In a small, connected, and diverse environment, students in Kew-Forest’s Lower School grow as scholars and as citizens, guided by teachers who understand and value each child. Lower School teachers emphasize respect, trust, collaboration and communication in order to foster a caring, respectful, and joyful classroom of learners. We hold ourselves to the standards of respect for ourselves, respect for one another, and respect for our environment.
Lower School teachers have been trained in Responsive Classroom: an approach to teaching that emphasizes respect for students, trust, collaboration and communication. The program's practical strategies foster a caring, respectful, and joyful classroom of learners. The guiding principles of Responsive Classroom shape our classroom communities and inform our educational philosophy and approach to Personal Development in the Lower School.
Community is very important in the Lower School. Every six days, the entire Lower
School meets in the Upper School library for a Morning Assembly. Assemblies are divided between Topical Assemblies; Grade Level Performance Assemblies; Sharing Assemblies, which give students the opportunity to share what they have been exploring in the classroom or outside on field trips; and Buddy Assemblies, which encourage interaction between crossgrade buddies as they work together on enriching activities. Teachers also reinforce the importance of community within their classrooms, where they emphasize respect, trust, collaboration and communication in order to foster a caring, respectful, and joyful classroom of learners.
Lower School students engage in service learning experiences throughout the school year. Drawing on our community standards of respect for ourselves, respect for one another, and respect for the environment, our students experience the joys of service in our community. Our core service learning project focuses on positively affecting our local environment.
We connect citizenship with sustainability by reducing our environmental footprint in myriad ways—including from the “ground” up by composting our organic waste from our lunch program. Upper Elementary students lead the composting effort during lunch, and they spend time each week at recess adding the new compost to our Earth Machines. In the spring, all of our students reap the rewards in our own Aldo’s Green Garden. Additionally, in the fall and spring, students weed, rake, plant, and "dig in the dirt" in Aldo’s Green and Forest Park. This opportunity to spend time outdoors while giving back to Kew-Forest's "backyard" reinforces our students' enjoyment of nature and appreciation of the difference that they can make to the environment, even in a short time period. We also make a conscious effort throughout the year to teach the students about reducing, reusing, and recycling through Assemblies and classroom activities. The Lower School community participates to manage, grow and harvest our raised bed gardens in Aldo’s Green for a variety of purposes.
Additionally, Lower School students lead food drives, advocate for animals in need, and participate in inter-generational outreach experiences, among others.