GFA’s Lower School students grow intellectually, realize personal creativity, and competency, develop self-confidence, build enthusiasm for excellence and achievement, and gain respect for the diversity of the world around them. Small group work, hands-on learning, personal challenge and responsibility, and an appreciation for the connections among all disciplines are integral components of our program.
The journey is the destination.
Each grade in Lower School is a step (or a hundred steps!) in a journey. Our teachers create an intentional, immersive experience that moves naturally from one week (and month, and year) to the next. We pay attention to fundamental skills and habits of mind, but we also practice leadership, develop social connections, and explore the outdoors. The result is a safe, fun, challenging education in cooperation and creative thinking, risk taking and resilience, identity and independence.
What leadership looks like.
Our fourth graders—the oldest students in the Lower School—take an active role in leading their community. Together, we organize committees (Greeting, Garden, Assembly, Community Service, and Student Perspectives) that allow students to debate issues, make recommendations, and take responsibility for the well-being of the school.
What it feels like to be here.
It’s spacious, light-filled classrooms. It’s family-style lunches and bi-weekly assemblies. It’s a full gymnasium and an organic garden, a science lab and a robust service learning program. It’s dedicated classrooms for world languages and music and art and technology. It’s a salt marsh and Audubon trails. It’s a playground and a courtyard and a community assembly room. Most of all, it’s the warmth and spirit and brilliance of the inspiring people who want to be here.
“We truly are a place of joy. There’s just a true sense of partnership. The word ‘community’ gets thrown around so much, but here at GFA, that really is who we are.”jane Verlin, Head of Lower School
A little while ago, our PreK students built an exhibit at Earthplace, a nature center in Westport. The exhibit allows you to work through—and possibly help solve!—nitrogen pollution in Long Island Sound. Building it required hands-on work in specialized topics across disciplines: the biology of kelp and oysters, digital photography and computer applications, exhibit design and engineering, sculpting and painting and measuring. And the result was a form of civic engagement. Oh, and the whole process was a blast. All of those things are happening most of the time in the Lower School.
My favorite thing about campus: GFA has amazing gardens and trees. Some of the trees are really old! Oh, and the bees!Alex, grade 3