Welcome from Karen Leavitt,
Head of Lower School

Welcome to the Bernard Zell Lower School!  

First-grade students are welcomed into warm, nurturing and inclusive classrooms as they begin their Lower School experience. This journey takes them on a path through exploration, creativity, technological experiences, intentional academics and important social and emotional achievement, and delivers them to Middle School as confident, motivated and growing learners.

The Lower School experience is rooted in high academic expectations, and is supported by teachers who provide gentle guidance within familiar boundaries. Classroom space is safe for risk-taking, questioning, collaboration, and rich discussion. Through the use of the Responsive Classroom approach, students take ownership of creating and molding the learning environment and community to best fit their needs. Students are encouraged to share their voices, explore their individual passions and contribute meaningfully to their classroom communities.

Being part of Bernard Zell means being part of a vibrant Jewish community, where kindness and consideration of others are fundamental in our daily practices.  Learning Hebrew, participating in rich traditions like Friday Shabbat lunch and engaging in service learning help define our mission. As educators, we join together with parents and families to create a strong, guiding force in children’s lives, nurturing them through this special Bernard Zell journey.


Karen Leavitt
Head of Lower School
Social emotional development is something we really build on throughout the school year. Every June, my students leave my classroom with newfound independence, confidence and strengthened relationships.
- Lindsay Kaplan, 1st Grade Teacher


Karen Leavitt
Head of Lower School

773.281.1858 x236

First page of the BZ_Admissions_Brochure PDF file

Click above to view our Admissions brochure.