but rather to bring anti-racist teaching practices, skills, and concepts into focus in all dimensions of the classroom experience. We know that differences in thought and identity, both in our student body and in our faculty, are necessary for learning and discovery. Our mission as a school will be achieved only when all of our students and faculty have a deep sense of belonging, and feel affirmed with respect to their race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ability, age, and religion, and to the unique, acategorical aspects of who they are.

A puppet can come out of
My pocket. An apple can come
Out of my pocket. Sheila shark
Can come out of my pocket.
Jon can come out of my pocket.
Art can come out of my pocket.
A mountain can come out of
My pocket

– Gabby, 1st Grade

Sweet Sounds

Sweet sounds are like birds
Chirping and like the ocean
Hitting the rocks
Also the wind bumping the window and I like my
Pencil writing on my paper. And the
Water gently bumping the sink’s surface
Is a sweet sound and I think the
Rain tapping the ground is a sweet sound.
And a cat meowing when it is happy
I like all these sweet sounds

– Sunny, 1st Grade