Dr. Cottingham was appointed Interim Upper School Director in July 2021, and her Pingry experience includes three years as Upper School Academic Dean and a semester as Interim English Department Chair.
Her deep understanding of how best to guide young learners on their journey through the Lower School, and her energy and passion epitomize the philosophy of the Short Hills campus: inspiring in children a lifelong commitment to learning, self-discovery, and social responsibility, and nurturing their growth in all facets of school life.
Lower School: From Kindergarten through Grade 5, Lower School students lay the important foundation of their educational future. Here, in an academic framework focused on critical thinking and cross-disciplinary study, children learn and discuss principles of honorable behavior, practice teamwork, and develop their independence. Whether in the science lab, drama or art studio, playground, or playing fields—and guided by a desire to impart a love of lifelong learning—we teach our students to embrace the principles of honorable behavior, celebrate diversity, and collaborate. We complement these academic and life lessons with community and civic engagement activities that begin in Kindergarten, exposing children to the value of helping others through a variety of age-appropriate, hands-on activities.
As students mature, we encourage them to take increasing responsibility for their education to promote initiative, self-discovery, self-reliance, and independence through study skills, organization, and attention to process.
Because we recognize the importance of parental involvement in a child's overall educational experience, we not only offer formal bi-annual parent/teacher conferences, but also encourage faculty and administrators to build informed, productive relationships with parents.
Lifelong curiosity is nurtured by making learning an exciting and engaging process. For our Lower School students, that’s precisely our goal.
We offer traditional coursework in language arts, mathematics, science, Spanish, and social studies, supplemented by activities—both inside and outside the classroom—that emphasize experiential learning. Every minute of the day is looked upon as an opportunity for new understanding and growth. Art, music, and drama classes provide outlets for student creativity and self-expression. Technology and library classes impart foundations in research and literary skills. And newly modernized STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) classrooms offer valuable opportunities for interdisciplinary study, furthering creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving among students.
Daily physical education classes and plenty of outdoor time on our recently redesigned playground give students the chance to play, interact, and learn valuable lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.
Year after year, our Lower School students experience a seamless transition to the Middle School on the Basking Ridge Campus. Why? Our fourth- and fifth-grade departmentalized curriculum meticulously readies students for the class schedules and intellectual and organizational challenges that await them in the Middle School. Additionally, two cornerstone courses, “Decisions" and "Study Skills," expose them to the problem-solving, note taking, and learning strategies they’ll need for Middle School level coursework. Filled with happy memories, our fifth-graders depart for the Middle School furnished with the building blocks they need to be successful in their new learning environment, in a nurturing community they know well.