In their earliest years, children are learning how to learn — and the experiences in the Primary School shape their entire academic careers. At Holland Hall, our early learning experts ensure that your child builds the academic foundation — and the foundational relationships with teachers and peers — they need for the future.
Our Primary School houses Early PreK through Third Grade in unique open-concept classrooms. The learning environment extends far beyond our airy and welcoming Primary School to the expansive outdoor classroom of our 162-acre wooded campus where our students can observe nature, test scientific principles, and make valuable early connections between academic ideas and the world we inhabit.
One of my greatest joys as a classroom teacher was the excitement surrounding the start of each school year. I anticipated the thought of a fresh start. I loved the feeling of starting over year after year. One of the best parts of the school year was getting to know each student and their family. I still consider former students “my kids” and former family members as part of my extended family. I am not unique. Holland Hall is built on meaningful relationships. The relationships created here are unlike any other. To quote one of my heroes, Mr. Rogers, “the connections we make in the course of life — maybe that is what heaven is.” I couldn’t say it better!
The motto of the Primary School is “Friendly, Helpful, Respectful, and Responsible.” These values help serve as our moral compass, driving our interaction with one another, and teaching us to honor each member of our community.
At Holland Hall, the Primary School years are truly wondrous, and our faculty provide our students with every opportunity to make the most of them. Our purposeful curriculum is designed to be developmentally appropriate, highly ambitious, well balanced and joyful! We welcome you to come and experience all the Primary School has to offer.
We invite you to visit us in the Primary School!
We love showing people around our Primary School and encourage students entering Kindergarten – Third Grade to schedule a shadow visit.
Our Early PreK and PreK admission process includes a “Play Day,” an interactive and fun visit with other PreK applicants. It is our opportunity to learn about your child in a comfortable classroom setting.
To schedule a tour or learn more about the Primary School, please contact:
Director of Admission
EPK – 3rd Grade
Early PreK: For students who will be 3 by August 31.
Our youngest students have a wing of the Primary School to themselves. The rooms have ample space to play, imagine and do group activities under the direction of Early PreK teachers Shelly Bagwell and Christy Leach, two teaching assistants and a host of specials teachers.
PreK: For students who will be 4 by August 31
Our 4-year-olds move into the main PreK hallway of the Mary K. Chapman Primary School. Three PreK classrooms share an open-concept space that allows for team interaction while also providing ample room for individual styles of learning.
PreK teachers: Sarah Emerson, Lara Koch, Hannah Tranberg
Junior Kindergarten: This unique class is taught by veteran teacher Jill Coulter. Many parents have called this year the “gift of time” that they give to their children. The curriculum builds on the skills students learned in PreK, it doesn’t repeat them. The students have a year to hone their academic and physical skills, but also have a whole year to delve deeper into the social and emotional skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Kindergarten: Kindergarten at Holland Hall is a time of incredible growth and learning. The curriculum involves many hands-on activities integrating language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. The nurturing and supportive environment encourages responsibility, decision-making, and cooperative social skills. In kindergarten, students begin to visit “specials” outside of the classroom. These include music, art, and physical education.
Kindergarten teachers: Lea Ann Kannady, Stephany Ward, Camryn Winters
Our first through third grades move into a different wing of the Mary K. Chapman Primary School. Class sizes remain small, with a teacher and assistant in every section. Open-concept classrooms prepare our youngest learners to concentrate in a world of constantly competing information streams, even while allowing them to take full advantage of one-on-one time with teachers.
Reading and writing becomes even more important, as teachers set the foundation for students to become critical thinkers. The centerpiece of the language arts instruction in the Primary School is the Teachers College Readers and Writers Project (TCRWP). This workshop approach guides our instruction in reading, phonics, and writing. TCRWP has two main goals: guide reading and writing instructions, and to help children become lifelong, confident readers and writers who display agency through work with teachers and peers. Our teachers rotate visiting Columbia University each summer for training.
Holland Hall’s first grade is a warm and welcoming environment. Small group and whole group instruction is used to introduce new skills and materials. Students are active participants in their learning and rotate through a variety of learning centers including language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. In language arts students engage in both direct, explicit strategy instruction and immersion in a literature-rich environment to build beginning reading skills. In mathematics, the goal is for students to increase their knowledge of numbers, perform mathematical operations, and recognize the uses of numbers in day-to-day situations. Emphasis is placed on a problem-solving approach based on everyday situations that develop critical thinking. Throughout the school year, different units of study including Oceans, Reptiles, Poetry, and Thanksgiving expose the students to a wide range of customs, and traditions.
Teachers: Susan Connor, Shannon McFadden, Brandy Synar
Second grade at Holland Hall continues to integrate curriculum in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, computer education, creative arts, and physical education. Second grade students also continue to grow socially and emotionally, practicing responsibility, good decision making, and cooperation. Second-graders work on developing their writing skills through gathering of ideas, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students are also reading to learn instead of learning to read. The math curriculum provides activities for students to value math, become confident in their math ability, communicate mathematically, become mathematical problem solvers, and learn to reason mathematically. Some of the units of study in second grade include Spiders, The Fair, Fairy Tales, and Alaska.
Teachers: Meagan Booker, Sarah Cox, Stacey Walkingstick
Holland Hall’s third grade program is both a culmination of learning in the Primary School and a bridge to the Middle School. Students continue to work on developing skills of independence, self-advocacy, and personal responsibility. Continuing to build on the skills of TCRWP, the third grade reading curriculum is centered on reading stamina and fluency through student choice and engagement in the readings. In math, the curriculum focuses on problem solving and on the recognition and development of various mathematical content strands including operations and computations. One of the highlights of the third-grade curriculum is the year-long study of Oklahoma.
Teachers: Patrice Cardiel, Paula Jackson, Lynne Lopez
The physical education program is a daily component of the curriculum. We are committed to developing each child’s fitness habits by enhancing their movement competencies and motor skills. High priority is placed on the comprehension of the basic principles of wellness with the goal that each child be able to make meaningful decisions that will positively impact their health and allow them to maintain a personalized active lifestyle. Therefore, instructional activities are wide-ranging from individual activities such as dancing, tumbling, tennis, and golf to the introduction of more team-oriented sports like basketball, soccer, and football.
Teachers: Teddy Owens, Rashad Wright, Brian Underwood
Exploring the fine arts in the Primary School is a time for communicating through creativity and imagination.
For the younger students, art instruction begins with learning basic elements of art such as line, color, and shape, and helps them to build from simple to gradually more complex patterns. With the ability to identify basic shapes and apply that to what they view in the world, a foundation for drawing what they see is established.
Adding an understanding of texture, form, value, and space as the learner progresses through the older age groups, students continue to build confidence in individual expression in a fun and experimental atmosphere. Many two- and three-dimensional processes are part of the program.
A variety of projects, including drawing, painting, ceramics, weaving, and collage make for many approaches to creative outcomes. The student leaves the program with an abundance of art experiences and the freedom to make their ideas a reality.
Teacher: Margie Murphy-McNutt
The Primary School music department has created general goals that are adapted to the developmental level of PreK-third grade students. Music classes provide a natural vehicle for individual creative expression and personal growth. The Primary School music program aims to develop each student’s musicianship by becoming an active, creative participant. Students will experience music through movement, songs, speech, and instrument playing, which prepares them for music reading and writing. This is based on the creative teaching approach developed by Carl Orff. Our curriculum provides students with age-appropriate skills and a beginning understanding of composing, performing, reading and writing music, and music analysis.
Teacher: Lori Swisher
Holland Hall Primary School Spanish offers our young students a positive world language experience, creating lifelong language learners.
Students learn Spanish through activities that target all of the multiple intelligences — singing, dancing, drawing, coloring, playing games, listening and repeating — a lot of repeating!
Early Pre-K, Pre-K and Junior Kindergarten students have Spanish in their classroom once in a six-day cycle. In kindergarten through third grade, students have Spanish in art, music or PE twice in a six-day cycle.
Practical age-appropriate language and meaningful communication using comprehensible input are the foundations of our program.
Teacher: Yolanda Hankins
Our full-time librarian coordinates with teachers to develop a student-centered curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for each grade level’s student-learning needs. This encourages our students to develop a full range of information-literacy skills and also positive attitudes about information-based learning. The librarian and teaching assistant provide opportunities for classes to participate in regularly scheduled literature experiences such a Readers Theater, use our mobile laptop lab to learn how to navigate online sources for individual research projects, or visit informally to select a new book for personal reading or for the family to enjoy as a nightly read-aloud.
Teacher: Matt Christian
Before and Aftercare
Many families require care for their children beyond the normal school hours. Holland Hall offers before and after-school care for students – including drop-ins – allowing flexibility and convenience for our families. Hours start at 7 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
Rates are $7 an hour.