Lower School News

Around the Campfire: Lower School Students Zoom under the Stars
Antonia Ehlers, director of communications

Although they couldn’t actually roast s’mores and camp under bright stars last Thursday, Nueva Lower School students did the next best thing—they Zoomed in to participate in Campfire Night. Even though they were not together in person, the students enjoyed an evening filled with exciting games, virtual snacks, and storytelling.

“The campfire night was really fun,” said third grader Jake B. “Everyone was participating, so it seemed like we were all there.”

"This was a really fun activity to do as a whole Lower School,” agreed third grader Natalie D. “I wish we could do this more often—I would love it if we could even do this every day!"

Master storyteller Jim Weiss, who visited Nueva last winter,  joined the campfire and delighted students with classic favorites—PreK and kindergartners enjoyed The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen, and The Hare and the Hedgehog. First through fourth graders had fun listening to A Guest Who Ran and Things Could Always Be Worse.

“He told a few classic tales, always with his unique spin,” noted Interim Humanities Center Director & WRC Director Jen Paull. “It was wonderful to see how the students were quickly swept up in his stories! He even revealed a secret talent: He can wiggle one ear at a time! The older students also had a funny moment of making animal noises all together—there was a chorus of barking and mooing, all part of one of Jim’s folktales.”

Third grader Reed C. actually Zoomed from a tent! “Camping Night was so fun because there were great stories, singalong music, and so many funny activities,” he said. “Being in nature while Zooming with my friends was so fantastic.”

“Full of creativity and joy, the Lower School camping night spotlighted our amazing community,” said third-grade teacher Erin Metcalf. “We had so much fun laughing together during Megan’s bandana/banana skit, solving rebus puzzles in grade-level trail groups, and soaking in stories from professional story-teller Jim Weiss. Events like the camping night help me feel closer to my students and colleagues, as well as overflow my bucket.”




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“Good afternoon, Lisa. I’m so glad we could take a break from painting to join this kindergarten class.”

“Hello, Leonardo.” 

So began Paul’s and Rashida’s kindergarten class just before Thanksgiving break, one that took students all the way back to 15th century Florence to meet Leonardo da Vinci (Paul) and Mona Lisa (Rashida). 

Environmental Citizenship Program Launches Ambassadorship Role

Kindergarten associate teacher Carrie Stouffer has been named Nueva’s first lower school environmental citizenship ambassador. The role of the environmental citizenship ambassador evolved from the school’s desire to build strong, responsive, and effective relationships with faculty and division heads in all three divisions.

A PreK student playing in a puddle in a sandbox

PreK students have been our pioneers of hybrid learning! Watch scenes from their life on campus and hear more from students about their experiences this year.

Lower School Mavericks Days Provide Teachers Time to Prepare for our Return to Campus

As the lower school plans to return to campus came into greater focus late last month, Lower School Head Megan Terra felt strongly that she needed to find an extended amount of time for her teachers to plan, discuss, and put in action all that is involved with welcoming students back to their in-person classrooms.

Lower school teachers were incredibly grateful for the time Megan and our Mavericks Days programs afforded them. They used the time to prepare, create, and discuss every aspect of the upcoming return to campus.

Investigation Provides Foundational Theme of Kindergarten

Questions abound in our lower school classrooms, and student inquiry is the driving force behind the yearlong theme in kindergarten. This theme of investigation provides a through line for a number of explorations that kindergarteners will engage in over the course of the year, the first of which is a focus on identity. 

Literably Literally Helps Build Student Literacy

With the move to remote learning, and the challenges teachers face of being able to meet one-on-one with their young students, reading specialist Liza Zassenhaus introduced the lower school faculty to Literably, a reading assessment tool that provides teachers with information on student accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. 

Lower School Social-emotional Learning Classes Equip Students with Important Remote Learning Skills

Since remote learning began, students have been faced with a multitude of challenges that are unique to the times. Dedicated weekly social-emotional learning (SEL) classes for students in 1st through 12th grades (SEL is integrated into the curriculum in preK and K) have proven to be particularly valuable during this time, equipping students with the tools needed to develop resilience, confidence, and well-being. 

In the spring, lower school SEL specialist Lisa Hinshelwood noticed there was a need for third and fourth grade students to develop executive skills, such as skills around organization, planning, and prioritization.