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Open Hearts & Open Minds

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Lower School Ethical Education

Fostering healthy social-emotional development, and teaching students to be responsible, compassionate citizens.

Life’s lessons occur in the classroom and on the playground where emphasis is placed on character, respectful problem solving, and community. Learning to be an active member of a caring, service-oriented school community is an integral part of each student’s Lower School experience.

Second Step Curriculum

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. In first through third grades, the curriculum helps 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 resist and respond to bullying situations.

Virtues and Buckets

By highlighting a Virtue of the Month, students recognize a range of tenets that reflect core values of the school: respect, empathy, gratitude, generosity, courage, justice, service, perseverance, and more. 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.

Chapel

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. We also hold inspiring chapel services for non-religious holidays, such as Earth Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Digital Footprint

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.

Being a Buddy

The oldest students on the McCarthey Campus team up with beginning schoolers for our Buddies program: together, they read, make art, play outside, and share in the sheer joy of learning. Kindergartners feel more comfortable transitioning to first grade and the biggest building on campus after they have a personal tour from an older, wiser friend. Fourth and fifth graders enjoy developing their leadership skills, serving as role models, and forging memories with their younger peers. Beginning schoolers learn to support each other through respectful behavior and benefit from the seasoned advice and special friendship of a Lower School “buddy.”

Community Engagement

Lower School students participate in grade-level projects focusing on the local community and the wider world. These activities 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 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.

Projects by Grade Level

Poster asking for pennies for the rainforest, made by a lower schooler.

FIRST GRADEA penny drive 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.

Second grader pulling wagon full of donations to children's hospital.

SECOND GRADE—Students create Halloween goody bags for children at local hospitals, and organize the 100 Days of School Canned Food Drive in which they challenge all grade levels to match their grade's donations. Classes also work with the International Rescue Committee to prepare welcome bags for children who are refugees, and hold a book drive for the Sunnyvale Community Center.

Third-grade plant sale

THIRD GRADE—Third graders apply science knowledge about biomes, plants, and birds to service projects with the Tracy Aviary Bird Sanctuary. Their popular annual plant sale benefits the aviary.

FOURTH GRADE—In conjunction with their field studies of the local environment, students raise money for the Navajo Water Project. They also bond with our next-door neighbors—students at the Carmen B. Pingree Autsim Center of Learning—by supporting them in the Autism Awareness Walk and reading with them.

Lower schoolers having fun with Beginning School buddies.

FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADE—The oldest students on the McCarthey Campus team up with beginning schoolers for our Buddies program: together, they read, make art, play outside, and share in the sheer joy of learning. Kindergartners feel more comfortable transitioning to first grade and the biggest building on campus after they have a personal tour from an older, wiser friend. Fourth and fifth graders enjoy developing their leadership skills, serving as role models, and forging memories with their younger peers.

Fifth graders unloading bread at the Utah Food Bank.

FIFTH GRADE—Students 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.

Ethical Education

Rowland Hall strives to graduate good citizens, not just students well-prepared for college. Concepts such as character, service, ethics, and community matter here. From the earliest grades through senior year, we stress the need to lead by example and have a positive influence on the lives of others.

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