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Lower School students cheering around a table of STEAM projects.
  • Lower
  • School
All children are born curious. GDS makes sure they stay that way.
 

That’s why we cultivate a safe, nurturing, inclusive community rooted in joyful, hands-on early learning experiences designed to spark curiosity and fire the imagination. From building confidence, self-reliance, and essential life skills, to instilling the value of working for the good of others alongside personal achievement, the GDS Lower School supports students as they develop into forward-thinking, compassionate, intellectually curious problem-solvers and advocates for a better tomorrow.

By the Numbers

345

Students in Lower School, Pre-K to Grade 5

160

minutes of P.E. per week for a Lower School student

1:1

device program benefiting students in grades 3-5

175+

field trips Pre-K–5th in a single school year, taking advantage of all our city has to offer

23+

languages used in Morning Meeting greetings

Signature Programs

Two smiling students pose together.
Mentoring
Our buddy program is built to nurture leadership, connection, and friendship across grade-levels. Fourth grade students mentor their PK/K buddies and 5th grade students connect with their 1st grade buddies over the course of an entire year.
A student is posing with a xylophone pretending it's a guitar.
ART FOUNDATIONS
In 4th grade, the robust Lower School Arts program, featuring almost daily drama, dance, studio arts, and music classes, adds chorus and band to the weekly lineup. In each discipline, students create, innovate, develop skills, and showcase their work.
A student with a green hat waves an orange scarf.
Movement
The P.E. Dance Assembly is a must-see highlight of the year. Students perform a choreographed dance as an entire grade level, for the entire LMS community.
Lower School teacher teaching students about plants.
Budding Scientists
Third grade scientists learn about the life cycles of plants, observing and recording changes in trees in neighboring national parks, dissecting plants, and discussing evolution and adaptations.
Two students pose in front of a poster about online scams.
Social justice entrepreneurs
In 5th grade, students’ interest in social change is coupled with the entrepreneurial skills to make their visions successful.
A collection of student projects hangs artfully from the ceiling.
Claiming their Identities
In the 2nd grade Identity Project, students explore and claim their identities in a yearlong multidisciplinary study and project. The culminating event honors their individuality, showcases their empathy, and celebrates GDS’s diverse community.
A group of students holding their original work.
Writers’ Workshop
First grade authors read their personal narratives at the annual Author’s Brunch, a culmination of the students' year in Writers’ Workshop, in which students gain storytelling skills and engage in the writing process.
A student poses with a doll.
Creative dramatic play
Creative dramatic play is a hallmark of the Prekindergarten/Kindergarten curriculum, in which students affirm positive self-image, explore community roles, collaborate around shared goals, and celebrate difference.

Academic Highlights

  • Our early childhood education years (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten) are intentionally play-based, recognizing that play is the work of our youngest students.
  • Students begin taking dedicated science classes in pre-kindergarten.
  • Visual and performing arts is integrated into the academic curriculum for all Lower School students.
  • All Lower School students have recess every day and physical education four days a week, focused on building confidence and skill.
  • In grades 3-5, students can choose a language: Spanish, French, or Mandarin. Beginning in fall 2020, pre-K–grade 2 students will be learning Spanish in an integrated program.
  • All Lower School students take grade-level trips that build community, cultivate confidence, and extend learning beyond the school walls.
  • Each year, we honor the history and spirit of our school's founding through five major assemblies celebrating the enduring themes of gratitude, peace and goodwill, equality, freedom, and self-determination. All are led by Lower School students.

Our Stories

The Presence Of The Past
  • Hopper Effect Blog

In his novel Requiem for a Nun, Faulkner wrote that “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” While that seems an apt explanation for the seemingly intractable cultural and political fault lines that have emerged so clearly these past few years, it’s equally true for GDS.

Head of School Russell Shaw welcoming a child to school.
  • Hopper Effect Blog

Head of School Russell Shaw reminds us of the unintended consequences that can follow from trying to solve our children’s problems for them.

Important Dates

The Latest on Instagram

Meet the Lower School Office

Kimberly Beck

Lower School Principal

Denise Jones

Lower School Assistant Principal

Raynell Stewart

Lower School Office Administrative Assistant