We believe that culture is the secret sauce of educational excellence. All schools should boast a compelling curriculum and dynamic teaching and learning. Culture is more nuanced in its cultivation and requires moment-to-moment attention to maintain and move forward. It is fragile, and a force. Get the culture right, and wow. Is it cool to be curious? Is it cool to be kind? Is it okay to be a little different? A lot different? Is it safe to show your feelings? Is it safe to make mistakes? As a community–faculty, staff, students, and families–we seek a yes to all of these questions every moment of every day.
Culture is created by community. Therefore, we are committed to cultivating a community that in turn positively shapes the culture of our school. From gathering each week at Town Meeting to fun community building activities like our back-to-school bbq, holiday fest, WISH, and our talent show to homeroom circles where students learn to share their own and empathize with other’s feelings to a safe-by-design campus where we seek to know each other’s names and where carpool is more joyful fun than traffic jam frustration, our aspiration is that all feel welcome and celebrated as treasured members of our Evergreen Country Day community.
“To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” – Theodore RooseveltWhat President Roosevelt shares hyperbolically we seek to convey hopefully via our THRIVE belief statements:
“We believe that EQ + IQ = a person who learns well, loves well, leads well, laughs well, and ultimately, lives well.”
In truth, we are a bit suspicious of the Intelligence Quotient concept. We feel Carol Dweck’s work in Mindset narrates a more compelling understanding of our students’ cognitive abilities–that their brains are able to grow significantly in their learning capacities. We more lightheartedly and loosely associate IQ with the content students learn at school and then join it intentionally with the EQ, the emotional intelligence competencies, we feel are crucial for students to thrive in all aspects of their lives, both personal and professional.
From dynamic group work in class where students must learn both to lead and to follow to Town Meeting where above-and-beyond examples of kindness are celebrated publicly to a positive discipline approach that seeks to mold students rather than scold students, we seek to cultivate the crucial character traits of high EQ individuals: compassionate kindness and others-focused character. The result is graduates who work wonderfully with others and have an authentic sense of personal peace and purpose.
Vertical friendships refer to our intentional cultivation of friendships and older-student mentorships across all grade levels. At Evergreen Country Day, we believe that vertical friendships enhance the social and academic experience for all students and enrich the sense of community in our school.Students, toddler through grade 8, collaborate with both younger and older students in order to practice teamwork, mentorship, and leadership. Older students model responsibility and deepen their learning by teaching younger students. Younger students reap the benefits of experiencing higher-level learning tasks and following in the footsteps of positive peer role models.
Nest students listen as their big campus buddies read to them, work together to solve math problems, and celebrate learning by participating in exciting, hands-on projects with their older friends. Elementary students have the advantage of partnering with both Nest and middle school students. A kindergartener can step up to demonstrate reading or character skills to a pre-k student. A fourth grader begins to prepare for increased independence in middle school after working with an older student. The powerful results of students of different ages working together is also evident at recess when children of all ages play together and care for each other with genuine support and affection.
From students of different grade levels kindly greeting each other in the hallways with a high five to singing “Happy Birthday” to each other at Town Meeting to older friends helping younger buddies with playground boo-boos, Evergreen Country Day students are authentically invested in helping each other learn and grow together.