Relationships :: The Heart of a Learning Community

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Learning through positive and supportive relationships

“No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship,” says Dr. James Comer of Yale University’s Child Study Center.1

country day collageChildren’s most meaningful learning occurs through positive and supportive relationships with caring and nurturing adults. Comer affirms what Country Day teachers do each day to promote learning through developing, nurturing and sustaining close and supportive relationships with each lower school student. With enthusiasm and passion, our teachers espouse a carefully crafted, nurturing pedagogy, which I have often and casually referred to as, “No child left unknown.”

To develop a positive and trusting teacher/student relationship conducive to learning is to first focus on how a child best learns and facilitate concept understanding through his or her learning profile. Children keenly sense when relationships are authentic, and within a caring relationship, they feel valued and more confident academically. Our teachers understand that each child has unique learning needs, challenges, passions, and dispositions which play key roles in thinking; by contextualizing his or her development, teachers can better differentiate lessons, meaningfully set high expectations, and value the efforts of young students in their unique learning trajectories. Within a secure base, students feel that their teachers want them to learn; we hope to help them strengthen character traits necessary for success, in school and in life. At Country Day, our “whole child” approach fosters feelings of optimistic respect that help motivate and empower students to be more self-aware, active participants in learning. It provides the psychological scaffolding necessary for a child to make the most of educational opportunity.

We know that children who develop well, learn well.

Relationships2To integrate each child’s socio-emotional and academic progress, teachers regularly engage in reflective conversations with the learning specialist, school counselor and principal. Our monthly teacher “staffings” offer a dedicated time and opportunity to qualitatively describe how each child is responding to learning, and to understand learning through student eyes. Collaboratively, important insights surface, blind spots are exposed and concrete initiatives to support and enhance each child’s learning experience are formulated. Children come to trust that many caring adults are there to support their learning.

Children spend at least one-quarter of their waking hours in school. This time to learn is maximized when a child feels connected to caring, encouraging and dedicated teachers. At Country Day, we intentionally embrace the whole child so that s/he can confidently and successfully embrace learning.

1 Comer, James P. (2004). Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s World.

Established in 1929, Metairie Park Country Day School is a Pre-K through Grade 12, co-ed, independent, non-denominational school located in the old Metairie. Our mission is to enrich the lives of talented young people in a dynamic learning environment, building strength of intellect and strength of character within a community that is simultaneously challenging and supportive. Our students learn to be flexible, to be adaptable, and to face the challenges of life with honor, optimism, confidence, creativity, and a sense of humor.

Country Day accepts qualified students without regard to race, color, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin. 

Lilian Mullane, Lower School Principal

CDprinLilian Mullane has served as Country Day’s Lower School Principal since the fall of 2011. A graduate of New York University, Lilian went on to take her Masters Degree in Elementary Education at Fairfield University in Connecticut, and her Master of Education in Early Childhood Policy from the prestigious Teachers College of Columbia University. She was previously lower school division head at Awty International School in Houston and also served as lower school division head at Dwight-Englewood School in New Jersey. Committed to lifelong learning, Lilian has multiple professional publications ranging in topic from local history to early childhood education.


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