5th 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. This is the time to feel safe and secure while just sticking a toe into the Middle School waters. Our goal is to make this a year of wonder. A time for children to discover they have a voice and a real contribution to make in class. A time to try new things and make friends that will last forever. A time to begin discovering who they may one day like to be.

Claire Wilson '18, Attending University of Notre Dame

I remember the first week of St. Luke's like it was literally yesterday. My teacher was Mrs. Olsen and she could not be sweeter. She was always so kind and so welcoming of everyone and set up a culture within the classroom of kindness. The people who were in that class with me—I'm still super close with and I think we will always have that."

Growing Up at St. Luke's

Starting in Fifth Grade Made All the Difference: Six Graduates Reflect

Ready, Set, Go

The solid foundation built in fifth grade prepares students to take off academically. Ten out of our last fourteen Valedictorians and Salutatorians started at St. Luke’s in fifth grade. When children are known and encouraged by their teachers, their confidence and abilities grow. It all starts here. 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.

Becoming Part of a Community

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 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.


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 about Andrea's experiences: Parent Perspective: The Private School Experience.

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 that lead to day-to-day progress as well as long-term positive outcomes. Students are guided in the development of these essential habits: 

Positive Dispositions

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  • Confidence to Lead

  • Creativity

  • Independence

  • Resilience

  • Self-motivation

Essential Habits

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  • Growth Mindset

  • Love for Reading

  • Self-Organization

  • Meditation

  • How to be a Good Listener

Meet Our 5th Grade Team

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  • Jane Olsen

    Social Studies Teacher
    Jane was appointed in September 1999 as a fifth-grade teacher, after 14 years at home with her three daughters. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College and went on to earn her MA and M.Phil. from Columbia University in Russian History, where she was also named a President's Fellow. Jane says she has always known she was meant to teach fifth grade, because they are magically emerging from the grounded innocence of the early years into a time of continuous, thrilling discovery, and she loves being part of their journey.

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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 5 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 2 sons, Michael and Joseph. During her free time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching television, and reading.

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  • Elaine Juran, 5th Grade English Teacher at St. Luke's School

    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, and is in her ninth year of teaching. 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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  • 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.

St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 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.