Powhatan’s Lower School (PK-5) provides a safe, nurturing environment where a firm foundation of academic, interpersonal, athletic, and cultural skills is built for each student. Using a literature-based curriculum, the Lower School staff plans and implements units of study that integrate content across the disciplines while using varied instructional strategies to meet the needs of all learners.
The language arts curriculum in the Lower School provides a balanced literacy program, encompassing guided reading, direct whole group reading instruction, word study, and writing workshop. The goal is to instill a lifelong love of reading and writing in our students. A reading specialist provides individual and small group instruction for students who need extra attention in order to develop confidence and proficiency in reading. The Chicago Everyday Math curriculum emphasizes the understanding of math concepts and provides a spiraling review of previously taught concepts and algorithms. The science and social studies curriculums provide a flow of developmentally appropriate skills and content. Powhatan’s rural setting has aided in the development of a Nature-Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL) program, which encourages the observation of nature and hands-on agrarian experiences to support all subject areas. Students work collaboratively to maintain the nature trail, encourage recycling, and plant and maintain a variety of gardens on campus.
In addition to the core subjects, the Lower School academic program is enriched with Spanish, art, and music classes that meet twice a week, a formal library class once a week, sports three times a week, and technology instruction. To support the challenging academic program, Powhatan incorporates a counseling program, which focuses on respect for others and self. Through role-play and literature, students are taught strategies to assist them in the process of accepting differences of opinions and demonstrating respect for all members of the school community. Various community service opportunities encourage students to work with their families and other volunteers to develop the “habit” of caring and being involved.
Powhatan’s staff members and the Head of Lower School are directly involved in the development of the Lower School curriculum. They consistently evaluate what and how they are teaching to ensure the use of best practices and to fulfill the school’s mission of “…building cooperation through teamwork, encouraging trust and respect for self and others, and instilling a lifelong love for learning and excellence.”
There are two sections of each grade level in the Lower School with fifteen to sixteen students per section.