Fifth Grade Spotlight
One of the key elements of a St. Thomas’s Day School education is leadership development. Starting in Kindergarten, the School incorporates ways to build confidence in the students, allowing them to grow into responsible citizens and independent thinkers. While this is a deliberate progression from year to year, it becomes even more apparent in the fifth-grade year.
Students begin to understand that they are members of a larger community. They become role models for younger students and begin taking on more responsibilities within the school, including serving as buddies, Chapel helpers and tour guides. Public speaking and effective communication of ideas become important parts of the educational experience and help students to develop a strong sense of self as they learn to express themselves as individuals.
In addition to offering increased leadership opportunities, fifth grade provides a deep dive into academics with an emphasis on engaging in meaningful conversations about complex issues. This year, in support of our school-wide goal of multi-perspectivity, Mrs. Psaradellis and Mrs. Gagne have incorporated some new curriculum around social justice and identity. “I revised all of the social studies units to be sure to include more voices from history and include people who have previously been excluded from history. We learn the ‘real’ story, at an age appropriate level, and the students love it,” says Mrs. Psaradellis.
Students are ready and mature enough for these sometimes challenging and uncomfortable, but meaningful conversations. “They understand that the world is not perfect but they are also embracing that they can be a part of the change. They are creative thinkers that are inspired by the world around them and are actively problem solving daily on their impact on others,” says Mrs. Gagne.
Fifth graders have strong opinions and are learning how to debate topics of interest. They enjoy talking about current events and community issues. The small pods foster confidence and provide a safe, encouraging environment for students to speak up and express their ideas. They also provide ample opportunities for teachers to coach and support individuals as they gain confidence.
There is no doubt that fifth grade is a year of growth and maturation with serious work and serious conversation. It is also a year filled with fun, happiness and humor. While learning, the students have plenty of time to socialize, play and exercise regularly. Mrs. Psaradellis reports, “If you walk into my classroom, you will see students actively engaged in learning, activities, and discussion; work they are proud of hanging on the walls; inspirational music filing the air; sunlight streaming in and keeping our class plants alive and healthy; and happy students working together on assignments or projects.”
About the Teachers
Mrs. Psaradellis has been teaching elementary school for 15 years starting in Miami before returning to her home in Connecticut. She is married with two little girls, Zoey and Calista, and a little dog named Rico. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and cooking new foods.
Mrs. Gagne has been teaching for the past 18 years in a variety of settings. She has experience in a variety of roles from classroom teacher to literacy interventionist and is in her last few weeks of finishing her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on the Inclusive Classroom. Mrs. Gagne lives with her husband and two cats and she enjoys reading, warm weather, and cooking.
Click below to view A Day in the Life of Fifth Grade!