The mission at Grace-St. Luke’s is to prepare boys and girls to become creative problem solvers, confident lifelong learners, and responsible citizens in their communities and the world. We firmly believe that our preschool-eighth grade model (known as the PS-8 school model) is the best overall environment for children in those grades. This model allows us to provide students with the right support and academic vigor in a nurturing environment.
Research outlines various advantages to having children remain in one school as they go through such significant changes from toddlers to teens.
The culture of a PS-8 school is rooted in a strong community. This happens to be a strength at GSL: For years, we have been known for our warm, inclusive community. At the heart of GSL’s community is the faculty. Teachers work together—and with families—year after year to make sure each student receives an academic experience that is vigorous, personalized, and relevant in today’s world.
With three divisions—Preschool, Lower School, and Middle School—GSL is structured to provide expertise to the needs of all students, from two years old to teens. Teachers in each division have degrees relevant to the age group they serve, creating an environment where children are well known and appropriately supported.
During the years between toddlers and teens, children experience changes in their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive growth more rapidly than at most other time periods in life. The structure at GSL is intentionally set up to provide students with the stability they need in a safe and secure environment as they grow and develop. This, in turn, provides students with a strong sense of security.
Elise Cappella, associate professor of applied psychology at New York University, supports this in her study on PS-8 schools, outlining that they “...create more stability for students at a time when they are going through the changes associated with young adolescence.”
Research shows that a PS-8 school offers students many academic benefits.
The PS-8 school model offers a more specialized understanding of students’ academic and developmental needs, resulting in students who are nurtured and mature with an academic confidence that prepares them for success in high school and beyond.
Schools with a PS-8 model are associated with students having more positive views of their academic abilities.
Students who attend PS-8 schools show higher academic achievement as gauged by grade point averages and standardized test scores compared to students who attend schools with different models, such as K-12 and K-6.
Students demonstrate greater leadership skills, a quality researchers attribute to the intimacy of a PS-8 school model.
The expertise of GSL’s faculty in each of the three divisions is a critical piece of a student’s academic experience. GSL teachers have a deep commitment to helping each student be the best s/he can be academically, socially, and emotionally and play a crucial role in helping students know who they are and what they’re capable of doing.
GSL’s school environment allows students to experience age-appropriate activities and events without the influence of older students. Because our students aren’t living in the shadow of high school-aged students, they are more likely to embrace pieces of childhood that they might otherwise hide in front of older students.
Kay Hymowitz, an author and journalist who writes about topics relevant to children, feels that PS-8 schools “…are in a better position to remind us all, not just kids, but parents and the entire community too, that these are still children and should be treated as such."
After analyzing various studies, Beverly Amico, a writer for Essentials in Education, found that the PS-8 school environment allows young adolescents to “be leaders and challenge themselves with a sense of security [because] they know their place well and can remain confident in some areas while exploring new areas where they must gain confidence.”
At GSL, students in each division are put in roles that develop leadership skills, especially the eighth grade students.
During the years from preschool to eighth grade, a student’s interests, learning styles, and academic strengths and weaknesses are clearly defined. This knowledge equips the student and parents to find the best high school match, a decision that is difficult to make when a child is just starting preschool and lower school.
When students begin high school, they leave their comfort zone and learn to adapt to new environments, building resilience. This makes their next transition four years later that much easier. By involving an eighth grader in the high school decision making process, s/he can pull from the experience when the time comes to choose the right college.
While saying goodbye to graduates each year is one of the hardest things to do, GSL firmly believes that it is healthy for students to experience this change in ninth grade. Students are eager to embark on new challenges and explore their own individual interests.
Members of the same graduating class prepare to leave together. They lean on each other for support during this time of change. Some will continue their academic journey together at the same high school, and others will go their own way. But the one thing they all have in common is that—while they’ll make new friends and face new challenges—they’ll always have GSL as their anchor for life, and they’ll all have the bond of being Lukers for Life.