Lower School

The Lower School years, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 4, encompass a time of significant growth for students. Intellectually, socially, creatively, emotionally, and physically, children acquire skills and knowledge that will contribute significantly to the quality of their lives, throughout their lives.

About the Lower School

The Lower School strives to instill within each child a balance between individual development and commitment to community. Our invigorating and supportive environment stimulates and promotes ethical, social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth in every student. In a program that recognizes each child’s unique timetable and needs, the measure of success is in the ongoing process rather than the finished product.

For a student of this age, the most valuable skills and knowledge are not composed of isolated facts and repetitive drills, but come from the child’s ability to make meaning of the work by integrating it with prior knowledge and experience.

Our program in the Lower School is based on active learning, learning by doing, learning by challenging, and stretching in ways that promote growth in all developmental aspects.

Lower School classes are small, with homeroom instruction based in math, social studies, and language arts. The broad educational experience includes classes in music, visual art, science, physical education, computer science, library, and, beginning in second grade, French or Spanish. Many opportunities exist for various curricular areas to be integrated from time to time, thus deepening student understanding.

Some subject matters transcend all grades and all disciplines. Study skills are taught at all levels and across all areas. Teaching children to listen actively for directions and helping children organize their work and manage their time for long-term assignments are crucial building blocks to learning that are reinforced throughout the day, subject to subject.

Equally important to the academic goals for our students is Rye Country Day’s commitment to supporting students' social and emotional growth. This is defined in our school as "Character Building," and it is accomplished in all classrooms in a variety of ways. Besides situational instruction, intervention, and social coaching from Lower School teachers, the School takes advantage of nationally recognized resources to assist children in developing healthy and effective behaviors.

The Lower School is first and foremost a nurturing place...

When a young child is socially happy and eager to come to school, great academic advancements can follow. Although children are held to high standards in the Lower School, the faculty has a keen sense of the learning continuum for children, and the teachers do not force students beyond what is developmentally appropriate for them. RCDS students emerge from our Lower School healthy, happy, and solidly grounded with a foundation for higher-level learning.

The Responsive Classroom is an integral part of the Lower School's character-building program and permeates every classroom, every day.

Responsive Classroom is a philosophy that complements our approach to teaching because it takes into account the whole child and addresses the social/emotional needs of the children, just as it helps to develop their cognitive areas. Teachers focus on building relationships within their classrooms to create a safe, nurturing community of learners. Throughout the day, teachers offer strategies and explicitly teach and model social skills with the understanding that children’s cognitive and social growth develops through the social interactions that occur throughout their day.

Community building activities are an integral part of the second grade curriculum. The focus is on increasing student awareness of the power of peer interactions. The community-building activities encourage children to consider the characteristics of appropriate, caring behavior and unacceptable, hurtful behavior. In addition, the Lower School Psychologist works with all the teachers to create activities and discussions that focus on the challenges and benefits of sustaining mutually rewarding friendships.

At Rye Country Day School we are committed to helping our students develop empathy for others and introducing the “Not for Self, But for Service” motto. In the Lower School, that translates to building a sense of community among the students and introducing service projects connected to the curriculum in age-appropriate ways.

Extra Curricular

After School Clubs

The Rye Country Day after-school program allows children and teachers to interact in new ways while having fun together. During the fall, winter, and spring, after-school clubs are offered to students in the Lower and Middle Schools and reflect interests as varied as chess, drama, hip-hop dancing, and yoga. The clubs may change periodically throughout the year, depending on the teacher offerings and students' interests. The children are dismissed from class at 3:00 p.m. and are supervised in the Lower School Dining Room, where they can choose a snack before attending the activities of their choice on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday from 3:15-4:15 p.m. The after-school program is extremely popular with all grades and builds community within the School, as students of various grade levels come together with common interests.

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Extended Day Program

The Extended Day Program is open to dual full time working parents, single full time working parents, and faculty members.

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Lower School Office Phone
914-925-4572

Lower School Principal
Barbara Shea, M.A.T.

Lower School Faculty

Alin Andrei

Alin Andrei

Titles: Physical Education Teacher; Coach
Joanne Aventuro

Joanne Aventuro

Titles: Teacher, Grade 3
Lauren Behar

Lauren Behar

Titles: Art Teacher, Lower School
Sydney Berkman

Sydney Berkman

Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Catherine Bischoff

Catherine Bischoff

Titles: STEAM Coordinator; Science Teacher, Upper School
John Calandros

John Calandros

Titles: Physical Education Teacher; Coach
Gil Castagna

Gil Castagna

Titles: Physical Education Teacher; Coach
Sandra Castagna

Sandra Castagna

Titles: Teacher, Grade 2
Andrea Catalano

Andrea Catalano

Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Monique Caterina

Monique Caterina

Titles: Teacher, Kindergarten
Karen Cosgrove

Karen Cosgrove

Titles: Teacher, Grade 2
Francesca Davia

Francesca Davia

Titles: Teacher, Kindergarten
Eric Drotch

Eric Drotch

Titles: Department Chair, Art; Art Teacher, Upper School
Samanta English

Samanta English

Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Laura Festo

Laura Festo

Titles: Teacher, Pre-K
Jay Gerlach

Jay Gerlach

Titles: Department Chair, Drama and Dance; Teacher, Drama
Julia Giordano

Julia Giordano

Titles: Extended Day Assistant
Amy Haff

Amy Haff

Titles: Teacher, Pre-K
Jessica Hauben

Jessica Hauben

Titles: Teacher, Grade 3
Rebecca Hidalgo

Rebecca Hidalgo

Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Sara Ingrassia

Sara Ingrassia

Titles: Lower School Math Coordinator
Breann Joyce

Breann Joyce

Titles: Physical Education Teacher; Coach
Susan Kartzmer

Susan Kartzmer

Titles: Extended Day Director
Kristin Kassay

Kristin Kassay

Titles: Teacher, Grade 1
Stacy Kaufman

Stacy Kaufman

Titles: Teacher, Grade 4
Alexandra Kerker

Alexandra Kerker

Titles: Learning Specialist, Lower School
Richard Knazik

Richard Knazik

Titles: Interim Co-Director, Physical Education
Theodore Lawrence

Theodore Lawrence

Titles: Physical Education Teacher; Coach
Jourdan Layne

Jourdan Layne

Class of 2015
Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Nicole Leath

Nicole Leath

Titles: Teacher, Grade 4
Heather Lentini

Heather Lentini

Titles: Teacher, Grade 1
Alexandra Levy

Alexandra Levy

Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Melissa Liebowitz

Melissa Liebowitz

Titles: Music Teacher, Lower School
Diana Liso

Diana Liso

Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Kimberly Love

Kimberly Love

Titles: Librarian, Lower School
Marlana Moysak

Marlana Moysak

Class of 2013
Titles: Assistant Teacher, Lower School
Charles Ogbonna

Charles Ogbonna

Titles: Physical Education Teacher; Coach
Caryn Olson

Caryn Olson

Titles: Teacher, Grade 4
Debra Pager

Debra Pager

Titles: Director of Student Support Services; Psychologist, Lower School
Laurie Pinkham

Laurie Pinkham

Class of 1992
Titles: Assistant Director of Admissions, Lower School
Andrea Rackow

Andrea Rackow

Titles: Math Specialist, Lower School
Jamie Radwan

Jamie Radwan

Titles: Learning Specialist, Lower School
Elvira Rebate

Elvira Rebate

Titles: Spanish Teacher, Lower School & Upper School
Lyvia Sage

Lyvia Sage

Titles: French Teacher, Lower School & Middle School
Barbara Shea

Barbara Shea

Titles: Principal, Lower School
Debra Simpson

Debra Simpson

Titles: Science Teacher, Lower School
Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith

Titles: Physical Education Teacher, Upper School; Coach
Mary Staudmyer

Mary Staudmyer

Titles: Administrative Assistant, Lower School
Whitney Turner

Whitney Turner

Titles: Computer Science Teacher, Lower School