Community Day School (CDS) staff, parents, and students are dedicated to interdisciplinary work and social justice, all integrated with digital competencies. Further, the visual, musical, and performing arts are a vital part of the CDS curriculum, playing an important role in developing the intellectual, spiritual, and personal potential of every child.
Educators at CDS strive to position students as designers as well as learners and users of information. Because no matter what profession they end up in, students will navigate new technologies as they create and design content in ways we might not yet imagine. Fluency with these tasks, and engaging in design thinking, is incredibly important in current times. CDS hopes to change the perspective of students towards design thinking and being creators of their own world.
IGNITE (Inspiring Greatness Now: Innovation Through Exploration) is an experiential learning program at CDS that enables students to articulate and develop an interest outside the regular curriculum that is intellectually stimulating and personally meaningful. Through supporting these enrichment experiences, students at CDS deepen their sense of self and love of learning, along with an awareness of their own potential as valuable creators of knowledge.
Through a combination of guest presenters, experiential lessons, design thinking, discussion, journaling, multimedia research, field trips, and creative projects, teachers guide students towards discoveries that lead to memorable learning experiences and original projects.
CDS supports learning innovation through supporting inspiring design experiences for students and is currently building up its Learning Innovation Center, the locale of technology experiences and media literacy education for all students. Because it’s so important for young people to understand how to work effectively with technology, and to collaborate with the wider community in real-world contexts, CDS considers technology an essential tool to facilitate creative problem solving, information fluency, critical thinking skills, and collaboration. Educators at CDS want their students to be safe, legal, responsible, and active contributors to their digital worlds. Robotics and computer science curricula are scaffolded through all grade levels. In addition, the CDS Middle School offers a 1:1 Chromebook program, where every student is provided with a laptop computer for individualized learning. The digital literacy and citizenship curriculum leverages lessons by Common Sense Media as well as design experiences throughout grade levels to prepare students to be active and informed users of digital technology throughout their lives.
The study of the Tanakh and other Jewish texts provides opportunities for existential grappling with fundamental questions of human life. Through these experiences, students become accustomed to tzedakah (charitable giving) and gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) as a way of life. CDS graduates are known for their engagement in tikkun olam (repairing the world), as compassionate upstanders and changemakers of great moral courage.
CDS is a Partner School in the Facing History and Ourselves’ Innovative Schools Network in recognition of the school’s leadership in social justice, human behavior, and Holocaust education. Facing History teaching strategies and lessons are integrated throughout the school in an age-appropriate way in history, language arts, library, as well as service-learning opportunities for CDS students.
Instead of taking the day off, for the fourth consecutive year, CDS took MLK Day “on” to explore essential themes of race in America as they honored the life and legacy of Dr. King. CDS students and faculty are called to teach, reflect, and act by the Jewish values of tzedakah (righteousness), gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness), and tikkun olam (repairing the world), and so they strive to develop in students those tools which the world so urgently needs. Students at CDS don’t just dream a new reality, they help create it.
CDS integrates mindfulness practices with tefillah (Jewish prayer), text study, embodied practices such as yoga and chanting, and the cultivation of core middot (qualities of character such as lovingkindness, restraint, balance, grit, gratitude, humility, and mindful speech). CDS continues to work to infuse Jewish mindfulness-based practices throughout all aspects of our school. The goals of this initiative are to inspire and guide students into a meaningful and transformative Jewish prayer experience, as well as to support their socio-emotional learning and mind-body wellness.
CDS greatly values sustainability, outdoor education, and environmental justice. The commandment of bal tashchit—do not destroy or waste—is central to a Jewish environmental ethic, and educators at CDS support students’ understanding of Judaism’s deep connections to nature, including the traditions, values, and holidays that have agricultural roots throughout its history. Further, the outdoor classroom (Mirpeset) and Jewish holiday-themed campus gardens provide engaging, hands-on educational experiences for all students, Early Childhood through Grade 8. Lastly, CDS has recently installed an Energy Discovery System that includes a solar panel and weather station for students to collect and analyze their own solar energy data, and compare and communicate their data with partner schools in Pittsburgh and Israel.