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Lower School

Lower School Philosophy

We nurture the social, emotional, and academic growth and development of each child in our Lower School, beginning with our preschool. Somerset, NJ, and surrounding area students are encouraged to take risks and to share their ideas, thinking, and problem-solving strategies during whole-class lessons, in small group cooperative activities and on individual projects. Working with families, we strive to maximize each child's potential by means of age-appropriate challenges in a supportive atmosphere.


Educational leaders wholeheartedly agree that the most critical years in a student’s education are the early years. A child’s introduction to school establishes crucial patterns and habits for their continued growth and future success and these lessons can never be recaptured. Our goal in the Lower School is to provide a safe and exciting environment where the building of a foundation of skills is the basis for a life-long love of learning and provides for the academic, social, physical, and emotional growth of each child.

In our Lower School, classes in technology, Spanish, music, art, and physical movement augment the curriculum of academic disciplines so that our students learn to appreciate the ideas of others and to create ideas of their own. Our priority is to support our students as they explore methods of communicating ideas within small classes, real world diversity, and sharing a campus where pre-kindergarten students through 12th graders are seen and heard. As a result, our students distinguish themselves because they are able to communicate with confidence.

In addition to building a strong foundation of academic skills, it is during these critical years that students develop many of the life skills that will guide them as they further their education in college and beyond in their future endeavors. Our emphasis on the development and nurturing of individual talents, problem solving skills, and ethics prepares our students for continued growth and builds a foundation for understanding the social, environmental, and cultural intricacies of the world of the past, present, and future.

In the Lower School, we strive to maximize each child's potential by means of developmentally age-appropriate challenges in a supportive atmosphere. Students are encouraged to take risks and to share their ideas, thinking, and problem-solving strategies during whole-class lessons, in small group cooperative activities, and in individual projects.

Our Lower School students benefit from the richness of diversity within our pre-kindergarten through Grade 12, co-educational community. Throughout the year our older students interact with the younger children as classroom buddies, pen pals, Science Fair judges, and simply as friends since their paths cross on campus daily.

Working closely with families in the Rutgers Prep community, the Lower School faculty and administration are life-long learners who have chosen the teaching profession to serve the best interests of children. These adults provide a safe and challenging environment that effectively encourages growth in all academic areas. Our community continuously reinforces values that build character, allow for creativity, and create responsible citizens who face the future in an increasingly global and technologically advanced world. Emphasis is placed on building skills in language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science, often including cross-curricular and personalized endeavors. Class time is routinely devoted to a value-based curriculum that stresses character building, cultural understanding, compassion, and leadership skills. Lower School students are given many opportunities to explore and practice these skills in creative, exciting, and enjoyable ways.

As members of the Rutgers Preparatory School community, we are proud of all our Lower School children, their achievements, successes, and contributions to the world around them. A current student has been volunteering for a charitable organization, “Stomp-The-Monster”. Her desire to help others facing financial challenges and serious health concerns speaks to her commitment to help others, one of the many values nurtured in our Lower School.

A benefit of being a member of a PreK-12th grade community is the opportunity to watch our Lower School ‘graduates’ as they continue their education in the Middle and Upper Schools. With music instruction beginning so early in the Lower School, it’s not surprising that many of our Lower School ‘graduates’ achieve great success in musical performance. Recently, a Middle School violinist performed at an International Competition in Moscow, Russia, and Lower and Middle School students performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City! Performing before an audience can be unnerving. However, when children become accustomed to presenting before a group, as is done beginning in our pre-kindergarten classroom, opportunities such as these are simply that, opportunities to show forth talents, skills, and individual accomplishments.

Watching ‘graduates’ of the Lower School spring into action as leaders is why the commitment to teaching in the Lower School is so rewarding. Whether it be the captain of the lacrosse team leading a school-wide ‘Welcome Back’ and fund-raiser for a fellow student returning after serious brain surgery, or another student completing thousands of hours of community service, one cannot question the value of education, moral, and social skills’ development and leadership during The Critical Years. Our Upper School students are the RPS campus community leaders, especially in the eyes of our Lower School children.

While college can present challenges to some students, our graduates spread their wings to grow in a variety of ways because their confidence, knowledge, character, and work ethic are so effectively molded. A former RPS Lower School ‘graduate’ who received his BA in History, his MA in Humanities and is currently a student in Law School was recently asked to tell his most memorable activity while attending RPS. His answer was, “Lower School Family Day!” Family Day is our annual Lower School event bringing families and friends together in a ‘carnival-like’ atmosphere, showcasing the Visual Arts, Music, Physical Education, Creative Arts, and World Language programs. The activities for the day provide children with the opportunity to show their skills through a variety of well-planned programs and displays. Why wouldn’t someone remember Family Day as a special memory from Lower School?

Unlike in a traditional preschool, Somerset, NJ students ‘graduate’ from Rutgers Preparatory Lower School, but they truly never leave. The ability to communicate effectively, the core academics they were taught, the leadership opportunities they were given, the critical thinking skills they were encouraged to expand, and the challenges they faced in the Lower School, all provide the basis for their educational careers. The values that were modeled for them during these Critical Years, in the most nurturing of ways, and the experiences they shared in the classrooms, provide our Lower School ‘graduates’ with life skills to be respected and admired members of the community in which they live. Our campus in Somerset, NJ, is conveniently located for families and students living in Franklin Township, NJ, and other communities in Central New Jersey.