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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, 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.


Learn More about OUR Social-Emotional program  

Gemilut Hasadim Fills Everyone’s “Bucket”

How did you feel when you last thanked someone for their assistance? How did you feel when someone held the door open for you? How did you feel when someone called you or texted you out of the blue just to say, “Hi. I’m thinking of you?” Good, right? 

Read More about Gemilut Hasadim Fills Everyone’s “Bucket”

Meet The
Lower School Administration Team

Learn more about why Lower School at McGillis is different!

Call 801-583-0094 to set up your visit today.