Things are in full swing at Rockland Country Day School.
This private school located in Congers started up its classes this year on Sept. 5 and everyone from Pre-K to grade 12 smoothly transitioned from summer to schoolwork.
Tricia Mayer’s family has three generations that have either worked or gone through the school.
“I’m a mom and have been working here for 12 years,” said Mayer. “My mom worked here and now my daughter goes here.”
Mayer used to work in a public high school, but since making the switch, she said she’s “completely converted. Students here are given a chance to shine. Teachers know them, they’re not falling through the cracks.”
The private school caters to a small enrollment of 125-140. Mayer’s daughter Lilyanna is in Kindergarten this year.
When asked are what her favorite parts of school, she responded “rest and snack and recess. I like math” But after some thought, she changed her answer to “Everything.”
In math, she’s learning patterns and non-patterns.
“Our curriculum is more advanced than in a traditional public school setting,” said Kimberly Morcate, head of RCDS. “We challenge them but support them as well. With small class sizes, we’re able to be flexible and push the ones that need it.”
The student:teacher ratio is 7:1.
“We begin early literacy, high frequency words and letters,” said Cynthia Whitten, kindergarten teacher. “We have a high emphasis on play at this age level and teach a balance on school work and play.” She added that in kindergarten, students start public speaking in front of the entire class.
So far the younger students have been adjusting smoothly into the new year.
“It’s been great. The new students seem acclimated already,” said Whitten.
In second grade, the students start learning multiplication and division and get a firm base knowledge of arithmetic.
Isabella Maderna, a third grader, has been with RCDS since the first grade. So far the school year has “been good” and when asked what her favorite subject was …
“I think it’s gym,” she said. “I like to sweat a lot and run around. (My teacher), she does really fun things like laps.”
“It’s such a supportive environment,” said Maderna’s mother Josette.
Students come from all over, not just Rockland.
“We get a lot of wealthy students,” said Fyfe. “But, we also give away a significant amount of financial aid to those that need it.”
"We do award financial aid based on need, and over 40 percent of our families receive financial aid," said Morcate. "We do provide more aid to families than most independent schools provide."
“There’s no division between social classes,” said Lori Abrams, whose ninth grader came from a public middle school before RCDS. “They have respect for themselves and for others.”
“You can come here any day and look around and not be able to see the difference (in social classes),” added Fyfe.