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Lower School

Three Lower School students working with a teacher at a table in a world language class

Providing a unique student experience

While play still occupies a formative role - especially in Kindergarten - it’s gradually replaced with carefully designed active-learning projects that students execute increasingly on their own.

We enrich the abilities and consciousness of Kindergarten to 4th grade students through our curriculum, teaching approach and learning goals. 

During Lower School we introduce students to a Learning Plan, which motivates them to take charge of their goals and achievements. We hold parent-attended Learning Plan conferences in the spring and fall, and beginning in 3rd grade, students play an active part in planning them.

By the time they finish 4th grade, students are acquainted with the foundations of the academic process. They enter Middle School equipped with the self-confidence, curiosity, and know-how to take on increasingly sophisticated work.

Amy Criswell

Lower School Director

"Truly amazing things occur at Elgin Academy because we work to ensure that our students feel known and have a sense of belonging and purpose. At EA, students learn and discover in an active environment built on partnership, respect, compassion, challenge, and integrity. When students feel safe to express their ideas, make mistakes, ask questions, and be creative, meaningful learning takes place and it is magical"
- Amy Criswell

Meet Our Lower School Faculty & Staff

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Amy Criswell

Amy Criswell

Early Childhood & Lower School Director, PEAK Director
M Ed, University of New Hampshire
BA, University of New Hampshire

Truly amazing things occur at Elgin Academy because we work to ensure that our students feel known and have a sense of belonging and purpose. At EA, students learn and discover in an active environment built on partnership, respect, compassion, challenge, and integrity. When students feel safe to express their ideas, make mistakes, ask questions, and be creative, meaningful learning takes place and it's magical.
-Amy Criswell

Helen Elayan

Helen Elayan

Director of Personalized Learning
MA, Adler School of Professional Psychology
BA, DePaul University

My philosophy as a school counselor is the belief that every student can succeed. Learning is a lifelong process and I want to help students foster a positive self-image all in collaboration with the school, home, and community. My goal as the school counselor at EA is to provide a safe place for all students and to address every student's intellectual, emotional, and social needs.
-Helen Elayan

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown

Lower School Administrative Assistant, Health Associate, Development Associate
BS, St. Louis University

Being a part of the EA Community means being in a place where people genuinely care. We celebrate each other in our successes and support each other in our challenges. We come to this place not just because it is a job or it is our school, but because we truly believe in the experience that takes place on our campus.
-Jenn Brown

Amy Baldini

Amy Baldini

Lower School Fourth Grade
BA, Elementary Education, National-Louis University

Teaching at Elgin Academy has been very rewarding. I get the opportunity to be my creative and innovative self while forming meaningful connections with my students.
- Amy Baldini