Activities and Initiatives

Nationally Recognized Anti-bias Curriculum

A Nationally Recognized Curriculum that Opens Minds and Advances Critical Thinking

Our award-winning anti-bias curriculum provides children with a framework for considering the effects of bias, stereotypes and labels in our culture and on each other.

The Lesley Ellis program is rooted in a developmental model of learning that engages children’s emerging critical thinking skills.  

A curriculum that helps children recognize bias not only deepens their understanding of other people, cultures, and families, but also strengthens their fundamental thinking skills. Knowing how to recognize stereotypes and preconceptions, how to distinguish between opinion and fact, how to draw valid conclusions from observations—these skills are needed for a lifetime of learning.

For their work in developing this program, Lesley Ellis School received the 2005 Leading Edge Award for Equity and Justice from the National Association of Independent Schools. “Independent schools have the freedom to experiment and model innovative programs that other schools can then adapt within their own settings,” said former NAIS President Patrick Bassett.

Middle School Advisory Groups

Advisory is foundational to the Lesley Ellis middle school years. Students meet in small groups with a faculty member on a regular basis. Advisory is an opportunity for students to talk with an adult and his or her peers about everything from school work and school activities to hobbies, interests, and extracurricular activities. Advisory ensures that all students are known well at by an adult who can act as a mentor and advocate for them. Advisory also creates a peer group for students that often lasts for years. Finally, advisory is an organic way to maintain communication between students, the school, and home.

Digging Deep in the Arts

The rich arts program at Lesley Ellis is punctuated by the the Arts Block and Arts Apprenticeship Program. Each year, working artists who are professionals in their field visit campus for several weeks at a time and work with small groups of students, focusing on individual disciplines. Students are given the time, space and expert guidance to delve into such topics as: film, animation, poetry writing, digital photography, graphic design, dance, ceramics, and drawing and painting. Student work is displayed throughout the school and is showcased during all school assemblies.

Scientific Searching

Lesley Ellis is fortunate to have a rich parent community of experienced scientists by trade and by passion. We leverage this scientific brain trust to benefit young learners at our school. Our Visiting Scientist program brings in scientists from across the disciplines, from bio and tech to space and genetics. Students learn to question the world around them, think critically, and defend their ideas and conclusions. The overall goals of teaching science are to deepen students’ conceptual understandings of the world around them, to develop their comprehension of how science is practiced and to increase their abilities to conduct scientific investigations. Each year, middle school students participate in a science fair at the school, with some students moving on to the state regional competition.

Learning science allows students to explore, experiment, manipulate, question and discover. Experiments and activities stimulate students’ curiosity, encourage the use of all five senses, and increase vocabulary and patience. Students learn about the concept of action and consequence through experimentation. They practice expressing their ideas and listening to those of others, developing not only their scientific knowledge, but also their social-emotional skills. By learning and understanding the dependency of living things on each other and on the physical environment, science fosters respect for nature and informs decisions on the uses of technology to improve the world for all living things.

Musical Expression

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 the sounds and rhythms. They learn to deconstruct a song and notice its features and patterns and to construct those pieces as they compose, both physically and musically. They learn about the emergent and collaborative quality of music making and become more aware of their own potential. Music is valued and showcased at many all-school events throughout the year. Elementary and Middle School students comprise three choral groups, with opportunities to perform in front of larger audiences.  

Spanish Schoolwide  

Beginning in our Preschool classrooms, Spanish teachers engage in weekly instruction through games, books, and songs. As students move from grade to grade, Spanish instruction evolves with age appropriate activities and lessons. From acting out Spanish verbs by jumping, dancing, and singing in Grades 1/2, to having Spanish conversations during morning advisory block in Grades 7/8, the language becomes increasingly a part of their experience. Students study both language and culture as they learn about customs from hispanic countries in various parts of the world. Students do research on different Spanish-speaking countries and share their findings with the class.

Thinking Globally

Our 5-8 Middle School meetings bring our anti-bias curriculum to life. Activities such as Unfair Race and “If the World Were a Village” heighten global awareness. Students lead discussions based on current events to encourage classmates to consider events from multiple perspectives.  

Preparation for Secondary School

In preparation for next schools, students practice interview skills, create portfolios of their work, learn test taking strategies, and consider what aspects of school matter most to them. Students also learn how to be good listeners and practice mock interviews.  

They develop techniques and skills for answering questions, speaking about their growth as students, and articulating their passions and interests.  

Community Service / Outreach

At the heart of Lesley Ellis is a deep sense of care. Care for one another as well as the community at large. At every grade level, community outreach is an integral aspect to the Lesley Ellis experience.  

Middle School in Motion events provide students an opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to join fun activities at Lesley Ellis while parents have the opportunity to connect and socialize nearby.

Visiting with Seasoned Citizens: Students in grades 1 and 2 visit a local assisted living facility. Students, as well as the residents, learn that there is much to be gained from intergenerational connections as they engage in activities together, share stories, break down stereotypes and build relationships.

Helping Other Students: Lesley Ellis third and fourth graders volunteer at Cradles to Crayons, a local organization that provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school and at play. Students not only collect items for donation, they also pitch in as they load boxes and organize donations at the warehouse.

Feeding Our Neighbors: In grades 7 and 8, students delve into the issue of family homelessness in Massachusetts. They take what they learn in the classroom and put it into action by volunteering to prepare meals and play with children at a local shelter. Students also work with Heading Home, an organization that helps to move families out of shelters into permanent homes, by actually moving a family to their first apartment. Every aspect, from collecting all the household items and furniture needed to make a home to cleaning the apartment and stocking the food pantry is handled by the students, with support from their parents.