Lower School Curriculum

Our curriculum emphasizes language arts (reading, writing, phonics, and spelling), math, science, social studies, and the arts. Our teachers help students build on daily success by fostering resiliency and self-determination. Although the state’s Common Core Standards guide what we teach, how we teach is determined by the individualized needs of our students. Data gleaned from a variety of assessments is used to differentiate our instruction and offer learning experiences that are tailored to each student’s unique needs.

Science and Social Studies

In science, many classrooms use Full Option Science System (FOSS) Kits. These kits provide easy access to the materials needed to teach science through an inquiry-based approach. Science notebooks are used to document student learning and scientific thinking.

Through our social studies curriculum, all students develop an awareness of their community and their role in it. Kindergarten and first grade focus on their school and local community. By the time our fifth grade students transition to middle school, they are equipped with knowledge of their city, state, country, and world. All students are also taught the history and importance of our school’s namesake, Paul Cuffee, and our students are challenged to live up to his ideals.

Literacy/Language Arts

We teach language arts through the implementation of the readers’ and writers’ workshop model embedded within a balanced literacy framework. Our literacy curriculum is based on five reading skills: phonemic awareness (knowing the sounds in words), word identification, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. Direct, explicit instruction and guided reading are used to teach the fundamentals of reading. The writing program is also individualized and covers many genres. Students learn the mechanics of writing through individual conferencing and whole-group instruction.


We have adopted the MacMillan/MacGraw Hill Math Connects program for our students in kindergarten through grade 5. Using the workshop model, students learn math concepts and then have the opportunity to practice their skills collaboratively and independently using manipulatives and other tools. There is a strong emphasis on basic skills acquisition and problem solving.


Students in kindergarten through grade 5 participate in special-area subjects including visual arts, integrated arts (music and drama), physical education, library media, and technology integration.



Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%