Director of Lower School
Our Lower School classrooms are filled with excitement and discovery as students engage in daily hands-on activities and discussions with peers, facilitated by our caring and masterful teachers.
Students have the opportunity to engage with a variety of adults, not only their homeroom teachers, but also the specialists who will teach them throughout their lower school years. Our teachers are passionate and collaborative educators, and together, we take responsibility for the education and care of all of our lower school students. The McGillis values and essential attributes are infused into everything we do.
Our academic program is designed around research based best practices.
In our K-2 literacy program, students participate in small group reading rotations which allow us to target and differentiate our instruction to best meet the needs of individual students. In 3rd-5th grades, literacy instruction moves to being more novel based and often incorporates other subjects such as social studies and science.
Our math program develops strong number sense, uses manipulatives to build understanding, encourages students to explain their thinking, and applies concepts to real world situations. We talk about the importance of having a growth mindset - don’t give up, keep trying, make mistakes, and realize there’s often more than one way to think about something or to find an answer. We want our students to see math as fun!
Our writing program emphasizes three types of writing - narrative, opinion, and informational. We use mentor texts to identify what good writing looks like, students are given multiple opportunities to engage in writing and often across disciplines, and we teach students how to embrace the editing process, both for themselves and as peer editors.
Our teachers are passionate and collaborative educators, and together, we take responsibility for the education and care of all of our lower school students.
Melinda Kaufman, Director of Academic Affairs
Our specialties are an important component of our overall program.
Students attend Art, Music, Drama, Science, Ethics & Cultures, and Library on a regular basis. The specialists often collaborate with the homeroom teachers to integrate their lessons into grade level units, resulting in a rich learning experience for our students. Outdoor Environmental Education (OEE), and Service Learning are also integral parts of our program. Students can often be seen cleaning up outside areas, planting vegetables in our garden, walking down the street to read books at a local retirement community, or heading out on our buses to hike a local trail.
My approach to elementary science is to give the students a lot of opportunities for hands-on exploration.
Every year, our 3rd Grade Magpies dive into project-based learning through their Country Report.
Reading Buddies is a favorite activity among students and teachers and a wonderful way to build community within the Lower School.
McGillis Third Graders wrote a letter to U.S. President Biden to thank him for his focus on the environment and to ask him to do even more. Students emailed their letter to the President with requests to speak to more Americans, especially young people, about what they can do to improve the climate.