Vicki Swartz RoscoeLower School

Welcome to the Lower School!

Travel across the Fir Grove, and through the doors of the Beginning and Lower Schools, and you will be surrounded by the hum of children joyfully, naturally, purposefully learning.

Here at Catlin Gabel, we honor childhood. While giving our students the space and time to be young, we also build their agency and capabilities by inspiring them to be big. Our teachers are masterful experts at attending to each child’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development while harnessing the power of their natural curiosities.

Students are engaged in wondering, investigating, hypothesizing, building understandings, and developing academic skills in service to their intellectual endeavors. Beginning in 1st grade, children choose to study either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. Preschool through 5th grade they build a strong foundation in literacy, mathematical thinking, science, social studies, art, PE, wellness, woodshop, and music.

Children learn by building their own understandings. Our students are given the freedom to make many of their own choices and learn, early on, that with freedom comes responsibility. We encourage thoughtful, intentional risks and expect children to behave responsibly toward others and their environment.

To contribute and find success in the world, we know our children will need to be able to listen to others, appreciate different perspectives, and work together to solve problems. This journey begins in the earliest years. We cultivate a child’s sense of self—they learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and energy—while we simultaneously help children to see outside of themselves and become responsible members of community.

The Beginning and Lower School is a joy-filled place—I hope you will come for a visit!

Dawn Isaacs
Head of Beginning and Lower School

Learn More

Learn more about our program from the people that know it best

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Take the first step

Interested in applying for grades 1-5?

Read more about the application process

Quick Facts

40 students on average in each grade with two homerooms of 20 students

Each homeroom has one lead teacher and an assistant

Teacher specialists for science, music, art, PE/wellness, woodshop, library, and modern languages (Mandarin & Spanish)

Three parent-teacher conferences per year

Daily 20-minute mid-morning and 45-minute lunch recess

Field trips throughout the year and an annual class trip with at least one overnight stay

An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

Explore why Catlin Gabel is a national leader in progressive education.

We welcome more than 100 new families annually to our inclusive community from the Portland area and beyond.


A demanding and engaging program in which each student is the unit of consideration

Playing sports involves life lessons in determination, grace, and resilience. We invite everyone to be part of a team.

Extensive support ensures our students are successful.

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We foster a community that appreciates our differences and recognizes our essential unity

Every gift benefits our students. Every volunteer hour builds our community.

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