Summer Letter from Dr. Christine Heine

Dear YCDS Families,

This summer has provided ample time for me to dedicate to reading the many books that are stacked next to my bedside table.  Throughout the year, as titles are recommended or a book reviews seems compelling, I begin to build my “vacation library.” During the school year, most of my reading is education related and fuels my work and direction.  However, summer months provide opportunities for me to run through the many books that tower over the table and whisper to me during the school year.

There are many new novels that I am enjoying and I have also decided to revisit some works that I read decades ago.  As I revisit them, I begin to realize that reading is, and should be, profoundly transactional. The author brings the experience to the reader, but equally as important, and not to be discounted, is the rich history the reader brings as well.  Scholar, Louise Rosenblatt (1968), asserted that when a reader approaches the reading of a novel with an aesthetic stance, with “full emotional, aesthetic, and intellectual experience offered by the text … the reader attends not only to content — the information, story, or argument offered — but also to the feelings evoked, the associations and memories aroused, the stream of images that pass through the mind during the act of reading.”  Therefore, the experience is personalized and created by the reader. The experience changes over time and with one’s own personal growth and development. This is why when we revisit a favorite novel or one that we percieved as simply adequate, years later, our exchange with the text changes as does our satisfaction with the experience.  My rereading of Jame Joyce’s Ulysses, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle have at times been a joy and other times, a struggle.  I enjoyed thinking back to how I first encountered these works, where I was, and what my younger self understood at those times. The second time around has been considerably different than the first.

This is similar to the experiences that our students have at YCDS.  Our community thrives on dialogue, transaction, reflection, and engagement.  In this way, students create their personalized learning through exchanges with faculty,  peers, our rich and dynamic curriculum, and their own individual experiences. Our classrooms unify, blend, and harmonize the best of each participant and values each individual’s contribution.  YCDS is a remarkable community that intentionally takes time and makes time to ensure that learning is a shared and dynamic occurrence.

The faculty, staff, and administration is preparing for the return of students and eagerly awaits the new school year.  The administrative team has spent the last two weeks engaged in deep and reflective planning for the coming year. Our conversations and improvements are student-centered, mission-focused, and important steps in refining and forwarding our exemplary program.  Additionally, we have reviewed curriculum, materials, and trips, prepared the daily schedule, and planned and retooled school events with helpful feedback from our community.

For the last month, the Lower School wing has undergone many improvements including new flooring and painting, as well as other repairs to improve the overall classrooms and hallways. This project will be completed by the start of school, and I look forward to our students returning to these bright and inviting spaces.

This summer has been a success by many measures.  YCDS hosted our first summer program and welcomed at least 50 students each week.  Our campers enjoyed a variety of activities including art, new media, athletics, field trips, and more.  Thank you to Mrs. Jamie Graham for leading this successful endeavor. There are a few sessions remaining before the start of school.  If you are interested in sending your child, please contact Jamie directly.

We have new faculty members joining us for this coming year.  We are excited to share that Ms. Ana Jessica Hernandez Morales will be teaching Spanish in the Middle and Upper school.  Ana earned her B.A. in Philology and Languages Universidad Nacional de Colombia and her M.A. in Spanish Applied Linguistics Purdue University.  She has taught Spanish at the South Shore Christian Academy since 2001 and has taught Spanish at Purdue University for two years. Mrs. Jillian Giese joins the science department as teacher of Advanced Biology and Chemistry in upper school.  Jillian earned her B.S. at the University of Texas at Austin and her M.S. in Science Education at Western Governor’s University. She comes from York Academy where she created and taught the International Baccalaureate (IB) science curriculum.

We are delighted that we will be working with the Weary Arts Group to lead and instruct our students in middle school and upper school chorus.  Mr. Cal Weary, YCDS Class of 1992 is a dynamic and inspiring arts educator well-known in the York community. We look forward to Cal’s return to YCDS along with his fine group of educators.

Important Dates:

This year, YCDS will celebrate our 65th anniversary.  We have several upcoming events and celebrations throughout the year.  

The YCDS varsity athletic preseason begins on Monday, August 13, and middle school athletics begins on August 20.  Please be sure to check your email for athletic registration and detailed communication from our Director of Athletics Mr. Mike Wood. Faculty return to campus on Monday, August 20, for professional development days, as well as extra time to prepare their classrooms to welcome our students. On Friday, August 24, I will host a morning Meet and Greet Coffee so that community members can spend time with our two new program directors, Mike Wood and Elizabeth Trump.  This coffee begins at 8 a.m. and will take place in the Living Room. Please see your email for the invitation.

Additional important dates for the start of school:
August 27: New Student Orientation
August 28: First Day of School
August 28: PA Welcome Back Parent Coffee @ 8 a.m.
August 31: Back to School Picnic

You will receive additional details about these events from division heads.  If you have questions, please contact me and I will be happy to help you.

Once again, this summer I am heading to Maine to spend time visiting my family and relishing in the quiet splendor of the woods.  I would like to think that I will take in this peaceful time for many hours a day, but like so many of our families, as soon as my children stir with the morning sun, their young, raucous laughter and banter fills the air. I am blessed to hear these sounds just like the ones I hear throughout the halls and classrooms of YCDS all school year long.  I am grateful to share my days with your children, honored to know them, and looking forward to welcoming our new students this year.

This year, YCDS will celebrate our 65th anniversary.  This promises to be an exciting celebration. Please look for announcements about events in the days ahead.


Christine Heine
Head of School