Dear RCDS Community,
Welcome to the 2021-22 school year! All of us at Rye Country Day are eagerly looking forward to welcoming all of our students back, 100% in-person, to a new year of learning. As we begin the year, 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 anything.
Together, we have navigated—and will continue to navigate—the pandemic’s uncharted waters with RCDS spirit and resolve. To help us do so, we have updated the COVID-19 protocols landing page on RCDS website. Of course, due to the fluid nature of the pandemic, the COVID-related policies and protocols are subject to change as developments occur, guidelines change, and new information becomes available. It is critically important for each member of our community to do their part and follow the School's various risk mitigation strategies, especially remaining vigilant and accurately completing the daily screening questionnaire via Magnus. The best way to protect our community, especially our most vulnerable population of unvaccinated students, is for anyone experiencing ANY symptoms of illness to stay home.
View the 2021-22 COVID-19 Protocols
Please return to this website regularly for up-to-date information, as well as an archive of COVID-related school communications.
E-notes reminder: Important COVID-related updates, as well as division and school-wide news, announcements, and events, will be shared via E-notes, the School's weekly electronic newsletter for parents/guardians in each division. Please be sure to read E-notes every week.
As we kick off the year, I have confidence in the foundation that keeps our community so strong: our mission and core values. Each and every one of us at RCDS is guided by our mission to provide our students with an excellent education in a nurturing and supportive environment, and our commitment is always to maintain academic excellence. In a school environment, every day and every year are different, but our core values represent the constant, guiding framework through which the days and years are experienced: Respect and responsibility; Commitment to personal and academic excellence; Diversity within an inclusive community; and Service. These values bind us together and unite our community, and they underpin our engagement across differences and through challenging times.
As I shared during the Back-to-School Webinars, the path forward for our school is one that strives for balance and one that is grounded in education. Ours is a school where diverse perspectives are welcomed and ideas are critically discussed and thoughtfully exchanged. Teaching our students to express themselves respectfully and to engage in productive, civil discourse will prepare them to be leaders and valuable contributors in their communities. Upholding the commitment to critical thinking and broad-mindedness is a community act. We must all see its intrinsic and very real value. We must tread the path forward together.
You will find that in 2021-22 our learning standards and the signature RCDS experience are as strong as ever—if not stronger. Our administrators have developed a back-to-school experience that was the result of collaboration, assessment, and reassessment to make sure that we are delivering on our mission while learning from last year’s lessons, and, of course, continuing to keep our community safe. Our teachers—a group of passionate and dedicated educators—will continue to work day in and day out to give our students the best possible preparation for fulfilled lives of success and service. In every lesson, unit, critical discussion, and activity, we will strive to develop and cultivate the outcomes articulated in the RCDS Portrait of a Graduate: Character, Skills, Citizenship, and Knowledge.
I look forward to our year ahead. One of the greatest joys and privileges of my role is having a front-row view of the outstanding work of our students and faculty, and the back-to-school season is one of particular excitement. As always, thank you for your dedication and commitment to Rye Country Day. Let’s have a wonderful year of learning together.
Scott A. Nelson
Head of School
2021-22 THEME: COMMUNITY
Our school-wide theme for 2021-22 is COMMUNITY. We will prioritize and strengthen our relationships with each other—and our commitments to each other—as members of an outstanding and supportive learning community. The theme builds on our motto, Not for Self, but for Service, as it guides us towards compassion and purpose-driven actions. It will also serve as a reminder that when we are united, aware, collaborative, and empathetic, we can achieve incredible results.
DIVISIONAL WELCOME BACK WEBINARS
On August 24, 25, 26, the three divisions gathered virtually for Welcome Back Webinars to learn about the back-to-school experience, curriculum review, student support, parent/guardian engagement, and COVID-19 protocols. Watch the webinar recordings on the family portal.
FLEXIBILITY, UNDERSTANDING, AND PARTNERSHIP
As the pandemic continues—and hopefully recedes as more people become eligible for vaccination—I ask for your continued flexibility and understanding. New, unexpected developments will happen, and we will need to respond in partnership as one community. We must keep working together to support our community’s safety and make sure all of our students are able to receive our signature, excellent education.
OUR NEWEST COMMUNITY MEMBERS
This year, we will welcome 24 new employees and 154 new students (68 in the Lower School, 44 in the Middle School, and 42 in the Upper School). If you are among those new to our community, welcome! If you are returning, please join me in helping our new colleagues and students find their way and their community at RCDS. The people at RCDS make our school special. I trust this will be evident even more this year as we celebrate and emphasize community!
Over the summer, the Student Support Team conducted a thorough review of RCDS learning support and counseling services, resulting in informed program updates. This includes streamlining policies and procedures in Pre-K through Grade 12 to support parents and guardians, students, and teachers in navigating overall student support and service delivery. The team, led by Dr. Kamauru Johnson, Director of Counseling Support Services, and Libby Jelliffe, Director of Learning Support Services, examined and assessed how student progress is monitored in all grades. Central to this important work was to ensure the provision of in-house or external referrals for students who may need additional support to succeed and thrive at RCDS. Under Ms. Jelliffe’s leadership, the recently expanded Learning Support Team now includes two learning specialists in each division. Our learning specialists are deeply committed to working in partnership with parents and guardians. Please do not hesitate to reach out to them for learning support and counsel regarding your student’s progress.
Our counseling staff, led by Dr. Johnson, now includes a total of five licensed mental health clinicians providing services across each division. The counselors spent the summer reviewing the processes by which mental health services are made available to our students, and they made adjustments aimed at reducing stigma and improving accessibility of support. Their work will continue this school year as they focus on building students’ social and emotional competencies through providing preventative programming for students, as well as training and collaborative opportunities for faculty. In addition, special attention is being given to strengthening home-school collaboration through a variety of parent and guardian events throughout the school year. Parents and guardians are encouraged to attend these events or to reach out directly to the appropriate member of the counseling staff to ask questions, share concerns, or offer suggestions.
To maintain academic excellence and ensure relevance in our ever-changing world, our curriculum is—and should be—constantly evolving. Thus, we have continued our work to improve protocols around curriculum change. In September, the Curriculum Council and the teaching faculty will have the opportunity to review and offer feedback on a proposed process for curricular change that will provide teachers and departments with supportive guidelines in making major adjustments. The process is designed to allow for the collaborative engagement of multiple educators to learn, innovate, and impact meaningful curricular change. In 2022-23, Rye Country Day will undertake the comprehensive self-study that leads to our decennial reaccreditation, which will involve a holistic review of our Pre-K – Grade 12 curriculum.
Rye Country Day completed a few key technology upgrades over the summer. We transitioned employees and students in Grades 5 – 12 to Gmail, taking full advantage of G Suite's leading products. Our employees, who were very actively engaged in end-of-year and summer training, are now leveraging the new and numerous collaborative possibilities enabled by the use of Gmail. Students in Grades 5 – 12 had access to asynchronous training opportunities over the summer, and many of them are already using Gmail to communicate. During orientation, all students in Grades 5 – 12 will receive in-person Gmail training.
The School also has a new learning management system (LMS), Schoology, in Grades 3 – 12. A leading K-12 LMS that is part of the PowerSchool portfolio, Schoology is proven to facilitate better communication and student engagement with content. In the summer, RCDS Tech Team members partnered with PowerSchool to lead several training sessions for faculty. In-house trainers were also available to provide individual guidance and offer small group training so that teachers have the ability to operate Schoology at its fullest potential. Teachers are now enthusiastically collaborating and innovating to find ways to supportively organize lessons and present materials in the best way possible for students. In addition, policies were updated to ensure streamlined faculty use of Schoology, which will provide a more unified experience for our students, who will be trained to use this new LMS in the fall.
Finally, several classrooms in all three divisions were upgraded with new SmartBoard TVs. This will allow for more flexibility in teaching by enabling the use of integrated applications and tools for classroom interaction. Teachers will be able to connect wirelessly to the new SmartBoards, and students will benefit from their higher resolution screens, as well as their additional teaching tools.
Air conditioning was completed in the Main Building, specifically the first floor’s K – Grade 3 spaces and the Grades 7 and 8 wing, and the Middle School bathrooms in the Grades 7 and 8 hallway were renovated. Outside, the turf field area used for Lower School play was replaced and enhanced.