Lower School News

Nueva First Graders Strive to be Kindness Ambassadors
Antonia Ehlers, director of communications

Nueva first graders are learning to be kind, compassionate, empathetic citizens. They are currently studying ableism, a unit the first grade teachers say is redefining community and understanding people who are often misunderstood and marginalized. 

According to the Center for Disability Rights, ableism is defined as “a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other.”

“We want to teach the children to walk with people who have challenges while building empathy,” explained first-grade teacher Diana Friedman. “I understand ableism firsthand—my mom had polio when she was 13. She had many surgeries but never complained, and my mom went on to live an incredible life.”

First-grade teacher Emily Mitchell hopes to take her class to the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, once the coronavirus pandemic settles down. The beautiful park was especially designed for people with disabilities; there is even a dignity slide and a sensory zone for people with autism. 

“We are teaching our students to become kindness ambassadors,” Emily noted. “We’re reading many wonderful stories to the children, including Six Dots, the story of Louis Braille, who created the Braille system based on the Morse code. 

Other ableism book favorites have included A Boy Called Bat, the story of a boy on the autism spectrum, and The Sound of Silence, the remarkable tale of a young boy who grows up with two deaf parents. 

“You could be born without a body part (except for your heart or brain),” noted first grader Macallister B. “In the story Emmanuel’s Dream, a guy was born with a leg that didn’t work, but he ended up riding a bike for 40 miles a day! We’re learning that if people need help, you need to help them.”

“We are learning about ableism so that when we grow older, we can treat people correctly,” said first grader Toby G. “We all just need to be a little kinder.”



Read More

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“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

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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.