Ethical Education in the Lower School
Life’s lessons occur in the classroom and on the playground where emphasis is placed on character, respectful problem solving, and the responsibilities that come with being a member of a caring community. Learning to be an active member of a respectful, service-oriented school community is an integral part of each student’s Lower School experience.
The Lower School is committed to the healthy emotional and social development of children. The Second Step curriculum, a research-based program designed to promote social competence and reduce children’s social and emotional problems, is taught by our Emotional Support Counselor and supported by classroom teachers. The curriculum teaches problem-solving skills through a focus on three main areas: empathy, impulse control, and anger management. The fourth and fifth grades use Steps to Respect, a curriculum similar to Second Step, that teaches students how to resist and respond to bullying situations.
Bi-monthly visits to the chapel reinforce lessons revolving around honesty, kindness, responsibility, and respect and acceptance of religious and cultural differences. One chapel a month is devoted to practicing mindfulness activities that help students manage strong emotions, express gratitude, and solve problems.
Lessons continue from the Steps to Success curriculum in first through third grades to help students recognize and empathize with others’ feelings, practice peaceful problem-solving strategies, and manage strong emotions. Fourth and fifth graders graduate to Steps to Respect, which emphasizes inclusivity and friendship building. Through these lessons, students develop the skills to address bullying behavior.
Virtues and Buckets
By highlighting a Virtue of the Month, students recognize a range of virtues that reflect core values of the school. Students also engage in the classroom exercise of Bucket Filling, by which students recognize peers who have filled their bucket with kind words and actions.
Bi-monthly chapel gatherings use the music, prayers, and teachings of multiple traditions to explore topics like practicing mindfulness, managing strong emotions, caring for our environment, and the values of kindness and generosity.
As third through fifth graders begin using one-to-one iPads and email accounts, faculty and staff teach them about a responsible digital presence. Students adopt Common Sense Media’s T.H.I.N.K. test (is a statement true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind?) to examine their online communication for appropriateness as they learn to be considerate online.
Lower School students participate in grade-level projects focusing on the local community and the wider world. These projects have served the Nature Conservancy's Rainforest Project, Primary Children’s Hospital, the International Rescue Committee, Tracy Aviary, the Road Home, the Mali Health Organizing Project, the Navajo Water Project, Tree Utah, animal services, and the Utah Food Bank. A highlight of Lower School service is the buddy program where fourth and fifth graders mentor their preschool buddies. Teachers also support student-driven initiatives such as recycling and the occasional charitable fundraising effort. Division-wide service initiatives include the October Food Drive, the clothing and book drives, the McCarthey Service Day Celebration, e-waste recycling with Hogle Zoo, clothing drives for recently resettled refugees in Utah, the Be Idle-Free clean-air campaign, and the Go Green Days walk/bike/carpool to school initiative. Grade-level projects connect with the general curriculum to extend and enrich learning.
A penny drive to raise funds to purchase rainforest acreage for protection extends from a curricular focus on rainforest ecology. Students also participate in the Navajo Santa project that supports children and families living on the Navajo Reservation, and collect towels and blankets for the Humane Society.
The second grade organizes the 100 Days of School Canned Food Drive and challenges all grade levels to match their grade's donations. Additionally, the classes work with the International Rescue Committee to prepare welcome bags for children who are refugees and do a book drive for the Sunnyvale Community Center. Second graders also create Halloween goody bags for children at Shriners Hospital.
Third graders apply science knowledge about biomes, plants, and birds to service projects with the Tracy Aviary Bird Sanctuary.
Students raise money through an aluminum can collection effort to support Tree Utah and participate with actual reforestation along the Jordan River. Students also raise money for the Navajo Water Project.
Fifth graders make several trips to the Utah Food Bank throughout the year where they assist with the unloading, sorting, and stocking of food at the center.