Golda Meir Lower School

Supporting the holistic growth of your student

At Golda Meir Lower School (GMLS), education comes alive through an interdisciplinary program of inquiry, exploration, and reflection. We foster the growth of the whole child through intentional instruction in both our academic and Middot (values-based) programs. Our intimate classroom environments inspire students to ask insightful questions and apply what they’ve learned to formulate real-life solutions to our world’s most significant challenges.

Lower school student works on a drawing during class.

Educational Philosophy

The GMLS program prepares children to live knowledgeably, thoughtfully, peacefully, and make a meaningful impact on the world. Our educational philosophy is grounded in our core beliefs about teaching and learning: 

  • Children are competent and capable of serious, authentic work.
  • Children can pursue their unique passions and reflect on their work. 
  • Learning is a team sport: children and adults learn through collaboration and community.
  •  “Nothing without joy.” 
Students working in their SDJA science class

Student-centered learning

Through data-driven, personalized academics, GMLS students are in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Our students: 

  • Actively participate in the design of their own learning experiences. 
  • Connect learning to their own unique interests, passions, strengths, and aspirations.
  • Have voice and choice in what and how they learn.
  • Identify goals for their learning and plan benchmarks along their learning path.

Nurturing the whole-child

We believe that content is best taught by subject-area specialists.

  • In the visual arts studio, classes explore diverse artists and engage with a wide variety of media. 
  • Students explore the basics of music theory, history, a variety of music genres, and voice and instruments such as piano, xylophone, and guitar.
  • Twice weekly physical education increases children’s motor skills, builds their values and self-confidence, and increases overall health and wellness.
  • Regular lessons with our guidance counselor develop critical social-emotional competencies for building good character.

Academic Program

General Studies

Tackling real-world challenges

GMLS students learn by engaging in authentic and personally meaningful projects where they develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. GMLS students tackle complex challenges and questions that require them to synthesize and integrate knowledge and skills across disciplines.

Becoming readers and writers

Our students are readers and writers, from their very first day of Kindergarten to their final reflections of fifth grade. Our Core Knowledge Language Arts curriculum focuses on building the skills and knowledge children need to become fluent readers and writers. Through this program, authentic opportunities to read and write across genres and for various purposes are complemented by explicit, multi-sensory instruction in phonics, phonological awareness, and morphology that prepares students to approach texts with increasing levels of complexity.

Multiple pathways to mathematics mastery

Students learn through two personalized curricular pathways based on their individual profile as math learners: Math in Focus (Singapore Math) or Beast Academy (AoPS). Through number talks and hands-on experiences, learners develop intuitive problem-solving abilities and abstract thinking skills to apply their knowledge to relevant and significant real-world problems.

Inspiring a love of science, engineering, and design

The GMLS science curriculum encourages critical thinking, innovation, and a lifelong appreciation and passion for science. In our Science and STEM program, students learn to explore, observe, question, infer, hypothesize, and test their ideas. Through hands-on lab experiments, novel technology, and design thinking, students are encouraged to identify and solve authentic problems.

Jewish & Hebrew Studies

Viewing the world through a Jewish lens

Jewish life and learning are integrated throughout our educational program at GMLS. Our Jewish Studies program provides students with a foundation of Jewish wisdom, values, and ethics to guide their decisions and help them navigate the world around them.

Repairing the world through Tikkun Olam and acts of loving-kindness

Taking action as a result of new learning is a cornerstone of a GMLS education. Students have the opportunity to engage in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) projects connected to the holidays and to integrated units of study. Additionally, there is a daily emphasis on acts of chesed (loving-kindness), which can include helping a classmate or caring for the chickens in Levana’s Garden. 

Lower School students create a Star Of David Formation during the Yom HAtzmaut Ceremony

Connecting in the community: T'fillah and holidays

The Jewish calendar is the rhythm of our school year. Our school gatherings often revolve around holidays and celebrations, as we highlight themes that are meaningful to children’s lives today. T’fillah (prayer) connects students in the community and in conversation with prior generations. Prayer allows students to build self- confidence, explore Jewish thought and values, and master public speaking and leadership skills as they participate in and lead different services and rituals for their peers and the school community. 

Building Hebrew language proficiency and a connection to Israel

The Hebrew language connects us to our Jewish history and texts, and unites us with the land and people of Israel. Our ivrit v’ivrit (immersion) philosophy focuses on building language proficiency. The Ulpan-Or Interactive Curriculum features leveled groupings to support the diverse needs of our learners.

Growing critical thinkers through Jewish text study and Chevruta

Chavruta is traditional partner learning that nourishes intellectual, social-emotional, and ethical capacities while expanding the core transdisciplinary competencies of critical thinking, communication, and collaboration through the shared study of Jewish texts. 

Keshet Middot: Values-Based Program

Setting relationships as the foundation

Relationships are the heart of the GMLS program. Our focus on building nurturing, inclusive, and joyful classroom communities and developing social-emotional skills set the stage for meaningful learning experiences and academic success. Our teachers ground their approach to children in the student-centered principles of the Responsive Classroom philosophy framed by Jewish values.

Lower School students reading together

Our shared Responsive Classroom practices across all settings include:

  • Morning Meeting 
  • Collaborative Rule Creation 
  • Encouraging Intrinsic Motivation 
  • Positive Teacher Language
  • “Take a Break” (Positive Time Out)
  •  Logical Consequences and Restorative Discipline Practices 
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving 
  • Academic Choice

Developing character

Each year, we explore, develop, and apply seven character traits through our Keshet Middot character development program. Our middot are guided both by Jewish teachings and core ethical values. The Keshet Middot instills a culture of kindness and respect, making our school a safe and joyful environment for students to learn. 

Our Keshet Middot for the 2023-2024 school year are: 

  • Peleh: Wonder 
  • Chesed: kindness, compassion 
  • Kavod: respect 
  • Chevruta: teamwork/collaboration
  • Hodayah: gratitude 
  • Hatmadah: perseverance 
  • Simchah: joy 

Prioritizing developmentally responsive teaching

All decisions for teaching and discipline are based upon research and knowledge of students’ social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Because we know children learn best when they have both strong academic and social-emotional skills, we intentionally teach skills such as disagreeing respectfully with a classmate in a discussion, or working collaboratively with a partner, just as we teach reading comprehension and math concepts.

Lower School students holding up an art project they worked on in Levana's Garden