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Lower School Academic Departments

Homeroom: Language Arts, Mathematics, and Social Studies

The Lower School program provides students with a firm foundation in essential skills, knowledge, and habits of the mind and heart that will help them to thrive in and positively affect the world around them. It fosters intellectual curiosity, a striving for excellence, a love of the arts, a commitment to active and healthy lives, and a dedication to improving our school, our community, our nation, and countries throughout the world. In a challenging, stimulating, and caring learning environment, teaching is differentiated to address the unique intellectual, social, spiritual, physical, emotional, and artistic gifts and needs of each student.

Strong organizational and cooperative skills are stressed in the Lower School, for they serve students well throughout their years at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School and beyond. The pursuit of goodness as well as knowledge is at the heart of the Lower School. The Lower School embraces the model of service learning in which students help others while engaging in a process of reflection, self-discovery, and skill-building. Students address needs inside and outside our school community, and the particular needs addressed emanate from the social studies curriculum, as well as from previous successful service endeavors or in response to world events.

Our goal is for students to develop empathy, broaden their perspectives, develop a lifelong passion for service, and gain an understanding of why and how the Episcopal identity and mission of the school call our community to value and practice service. Through the curriculum, classroom discussions, assemblies, chapel services, service-learning endeavors, and strong role modeling from the faculty, students learn and practice the four character traits of the Lower School: honesty, responsibility, respect, and compassion.
  • Homeroom JK

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. Mastery of language is a developmental process, which extends over a developmental continuum. The junior kindergarten program provides fundamental reading and writing experiences and offers opportunities for children along this continuum depending on their maturation, experience and language background.  In a literature-rich environment, the JK program helps children develop a love of reading and writing. Children learn to enjoy language and story, appreciate good literature, and communicate effectively. Students explore literature in many ways including listening to and retelling stories, engaging in Writer's Workshop, participating in guided, small group and one-to-one instruction. We engage in Writer's Workshop and word study where recognition and writing of letters, beginning and ending letter sounds, basic sight word vocabulary, and creative writing are emphasized.

    Mathematics

    In this program students shape their thinking about mathematics and develop mathematical intuition and understanding through problem solving and hands-on learning experiences.  The program is built around six major strands; patterns, functions and algebra, data and chance, geometry, measurement, numbers and numeration, operations and computation. Students learn through a variety of methods including one-to-one instruction, group activities, cooperative learning and whole group instruction.  The major focuses of the year are to develop number sense and recognition, build one-to-one number correspondence, recognize geometric shapes and patterns, extend and develop patterns, and classify, compare and manipulate data. Games, manipulatives, and hands-on activities provide students with sensory experiences and concrete understanding to develop mathematical thinking and concepts that apply to everyday life.

    Social Studies

    Thematic units are the basis for the social studies curriculum in junior kindergarten. Units focus on the exploration of self, family, and the classroom community. Students explore such themes as similarities and differences among people, the special nature of families, and the importance of being a positive citizen.
  • Homeroom K

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. Recognizing that young children are on a developmental continuum, the kindergarten language arts curriculum allows children to enter at various points: some students are just beginning to understand letter-sound correspondence while others have had significant experience reading and writing already. Through playful approaches, kindergarten readers use “super power” strategies to develop concepts of print, fluency, and comprehension. Children leave kindergarten with an understanding of what it means to be an avid reader, a concept that will serve them for many years to come. Kindergarten is also a time to induct children into new identities as writers. Kindergarten authors learn that writing is more than letters and sounds, but is a medium for storytelling, teaching, and creating change. 

    Mathematics

    Kindergarten utilizes a workshop approach where young mathematicians construct meaning through hands-on, student-centered activities and games. The workshop approach provides a venue for addressing the strengths and needs of each child. Students develop an understanding of fundamental skills and concepts including: ordinal numbering, measurement, geometric shapes, skip counting, and addition and subtraction. Embedded in our math instruction is a strong focus on number sense development, understanding one’s own learning process, and building flexibility and perseverance. Above all else, the Kindergarten mathematical experience nurtures and develops a growth mindset towards learning.

    Social Studies

    The program develops an awareness and appreciation of similarities and differences in cultural identities and the interdependence among and within communities. The curriculum encompasses a greater understanding of self, family, and community. Recognizing oneself as a contributing member of a broader community fosters the Lower School character traits of responsibility, compassion, honesty, and respect. Students collaborate to make rules, develop empathy for others, and learn conflict resolution skills.
  • Homeroom 1

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. During Readers Workshop, our first graders build good reading habits by becoming word detectives, learning about our world by reading a variety of non-fiction texts, meeting characters and learning lessons from the, and getting know their books by performing them.  During Writers Workshop, they explore small moments, craft non-fiction based on individual interests, and focus on persuasive writing by writing reviews. Children receive individual and small group instruction in reading, writing, and phonics according to developmental level.

    Mathematics

    We incorporate the Singapore Mathematical approach, using Math in Focus as our core curriculum. The mathematics curriculum develops critical thinking skills and a broad background in problem-solving approaches based on everyday situations.  Students develop an understanding of fundamental skills and concepts including; skip counting; basic addition and subtraction facts; place value; money; time; measurement; geometry; functions, and algebra. Students develop mathematical skills through engagement in the concrete (hands-on use of manipulatives), pictorial, and abstract progression of learning. Students are introduced to problem solving skills and learning to think critically and communicate in a variety of ways. 

    Social Studies

    The program explores many different aspects of a community. Students learn about the residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional components of a town. They explore important themes such as how and why communities change over time, how geography affects the development of a community, and how the wants and needs of community members affect the goods and services that are provided. Through field trips, students learn about the construction of buildings and various types of jobs and businesses. Children are made aware of different cultures through the exploration of traditions, arts, customs, holidays, current events, and important historical figures.

  • Homeroom 2

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. Second grade readers experience a reading growth spurt as they work towards making meaning when they engage with a text. Second graders also begin to learn that books can be their teachers. As writers, students examine the work of masters and begin to study and try out specific writing moves that make their stories and informative texts strong.
     
    Mathematics

    We incorporate the Singapore Mathematical approach, using Math in Focus as our core curriculum. Throughout the year students focus on concepts of place value, time, measurement, money, simple fractions, and sequencing. Emphasis is placed on addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers. Through repeated addition, skip counting, and arrays, students are introduced to the concepts of multiplication and division and begin to apply these to word problems. Although the use of algorithms is the cumulative stage of mathematical learning, students are encouraged to return to a wide variety of strategies to deepen their abstract understanding. Students are encouraged to verbalize their strategies and processes of problem solving. Students further develop mathematical skills through engagement in the concrete (hands-on use of manipulatives), pictorial, and abstract progression of learning. Students continue to develop problem solving skills, think critically, and communicate in a variety of ways.   

    Social Studies


    Students learn about the world through the study of the different continents and oceans as well as the people, customs, and climates of different countries. During the year, students study world geography, learn how to read maps, and research a specific country of their choice. Students explore the importance of culture and how people of different cultural backgrounds enrich a community.
  • Homeroom 3

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child.Third grade readers make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. They work towards building a reading life as fiction and nonfiction readers by learning essential comprehension and research skills. Third grade writers more fully engage in the writing process and work towards increased confidence in the drafting and revising stages of writing. In third grade children also learn to write in cursive.
     
    Mathematics

    We incorporate the Singapore Mathematical approach, using Math in Focus as our core curriculum. Students work with multiplication and division concepts as well as fractions, graphs, and estimation. Manipulative materials are used to introduce and reinforce the math skills and concepts. Understanding of measurement, geometry, money, and time are extended. Third grade instruction places emphasis on problem-solving, skill consolidation, and a deepening understanding of mathematical concepts in preparation for algebra.

    Social Studies


    Students begin the year studying the concepts of geography and culture. Each class then uses this framework to explore one of these ancient peoples: Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, or Mayans. Students explore how geography affects the formation of civilizations, and how the past affects and is manifested in present day culture. This unit culminates in the creation of a museum for each culture where the classes share their knowledge with each other. Then students begin the study of the United States. They explore the geography and complete a research project on a state of their choice.
  • Homeroom 4

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. Fourth Grade readers continue their journey of building a rich independent reading life by exploring the complexity of themes and characters. They extend nonfiction reading by incorporating a variety of strategies and texts while integrating social studies topics including American Indians, explorers, and the American Colonial Period. As writers, fourth graders engage in authentic writing tasks by crafting true stories, American Indian pourquoi tales, non-fiction pieces, and historical fiction diaries set in Colonial times. Writers continue to focus on revising and editing strategies.

    Mathematics

    We incorporate the Singapore Mathematical approach, using Math in Focus as our core curriculum. Students work with multi-digit multiplication and division concepts as well as fractions, decimals, and data analysis. Manipulatives, math games, logic puzzles, and interactive resources are used to differentiate instruction and develop intuitive thinking skills. Fourth grade instruction deepens student problem-solving strategies, skill consolidation, and understanding of mathematical concepts in preparation for algebra.
     
    Social Studies

    In fourth grade, students begin studying the first Americans. In cooperative groups, students research various American Indian nations and their creation stories, customs, clothing, tools, and housing. Focus then shifts to the Age of Exploration. They learn about the clashes that occurred when explorers came into contact with native peoples. Students work in partnerships to create a presentation on a specific explorer to share with the class. Our culminating unit investigates what happened when British colonists landed in Jamestown. The year concludes with each student researching a trade from Colonial times and writing a historical fiction diary and creating an interactive presentation at the Colonial Fair. Important themes include cooperation and conflict between explorers and native peoples, the effect of trade on the development of communities, and the connection between climate, geography, and culture. 
  • Homeroom 5

    Language Arts

    At St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School, we believe that a love of literacy is nurtured by integrating choice, collaboration, and purpose into literacy tasks, and that deeper learning occurs when children are actively engaged in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. We incorporate Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop as a framework for instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading and writing experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. Fifth grade readers conclude their journey through the lower school by analyzing texts through the lense of perspectives and social justice. They continue applying nonfiction reading strategies by incorporating a variety of texts while integrating social studies topics including The American Revolution and the formation of the United States Government.  As writers, fifth graders continue to engage in authentic tasks by crafting personal narratives, research reports related to American History, and persuasive speeches. Writers continue practicing the writing process as independent editors and revisors of their work.

    Mathematics

    We incorporate the Singapore Mathematical approach, using Math in Focus as our core curriculum. Problem Solving is at the heart of the fifth grade math experience. Students engage with concepts critically to discover multiple ways to understand math.  Students continue to refine their ability to visualize, communicate and generalize. Increasingly, students move from the concrete to the abstract in their mathematical reasoning. Conceptual understanding and computation of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals are extended and consolidated. Students are exposed to and become adept at using a variety of problem solving methods.  Manipulatives, math games, logic puzzles, and interactive resources are used to differentiate instruction and develop intuitive thinking skills. Fifth grade instruction deepens student problem-solving strategies, skill consolidation, and understanding of mathematical concepts in preparation for algebra.
     
    Social Studies

    Social Studies topics in fifth grade include American Identity, Enslavement of African People, The American Revolution, and the Formation of the United States Government. Students learn to use nonfiction text features, analyze information according to cause and effect, compare and contrast the significance of important historical events and people, and consider different perspectives when studying our nation’s history.

Department Faculty

  • Photo of Beth Barrow
    Beth Barrow
    Lower School Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    (703) 212-2859
    Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA - B.A.
    Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY - M.A.T.
  • Photo of Staci Alario
    Staci Alario
    First Grade Assistant Teacher/Assistant Varsity Girls Soccer Coach
    703-212-2847
    College of Wooster - Bachelor of Arts
    Walden University - Master of Science
    Blair Academy - High School Diploma
  • Photo of Franny Alston
    Franny Alston
    Third Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2818
    Kenyon College - B.A.
    American University - M.A.T.
  • Photo of Leigh Angulo
    Leigh Angulo
    Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2921
    Virginia Tech - Bachelor of Science
  • Chloe Bartlett
    Third Grade Homeroom Teacher LTS
    703-212-2836
    Union College - BA
    Teachers College Columbia University
    Sacred Heart University - MA
  • Photo of Alicia Beach
    Alicia Beach
    Lower School Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2870
    University of Maryland, College Park, MD
    University of Maryland, College Park - Master of Education
  • Photo of Kirsten Becker Stammer
    Kirsten Becker Stammer
    Lower School Third Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2878
    California State University, Long Beach, CA - B.A.
    University of Phoenix - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Vera Benjelloun
    Vera Benjelloun
    Lower School Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2821
    Saint Paul College - BS Psychology
    Washington Montessori Institute, Wash DC - Primary Diploma, Association Montessori Internationale
    Framingham State University, Framingham, MA - MA International Education
  • Photo of Michelle Bruch
    Michelle Bruch
    Kindergarten Teacher, Lower School
    703-212-2853
    Wake Forest University - B.A.
    George Mason University - M.Ed.
    University of Virginia - Ed.S.
  • Photo of Maura Carr
    Maura Carr
    Lower School Third Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2836
    Manhattanville College - M.A.
    University of Richmond - B.A.
  • Photo of Catherine Chase
    Catherine Chase
    First Grade Teacher
    703-212-2824
    University of Mary Washington - Bachelor in Science
    University of Mary Washington - Masters in Science
  • Photo of Marya Dunham
    Marya Dunham
    Lower School Teacher
    Lynchburg College - BA
    Bowie University - MA
  • Photo of Caitlin Engelberg
    Caitlin Engelberg
    Lower School Fifth Grade Teacher
    703-212-2852
    Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, VA - B.A. Early Childhood Education
  • Photo of Sean Finan
    Sean Finan
    Lower School Fifth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2709
  • Photo of Gayle Fogleman
    Gayle Fogleman
    Kindergarten Assistant, Lower School
    703-212-2827
    College of Charleston - BA
  • Photo of Katherine Gregorian
    Katherine Gregorian
    First Grade Assistant Teacher
    703-212-2925
    Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario - B.Ed
    Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario - B.A.
    Mohawk College, Hamilton, Ontario
  • Photo of Rebecca Haddad
    Rebecca Haddad
    Lower School Junior Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
    703-212-2843
    Australian Catholic University - Diploma of Teaching
    University of Queensland - B. Ed.
    University of Southern Queensland - M. Ed.
  • Photo of Jeremy Hark
    Jeremy Hark
    Associate Director of the Lower School
    703-212-2735
    University of Delaware - B.A.
    Cabrini College - M.A.
    University of Pennsylvania - M.A.
  • Photo of Caroline Harvey
    Caroline Harvey
    Third Grade Teacher, Lower School
    703-212-2788
    University of Virginia - B.A.
    University of Virginia - M.T.
  • Photo of Terri Haughton
    Terri Haughton
    Lower School First Grade Homeroom Teacher
    (703) 212-2860
    Educational Administration - B.S.
    Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Tallahassee, FL - M.A.
  • Photo of Taylor Heasley
    Taylor Heasley
    Early Saints Teacher
    703-212-2835
    Ohio Wesleyan University - B.A
    University of Virginia - Curry School of Education - M.Ed
  • Photo of Claire Hoffer
    Claire Hoffer
    Lower School First Grade Teacher
    703-212-2822
  • Photo of Jennifer Knutson
    Jennifer Knutson
    Lower School Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
    703-212-2832
    Centre College - B.A.
    Oakland University - Master's of Early Childhood Education
  • Photo of Jonathan Lamkay
    Jonathan Lamkay
    Fifth Grade Teacher, Lower School
    703-212-2282
    Cornell University - B.S.
    Long Island University Post - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Jane Tyler Leachman
    Jane Tyler Leachman
    Lower School First Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2782
    University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - BA Psychology
  • Photo of Erin Lee
    Erin Lee
    Lower School Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2834
    George Washington University - B.A.
    George Mason University - M.B.A.
    George Washington University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Lynne Lucas
    Lynne Lucas
    Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
    703-212-2903
    Bucknell University - BA
    Marymount University - MEd
  • Photo of Emma Lunder
    Emma Lunder
    Lower School Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2800
  • Photo of Sarah Olderman
    Sarah Olderman
    Kindergarten Teacher
    703-212-2920
  • Photo of Skylé Pearson
    Skylé Pearson
    Junior Kindergarten Lead Teacher
    703-212-2798
    The George Washington University - Masters
    City College of New York - Masters
    City College of New York - B.S.
  • Photo of Mary Jane Pessaud
    Mary Jane Pessaud
    Lower School Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2829
    St. Agnes School
    Baylor University, Waco, TX - B.S.
    George Mason University, Fairfax, VA - M. Ed.
  • Kavita Rekhi
    Lower School Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2865
  • Myrna Robinson
    Early Saints Teacher
    703-212-2912
  • Photo of Ana Singer
    Ana Singer
    Second Grade Teacher
    703-212-2739
    The Ohio State University - B.A.
    Simmons College - Master's of Arts in Teaching
  • Photo of Jalene Spain Thomas
    Jalene Spain Thomas
    Lower School Director
    703-212-2907
    Duke University - B.A.
    Columbia University, Teachers College - M.A.
  • Photo of Mary Katherine Stadler
    Mary Katherine Stadler
    Lower School Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2839
    Hendrix College - B.A.
    Cleveland State University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Mollie Tolman
    Mollie Tolman
    Lower School Fifth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    703-212-2783
    University of Virginia - Master of Teaching; Bachelor of Arts (Religious Studies)
  • Photo of Cheryl Van Coverden
    Cheryl Van Coverden
    Lower School Junior Kindergarten Teacher
    (703) 212-2787
  • Photo of Rahel Weldeyesus
    Rahel Weldeyesus
    Lower School Junior Kindergarten Teacher
    703-212-2956
    Concordia University - Master of Education
    Asmara University - Bachelor of Arts
  • Photo of Leslie Williams
    Leslie Williams
    Lower School Kindergarten Teacher
    703-212-2861
    George Washington University, Washington, D.C. - B.A.
Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia

Campuses

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304