Lower School: Grades 1-5

The Sussex Lower School educational experience includes core disciplines language arts, mathematics, integrated social studies and science, art, music, drama, foreign language, and physical education.


The first through fourth graders are “Littles” to older students, and fifth graders become “Bigs.” Big & Little time includes literacy-based activities, art projects, holiday celebrations, and opportunities to develop a mentor-mentee relationship.


Beyond the daily emphasis on kindness, inclusion, and acceptance, first through fourth-grade students are taught interpersonal skills and positive communication language through TOOLBOX, the nationally recognized social-emotional learning and development program.

In addition to their academics, Sussex Lower School students participate in service learning projects throughout the year and enjoy our winter ski program. All aspects of our programs combine to create one of the best educations in Missoula, Montana.

1st & 2nd Grade


Student-Teacher Ratio 14:1

In their first and second grades, Sussex students are challenged to think critically, act responsibly, take ownership for learning, and appreciate the needs/beliefs of self and others. They work on projects to create a foundation of integrated-subject learning and collaborative processes.


With a focus on community that expands beyond the classroom, Sussex School students in first and second grade begin to explore how their interests and gifts can positively impact communities. This fits in with the classroom experience, where each student is valued as both a community member and an individual with unique capabilities.

First and second graders receive introductory Spanish classes a couple of times a week to create exposure and appreciation for foreign language.

3rd & 4th Grade


Student-Teacher Ratio 10:1

Students in third and fourth grades transition to more independent project work.


They are encouraged to ask questions that hone research, non-fiction reading and writing, information synthesizing, and presentation skills.


Students begin to experience leadership, establish homework routines, consider the appropriate use of technology in research, and further develop interests to discover passions.

Students study units of French, and they experience a Wellness class, which is a comprehensive and skill-based health curriculum that aligns with National Health Education Standards, covering physical, emotional/mental, social, spiritual, financial, occupational, environmental, and intellectual health.



5th Grade


Student-Teacher Ratio 14:1

5th grade serves as a bridge from lower school to upper school. In fifth grade, students begin formalized math/science integration, are given opportunities for educational choice, move into presentation and performance, and complete a deep-dive exploration into a desired topic.

To that end, 5th-grade students take STEM; choose a language to study; take part in a capstone research project; and perform in a class play through the drama program. 

In fifth grade, students also have a comprehensive sexual-education unit  which focuses on healthy relationships, and the changing body.

“At Sussex, I had the opportunity to express my own opinion, but better for me, I learned how to listen and appreciate the opinions of my classmates.

I don’t think I had the open format of classes like Sussex again

until I was in college.”

Ted Souza, Class of 1995

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