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Faculty Spotlight: Laura Tonini, Lower School educator

By Eliza Jason, marketing and communications intern
Read how a Lower School educator encourages her students to be independent thinkers.
I wonder… “How can I make a video game to help people? I wonder if all animals have emotions? How did Saturn’s rings develop? I wonder what the fastest animals in the world have in common?” These wonderings are posted on the wall of Lower School educator Laura Tonini’s third-grade classroom.

Titled “Wonder Wall,” students are welcome to write about their curiosities, and after researching their topics independently, students will report back on what they’ve discovered to their classmates.   

This is just one of the examples of activities that encourage students in Mrs. Tonini’s class to think, explore and grow.

Mrs. Tonini challenges her third graders to think for themselves. She views her role as a partner in their learning and refers to herself as the “lead learner” in the classroom. “It's more than me imparting knowledge on them... but inspiring them to take ownership of their learning,” Tonini says. “They’re capable, they’re knowledgeable, and they have a lot to offer the world.”

By educating the whole child—academic, social and emotional development—Mrs. Tonini believes students will be best prepared for what’s ahead. Her class is participating in the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement™, a social and emotional learning program that has recently been introduced in the Lower School. The first topic her students are unpacking is courage. They are exploring how to honor others’ dignity as well as their own by being courageous. The curriculum reflects and reinforces LJCDS’s core value of dignity.

Mrs. Tonini shares that third graders are unique because they are becoming independent thinkers yet they still have a wonderful sense of awe and excitement for the world around them. She says some of her favorite moments are simply the class conversations where students share their thoughts on the many connections they are making to the world around them.

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