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Nurturing Confident,

Curious Learners

Lower Schoolers enjoy a laugh during music class.

Lower School

Grades 1–4

Visit Durham Academy Lower School, and you'll agree that there's something special in the air — a certain spirit of engagement and purpose. You'll observe warm relationships between teachers and students, and classmates supporting one another and practicing the habits that lead to moral, happy and productive lives. Above all, you'll see students curious about the world and motivated to learn all that they can. 


What we want children to experience is a sense of belonging. Research shows that there’s a positive correlation between academic success and a student’s confidence, sense of belonging and autonomy. We’re trying to build agency in children. Our students know, 'I’m an important community member in my class, in my grade, in this division and in this school.' The Lower School is small enough that we know everyone’s name. A step further, the librarians know what each child likes to read. The head of school is out on the sidewalk welcoming students every morning and knows each one of them.

Carolyn Ronco
Director of Lower School

Picture Your Child Thriving at DA

Durham Academy Lower School is brimming with students' enthusiasm for learning and teachers' love of working with children — and we encourage you to experience that for yourself by visiting our campus! 

We also know that you may have questions about affording a Durham Academy education. We encourage you to apply for financial aid if you believe you need any level of support and to reach out to chat about the financial aid or admission process. 

Plan Your Visit to the Lower SchoolLearn About Financial Aid

Our mission to prepare students for moral, happy and productive lives undergirds every moment of a student's day. The Lower School is a caring community — a nurturing environment conducive to learning in which each member of the community feels secure and supported. Among our goals is to guide students to develop self-discipline, build empathy for others and stand up against bias and exclusion.

Students also have plentiful opportunities to discover interests beyond the walls of a traditional classroom — from tending to plants in the Lower School garden, to delighting in the sounds of Orff instruments, to collaborating with students across grade levels on an art installation. 

Fourth-graders act in the annual class play.

Confidence Before a Crowd

Students' comfort with public speaking and performing on stage develops organically over the course of their Lower School years. There are myriad opportunities for students to practice these skills — from speaking at assemblies to performing before standing room-only audiences at musical and dramatic performances. It's one of the many ways your child will build independence and agency at the Lower School.

Life @ DA Lower School

    The third installment of our series highlighting what happens during a typical day at Durham Academy takes us to the Lower School, where we’ve already seen math, language arts and visual arts in action this year.

    Before he achieved renown as one of the more gifted sculptors of the 20th century, Alberto Giacometti felt a thorn dig into him, the one that jabs anyone who dares to wield a brush, or a prop, or a guitar.