Housed mainly in our original building Ellis Hall which is named for our first teacher, Margaret “Billie” Northcross Ellis, children in the Lower School are encouraged to explore and revel in their own talents, even as they are made increasingly aware of their relationship and responsibility to their peers, their teachers, and their families. To that end, faculty in the Lower School work closely with parents to set appropriate and reasonable expectations and to provide support that fosters excellence, achievement and, at each step—from age 3 through fifth grade—the confidence needed to succeed.
"It's a little nerve-wracking, dropping your child off at school for the very first time, but when I saw how happy and welcoming the teachers were, not to mention the other children, I haven't looked back since."
The Early Childhood Program’s (ECP) modified Montessori curriculum is designed to progress through three levels: ECP-1 (age 3), ECP-2, and ECP-3/Kindergarten. The program first develops language, math, social and emotional readiness skills in a nurturing, half-day setting, while in the second year, students begin to develop handwriting, letter recognition and seat work while incorporating literature, dramatic play, arts and crafts, cooking activities, and hands-on science experiments.
All grades have daily Spanish and P.E., and they rotate through “specials” including Art, Library, and Music during the week. Once in grade school, a more structured curriculum begins to take form in which students' language and math abilities are challenged and developed. A few years ago, North Cross instituted the Singapore Math curriculum in the Lower School, which focuses on teaching students to visualize quantities and 'see' numbers as moveable parts in an equation.
Students work in small groups, organized by skill level, in which they rotate through stations of reading, writing and word recognition. As students progress through the fourth and fifth grades, their classes take them beyond their “home room” to specialize study in science, math and social studies, introducing them to what life will look like in Middle School. For specialized information on different levels in the Lower School, click the links below.
Lower School Division Director Victor Lamas
Upper School AP World History Teacher
Washington and Lee University—B.A.
University of Virginia—M.A.
Morris Award 2014
Two-time recipient of The Roanoker's “Most Inspiring Teacher” Platinum Award (2016, 2017)
A middle-school student at North Cross has a lot on her plate; and she likes it that way. With entrance into the sixth grade, a student is introduced to more responsibility, more opportunity, and with that, more is required of her time-management skills. The transition to Middle School, a time when a student is old enough to be dropped off at the movies with a friend but still needs a ride home from soccer practice, may seem precarious, but North Cross students have the support from faculty, peers, family, and coaches to help lift them to their highest potential. By promoting scholarship, honor, integrity, and community responsibility, as well as providing an environment in which the students’ best interests are at the heart of every decision, the Middle School has an immediate goal of preparing students for the academic demands of the Upper School.
"I like my teachers because they don't rush us. They seem just as pumped up about projects as we are—sometimes more. They stay with us to make sure we understand something, help us find the right answer. They care what happens to us and genuinely look happy to be here."
Collecting toiletries for a local shelter may be an odd way to foster comradery, but the Middle School’s intramural advisory teams do just that. Each day faculty advisors meet with their respective groups to welcome students to school, update them on school matters, or, on a good day, issue an intramural challenge. Groups compete, points are tallied, and privileges are won—such as a cherished ‘jeans day.’ Middle schoolers attend dances, participate in team sports (no tryouts required), and audition for the Middle & Upper Schools’ spring musical. At the end of each term, high-achieving students and athletes receive honor certificates and awards in front of their peers during a special assembly. Spectators revel in the sheer number of students who have worked hard enough to earn the honor of walking onto the stage to shake the Head of School’s hand and receive recognition.
Middle School Division Director
Middle School French
Head Coach Cross Country
An outstanding faculty, over 80% of whom hold advanced degrees, deliver a demanding, creative, and innovative college preparatory curriculum culminating in college level work in every discipline. Indeed, academic offerings in the Upper School most closely resemble those of a fine liberal arts college: introductory, honors, and 16 Advanced Placement courses are available in English, math, the sciences, history, the arts, and world and classic languages — Spanish, French, and Latin. Students who have the benefit of a North Cross Upper School education find their advantages to be many when they head off to the finest colleges and universities in the country: their ability to read critically, write thoughtfully, and speak clearly and convincingly make the transition to college life a seamless one.
Outside of the classroom, the Upper School co-curricular program is a mix of required and optional activities and events, all intended to expand student experience, increase community feeling and identity, and provoke intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth. All students attend Thursday assemblies to which the administration brings speakers, presentations and dialogue that ranges from science discovery to human rights. The Upper School also gathers as community for assemblies in the Commons before lunch for community announcements and advisory lunches where groups discuss a “Quote of the Day” intended to provide thoughtful reinforcement of the School’s mission or commentary on current events. Students are also required to perform at least 12 hours of community service per year, but many of them exceed that requirement. On the field, students are required to participate in at least three seasons of team athletics, though most students participate in more—some, in the same season. No try-outs are required, yet our teams consistently place for or win their conference and/or state championship titles.
“North Cross has been a really supportive environment for me as a teacher. The expectations of me as an educator are high, yet the administration provides me with the freedom to meet expectations in my own way. As a whole, the North Cross student body is friendly and seems to be appreciative of little things that we do to make classes more enjoyable."
DeHart speeches, a series of independent research presentations by each senior class member throughout the year, expose the entire Upper School student body to diverse topics and opinions, much like mini-lectures. By the time a freshman graduates from North Cross, they will have heard, on average, over 120 DeHart lectures. Also unique to the Upper School is our Horace G. Fralin Global Studies Program which requires its participants to engage in global travel, required coursework, and group discussions on topics concerning global issues and policy. Once the requirements are met, the graduate will receive a separate certificate in addition to their North Cross diploma, recognizing them as a Global Studies Scholar.
Upper School Division Director
Upper School History and Global Studies
NCS Board of Trustees
Student & Parent Handbook
Faculty and Staff Links
North Cross School is an independent, coeducational, college-preparatory day school founded in 1944 and governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees.
North Cross School, 4254 Colonial Ave., Roanoke, VA 24018
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North Cross School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or any other legally protected status in the administration of its educational, admission, financial aid or employment policies, or any other programs administered by the School.
North Cross is accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. North Cross School's ECP-1 and 2 are accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools who is recognized by the Board of Education pursuant to §22.1-19 of the Code of Virginia authorizes the Virginia Council for Private Education to accredit private nursery, preschool, elementary and secondary schools in Virginia.
North Cross is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, National Association for College Admission Counseling, and Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling, The Cum Laude Society and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.