The St. Gabriel’s Lower School is a warm, welcoming place where children experience great joy: from the moment they enter Founders Hall each morning, through morning prayer and weekly Mass; as they play in daily physical education; create in art and music classes; serve others in the community; learn about the Catholic faith in religion classes; and grow and develop in their core academic subjects with their homeroom teachers.
Our students learn under the loving and watchful guidance of an outstanding and innovative faculty that is well-versed in Social Emotional Learning, differentiation and STEAM practices. Our teachers are focused on delivering a responsive and challenging curriculum that meets the unique needs of all learners. Through project based and service learning, our students apply skills learned in the classroom to address real world problems. This integrated approach has a profound and enduring impact, shaping the hearts and minds of our students.
The Lower School prepares students to develop critical and divergent thinking. Guided Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum, the K-8 model used at St. Gabriel's Catholic School, is introduced in kindergarten along with our Eureka Math curriculum that focuses on a deep conceptual understanding that builds enduring knowledge. Innovative technology education is woven throughout each curricular strand as students increase their skill and capacity with technology as a tool for support in all areas of study. Students charge ahead fearlessly and creatively while exploring new ideas.
Our early childhood program, which includes our Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten classrooms, uniquely prepares our students for the demands of a challenging, elementary curriculum while focusing on the unique developmental and academic needs of each child. Academic instruction is differentiated for each child by providing opportunities for emotional, social, physical, and intellectual growth. A focus on phonemic awareness, early literacy, numeracy, and written expression skills build the strong foundation necessary for future learning. In our Early Childhood classrooms, each child learns academic concepts with a developmentally appropriate emphasis on process, not product.
In first grade, students are in a transitional stage where they begin to think about the world logically, develop concrete thinking skills, and increase their ability to reason. Our students further develop their literacy and written expression skills through the Lucy Calkins Workshop curriculum where they explore narrative, fiction and nonfiction, as well as persuasive writing. The Eureka Math curriculum further develops their numeracy skills and allows us to personalize a rigorous math education that enables our students to work independently and at their own pace so they can become stronger at the underlying skills needed for more complex math concepts.
By second grade, students begin to utilize abstract thinking and reasoning. They have developed basic skills, which they now use to learn more about the world. They express their ideas in complete sentences and begin to write with more depth and complexity. With their increased ability to observe and make predictions, hands-on experiential learning in both individual and group settings takes on new meaning and is regularly incorporated into science and social studies, with a focus on project-based STEAM programming.
Third and fourth grade is a time of intellectual expansiveness. In response to students’ increasing aptitude, ability to engage in abstract thought, and keen interest in discovery and exploration, classes become departmentalized. Students learn from specialized homeroom teachers: English Language Arts, math, science and social studies. Our students are given opportunities to further develop their increasing independence and to take ownership of their learning in all areas of study with a focus on building organizational, time management, and study skills.
Students at every level discover passions and develop talents through rotational classes of art, music, Spanish and religion. Weekly visits to the library and daily physical education enrich the education of the whole child—mind, body and spirit.