Dear RCDS Community,
Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! All of us at Rye Country Day are eagerly looking forward to welcoming students back, in-person and virtually, to a new year of learning.
As we begin school during a truly unprecedented time, I want to share my unwavering confidence that ours is a community of students, parents/guardians, and educators who are inspiring, resilient, capable, and ready for even the greatest challenges. Together, we have navigated—and will continue to navigate—uncharted waters with RCDS spirit and resolve.
While it is true that the school day will look different for all of us, it is also true that our commitment to learning and the signature RCDS experience is unchanged. In fact, it is stronger than ever. The back-to-school experience we will share this coming week is the result of countless hours of work—and constant assessment and reassessment—to make sure that we are delivering on our mission through our hybrid-flex program while also adhering to health and safety policies and procedures required by New York State. Our return to school is also the result of significant investment from the Board of Trustees, who allocated over $2.5 million for leading educational technology, professional development, and safety equipment and facilities updates.
In addition, the generosity of our community was a key factor in realizing our vision of a healthy, safe, supportive, and academically excellent Rye Country Day. We are extremely grateful to everyone in the RCDS community who supported the 2019-20 Annual Fund.
As we look ahead to orientation this coming week, I want to call attention to the Community Compact, which was included in the 2020-21 Parent-Student handbooks. While we live in uncertain times, we know that shared responsibility is very real and clear during this historic pandemic. In order to support our community’s safety, we each have a role to play at school and beyond, from mask wearing and proper respiratory and hand hygiene to adherence to restrictions on large gatherings and travel, and more. The Community Compact is our collective pledge to adopt changes in habits and daily life routines both on and off campus. These changes are needed to promote the safest school environment possible for students and employees. Thank you for your partnership and cooperation.
Our Newest Community Members
This year, we will welcome 16 new employees and 144 new students (56 in the Lower School, 38 in the Middle School, and 50 in the Upper School). New faculty and staff have been introduced in the summer division emails to parents/guardians, and a comprehensive list of new personnel, including bios, is available here.
If you are among those new to our community, welcome! If you are returning, please join me in helping people find their way and their community at RCDS.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The summer was a time of deep reflection for our community, as we began the implementation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan and the critical work of building and sustaining an environment that is safe, welcoming, and diverse—one where each and every person feels seen and heard and a real sense of belonging. RCDS is our community and only we—each and every one of us—can do the work of making it better. If you have not yet read the update from the DEI Team, I urge you to do so here. We will continue to provide updates on this important work throughout the year. I want to again thank every member of our community who has engaged with the School and demanded that we do better when it comes to playing our important role in the conversation around dismantling racism and bias.
School Wide Theme: Character
I am especially excited to announce this coming school year’s theme of character. Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, we will actively engage around this theme, which is part of the RCDS Portrait of a Graduate. Character will be woven into community discussions, curricular conversations, guest speaker events, faculty meetings, advisory group work, and more. We will highlight the ways that students cultivate strength of character through the development of social and emotional intelligences, strong and positive moral compasses, and passionate and principled actions. Faculty, staff, and administrators have been having generative conversations in back-to-school meetings, discussing the most meaningful integration of the study and practice of character along with building community throughout our program, both in the classroom and beyond. In a year that has seen great challenges nationally,globally, and here at school, our focus on character will serve as a guide for RCDS and a reminder that we all can—and must—be agents of change for the greater good.
Campus Renovations and Enhancements
In addition to the extensive facility modifications to support safety, de-densification, and hybrid-flex learning outlined in our Reopening Plan, Rye Country Day completed a few key facility enhancements over summer. The replacement of the artificial turf on the North Field (football, soccer, and boys’ lacrosse) was completed using an AstroTurf product that uses an underlying shock pad and Envirofill infill. This project completes turf replacement on all four of the School’s fields. Additionally, air conditioning was completed in the Pinkham Building science labs and the Athletic Center classrooms and offices. Air conditioning for the Main Building first floor (K-3) and Grades 7 and 8 wing is scheduled for next summer. Finally, the expanded bandwidth and hardware installation to support the MashMe software for hybrid-flex learning was recently completed.
As we look ahead to the new year, I want to share that I am so proud of and deeply inspired by all that we have accomplished together over these last six months. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to Rye Country Day. As always, it is my greatest honor to serve as your Head of School. My colleagues and I look forward to beginning the 2020-21 school year this coming week!
Scott A. Nelson
Head of School