Welcome to the Lower School

The Lower School has the privilege of introducing our youngest children to their Pre-Nursery through twelfth grade educational journey, upon which the foundation of all future learning will be built. Our ultimate goal is to instill a love of lifelong learning and we begin by embracing each child as an individual with unique gifts and talents.
Young children learn best when they are actively engaged and appropriately challenged in a nurturing and safe environment. Our early childhood program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach which emphasizes exploration and discovery and values each child’s unique thinking process.

Our child-centered approach continues in the elementary grades where we focus on building a strong academic foundation. Harvard’s Graduate School of Education Project Zero Thinking Routines often guide classroom discussions and encourage deep thinking. While our experienced and committed faculty is mindful of national standards, we allow standards to inform, not mandate our curriculum. We set high expectations for educating the whole child across multiple domains: academic, social, emotional, physical, and creative. We are deeply committed to supporting each child to achieve his/her personal best and teaching our students to be reflective about their learning, to be self-advocates, and to positively contribute to our community both within Portledge and beyond.

In addition to daily instruction in core content subjects, art, creativity, and a love and respect for the humanities informs a rich schedule of ‘special’ classes in the Lower School. Pre-Nursery through fifth grade take physical education, art, music, and library. Elementary students also take drama and world languages with instrument instruction beginning in fourth grade. In keeping with our dedication to educating the whole child, all Lower School students have recess every day.

Explore – Create – Excel in the Portledge Lower School.

Saralyn Lawn
Lower School Division Head

Lower School Supply Lists

- Carol Tomlinson

“Excellence in education is when we do everything that we can to make sure they become everything that they can.”


List of 4 members.

  • Saralyn Lawn 

    Director of Lower School
    (516) 750-3134
  • Leigh DeMaria 

    Director of Early Childhood / Asst. Director of Lower School / Asst. Director of Admissions
    (516) 750-3224
  • Fay Martin 

    Administrative Assistant
    (516) 750-3225
  • Lauren Domaradzki 

    Lower School Coordinator of Student Life / Lower School Administrative Assistant

The Value of Curriculum Mapping