The Lower School · Pre-Kindergarten–Grade 5
Housed mainly in our original building, Ellis Hall, which is named for our first teacher, Margaret “Billie” Northcross Ellis, children in the Lower School are encouraged to explore and revel in their own talents, even as they are made increasingly aware of their relationship and responsibility to their peers, their teachers, and their families. To that end, faculty in the Lower School work closely with parents to set appropriate and reasonable expectations and to provide support that fosters excellence, achievement and, at each step—from age 3 through fifth grade—the confidence needed to succeed.
The Junior Kindergarten through Kindergarten classes include a modified Montessori curriculum designed to progress through four levels: Junior Kindergarten (JK3, JK4, JK5) and Kindergarten. The program first develops language, math, social and emotional readiness skills in a nurturing, half-day setting, while in the second year, students begin to develop handwriting, letter recognition and seat work while incorporating literature, dramatic play, arts and crafts, cooking activities, and hands-on science experiments.
All students in Junior Kindergarten programs through fifth grade have daily Spanish and P.E., and they rotate through “specials” including Art, Library, and Music during the week. Once in grade school, a more structured curriculum begins to take form in which students' language and math abilities are challenged and developed. For those students who need specialized instruction due to a diagnosed learning disability, the CrossWalk Program is an on-campus, "school within a school" where students meet with specially trained Orton-Gillingham instructors during the school day for remediation instruction. The Singapore Math curriculum focuses on teaching students to visualize quantities and to 'see' numbers as moveable parts within an equation.
Lower School Division Director,
Assistant Head of School for Academics
Washington and Lee University—B.A.
University of Virginia—M.A.
Morris Award 2014
Recipient of The Roanoker's “Most Inspiring Teacher” Platinum Award (2016, 2017, 2018) and "Best Educator" Platinum Award (2019, 2020, 2021)
Students work in small groups, organized by skill level, in which they rotate through stations of reading, writing and word recognition. As students progress through the fourth and fifth grades, their classes take them beyond their “home room” to specialize study in science, math and social studies, introducing them to what life will look like in Middle School. For specialized information on different levels in the Lower School, click the links below.
- North Cross offers an after-school enrichment program called Opening Doors for students from Junior Kindergarten through fifth grade. Classes are offered all three trimesters, meet different days once per week, and include: Gymnastics, Soccer, Bricks4Kidz, and Dance. Cost for each class varies but each costs around $100 per trimester. Course offerings are emailed to eligible parents each trimester.
- For those families who need care after the school day ends, the Lower School also offers Extended Day options until 6:00pm each day. Download details and a price guide.