Lower School: K-5

Venture into the hallways of NSU University School's Lower School and you will witness children who are joyfully engaged in learning, whether in the classrooms, the hallways, or the outdoors. In addition to emphasizing proficiency in reading, writing, and math, our Lower School curriculum focuses on world languages, social studies, science and innovation, physical education, and character development. Music and visual arts are also an integral component of our curriculum as they help to develop creativity, open-ended thinking, and cooperation.

Passionate and well-qualified educators capitalize on an innovative classroom design and exceptional resources to facilitate collaboration, active learning, and student-driven inquiry. We know that children are naturally curious, and our Lower School educational team cultivates each child’s curiosity and imagination, inspiring a love of learning. The Lower School curriculum is research-based, meeting children at their academic level of readiness. We guide our students to take risks, stretch themselves, and become critical thinkers, preparing them to meet and surmount high academic standards.

We also know that children learn best when they are given hands-on activities, which can take many forms. In the Innovation Lab, students build working robots out of technology scraps. To learn about supply and demand and sales and profits, fourth grade students sell gently used toys to raise money for a non-profit organization. Our youngest students are often the source of the biggest ideas at USchool. Our goal is to ignite learners’ minds in limitless ways.

To learn more about our Lower School programs, click here.

Faculty Highlight

Lower School News

Fanya DeMaria

Fifth grade teacher Fanya DeMaria is a veteran educator who has dedicated 23 years to NSU University School students. A major benefit of teaching at USchool for a little more than two decades has been her ability to forge lifelong bonds with her students and continue working with them as they advance from one level to the next. She appreciates watching them evolve developmentally and witnessing how the knowledge she imparted is used in their everyday lives, paved the way for a specific career path, and attributed to their passions.

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Robin Mendelson

The heart of a school is its teachers, and we are fortunate to have some of the greatest educators at NSU University School – one of which being long-serving kindergarten teacher Robin Mendelson. With more than 41 years of teaching under her belt, Mendelson is a valued member of our school community whose passion and commitment to her students and their education has made a world of difference in the lives of many. When walking into her classroom, one thing is certain – you will always find energetic, engaged students exploring all there is to learn in an environment where ideas and contributions are valued.

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Jonathan Moreno

Longtime Spanish teacher Jonathan Moreno has been making a difference in the lives of students at NSU University School for the past 14 years, helping Lower School students achieve language proficiency while gaining an appreciation for the Hispanic culture. His passion for education extends beyond foreign language and includes a universal form of expression – music. He shares this love with his students by integrating music and art into his lessons, making them more engaging and improving students’ attitude when learning another language.  

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Students give back as part of NSU's Global Day of Service

As part of Nova Southeastern University’s Global Day of Service, USchool students came together to lend a helping hand in the community by volunteering at service projects across Broward County. They assembled more than 500 meals to feed families in need, participated in beach and neighborhood cleanups, packed pet treats and adoption bags for Broward Animal Care, painted the Davie Woman’s Club 100-year-old building, delivered books to little free libraries in underserved communities, wrote letters to veterans, and more.

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Stefanie Ludington

Having come from a family of educators, Lower School Teacher Stefani Ludington was inspired from a young age to make a difference in the lives of students. Since joining the NSU University School community 16 years ago, she has served as a powerful role model within our school and beyond. 

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800 Canned Goods Donated to Overtown Food Pantry

NSU University School’s Homecoming canned goods collection was a huge success! More than 800 canned goods and non-perishable items were collected from our families and delivered to a new food pantry in Overtown sponsored by the non-profit organization, Food Rescue US - SouthFlorida. USchool’s Director of Parent and Alumni Relations Wynne Avellanet, who volunteers as the Food Rescue US Broward County Coordinator, stocked the shelves with the support of other organization members. The pantry was unveiled to food insecure residents living in Overtown who were invited to “shop” the pantry and gather items to take home. 

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Students Build Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle

Lower School students in our Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) program are taking their robotics and engineering skills to the next level. Students designed and built an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and learned to pilot it to accomplish real-life challenges. To complete the activity successfully, they needed to solder and wire their ROV, understand buoyancy, and attack the marine challenges strategically.

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Advice from a Shark

Whether you are a new or returning Shark, you may be wondering what to expect at NSU University School. To give you insight, we asked students to share one piece of advice they would give to future students. Who better to get advice from than USchool students themselves?

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Butterfly Garden and Vivarium

Written by: NSU University School Sophomore Enoch Wong

Completing work in a classroom is a common and traditional mode of learning, but Lower School science teacher Michele Garren at NSU University School (USchool) utilizes the school’s Lichtenfeld Family Butterfly Garden and Vivarium to help educate her students in a hands-on way about butterflies and the plants that attract them. The garden itself was designed and planted by senior Duncan Jurman and is now maintained by Upper School students. The purpose of the garden is to provide hands-on learning experiences for students. This mode of learning has enhanced students’ interest in environmental science. Recently, I had an opportunity to interview Ms. Garren and talk about how she uses the garden to enhance student learning.

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USchool Students Donate Items for Pets in Need

Our schoolwide Pet Supply Drive was a success! Thank you to all those who generously donated items for animals in need at the Humane Society of Broward County. Students in our Upper School Paws with a Cause Club delivered two carloads of items, which will help feed and care for countless animals at the shelter until they are found good homes. We love to see our students at all grade levels work together to give back to the community!

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Upper School Teacher Tara Ellsley Recognized for Her Leadership and Outstanding Efforts

Upper School Teacher and President Sponsor for Le Congrès de la Culture Française en Floride Tara Ellsley was featured by the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French in their monthly newsletter for her leadership and outstanding efforts, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Fifth Grade Students Earn First and Second Place in the Stock Market Game

Two fifth grade student teams won first and second place in the Stock Market Game's South Florida Elementary Division! At the start of the year, students were given a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to build and manage a diversified portfolio, engaging in the world of economics, investing, and personal finance. Students worked together in teams to invest strategically and maximize the return of their portfolios. At the end of the program, the first-place team had a portfolio valued at $125, 582.05, and the second-place team’s portfolio was valued at $109,668.74. Way to go, Sharks!

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Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy

Congratulations to Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal for completing the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy (NIXLA) – an online strategic diversity leadership development and institutional transformation program. The immersive, highly selective five-week program offered Kaiyal an invaluable opportunity to further develop her skills as a leader and identify powerful institutional strategies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion at NSU University School.

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Lower School Breaks Fundraising Record for American Heart Association

During the months of February and March, our Lower School students participated in the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser in their physical education class where they learned about heart healthy skills and had fun with their friends jump roping. We are thrilled to report that our Lower School raised more than $24,000 for the American Heart Association, making this the most money raised for this event in school history!

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Ms. Michele Garren

Lower School Innovation Lab Instructor, Ms. Michele Garren, is one of our in-house STEM experts and enthusiasts who teaches engineering, electronics, robotics, and coding to students beginning in junior kindergarten and progressing through fifth grade in our cutting-edge Innovation Lab.

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