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A Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Ages 3 Through Grade 12

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Lower School

Tracey Shirey
Head of Lower School

Here at ESD, we value process over product, innovation over memorization, and inquiry over complacency. Our hope is that children leave the lower school filled with confidence that stems from self-knowledge, a deepened curiosity towards learning, and an understanding that we are stronger together than we are alone.- Tracey Shirey, Head of Lower School

ESD's Lower School serves our youngest learners from age three to fourth grade. Here, we strive to design and implement a program that encourages students to make connections, ask questions, solve problems, and think independently. 

The curriculum design is guided by the belief that active, hands-on experiences, emphasizing the relationships among disciplines, make learning most meaningful for young children. Our goal is to create a challenging academic environment that also allows each child to develop his or her unique talents and abilities.

Beyond the Classroom

Experiences You Don't Want to Miss

A fourth grade student dissects a cow eyeball in science lab

Lower school students enjoy the hands-on learning aspect of dissections in science class each year. Different grade levels complete dissections that correspond with their science curriculum.

As part of their semester-long study of human physiology, fourth-grade students study the eye and identify anatomy during their annual cow eye dissection.

PreK students perform for parents and friends in their annual musical

Starting in Beginner, all lower school students have the opportunity to experience immersive music classes where they learn a variety of songs, instruments, and dances.

Each grade puts on a show for friends and family after completing a music class curriculum. Here, PreK students perform songs in other languages with accompanying instruments in their annual musical.


Fresh air and outdoor exercise is an integral part of our lower schoolers' daily schedule. Students of all levels participate in PE class, which often takes place on the field or the track, and daily recess.

Whether students want to play on one of our two state-of-the-art playgrounds or simply play a game of catch with their friends, they have plenty of options to get their bodies moving.


What if students could apply what they're learning in the classroom to something in the real world? This question was the basis for our design center. 

In this study, students used their math and map reading skills to calculate the space of their fourth-grade classrooms in the new lower school building.