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Lower School

'Getting our hands dirty' isn’t just an expression — it’s where you will find us.

With abundant enthusiasm and creativity, faculty create a stimulating academic environment that engages and nurtures the whole child.

Planting and harvesting vegetables in our garden as part of a lesson on sustainability, tending to the beehives while learning about the connection between the food we eat and the beauty around us or building and racing a model sailboat to understand buoyancy and gravitational force are not extraordinary occasions. Rather, they are the everyday result of our teaching philosophy and the approach we take to learning.  And, in partnership with families, faculty work to encourage curiosity and exploration.

Where Curiosity Grows

ITP guest Christina Soontornvat speaking to lower school students
Imagine the Possibilities

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Imagine the Possibilities (ITP) is an annual school-wide program that helps bring authors, illustrators and poets to PDS to connect directly with students across disciplines and grade levels. Made possible through the John D. Wallace, Jr. ’78 Memorial Guest Artist Series Fund, these visiting artists engage with students through assemblies, presentations and workshops. ITP artists past and present are weaved into the Lower School experience all year long. 

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The STEAM Program

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Interdisciplinary STEAM projects strengthen skills of observation, inquiry and problem-solving. In our brand new Bartlett STEAM center, students explore robotics, coding, 3D design, community-oriented projects and more. State-of-the-art technology, tools and equipment are integrated seamlessly into all aspects of learning, while digital citizenship and the responsible use of technology are emphasized. Along the way, students learn to question, research, imagine, design, create, revise — and have fun!

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Lower school students raking leave for service learning
Service Learning

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Being community-minded at PDS goes beyond our campus and extends into the communities around us. In support of our mission to nurture the mind, body and character of each student, we build purposeful opportunities for students, faculty and staff across divisions to help address critical needs within local populations and in our own backyard. With these opportunities comes self-reflection, growth and an expanded capacity for empathy and understanding those around you.

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Sustainability and Environmental Education

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Our organic garden, greenhouse and indoor and outdoor teaching kitchens provide hands-on, innovative and engaging opportunities to teach almost any subject — from science and math to humanities and art — while giving students the freedom to participate in the full cycle of food, from planting and tending to harvesting and cooking.

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ITP guest Christina Soontornvat speaking to lower school students
After-School Programs

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In the Lower School, opportunities for learning and for fun don't end when classes are over. After-school offerings are robust and include Stay and Play, a daily childcare program, along with after-school courses. A fun way for students to pursue a special interest beyond the offerings of the school curriculum, after-school courses include the Food and Garden Club, Design-Build Studio, Robot Fun, Imagination Guru, Ice Skating and much more.

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Panthers In Action