lower school

Throughout our Lower School, there is much to celebrate. Joyful learning requires a sense of comfort and confidence in ourselves and the people, places, and things around us. Academics, combined with social-emotional learning, are significant parts of the whole that distinguish an authentic learning moment that should not occur in isolation. So each day in our Lower School, our faculty and students, both dedicated and passionate educators and learners, pave the way for meaningful and enjoyable learning opportunities. Walk into our Lower School and let your senses guide you. We guarantee it will be a rewarding and joyous experience…ask any of our students!

PRESCHOOL
Rocky Hill Country Day’s By-the-Bay Preschool serves the emotional, social, cognitive, creative, and physical needs of 3 to 5-year-old children. Our nurturing and safe environment encourages...
READ MORE
GRADES K-2
Our Lower School enhances the academic and social-emotional environment that is most conducive to learning, development, and growth throughout the early childhood years...
READ MORE
GRADES 3-5
Our students transition from the early childhood years to the intermediate elementary grades where they begin focusing on, and becoming more responsible for, the study skills needed to support their academic success...
READ MORE

OUR PROGRAMS

VIRTUOSOS
LEARN MORE
SERVICE LEARNING
LEARN MORE
ROBOTICS
LEARN MORE
MINDFULNESS
LEARN MORE
ENVIRO-ED PROGRAM
LEARN MORE
PROJECT BASED
LEARNING
LEARN MORE
RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM
LEARN MORE
VIRTUOSOS
ROBOTICS
MINDFULNESS
SERVICE LEARNING
ENVIRO-ED PROGRAM
PROJECT BASED LEARNING
RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM

LEARNING SPACES

INDOOR SPACES
Our learning environments are designed for optimal learning for all, with flexible seating and spaces for group gatherings, quiet reflection, hands-on project work, collaboration with peers, and more. Lower School students are also engaged in the learning spaces of instructors of various subjects which provides a more authentic encounter with the terminology, tools, and genuine experiences of various disciplines.
OUTDOOR SPACES
Our Lower School students wonder, explore, discover, express, and celebrate in engaging classrooms, on our waterfront, woodland campus, and other inviting spaces around our expansive campus. The "Big Rock", our playgrounds, athletic fields, Garden Classroom, and other inviting spaces that welcome learners, offer experiential opportunities for our Lower School students to "think outside" as they engage their minds and bodies.

LEARNING SPACES

THE WATERFRONT
Our waterfront is an idyllic outdoor classroom that is a frequent learning environment for our youngest Mariners. As a science lab, an art studio, a regatta venue, a stop along a nature walk, or simply a beautiful view to take-in the moment, the waterfront provides the ultimate exposure to the sights and sounds of shoreline nature for our students. Crabbing, seining, shell collecting, marine life exploration, the 5th Grade Cardboard Boat Regatta, and canoeing on the river during the Enviro Ed Program are a few of the many Lower School waterfront experiences.
THE PLAYGROUND
The growth of the whole child--mind, body, and spirit--takes place on our Lower School playground. While engaged in a variety of physical activities, social interactions and endless imaginative play opportunities, Lower School students embrace the energy of the open-ended experiences this much-enjoyed outdoor classroom provides. The change of seasons creates a new backdrop and additional possibilities for outdoor play, learning and development throughout the school year.

MEET OUR TEACHERS

Patty Pontarelli

Lower School Division Head

Patty Pontarelli

BA, Rhode Island College MA, Catholic University of America

ppontarelli@rockyhill.org
401.884.9070 | ext. 116

ELAINE COSTA BERNARDINO

LS World Languages
and Cultures

ELAINE COSTA BERNARDINO

BA, University of Londrina MBA, Getting Vargas Foundation

ebernardino@rockyhill.org

Stephanie Cruff

Second Grade

Stephanie Cruff

BFA, University of Rhode Island M.Ed, University of New Haven

scruff@rockyhill.org

Trixie Dumas ’81

Lower School Art Coordinator, Lower School Math

Trixie Dumas ’81

Cert. in Architecture, RISD
BFA, Wheaton College

tdumas@rockyhill.org

WENDY GUSTAVEL

Librarian

WENDY GUSTAVEL

BA, College of the Holy Cross
M.Ed, University of New Hampshire

wgustavel@rockyhill.org

James Himmelmann

Music

JAMES HIMMELMANN

BM, University of Rhode Island
MM, University of Rhode Island

jhimmelmann@rockyhill.org

Ashley Lee

First Grade

Ashley Lee

BA, Texas Tech University

alee@rockyhill.org

Caitlin MacDonald

Fifth Grade,
Director of After-School Programs

Caitlin MacDonald

BA, BS, University of Rhode Island
M.Ed, Boston University

cmacdonald@rockyhill.org

Natalie Joseph

Third Grade

Natalie Joseph

BA, University of Rhode Island
M.Ed, University of Rhode Island

njoseph@rockyhill.org

Charlie Laurent

Fourth Grade

Charlie Laurent

BFA, Emerson College
M.Ed, Boston College

claurent@rockyhill.org

EMILY McMAHON

Kindergarten

EMILY McMAHON

BA, University of Rhode Island
MA Psychology, Adelphi University
M.A.T. Elementary Education,
Rhode Island College

emcmahon@rockyhill.org

JACK McNAMARA

Fifth Grade Band

JACK McNAMARA

BM, University of Rhode Island
MM, Boston Conservatory
of Music

jmcnamara@rockyhill.org

Patty Mott

Head Preschool Teacher

Patty Mott

AS, Community College
of Rhode Island
BS, Western Governors University
MS ECS, Walden University

pmott@rockyhill.org

Sean Tucker

Lower School Physical and Health Education

Sean Tucker

BS, Salisbury University
MS, McDaniel College

stucker@rockyhill.org

Eric Wyzga

Lower School Science

Eric Wyzga

BS, Springfield College

ewyzga@rockyhill.org

PRESCHOOL

Rocky Hill Country Day’s By-the-Bay Preschool serves the emotional, social, cognitive, creative, and physical needs of 3 to 5-year-old children. Our nurturing and safe environment encourages

  • discovery  
  • open-ended learning experiences
  • integrated activities designed to foster a sense of wonder and excitement about the world in which children live

While offering challenging developmentally appropriate learning activities, students

  • develop and enhance self-help, readiness and social-emotional skills
  • develop a sense of independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence
  • learn and work cooperatively in a small community of children and adults

Appropriate readiness assessments provide beneficial information to ensure the most holistic educational and social-emotional goals for our students. Students entering our Preschool must be 3 years of age by September 1, vaccinated, and potty trained.

GRADES K–2

Our Lower School enhances the academic and social-emotional environment that is most conducive to learning, development, and growth throughout the early childhood years. The integrity of the kindergarten, first, and second grade programs ensure 

  • commitment to “knowing” each student, their strengths, areas of challenge, and potential through ongoing progress monitoring
  • formation of relevant foundational skills through developmentally appropriate “best practices”
  • opportunities for students to learn in flexible groups that foster modeling and collaborative learning with peers of the same and different ages, abilities, and interests to expand academic and social-emotional experiences

GRADES 3–5

Our students transition from the early childhood years to the intermediate elementary grades where they begin focusing on, and becoming more responsible for, the study skills needed to support their academic success. Having developed a stronger grasp of their learning styles, areas of interest, and social awareness, students

  • demonstrate a deeper understanding of our student competencies and the importance of our school values
  • think more critically, make deeper connections, and stretch themselves both socially and intellectually
  • are empowered to take on leadership roles within our Lower School community and serve as role models and mentors for our younger students

The 5th grade year serves as the culmination of the elementary school experience and begins the process of transitioning students into our Middle School.

VIRTUOSOS

Virtuoso classes offer Lower School students the opportunity to engage in science, art, music, physical education/health, world languages/cultures, and library, research, and digital citizenship experiences. The integration of these valuable subjects within grade-level curriculum extends the application of core academic skills such as literacy, math, and social studies. Virtuoso classes also allow our Lower School students to learn with other adults, explore individual interests, and master new skills.

SERVICE LEARNING

Through initiatives which offer meaningful real-world connections and problem-solving opportunities that benefit others, our Lower School students see first hand how their compassion, acquired knowledge through school curriculum, and confidence in what they are able to do make a positive impact on the world we share. With an understanding of the distinction between service learning and community service they demonstrate a more in-depth awareness of and appreciation for serving others.

ROBOTICS

Lower School students in Kindergarten-Grade 5 are exposed to project-based explorations and robotics/programming during their school day, as well as scheduled after-school opportunities. The school day experiences are integrated into various academic subjects such as math, science, technology-focused activities, art, and projects that incorporate the engineering/design thinking process. Our award-winning competitive robotics team, The ROBO MARINERS, has also participated in First LEGO League tournaments. This program is an authentic Project-Based Learning experience and includes a robotics challenge, a robotics project, and a core values component.

MINDFULNESS

The relationship between social-emotional development and academic learning go hand-in-hand to ensure the success of the whole child. At this young age, our Lower School students are embracing our daily commitment to mindfulness education which promotes an awareness of being “in the present moment”. Through our partnership with Center for Resilience, we have established a program that offers students the tools and strategies that promote self-awareness, self-management, and their ability to access a sense of calm throughout their day.

ENVIRO-ED

Each year as part of our Environmental Education Program, students in the 4th and 5th grade integrate history and environmental science both on land and from the waters of the Green River to Narragansett Bay. Students canoe, camp overnight (5th grade), and experience the benefits of our Rhode Island shoreline on and off campus as their outdoor classroom. Student engagement includes research, collaboration with classmates, utilizing their presentation skills, and gaining enjoyment out of this environmental experience.

PROJECT-BASED LEARNING

PBL is one approach that offers our students discussion and inquiry-based opportunities, while developing our Student Competencies, relevant academic skills, and content knowledge through real-world learning experiences. Through this approach, Lower School students are offered a voice and choices, time for reflection and collaboration with peers and teachers, and opportunities to explore solutions to real-world challenges.

RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM®

One of our main social-emotional learning approaches, Responsive Classroom® focuses on creating a joyful learning environment and building a strong sense of community.  Each Lower School class (Preschool-Grade 5) begins each day with a Morning Meeting where students gather with their classroom teacher to greet each other, share, engage in a team-building activity, with other aspects of the approach continuing throughout the school day. The progression of the Responsive Classroom® approach is intentional to allow students time to experience, process, and apply what they have learned in a natural way and have a positive lasting impact on the respect and compassion they demonstrate for themselves and others.

PATTY PONTARELLI

LOWER SCHOOL DIVISION HEAD

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Volutpat commodo sed egestas egestas fringilla. Vestibulum lectus mauris ultrices eros in cursus turpis massa. Fermentum dui faucibus in ornare quam. Mi sit amet mauris commodo. Integer eget aliquet nibh praesent tristique magna. Nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis magna etiam. Arcu dictum varius duis at consectetur lorem donec. In dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Morbi tincidunt ornare massa eget egestas purus viverra accumsan in. Odio aenean sed adipiscing diam donec adipiscing tristique risus nec. Metus aliquam eleifend mi in. Fermentum leo vel orci porta non pulvinar neque laoreet suspendisse. Pellentesque elit ullamcorper dignissim cras tincidunt lobortis.

EMPLOYEE NAME

EMPLOYEE TITLE

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Volutpat commodo sed egestas egestas fringilla. Vestibulum lectus mauris ultrices eros in cursus turpis massa. Fermentum dui faucibus in ornare quam. Mi sit amet mauris commodo. Integer eget aliquet nibh praesent tristique magna. Nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis magna etiam. Arcu dictum varius duis at consectetur lorem donec. In dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Morbi tincidunt ornare massa eget egestas purus viverra accumsan in. Odio aenean sed adipiscing diam donec adipiscing tristique risus nec. Metus aliquam eleifend mi in. Fermentum leo vel orci porta non pulvinar neque laoreet suspendisse. Pellentesque elit ullamcorper dignissim cras tincidunt lobortis.

CONTACT US

If you have any questions, or would like to know more about Rocky Hill Country Day School, please fill out the form below.

Rocky Hill Country Day School

530 Ives Road
East Greenwich, RI 02818

Phone: 401.884.9070
Fax: 401.885.4985