Lesley Ellis faculty lead a vibrant program that helps students achieve mastery in the core academic disciplines, as well as grow artistically, athletically, socially and emotionally. Each child’s journey–as an individual and also as a member of a collaborative community–is enhanced by several initiatives that focus on critical developmental opportunities.
The anti-bias curriculum is the compass that guides our community. Through this comprehensive, school-wide initiative, students learn about themselves and those around them; they learn to understand and celebrate differences; and they practice behavior that demonstrates an appreciation for all perspectives.
Stereotypes keep all of us from knowing each other well and discourage real thinking about differences. Our award-winning anti-bias curriculum provides a framework for considering the effects of bias, stereotypes, and labels in our culture and on each other.
More than a social curriculum, it is also an approach to developing critical thinking. Students who are comfortable questioning social stereotypes will also question academic assumptions, read with greater discernment, and think more deeply about the processes of analysis and interpretation. Read more here.
At Lesley Ellis, we work intentionally every day to create an environment in which everyone is treated with respect. Our mission, core values, and community code emphasize a kind, inclusive, and respectful community. We aim to provide and maintain a learning environment that is free of bullying and any other verbal or physical behavior that disrupts the community or makes it unsafe. Our Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan codifies our intent and is in compliance with Massachusetts General Law.
Digging Deep in the Arts
The rich arts program is a hallmark of the Lesley Ellis curriculum. It is rare to find an elementary and middle school with such a robust arts experience and ours is punctuated by the Arts Block and Arts Electives Program. Each year, working professional artists visit campus for several weeks at a time and work with small groups of students in a variety of media and disciplines. Students have allocated schedule time, a dedicated arts space, expert instruction, and the opportunity to explore topics such as film, animation, poetry writing, digital photography, graphic design, dance, ceramics, drawing, and painting. Student work is valued and appreciated by the entire community; it is displayed throughout the school and is showcased during all school assemblies.
Grade 7/8 Advisor Program
Although supporting our students is a committed team effort, we understand the distinct benefits of an individual advisor/advisee relationship. The middle school team approach assures that there are many diverse, strong relationships between students and faculty; the grade 7/8 advisor program assures that there is always one go-to person who is available as a consistent trusted resource.
Seventh and eighth grade students are thoughtfully paired with middle school staff members who become their point person for support and guidance. Advisor/advisee meetings take place at least twice a month and more frequently as needed. Our goal is to further strengthen the connections between students and staff and ensure that students and their families have a deeply personalized and supportive school experience.
The teaching of science at Lesley Ellis is about much more than knowledge acquisition. Learning science allows students to explore, experiment, manipulate, question and discover—in order to deepen their conceptual understanding of the world around them. Classroom activities stimulate students’ curiosity, encourage the use of all five senses, and increase vocabulary and patience. When students learn about the concept of action and consequence through experimentation—when they express their ideas and listen to those of others—they increase their capacity to:
- Question the world around them
- Think critically
- Defend their ideas and conclusions
By learning and understanding the dependency of living things on each other and on the physical environment, science fosters respect for nature and prepares us to improve the world for all living things.
Each year, middle schoolers participate in the school science fair, with the opportunity to advance on to the state and regional competitions.
The music program at Lesley Ellis celebrates the music within us as well as the music around us. In class, students practice feeling music by embodying sounds and rhythms. By learning how to deconstruct a song, students understand its features and patterns and are able to apply those elements in their own compositions—both physically and musically. Students actively learn about the emergent and collaborative quality of music-making and become more aware of their own potential. Many all-school events showcase student work and give the elementary and middle school choral groups meaningful opportunities to perform in front of larger audiences.
Research, as well as our own teaching experience, has shown that early exposure to a second language reinforces understanding and learning of all kinds. At Lesley Ellis we are committed to second language instruction and diverse cultural exploration beginning in the earliest grades. Students develop concrete academic skills as well as critical sensitivities that will help them navigate their global community.
Starting in our preschool classrooms, students engage in weekly Spanish instruction through total physical response, games, books, and songs. As they progress from grade to grade, instruction evolves with age appropriate activities, texts, and lessons to ensure increasing challenge and competency. From acting out Spanish verbs by jumping, dancing, and singing in Grades 1/2, to having Spanish conversations in Grades 7/8 honors classes, language proficiency and cultural literacy are an essential part of every LES student’s experience. Learn more.
Secondary School Advising
There is much thought that goes into identifying the best next step for each Lesley Ellis student. In preparation for that process, students practice interview skills, create portfolios of their work, learn test taking strategies, and consider what aspects of school are most important to them as they consider their options. Students also call on their skills as good listeners and practice mock interviews—focusing on answering questions, speaking about their growth as students, and articulating their passions and interests.
Community Service and Outreach
At the heart of Lesley Ellis is a deep sense of caring—care for one another as well as the community at large. At every grade level, community outreach is an integral part of the Lesley Ellis experience. Activities vary from year to year, based on student interest and community need. Past projects have included:
- First and second graders visiting a local assisted living facility. Both students and residents enjoy intergenerational connections while sharing stories, breaking down stereotypes, and building relationships.
- Third and fourth graders volunteering at Cradles to Crayons. The local organization supports infants to 12-year-olds living in homeless or low-income situations with necessities for thriving at home, at school and at play. Lesley Ellis students collected items for donation and also pitched in loading boxes and organizing donations at the warehouse.
- Middle school students leading friends and neighbors in fun activities at school, while parents have the opportunity to connect and socialize.
- Seventh and eighth graders helping neighbors in need. Students studied the issue of family homelessness in Massachusetts and applied what they learned in the classroom through volunteer work in their community—preparing meals and playing with children at a local shelter. Students also worked with Heading Home, an organization that helps families transition out of shelters into permanent homes; students physically helped moved families into their first permanent residence. Every detail—from collecting all the household items and furniture needed to make a home, to cleaning the apartment and stocking the food pantry—was handled by the students, with support from their parents.