The solid foundation built in fifth grade at St. Luke's prepares students to take off academically. Thirteen out of our last twenty-two Valedictorians and Salutatorians started here in fifth grade. When children are known and encouraged by their teachers, their confidence and abilities grow. Balancing a traditional curriculum—emphasizing strong math, critical thinking, and writing skills—with interactive, hands-on learning and exploration, our fifth-grade academic program sets the stage for a positive school experience and success.

Fifth Grade: The Wonder Year

Fifth graders are a special bunch. Sweet and curious. Silly one minute then suddenly willing and able to ponder the problems of the world. They are on the brink of a transition and must not be rushed. At. St. Luke's, they can feel safe and secure while having the opportunity to stick a toe into the Middle School waters. Small class sizes ensure that each student plays an active role in the learning process. Our goal is to make this a year of wonder. It is a time for children to discover they have a voice and a real contribution to make in class, to try new things and make friends that will last forever, and to begin discovering who they may one day like to be.

Starting in Fifth Grade Made All the Difference

Gretchen, St. Luke's Parent, Katonah, NY

I can't imagine a more nurturing entry into middle school than St. Luke's fifth grade. There is a magical combination of high expectations and warm support . . . students move into the upper grades feeling confident and ready for greater challenges. When friends ask about St. Luke's, I say: Go now."

Becoming Part of a Community While Developing Critical Skills

A sense of belonging is essential to the success and well-being of every student. St. Luke's fifth grade is a safe and secure bridge through the changes and occasional turbulence that accompany adolescence. From day one, teachers and students form trusting relationships. They create a haven that becomes a springboard into new adventures beyond the comforts and beautiful memories of the fifth-grade hallway.

The 5th Grade Experience


Andrea Klein, Parent of Summer '20, Maya '18, and Tyler '15

Fifth grade is a truly magical place. It's the perfect combination of nurture and challenge so kids can be successful. The teachers are AMAZING. Starting their journey early gave my children a solid foundation and a level of confidence that just kept building."
Read the full interview with Andrea about her SLS experience.

The Best of Both Worlds

The best of both worlds—fifth graders enjoy a dedicated wing and place to call their own, but also the opportunity to explore and engage in all that St. Luke’s offers—an extraordinary designLab, first-rate art studios, language labs, music recording studios, theater arts and a wide range of after-school clubs and activities. Here are some of the learning experiences fifth graders participate in throughout the school year.

Habits of Mind, Habits of Action

Our teachers understand what children need to be successful learners. They see each day as an opportunity to help students form habits and dispositions - some of which are listed below - that lead to day-to-day progress as well as long-term positive outcomes.

Positive Dispositions:
  • Confidence to Lead
  • Creativity
  • Independence
  • Resilience
  • Self-motivation

Essential Habits:
  • Growth Mindset
  • Love for Reading
  • Self-Organization
  • Meditation
  • How to be a Good Listener

Meet Our 5th Grade Team

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  • Elaine Juran

    English Teacher
    Elaine earned a Master of Science in General Education and Reading, Writing, and Literature from Bank Street Graduate School of Education in 2012. Prior to entering the teaching profession, Elaine practiced law in the area of Intellectual Property. Elaine is also the parent of two St. Luke’s graduates (2015 & 2017).

    Elaine shared that she loves being a teacher at St. Luke’s “not only because the students are eager and curious learners, but also because of its collaborative, student-centered, and inclusive environment.”

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  • Rob Salandra

    History Teacher
    Rob joined St. Luke’s in 2019 as the Upper School History Teaching Fellow after teaching at St. Stephen of Hungary School in Manhattan for two years. A 2016 graduate of Fordham University, where he majored in Business and minored in Philosophy, Rob is in the process of earning his Master's in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. A Fairfield, Connecticut native, he currently lives in Bridgeport with his wife, Emma (who is also a teacher), and their son, Albus. On top of being an avid guitarist and music lover, Rob is also a self-described amateur mycologist and naturalist.

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  • Jessie Samuel

    Science Teacher
    Jessie most recently worked at the Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ, where his role as a middle school science teacher extended beyond the classroom to serving as an assistant tennis coach and mentor to the 5th grade debate team.

    Jessie earned his BA in Biology from Dominican College, and in addition to his middle school experience at Elizabeth Morrow he has taught in several high schools. Prior to being an educator, Jessie had his hand in science working as a lab technician.

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  • Melissa Zurkowski

    Math Teacher
    Melissa has been teaching 5th-grade Humanities and Math at St. Luke's since 2006. Ever since Melissa was five years old, she knew that the teaching profession was where she would be the happiest. She believes that children are the seeds of the future, and it is her job, as the teacher, to provide these “seeds” with the proper nourishment they need to grow, achieve, and prosper. Melissa lives in Norwalk, CT with her husband, Jonathan, and two sons, Michael and Joseph. During her free time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching television, and reading.
St. Luke’s School is a secular (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving over 35 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.