What is the Portrait of a Graduate?

Over the course of the 2017-2018 school year, the entire Rye Country Day School community collaborated in developing a compiled set of learning outcomes that tie together the School's mission statement, core values, strategic initiatives, and curricular and co-curricular goals. These outcomes are grouped into four domains, character, knowledge, skills, and citizenship, each of which is then expanded into a list of attributes and habits RCDS students practice. The learning outcomes listed in this portrait are both ambitious and realistic, and they extend across all departments and throughout the RCDS program, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12.

The purpose of this document is rooted in a basic concept: agreement on what we want our students to be able to do is necessary if we are to deliver these expected outcomes to the best of our ability. This Portrait of a Graduate provides a cohesive statement of who we are and what we believe, bringing together our existing values and initiatives as both stemming from and contributing to a central vision. This is, notably, a living document. We will amend it as the needs of students evolve, and we will put it to use regularly in the years to come in our teaching, in our strategic initiatives, and in our professional development.

Portrait of a Rye Country Day School Graduate

Students emerge from RCDS with strength of character, ready to engage in continuous learning, to show kindness and empathy, to adapt and thrive within a changing global context, to contribute meaningfully to their communities large and small, and to find joy and fulfillment in life. Experiences that promote these outcomes are woven throughout the program with increasing complexity and expectations.


RCDS students cultivate strength of character through the development of social and emotional intelligences, strong and positive moral compasses, and passionate and principled actions.

Social and Emotional Awareness


  • Possess self awareness and confidence.
  • Know and express themselves authentically.
  • Understand their impact on others.
  • Empathize with compassion and acceptance.
  • Manage relationships effectively and intentionally.
  • Act with kindness.

Values and Ethics


  • Demonstrate and commit to living with:
    • Integrity
    • Respect
    • Patience
    • Courage
    • Humility
    • Optimism
    • Gratitude
  • Navigate complex ethical dilemmas, developing and practicing models for effective decision making.

Flexible and Reflective Approach to Work and the World


  • Act conscientiously.
  • Practice accountability and trustworthiness.
  • React and adapt with resilience to challenge and change.
  • Approach ideas and others with an open mind.
  • Work hard and persist.



  • Are engaged.
  • Are curious.
  • Are motivated.
  • Love learning.


RCDS students acquire and use knowledge in complex and meaningful ways. They transfer and apply their understandings beyond disciplines to address novel, real-world questions.

Acquire Knowledge


  • Learn information in conceptual frameworks according to disciplinary principles and relationships.
  • Understand accepted theories and facts.
  • Examine big themes and questions.

Learn How to Learn


  • Monitor, direct, and assess their own learning.
  • Develop positive and productive beliefs about themselves as learners.
  • Identify and create value in the activity of learning.
  • Approach learning with courage and with tolerance of mistakes.
  • Build a passion for understanding and truth.

Transfer Knowledge


  • Synthesize new information with prior knowledge to draw connections, form new ideas, and adjust understandings.
  • Meet and enjoy challenges that require the application of knowledge to novel tasks and real-world situations.


RCDS students practice skills and habits essential for wellness and success in college, in work, and in life, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability.

Communicate Effectively


  • Express well-formed ideas clearly and powerfully in writing, speaking, presenting, and creating.
  • Listen, read, and watch to gain understanding and perspective.
  • Navigate difficult conversations and manage conflict.
  • Understand non-verbal communication.
  • Communicate in more than one language and across difference.

Ways of Thinking


  • Think critically.
  • Think creatively.
  • Think empathetically.
  • Think analytically.
  • Take time to reflect.
  • Ask questions and seek to understand.
  • Think ‘outside of the box’ to solve complex problems.

Growth Mindset & Effective Effort


  • Approach learning and personal development with a growth mindset.
  • Apply effective and persistent effort.
  • Adapt to challenges and feedback.
  • Build resilience.

Live Well


  • Engage in the active process of making choices that lead to physical and emotional wellness.
  • Develop strategies for practicing mindfulness, managing stress, and controlling impulse.
  • Find beauty and joy in the world.



  • Team with others to tackle complex problems.
  • Practice and value working with others with differing skills, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  • Develop leadership strategies and styles that influence and serve others.

Initiative and Follow Through


  • Take action and initiative.
  • Seek information.
  • Solve complex problems.
  • Leverage technology effectively.
  • Develop a creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Learn independently.
  • Prioritize effectively.


RCDS students make a positive difference in the world as aware, engaged, and purpose-driven citizens.



  • Practice empathy and perspective taking.
  • Examine local and global issues.
  • Show openness and flexibility towards differences in opinion.
  • Recognize stereotype and bias.
  • Understand communication in intercultural contexts.
  • Embrace diversity, understanding its importance.
  • Recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected and often digital world.



  • Are upstanders, not bystanders.
  • Are changemakers.
  • Engage in open, appropriate, and effective interactions across differences.
  • Seek solutions and take bold action to address societal needs and issues.



  • Identify what drives them and design their lives and actions accordingly.
  • Aspire to make a meaningful and positive difference in the world.
  • Are committed to justice and social and environmental responsibility.
  • Demonstrate the Rye Country Day motto of “Not for Self, but for Service” through the choices they make and the actions they take.