We Walk Together:  Culture, Community and Caring at YCDS

People who know York Country Day School often talk about how it is a shared community– a family.

The stories are as unique as the students, each one a single thread that might otherwise drift away on the wind.

But not at York Country Day School. Here, each of those threads is woven with care into a thriving community.

Each story contributes, every day, to a vibrant tapestry that’s rich with life and alive with learning.

‘We walk together’


Luke Greisler wrote his college essay about purpose. Specifically, the senior baseball standout argued that the point of the game is to win, but its purpose is something more. It’s teamwork, he wrote, and friendship – it’s about winning and losing with grace.

That left his father David Greisler in tears.

Luke’s mother passed away when he was 3 years-old, so from a young age, school had to be a place where he could find more than friends.

That’s why he and his father chose York Country Day School. Luke needed the family he’s come to find there.

“We look back now and talk about what a special season of life it’s been for Luke at Country Day,” his father says. “The faculty have been so willing to invest in him.”

That’s what the YCDS community is all about. It’s a place where teachers are as willing to push a student academically as they are to stay late and listen. It’s the place you’re both nurtured and challenged.

In an age of buzzwords, YCDS isn’t about diversity for its own sake, Luke told his father. It’s about inclusion.

“You can be diverse, and everybody still walks around on their own,” he said. “Here, inclusion means we walk together.”

‘I’ve kept it with me’

26730868_10212494556811490_7579625425422900660_nLife working at a magazine in New York City might seem a long way from York County, Pennsylvania. For Liz Hodges, though, the connection is still as clear as those early years in class.

York Country Day School taught her the value of curiosity and helped forge the strength to chart her own course. Over the past 20-plus years, those lessons have served her well.

“So much of what we learned at YCDS I’ve kept with me,” the Class of 1995 alumna said. “That’s where I found all the things that matter most.”

It starts with teachers, who are energetic, engaged and eager to guide their students. Then, once a young person discovers her passion, she has the freedom to pursue it to the very limits of technology and imagination.

Hodges recalls a time when several students found a shared interest in recent American history, from the 1960s forward. There was no such class in the curriculum then — so the group created one together.

“I just remember how much we all loved that we did that,” Hodges said. “Like so many things with YCDS, it was just the right thing at the right time.”

‘Think without boundaries’

DSC_5249Thomas Robinson can’t walk down the hall at York Country Day School with his daughter, Carmen, without a series of greetings for his first-grader. Teachers wave. Older children call her by name.

If she needs help with her hair, an Upper School friend is glad to oblige.

“It’s those little intangible things that you don’t get at public or other schools,” he said. “It really is like a family here.”

As a college professor, Robinson knows how many children leave high school without the necessary problem-solving skills. But, at YCDS, critical thinking is key. As early as kindergarten, students begin learning robotics and engineering, laying the groundwork for years of more advanced study.

From traditional STEM subjects to sports, from the arts to anywhere a child’s interest carries him or her, curiosity and confidence are encouraged, Robinson said. And the results will make you smile.

Not long ago, Carmen’s teacher asked her to keep a journal during a family trip to Disney World. Today, she’s like a little journalist, her father said, with her notebook along for every trip to the store, every ride to a restaurant.

“She’s being taught a love of learning and how to think without boundaries,” Robinson said. “You just can’t beat that.”

‘A special place called School’

The YCDS community inspires students to create friendships across grade levels and interests.  The diverse and inclusive student body bridge cultural, social, and academic differences to form an inclusive and affirming student body.  The classrooms are safe spaces for students to take risks needed to discover their passions.  The resilience they develop boosts their confidence and enables a robust exploration of talents, passions, and interests.

York Country Day School is a place where young minds come to open, to share, and to grow, where students become better citizens, and where a passion for learning becomes inherent.