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Why Lower School at Friends Academy?

Friends Academy’s Lower School (Early Childhood through fifth grade) develops a strong foundation in children for a lifetime of learning. For Lower School students, Friends is a “second home” where they are seen, known, and loved for who they are. By being part of this safe, supportive community, students can take risks and flourish – both as learners and as people.

(Filmed in 2020-21 during the Covid-19 school mask mandate.)

Because our class sizes are small (ranging from 8-14 students), no child gets lost in the classroom. Students receive one-on-one support from their teachers and develop close relationships with peers and adults. Faculty are able to adapt their teaching to different learning styles – always meeting students where they are while challenging them to take risks.

What sets Friends apart from other elementary schools is our equal focus on academics and social and emotional growth. Students don’t simply learn how to read, write, and take tests – they discover who they are as learners and understand how to relate to others in a community. This allows students to become well-rounded individuals.

The Lower School follows the Responsive Classroom Approach, which believes:

  • The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
  • How children learn is as important as what they learn.
  • The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  • There is a set of social skills that children need in order to be successful academically and socially.
  • Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach.
  • Knowing the parents of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children.
  • Teachers and administrators must model the social and academic skills which they wish to teach their students.

“FA has opened my kids’ world! The staff and teachers truly care about the well-being of each child. It allows the kids to feel safe and open to exploring all kinds of activities.”

Lower School parent

Explore Lower School

Lower School also includes Early Childhood for children ages 3 and 4.


A nurturing, play-based environment where children grow to love learning from the very beginning.

First Grade

Students learn to read independently, make sense of numbers, and grow their confidence as learners and classroom leaders.

Second Grade

Through the concept of community, students practice making choices independently, using their voices, and understanding their impact on others.

Third Grade

A year of tremendous growth, when students build character, pursue knowledge, dive deeply into topics, and recognize their strengths.

Fourth Grade

Eager, maturing learners feel supported to challenge themselves while strengthening their academic skills for the years to come.

Fifth Grade

Critical thinkers who build their academic stamina for Middle School while retaining the comfort of the close-knit Lower School community.

Features of the Lower School Experience

  • Fourth grade students sitting on the floor completing fraction pieces.

    Hands-On Learning

    Lower School students participate in hands-on academic activities throughout the day. Learning through experiences helps students apply their knowledge, work together, and practice independence.

  • A third grade teacher works with a student.

    One-On-One Time With Teachers

    Because our class sizes are small, Lower School students get plenty of individual time and attention from their teachers. Faculty are able to adapt their teaching to different types of learners.

  • Fourth grade students use yoga balls as drums during PE class.

    Two Specials Per Day

    PE, art, music, science, and library are taught by experienced faculty. Specials allow students to move around the building, make relationships with new trusted adults, and exercise their minds in different ways.

  • A third grade class sits on the rug during morning meeting.

    Morning Meeting

    Each Lower School class starts the day with morning meeting. This gathering builds connections in the classroom and sets a positive tone for the day.

  • A fourth grade student works on their laptop during class.

    1:1 Apple Devices

    During school hours, each Lower School student has access to their own iPad or Macbook. Students use devices for academic activities including research, writing, presentations, and math/literacy practice.

  • A board created by fourth grade students comparing the qualities of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.

    Growth Mindset

    The growth mindset is emphasized regularly in Lower School, particularly in math. Students are introduced to the concept of the power of “yet” – as in, “I can’t do that yet.”

  • A Middle School student helps a third grade student with reading.

    Student Mentors in Higher Grades

    As an Early Childhood-Grade 8 school, Friends Academy gives Lower School students opportunities to work with and learn from older student mentors in higher grades.

  • First grade presents at All-School Meeting

    Opportunities to Present at All-School Meeting

    Students can practice their presentation skills at All-School Meeting by sharing a Book Buzz, community performance, or presentation about something they learned.

Learn More About Lower School

Take the next step toward Friends Academy by requesting more information or beginning an application for your child today.


Meet the Head of Lower School, Jamie Ross-Cory

“We make the most of young children’s natural curiosity. Our teachers go beyond a textbook and create experiences that inspire a love of learning. Students discover their power to ask big questions, solve problems, and understand their learning process, which fosters their motivation to do their best.

Beyond academics, we see each other as people. Students feel safe and supported, and they know their responsibility as friends and as citizens of a community. When they leave here, they know they have the power to make a difference.”

News & Stories About Lower School



November 27, 2023

Fifth and Sixth Graders Fly High in “Peter Pan, Jr.”

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Peter Pan, Jr. on three wonderful performances! Watch the full evening show. Read More



November 9, 2023

Early Literacy Screenings Can Identify Reading Difficulties in Young Students

All Kindergarten and first grade students are screened for potential language-based learning differences like dyslexia. Read More



October 6, 2023

Back to School Night Brings Parents and Guardians into the Classroom

At Back to School Night each fall, parents and guardians take a turn in their children’s seats and experience what school is like for them. Read More