School Lower School
D e v e lo p i n g c a pa b l e , e t h i c a l , a r t i c u l at e c i t i z e n s
wakefield’s lower School Wakefield’s Lower School is designed to provide engaging, meaningful preparation both across the curriculum, and beyond itbut it does more than that. In addition to laying a solid foundation for Middle School and beyond, the Lower School specifically focuses on awakening the curiosity, excitement, and confidence that fuel a love of learning. Even a partial list of the Lower School’s treasured, signature milestones tells much of the story: • The Society of Sums in 1st grade, for mastery of math facts, as well as benchmarks for reading development • 2nd graders’ reading of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, their first novel study, with its echoing of the Wakefield Courtesies • The Society of Twelves in 3rd grade, for mastery of multiplication tables, and the 3rd grade spring musical • 4th grade history’s Immigration Day event, as well as the students’ first-ever research paper, for science class • 5th graders’ invention of original machines in the fall, and the Poetry Tea and speechwriting in spring In all grades, the Character Counts program systematically reinforces values education; a dedicated co-curricular schedule ensures that essential learning in areas such as music, art, and foreign language is never considered “extra”; and a school-wide emphasis on a civil, caring community ensures it is all done with love.
â€œ Our top
was to find a school that shared our goal of instilling a lifelong
love of learning in our children. From our first day at Wakefield School we knew
we had made the
right choice. love to read, love to ask questions, Our children
curious about all
aspects of the world around them.â€?
Pa r e n t o f 2 n d a n d 5 t h g r a d e s t u d e n t s
“When the boys completed their half-day visit at Wakefield, they jumped in my car and said,
‘This is the school for us, Mom!’ They entered in 1st and 3rd grades, and with the support of
the learning center within Wakefield, they were able to
quickly move up to the educational level of each class.” pa r e n t o f 2 n d a n d 4t h g r a d e s t u d e n t s
“What I love about teaching at Wakefield is
academic excellence…It is fun to see
the environment of
of our younger students as they are
problem-solving – whether it is a Junior Kindergartener building a trap to
catch a gingerbread man, or a 5th grader building a simple machine.
Wakefield has created an environment that inspires A
love for learning . ” wa k e f i e l d 1s t g r a d e t e a c h e r
When asked how Wakefield’s Lower School had prepared them well for Middle School, current 6th graders said...
“ The teachers in the 4th and 5th grade rotation
t a ug h t m e t o b e cr eati v e, a good w r i t e r , a n d h a r d - w o r k i n g .”
“Lower School has helped with the stuff we went
over in past years...3rd grade Mythology kind of got me an A+ in 6th grade Classics!”
“R esponsibility has helped me, because
in Lower School they enforced it and now e v e ry t h i n g i s m u c h e a s i e r .”
“I think that Lower School taught us how to use
r e a ll y g o o d st u d y s k i lls . I learned that studying for tests doesn’t have to always be a hard, boring task and that it really helps you prepare for and do well on tests. Teac h e rs a lways gAv e us ti ps and that has really helped me over the years. ”
Technology & fifth grade composition By 5th grade, Wakefield students are fully immersed in the school’s emphasis on effective writing and communication across disciplines, and their efforts are enhanced dramatically by their use of technology in the classroom. Taking full advantage of their classroom set of Chromebooks, and combining them with schoolwide availability of the powerful document-sharing tool GoogleDocs, 5th grade students collaborate efficiently with teachers and with peers on multiple drafts of every major paper they produce. Because all of their writing is stored in the cloud, students canand doset up online “meeting times” out of school for one-on-one conferencing and editing of drafts with both teachers and peers, in addition to dedicated writing time during the school day. Beginning in fall with personal essays, moving on to poetry writing, completing a significant literature assignment, and rounding out December with a research project for math class on the stock market (which involves researching and choosing a stock in which to “invest,” tracking your investment for weeks, and compiling a report of its success or failure, complete with student-generated computer spreadsheets, graphs, and tables), 5th graders have pre-writtten, drafted, edited, and finalized more writing by winter break than most would consider necessary in an entire year. And they love it!
“specials”: core foundational learning At a time when budgeting constraints at many schools are pushing art, music, and even physical education further into the margins of what is considered essential to education, Wakefield’s mission and philosophy keep these and other socalled “extras” right where they belong. Wakefield’s Lower School co-curricular offerings are also known as “Specials” in-housenot because they are peripheral, but because all teachers value their importance. While the week’s schedule cannot accommodate each co-curricular class on a daily basis, each area (art, foreign language, music, PE, and technology, as well as library time) has dedicated and inviolate teaching times each week, and, moreover, dedicated teachers who are experts in their areas and whose instruction to all Lower School grades ensures continuity and depth in each discipline. From French and Spanish classes conducted entirely en français and en español to 2nd graders’ kiln-fired, hand-painted clay sculptures, from the fully-staged 3rd grade musical each spring to 4th and 5th graders’ first taste of team competition in low-key sports meets with other schools, the Lower School co-curricular classes provide vital building of knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for some of the most essential areas of a classical education.
“character counts” in lower school Wakefield’s Virtues Program, “Character Counts,” grew out of a desire to create an organic, systematized way to incorporate into everyday school life the character education central to Wakefield’s mission. Throughout the year in the Lower School, the four cardinal virtuesprudence, justice, temperance, and fortitudeare introduced, and week by week, characteristics of each virtue are discussed in detail in class, to help students see the practical ways in which individuals can “live” these large ideals. Character Counts is overseen by Wakefield’s Lower School Counselor, who visits each grade once a month to introduce that month’s new characteristic and to lay the groundwork for the classroom teachers’ ongoing reinforcement of that characteristic’s use by students. Throughout the month, students are encouraged to consider the important role of that value in the living of a happy and useful life. Students are acknowledged in the community when they display these characteristics and virtues in their everyday behaviors and decision-making, and are helped to see how practicing the cardinal virtues leads to a civil, friendly, supportive, and enjoyable community.
Wa k e f i e l d Sc ho ol 4 4 3 9 Ol d Tav e r n Roa d P.O. B ox 10 7 T h e Pl a i n s , VA 2 019 8 (5 40)25 3 -76 0 0
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