Lower School Signature Programs
- Spiritual Education
- Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning Approach
- Art à la Carte
- School of Music
- Leadership Opportunities
- Alpha Community Time
Our Lower School religion curriculum is aligned with the growing ability and curiosity of kindergarten through grade 4 students, who are encouraged to make connections between what they believe and how they live their lives. Through two weekly chapel services and one religion class, they learn that they have value and significance, have much to share and contribute, and have an invitation from God to live in communion with others. In addition, chapel offers many chances for peer involvement and leadership—from reading Scripture and leading prayers to bringing a musical offering and carrying the processional cross.
St. Francis faculty members are trained in the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning (SEAL) methodology. This research-based approach to K–8 teaching focuses on the strong link between social-emotional skills and academic, personal, and civic success. Integrating SEAL into the St. Francis curriculum helps students develop four core competencies:
Self-Awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.
Self-Management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
Social Awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures; to understand social and ethical norms for behavior; and to recognize family, school, and community resources and support.
Relationship Skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
Art à la Carte, an innovative program designed to expand student appreciation of historically significant art and architecture, was founded by St. Francis parents in 1986 and has since been adopted by a number of schools nationwide. The program offers students in grades K–8 the opportunity to explore the visual arts—including notable artists, paintings, sculpture, and architecture—from prehistoric through modern times. Through trained parent docents, students learn to approach art as educated critics, building confidence and inspiring their own creativity. The Art à la Carte curriculum is a part of the school’s standard academic offering.
The St. Francis School of Music is an instrumental and vocal program available to students in grades K–8. Students attend private or small-group lessons with professional musicians for in-depth study after school or during school enrichment periods. Learn more about our School of Music.
At St. Francis, we believe effective leadership requires interpersonal skills and competencies that must be learned through experience, practice, and the assessment of successes and failures. In other words, young people can only learn the skills of leadership if they are allowed to exercise them in meaningful ways. Students take on roles in their classes as leadership ambassadors and participate in service opportunities through ingatherings, conversation committees, and stewardship.
Leadership responsibilities expand in fourth grade with opportunities to read Scripture in chapel services and participate on the Lower School Leadership Council. Council representatives are randomly chosen and rotated every quarter, and each fourth grader has the privilege of serving on the council during the course of the school year.
Lower School students gather as a community once a week during Alpha Meetings, which are led by our fourth-grade student leaders. A prayer is followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem. Then, the students lead us in a greeting and a share. Lower School students look forward to this gathering every Friday!