big picture

The Big Picture

The Lower School learning journey blends foundational experiences with innovative practices to inspire and engage each child. Starting with questions and cultivating the skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and solution-seeking through project-based learning, design thinking, and visible thinking routines, students activate and apply new knowledge. Teachers build a strong foundation focused on literacies including reading, writing, numeracy, scientific inquiry, humanities, maker, art and design, digital fluency, global cultural proficiency, and behavioral health and wellness. Our students are active thinkers, ask questions, explore the world around them, and make meaningful contributions.


At every stage from early childhood to adulthood, deep learning happens through relevant and contextualized learning experiences. In everything we do, these are the specific literacies, skills, and attributes that create maximum impact.

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Science, technology, engineering, and math aren’t just subjects – they’re the beating heart of everything we do in Lower School. Scientific Inquiry is evident in maker, science, and connections classes, where innovation knows no bounds. With a dedicated focus on Orton Gillingham, every student builds a rock-solid foundation in phonics, setting them up for reading success and lifelong learning. In Lower School, Spanish classes start early in Kindergarten.

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Lower School age students thrive in open spaces for play due to the inherent freedom and creativity they offer. Unlike structured playgrounds with swings and play structures, open spaces encourage exploration, imaginative play, and physical activity without constraints. In these environments, children can run, jump, and invent games, fostering social interaction and problem-solving skills as they navigate the space together. The absence of predefined equipment prompts them to utilize natural elements like trees, rocks, and grass, stimulating their senses and connecting them with the outdoors. Open spaces provide a canvas for boundless play possibilities, promoting holistic development and a deeper connection with nature among elementary school children. The Courtyard is where Lower School students start their day to get the wiggles out.

Creative confidence soars in Lower School where arts and design are integrated throughout the curriculum. Students develop personal, creative expression through maker, design & engineering, visual art, and performing arts in multiple studios.

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Expeditionary learning gives our students the opportunity to explore content in an authentic environment to better understand where their learning actually lives in the world. Intersecting with a variety of professionals through field visits teaches our learners to make observations, collect data, curate artifacts, and make the connections necessary to enhance their knowledge.

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Nurturing Christian values of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control through weekly chapel and community service, we ask questions, share stories, and build relationships. Inspiring one another through the work we undertake together, we seek to design a better world, searching for maximum impact. Learn more about Spiritual Life at Mount Vernon. In Lower School students begin to take a more active role in weekly chapel.

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iProject Mini is the signature program in the Lower School. Fifth graders, as leaders of our Lower School, participate in a course to practice student agency. During iProject Mini, students explore self-selected topics, brainstorm global experts within the network of their own class, conduct interviews, practice digital fluency, and hone research skills. Upon completion of their project, the children have an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills in front of a wider audience. Topics include coin collections, sports, baking, and the effects of the oil industry on local elections. Teachers learn alongside the students as history, geography, math, and literature all contribute to final projects.

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Extended Play is what Mount Vernon calls the School’s after-school care program which is available until 6:00 pm. Within Extended Play are PlayMaker enrichment classes, offering fun and engaging opportunities starting with older Preschool students and Lower School students to develop specific skills through STEM, robotics, golf, art, dance, and more. Additionally competitive Athletics – Start in Grade 5.

PlayMaker Course Catalog


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Shelley Searcy Head of Lower Campus
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Molly Hudson Director, Lower School
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Elisse Hayes Dean of Student Life
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Katie Jennison Executive Assistant

Student Agency


How can we make an impact on the Lower School?



Student Agency: Transforming Mount Vernon through Sustainability

In the heart of Mount Vernon, a quiet revolution is brewing, and Beau Reinking, Sustainability Prefect, his committee, and his fellow Mustangs in the Tree Club on Lower Campus, are at the forefront. With a passion for environmental stewardship and... Read More

Polygon Palooza: Celebrating Geometry in Lower School

Last Thursday, the Lower School was abuzz with excitement as students from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade came together for a day of learning, costumes, competitions, special guests, and fun! Polygon Palooza was a celebration of the depth of geometry learning... Read More

Shedding a Blue Light on Cross Campus Impact

What are the real impacts of blue light and digital screen usage on our eyes? This was the question that drove Dante Romagnoli’s iProject journey. A member of the class of 2026, Dante was curious to unravel the effects of... Read More

Kirsten Beard

Chief Admissions Officer

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