Since 1869, Rye Country Day School's motto, Not for self, but for Service, has been integral to the culture of the School.
The RCDS Community Engagement Fellowship Program
The Community Engagement Fellowship Program at Rye Country Day School funds stipends for RCDS Upper School students to partner with a community organization to develop and implement innovative, sustainable projects that address the needs of the organization. This allows community organizations to benefit from the students' enthusiasm and passion at no cost, and it enables Upper School students from all socioeconomic backgrounds with a commitment to public purpose to participate.
Through classroom-driven service learning projects, students develop perspective taking and empathy, and the skills for active and engaged citizenship. They create public announcements and develop service projects, and they come to understand that their actions can make a difference. Service learning projects include the second grade’s Sound Shore unit, which emphasizes human impact on cherished natural resources; the third grade’s role in helping coordinate and spread awareness about food insecurity through partnership with a community food pantry; and the fourth grade’s exploration of inspirational citizen activists.
The middle grades are marked by an increasing ability to understand the experiences and perspectives of others and to compare and contrast them to one’s own. Awareness is at the center of Middle School students’ development, and a sense of fairness and a desire to act along with a newfound sense of agency and empathy result. The leadership skills and knowledge gained through public purpose work in the Middle School prepare students for the continued development and practice of real world service work and critical thinking in the Upper School.
Examples of service learning in the Middle School include: fifth grade Language Arts students partnering with students in Kenya at the WEMA Children’s Center in a book review exchange; and sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students engaging in yearlong service learning projects in which they identify and focus on an area or issue about which they are passionate, bringing in speakers, organizing drives, and visiting the sites of their various organizations.
In the Upper School, students are supported and challenged to consider and develop active citizenship. Through public purpose project design and implementation, Upper School students experience the way that volunteer work, activism, service learning, and advocacy play out in the real world. Students take advantage of numerous public purpose entry points such as class projects; work facilitated through school clubs; tutoring programs, where students can serve as tutors and/or leaders; community engagement fellowships, which entail the development, proposal, and full-scale implementation of an idea in partnership with local organizations; diversity programs, including the student, faculty, and staff social justice committee which examines overarching societal issues. Through the development of critical thinking and critical action skills, Upper School students are able to unpack complex ideas, solve real-world problems, and reflect mindfully. Upper School students are encouraged to ask the questions: What can I learn about communities? What is my role and responsibility within communities near and far? How do I recognize and act on the benefits of an RCDS education to embody the School’s values and motto of Not for Self, but for Service?
See some of RCDS's local and global community partnerships on the map below.
Learn more about each of our community partners, as well as how RCDS has collaborated with these organizations, by clicking on any individual pin on the map.