At The Baldwin School, Building an Early Love of Learning and Community
Find out how Baldwin's Lower School can shape your daughter's path.
What makes a Baldwin girl?
Everyone has their own description. Eric Muhammad, whose daughter is now in second grade at The Baldwin School said, “for me, a Baldwin girl is a girl who’s assertive, a girl who knows what she wants, is confident, and decisive.”
His wife, Phanerrica, had more to add: “She’s also compassionate. Because I think it’s important to be confident and be sure of yourself, but also have empathy and be able to have compassion for other people.”
That combination of character is one of the qualities that set the Lower School at Baldwin apart. At the all-girls school in Bryn Mawr, which runs Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, the early years are designed to be a time to foster a love of learning in young girls.
The Lower School is a place of discovery and celebration, that emphasizes building imaginations, creativity, as well as laying the foundation for critical thinking. In these years, Baldwin girls begin to discover who they are and the world around them.
The School helps them develop their identities as learners, leaders, creators, and collaborators.
At Baldwin, students are engaged, inquisitive participants in their own education — and they can develop in multiple areas, including academics, athletics, service, and the arts.
Baldwin’s world-class Lower School curriculum include Mandarin Chinese instruction, the STEM-focused DREAM Lab, and a Lower School library designed with the needs of the youngest readers in mind. Plus, all students learn to swim through Baldwin’s renowned program.
Nicole Scipione Didizian ‘98 attended Baldwin from third grade through graduation, and has a deep affinity for the school. Nicole’s daughter Caroline originally attended public school, but when the child seemed to need bigger horizons, her family knew Baldwin was the answer.
According to Mom, Caroline, now a third-grader at Baldwin, “has blossomed!”
“This investment that I’m making, that my parents made — it’s a gift.”
Nicole marveled at the way Baldwin helps girls understand the importance of taking positive risks, and how much it helps build resilience and, ultimately, a stronger and more nimble mind. It’s a message that comes from the top – Baldwin Head of School Marisa Porges ’96, PhD (herself a Baldwin graduate) has written extensively on the topic of resilience. More importantly, it’s built in to the curriculum.
As a result, Nicole said, “Baldwin girls don’t ask if they have the ability to do something, instead they see how they can make it happen.”
“These girls are never afraid when they hear the word ‘no,” when they hear ‘you didn’t make it this time,’’’ Nicole said. “They don’t quit.”
Baldwin is more than just a school, it’s a lifelong community, and the traditions and sense of history start in the Lower School. Even the youngest students are introduced to the school’s many traditions, including the holiday sing-along, the Thanksgiving assembly, and BEAR (Be Excited About Reading) Day.
Each Lower School grade has a special theme, around which projects and presentations are centered. For example, third grade students research a park in the National Park system and then are commissioned as park rangers by a faculty member who is a park ranger.
The students’ research culminates in individual presentations given to the rest of the Lower School. The fifth grade students are challenged to find problems no one has solved and build that solution. Their ideas are showcased at the annual Invention Convention.
For Phanerrica Muhammad, that sense of community was hugely important. She and her husband looked at a lot of schools for Fatinah, but when they got to Baldwin, she said, “the search stopped.”
“I had to feel comfortable, just as I wanted her to feel comfortable,” Phanerrica Muhammad said. “The community here … it felt good. I felt like I wanted to be a Baldwin girl.”
“There’s a thread from Pre-K all the way to 12th grade with these girls, and you see the development when they graduate,” Eric Muhammad said. “Anywhere we go, we can recognize a Baldwin girl now.
“It’s hard for me to describe or explain that, but it’s just something that’s inherent and cultivated at Baldwin.”
Photographs courtesy of The Baldwin School.