Fourth grade teacher and team leader Ms. Elizabeth Haglund has taught at NSU University School for seven years, starting out as a second grade teacher in our BRIDGES program, which offers personalized educational support for our Lower School students.
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.
It takes a big heart to shape little minds. And no words ring more true for our outstanding Lower School art teacher, Jenine Mas. From as early as she can remember, Mas knew that she wanted to be an educator. As a young child, she dressed up as a teacher for the beloved Career Day, emulating her own fourth grade teacher who was her inspiration and mentor. Summers were spent volunteering in her classroom and assisting on teacher workdays. She gathered an abundance of experience and guidance, and over the years Mas’ love for the classroom grew even deeper. When she started college, there was no question about what she wanted to do with her future… teach.
Fourth grade students raised $3,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation after selling a variety of items during a lunch bazaar. All proceeds will go toward transforming the lives of children with critical illnesses and help make their wishes come true.
Fifth grade students took part in the Plant Mars Challenge and did an amazing job helping NASA scientists and the academic community identify how to use Mars and Lunar regolith (soil) to grow crops in preparation for future travels to Mars and the Moon.
Fifth grade students spent several weeks learning about the characteristics of a leader and ultimately chose someone in the community to interview and write about who displayed these traits. As a culminating activity, the school invited these community leaders to a breakfast reception this morning where students took time to present their guests with an essay about what they have learned about leadership and the influence they have made in their lives.
Our Sharks robotics teams made a big splash at the VEX Robotics World Championship, bringing home multiple awards after competing alongside top teams from around the globe.
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.
Our two Lower School MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) teams had great success at the Florida Regional MATE Underwater Robotics Competition. Teams competed in three ways at the competition: Product Demonstration (underwater competition), Marketing Display (written display), and Engineering Presentation (in-person judges interview).
Our two Lower School solar car teams won top awards for their model-sized solar-powered cars in the Junior Solar Sprint competition at the statewide EnergyWhiz event. Hannah, Ellie, and Ava won first place in the speed competition and earned third place for Design. Joseph, Evan, and Mason won second place in Design and third place for Innovation.
NSU University School’s Preschool has once again earned accreditation from The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Recognized among the top in the nation, our Preschool programs are among less than 10 percent of early childhood programs nationally to achieve NAEYC accreditation, which represents our commitment to providing high-quality education.
Fifth grade students experienced a day in the working world at JA BizTown. This engaging, hands-on program introduces students to career opportunities, economic concepts, workplace skills, and personal and business finances in a simulated community where they can connect what is learned in the classroom to the real world.
New York Times Bestselling Author and USchool parent Brad Meltzer visited second, third, and fourth grade students to discuss the creative writing process and read to the them. He spoke about how his teachers played an important role in his life and shaped his career as a writer.
The winning product of this year's fourth grade Shark Tank Jr. is…Pet+ Paste founded by student entrepreneurs Nina and Kinley. To help pet owners save on vet costs, Nina and Kinley created Pet+ Paste, an emergency paste pet owners can have readily available that will save their pet’s life in case they eat/lick a poisonous toad or get into harmful chemicals.
Mikaila Ulmer, founder and CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonade, inspired, encouraged, and empowered our future social entrepreneurs by sharing her entrepreneurial journey and how her passion for bees drove her to create a successful business with a purpose-based brand. A former Shark Tank contestant, Mikaila is a dynamic leader, businesswoman, and published author who is committed to biological diversity and the ability to make a positive impact on a local and global scale.
Three of our exemplary students – Irie Gowen, Cora Rodriguez, and Gabriella Egozi – were named Pinnacle Award winners by the Broward County Non-Public School Association.
Our award-winning robotics teams at all three levels earned the title of tournament champions and will go on to compete at the worlds championship event. The Lower, Middle, and Upper School teams brought home several championship banners, trophies, and awards including the Excellence Award (the highest award presented), Skills Champion Award, Amaze Award, Design Award, and Innovate Award.
Fifth grade students participated in a morning of community service at Feeding South Florida where they sorted and packaged more than 17,000 food items to help feed families in need.
The wins keep on coming for USchool's robotics teams! Our Lower School team won first, second, and fourth place as well as first place in Skills at the Pinecrest Academy VEX IQ State Qualifier. The Middle School team won the Skills Award, Teamwork Award, and Excellence Award - the top three awards in the competition — at the VEX IQ Tournament.
It was another successful competition weekend for our impressive Lower, Middle, and Upper School robotics teams. Our Lower and Middle School teams competed at the Hawkes Bluff Elementary robotics tournament where they qualified to compete in the finals match and together, brought home a FIRST PLACE win. The Lower School team also brought home an Excellence Award and third place in skills while the Middle School team earned the Build Award and first place in skills.
Jaimie Crawford, Upper School Director, Ann Marie Sellers, Director of Student Academic Services, and Andrew Stephens, Director of Experiential Learning, presented at the Independent Schools Experiential Education Network Winter Institute in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Their presentation entitled "Identifying Core Competencies to Drive Experiential Education" was selected for the Model Programs and Practices Workshop, and showcased innovative curriculum from our math, social studies, and world language departments.
First grade partnered with Upper School students to make holiday cards with messages of gratitude for our community heroes. The cards were delivered to fire fighters, police officers, healthcare workers, and Publix employees.
Our Sharks’ hunger for success at their respective competitions was evident as our Lower, Middle, and Upper School Robotics teams earned impressive results, including several first place wins and a state championship qualification.
We are proud to announce this year's Lower and Middle School Spelling Bee winners Ava (fourth grade) whose winning word was "engagement" and Mikayla (seventh grade) whose winning word was "circumstantial."
Best selling authors and USchool parents Matthew and Tobey Pearl visited our third graders to talk about the process of writing and publishing books. Mr. Pearl read them a story he wrote when he was a Lower School student here at USchool and even shared the beginning of a mystery book he is working on for the third grade class.
Students from Upper School WIND Club, Cadena Club, Spanish Club, French Club, Key Club, Middle School NJHS, and Lower School K-Kids sorted, packed, and delivered several carloads of supplies to help our neighbors on the west coast of Florida impacted by Hurricane Ian.
We are thrilled to announce the establishment of the University Family Organization Student Enrichment Fund. This endowment will provide supplemental financial support to USchool families in financial need who find themselves unable to support their children’s interest in participating in extracurricular opportunities.
Our Lower School VEX Robotics Team won second place overall, third place in skills, and the Innovate Award at their first competition of the season. The Innovate Award recognizes a team’s ability to implement an effective and efficient robot design process and produce a quality robot with minimal adult assistance.
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.
First grade students took a tour of the NSU Department of Communication, Media, and the Arts and explored the student-run campus newspaper, radio station, and tv station. They were thrilled to learn all about how news is shared and the essential role media plays in the educational and cultural life of the Nova Southeastern University community.
We are fortunate to be a part of a world class research university that is in the top 50 percent of schools ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Our connection to Nova Southeastern University offers our students unmatched experiential learning opportunities where they can take ownership of their education and work alongside leading scientists, researchers, and distinguished professors. Through these unique experiences, students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and real-world skills to thrive in the future.
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.
Lower School Director Donna Tobey and faculty worked with Little River Cooperative to install new garden beds for the winter and spring growing season. They installed many new varieties of plants, including edible, herb, and medicinal plants. We are excited to share all the new gardening experiences that will take place this semester.
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.
Congratulations to this year’s Lower School Spelling Bee winner Tony Toribio and runner-up Pari Patel! Tony’s winning word was “atonal.”
Three of our exemplary students – Zoe Rodriguez, Jeffrey Zhang, and Madison Davis – were named Pinnacle Award winners by the Broward County Non-Public School Association. This award is given to students who set an example for others to follow in their actions at school, home, or in the community.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
Let’s put our hands together for Kelley – winner of our Lower School Spelling Bee – and runner-up Rahula! Kelley’s winning word was “colleague.” He will go on to represent NSU University School at the Broward County Spelling Bee. We are so proud of all our students who participated this year. Great job, S-h-a-r-k-s!
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.
Although it is housed outside of the Middle School, students from JK to grade 12 will have the opportunity to interact with the garden this year as our teachers find ways to incorporate it into their existing curricula.
In our Lower School Innovation Lab, students in junior kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade used Osmo technology with iPads and age-appropriate manipulatives to practice subjects such as language arts, spelling, mathematics, fine motor skills, and spatial reasoning.
Throughout the year, our first grade students will be learning about various character traits they should practice both inside and outside of the classroom. For the month of September, they are focusing on kindness, and Star Students who have exhibited this virtue are recognized every Friday.
Fourth grade students tapped into their innovation skills last week with Circuits, Strawbees, and Cubelets!
Our fourth grade students practiced their rest and ready drum positions in music class with our new Lower School Music teacher Ms. Matthews.
On the eve of the First Day of School, we were delighted to welcome our new and returning Lower, Middle, and Upper School families!