LFDCS recognizes the importance of preparing our students for their future through the integration of technology in our school and curriculum. Since our founding, computer labs and the skills they foster were foremost in our priorities. Our students and teachers were able to adapt to remote learning last year with high-level instruction because the technology needed was already familiar, and we were able to provide Chromebooks to students who needed them. As both the school and technology move forward, our technology plan has evolved to incorporate computers in every classroom as well as learning centers for research and remediation. The goals are to: encourage teacher leadership through the Innovative Learning Team which helps to inspire new ideas and approaches towards Blended Learning and its relationship within the future of learning; refine a vision for the future of learning at LFDCS; work to create aspirational and feasible prototypes for implementing curricular units for short-term pilots and build next-generation competencies. LFDCS has a Digital Instructor to work with teachers on integrating more technology into instruction. Multiple carts of Chromebooks enable 1:1 use in grades 5-8. Grades K-4 has access to technology as well, sharing multiple carts of Chromebooks or IPads to use in class. Grades 5-8 use a Learning Management System, Schoology, to access homework and other materials from their devices at home. LFDCS is committed to Blended Learning by integrating technology into all parts of planning, assessment and instruction. Students in grades 2-8 learn to be ethical users of technology and strengthen their computer skills with a weekly session just for that purpose.
LFDCS values the arts as a meaningful and essential component in the education and development of children. Participation in the arts opens children’s worlds and minds, exposes them to cultures and offers them opportunities to develop skills which enrich their lives. Art and music curricula at LFDCS are offered to all students K-1 through grade 8 by full-time, certified art and music teachers. Following the arts standards established by Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, children are exposed to diverse arts media and music expressions. Art and music have also been offered in after-school and summer enrichment and through an extraordinary 14-year partnership with Phillips Academy Andover which was halted because of COVID but we hope to restart this program again. Students in grades 3-8 learn and practice instruments each week with one-on-one student tutors from the Phillip’s Academy-Andover Chamber Orchestra. A music room and instrument practice center and art room at the Upper School are available for all LFDCS students to have art and music classes weekly. LFDCS looks for occasions for students to show their art and perform music throughout the year.
Physical Education: Health and Fitness, Grades K-1-Grade 8
LFDCS houses a state-of-the-art gymnasium built adjacent to its Upper School and is committed to the health and fitness of our students. Because the student population is growing, LFDCS began leasing a gym that once housed the city’s Jewish Community Center. Students in all grades participate in physical education (PE) classes weekly and are introduced to fitness, stretching, strengthening of muscles and breathing. Students learn individual and team fitness routines as well as team sports and sportsmanship. We hope to begin again this year our after-school fitness activities that include: soccer, a running club, volleyball, wrestling, karate, cheerleading, gymnastics (Youth Development Organizations partnership) and league basketball for girls and boys in grades 5-8.
Grade 7 & 8: Building Leaders through Teamwork
LFDCS offers a special teambuilding activity for students in grade 8 in place of academic classes on one day within the first two weeks of school. The program introduces students to their grade-level teaching team as they participate in a day of “outward bound” leadership challenges. These activities are intended to help students learn about classmates, teachers and themselves through lessons in building trust and friendships and build grade-level team of students and teachers that work, learn and succeed together. The goal of the program is to establish, right from day one of the school year, the importance of communication, working together, respecting each other’s’ views and opinions and to successfully complete the tasks assigned as a team.
" Opening Doors" Program: Successful Transition to High School
LFDCS invests in the futures of our graduates through our Opening Doors program. The Secondary School Coordinators work with every student in grades 6, 7 and 8 and their families to understand the process of making the transition from LFDCS to high school and the many options and opportunities they may pursue. Workshops in SSAT prep and partnerships with area private secondary schools and youth organizations help connect our students to individuals and interests to broaden their experiences and vision. Connections to after school and summer enrichment, coordinated by the Secondary School Coordinators, introduces students to journalism, robotics, fine arts, theater, private schools and college campuses. Intensive attention to applications, essays and interviews are completed in early fall of eighth grade. A High School Fair for eighth grade students and their parents provides on-site information to all area schools including many of the top secondary schools in the United States. Application and acceptance rates of over 50% consistently send our graduates to bright futures. Some of the high schools that our students attend are: Academy at Notre Dame, Berkshire School, Bradford Christian Academy, Central Catholic High School, Clark School, Concord Academy, Darien High School, Deerfield Academy, The Derryfield School, Fryeburg Academy, Glastonbury High School, The Governor's Academy, Lowell Catholic High School, Maine Central Institute, Miss Hall’s School, Noble and Greenough, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, Pentucket High School, Pingree School, Phillips Academy (Andover), Ridgefield High School, St. John’s Preparatory School, St Mark’s School, The Academy at Penguin Hall, White Mountain School, Greater Lawrence Technical High School, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, Lawrence High School and Methuen High School. After graduation, our Secondary School Coordinators support LFDCS graduates by tracking student progress to ensure positive experiences and retention. These services help to create outreach mechanisms and gatherings to reunite alumni in age-appropriate groups. By re-connecting alumni to LFDCS, it provides participation opportunities that build allegiances and support for the school. Many of our alumni are invited to speak at special events such as at the LFDCS graduation and fundraisers and invited to become trustees on the LFDCS Board of Trustees.
Ambassadors Program: Leadership in Action, Grades 5-8
LFDCS inaugurated in 2006 the Ambassadors’ Program to commence with the opening of the Upper School. The ambassadors apply and are chosen based on the following criteria: excellence of character, academic scholarship responsibility, reliability and integrity. The ambassadors represent LFDCS by leading school tours for visitors, funders and potential students. They meet with elected officials and business leaders—learning the roles of leadership in a community and showing others, by example, the qualities and expectations of students at LFDCS.
Community Service: Opportunities to Make a Difference
LFDCS was founded with a mission for high expectations for student success including the important lessons of life and leadership which are learned through service to others. Building a better community through the efforts of individuals at all ages is an important goal for our school. Keeping our school, neighborhoods and parks environmentally clean and free from graffiti, gathering food for hungry families, tutoring younger children with reading and math, maintaining the school gardens, and helping senior citizens study citizenship are some of the valuable projects our students participate in at LFDCS as part of community service and service learning. Students usually begin community service projects in Grade 7, with 30 hours needed to be documented to graduate.COVID-19 prevented students from doing community service for last year and was replaced by a civics education project. LFDCS will revisit the community service program once information on school routines related to COVID-19 are clear for the coming school year.
Libraries: Resources for Reading and Research (Upper & Lower Schools; Family Library at K-1)
LFDCS provides special places for reading and literacy throughout its facilities. A library for grades 2-4 in the Lower School contains thousands of donated and purchased books, kits for classroom and home lessons and space to work quietly on special projects. The Alekal Library at the Upper School provides fiction and nonfiction middle-grade literature, reference books and an internet-connected computer center to support student research, writing and learning. A Computer Literacy Specialist works out of the Upper School Library to support students’ in the Lower and Upper School use of technology in content, reading, research and digital citizenship.
Social-Emotional Learning: The Leader in Me
Massachusetts and LFDCS recognizes that we educate the whole child and the effect that social–emotional (SEL) health has on learning. The Leader in Me by Sean Covey is a philosophy that is helping schools inspire greatness in all students while engaging school staff in a common approach to social-emotional supports. As a pilot project in SY’2017-2018 and completely implemented school wide in 2018-2019, Covey’s book inspired LFDCS’ grade five teachers to successfully implement Steven Covey’s 7 Healthy Habits into their classrooms to foster leadership skills in students. This approach helps students become successful members of the LFDCS community as well as successful citizens. To apply this philosophy at LFDCS, all new staff members receive a copy of the book and are expected to read it. The expectation was that we all read the book throughout the school year and that three The Leader in Me Steering Committee members and three teachers in each building support the Heads of School and teachers with the implementation of this philosophy as appropriate in each building. This approach means that all teachers and students are using the program to focus on leadership skills and building a connected community of learners that take responsibility for their own actions and learning. As we discover student experiences with the remote learning and COVID-19, LFDCS will explore other SEL programs and materials and revisit The Leader in Me in order to provide the best, most up-to-date SEL support in the coming year.