As summer ends, back-to-school jitters are common. However, this year there is an extra layer of concern due to COVID-19.
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, Interim Director of Lower School
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.
We spend a lot of time teaching social-emotional skills and talking about how to manage emotions and resolve conflicts.
Our teachers regularly facilitate circle discussions to give students a voice, talk through issues that may be happening, and to build their classroom communities. Last year, we implemented a program called Toolbox which has been an amazing resource for our entire community - students, teachers and parents. It teaches 12 tools that we all have inside of us, all the time; it’s just a matter of learning how and when to use them to help us navigate different situations and feelings.
Please join us in welcoming Jackson Bellaimey, Cathleen Wilkes, Lisa Williams, to our kehilah!
The McGillis School faculty and staff are a dedicated group of educators who care deeply about their students, the McGillis kehilah, and the health and well-being of both.
Noetic Math is a math enrichment program offered through the Noetic Learning organization. It offers students challenging problems that develop and strengthen logical reasoning and creative problem-solving skills; it requires perseverance, a growth mindset, and students are often pushed out of their comfort zone to think in different ways.
A group of fourth-graders huddles together around a large set of architectural plans, investigating the details of a future building. As students point out different elements and ask questions, a volunteer architect explains the process that takes ideas and drawings to brick and mortar. This experience is a part of the Box City Program, a national initiative that brings architecture into classrooms across the country.