Academic Departments


The Lower School provides a rich learning environment that holistically nurtures the intellectual, social, emotional, and moral growth of each child. Staffed by caring and professional educators dedicated to helping all children reach their potential, the schoolʼs educational program is both challenging and enriching. Classroom teachers work collaboratively with specialists in the areas of visual and performing arts, music, physical education, library science, Hawaiian studies, sustainability, and with administrators and staff to deliver high-level, integrated instruction in a supportive, safe, and respectful environment.
The Lower School educational program reflects the schoolʼs ongoing efforts to incorporate current educational research about instruction, assessment, and learning, and to provide a comprehensive, integrated, and developmentally appropriate series of expectations designed to support the schoolʼs educational goals.

Reading and Listening

The balanced literacy curriculum places emphasis on offering developmentally appropriate beginning, developing, and extending reading strategies to students. Instruction provides support for a wide variety of readiness levels and skill competencies. Beginning readers focus on letter-symbol recognition, letter-sound and language association skills, and decoding phonemic blends.

Developing, transitional, and extending readers continue their acquisition of independent reading skills to build and refine decoding, comprehension, sequencing, and fluency abilities. The overall goal of the receptive language curriculum is to help students become proficient, enthusiastic readers who enjoy a multiplicity of genre and reading for a lifetime.

Formal reading assessments are completed three times a year for progress monitoring and to support instructional decisions.

Writing, Speaking, and Oral Presentation

The overall goal of the K-5 expressive language curriculum is to have students attain the necessary skills to become capable, articulate communicators using any medium they choose.

As speakers and writers, the specific objectives focus on developing the ability to adeptly communicate meaning through writing, develop and apply the conventions of writing, and understand and use the functions and mechanics of writing.

The 6+1 Trait Writing Program is incorporated throughout the curriculum.

The development of oral communication skills enables students to present before audiences for a variety of purposes with confidence and poise.


Lower School students use Everyday Mathematics, The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, as part of their overall mathematical studies. The curriculum emphasizes conceptual understanding while building mastery of basic skills, and is based on how children learn, what they are interested in, and the future for which they must be prepared.

At every grade level, students are introduced to all of the major mathematical content domains including number sense, algebra, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and probability. Everyday Math helps teachers move beyond basic arithmetic and nurture higher-order and critical-thinking skills in their students, while also building and maintaining basic skills, including automatic fact recall.

This instructional model blends exposition and discussion, individual and group work, projects, exploration, and investigation into a dynamic mathematics curriculum for all children. Each grade level builds on and extends concept understanding so that children approach each new challenge from a firmly established foundation.


Science as inquiry is the basis for all physical, life, and earth and space scientific study at the Lower School. The basic premise is that scientific investigations involve asking and answering questions, collecting and comparing data, using simple instruments/tools to obtain information, and formulating, sharing, and analyzing results with the larger community.

Teachers create the context for knowledge, present questions or problems to consider, provide the necessary materials and equipment to test hypothesis, oversee the ongoing documentation of scientific discoveries, and facilitate analytical discussions. At each grade level, opportunities to integrate place-based educational opportunities is a priority, whether taking field trips to the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, working in our Ulumau organic garden making bokashi, germinating and planting seeds, harvesting and documenting growth cycles, or learning about volcanoes by visiting Kilauea, an active volcano. Guest speakers provide learning extensions for the classrooms and, often, additional support with giving feedback during student presentations.

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum includes history, culture, geography, civics, and economics. The basic tenets of all social studies exploration includes discovering and developing a sense of self, and then understanding self in relationship to family, school, community, and the world at large. Through a sense of historical perspective, cultural anthropology, and geographical study, students are continually asked to be reflective about their responsibilities with regard to community service, stewardship of the land and sea, and understanding human perspective around the world.

Computer Technology

Classrooms have individual computer learning centers that house Macintosh computers and a printer. All classrooms have iPads and a small bank of laptops. At the primary level, teachers use computers and software to develop and enrich academic skills, while promoting technological exploration in a safe environment. Internet safety and responsible use agreements are part the technology program, along with using digital media for presentations and research. All classes have access to two computer labs at the Village Campus for whole group instruction and practice. Students and parents are provided with school e-mail addresses and are connected to Haiku, our Learning Management System, to access assignments and put them into a drop box for teacher review, share photos of class activities, and manage communications about upcoming events.

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