Hear from our Alumni about the CDS difference
Our impact on students extends beyond their school years. Learn more about student outcomes and hear what our alumni have to say about the lasting value of a Countryside education.
Dante Calise is a senior at the Montessori High School at University Circle in Cleveland. After graduating from Countryside in 6th grade (CDS did not have a middle school program at the time), he attended the Hershey Montessori School outside of Cleveland. Dante has attended Montessori schools in boarding communities since he left Countryside.
He is a member of the Community Council at his high school functioning as the Operating Manager and sits on the Sustainability Committee. He also holds the only paid student position at the high school, Kitchen Manager, with six hours of responsibility: organizing purchases for the boarding house, cooking dinner for the house on a weekly basis, helping with grocery shopping and weekly meal planning. Dante is currently in the International Baccalaureate Program at his school and is working to earn his IB Diploma in his senior year.What is important to CDS graduates?
I feel that school should include not only academics, but also social education that promotes mutual culture acceptance from all nations. I think people forget that when you go home or when you’re outside the school, I don’t think that the education of a child is confined only within the walls of a classroom, everything, the media, your home, everything impacts the individual that that person develops into. So I think it’s important that education should go beyond academics and not necessarily tell people how to act or call for conformity but to help the individual and at the same time to show an acceptance of other cultures, views and beliefs.What habits, skills, and character qualities do graduates trace directly back to their time at CDS?
At CDS I gained a sort of an appreciation and respect for people and adults that give their time to do things. I don’t mean to slander anyone, but I found myself in situations among other students where someone would take time out of their day to contribute something to our community or to offer a presentation or give us a lecture on something, and I find that often students don’t even wait to leave the room to begin their complaints. It’s just, there’s a lack of appreciation for what we have. I have this attitude that, I mean, there is always something to thank someone for.
I think I call upon the community and myself to higher expectations I know we could meet, but in a positive light or aspect without pointing fingers. I just take a leadership role and ask people to step up to the plate and meet the higher expectations and hold themselves to a higher level that I know they can.How does the CDS Mission (Respect, Responsibility and Resourcefulness) still guide its graduates?
At CDS, respect is really emphasized, when you walk through the halls or when a visitor was there it was polite to say hello or to ask how they were doing. At some schools it becomes too relaxed, and it’s important to remember that in life respect is important. There seems to be a sense of respect for your elders and everyone around you, and I think Countryside does a great job promoting it and ensuring that the respect is shown in the community.
Respect is important and has had as much of an impact as responsibility on me. I have the responsibility to be respectful. I feel that with responsibility you can go above and beyond, and then take more responsibility and then there is more you can give back to your community.What defines the CDS experience?
I found being able to follow my own interests at CDS to be beneficial because the environment promoted an interest in learning and by having the option one day when I wanted to learn about the dinosaurs, I could spend a day or a few days just learning about them. Or if i wanted to do something with math then I would chose to do so when I was really engaged in it. It works out so that whenever I was doing the subject or most often, I was engaged in that subject because I had chosen to do it at that time.
Because we had mixed age classes, peers could help each other and it was good to be able to ask an older student to help me with math. It was just different than asking a teacher for help with something. I just appreciated more when a student took the time and tried to help me. Also, I enjoyed as an older student being able to share my knowledge and help a younger student to do better or to understand something. I think it’s very rewarding. The second thing beyond the academics is that mixed ages complimented the rules and leaders in the classroom. So in like first or second grade, it provided a role model, people you could connect with even if you weren’t really friends or even if you didn’t hang out or spend much time outside of school because they were so much older. They were people that you really looked up to and admired.
I feel like the teachers at CDS were really committed to their job and to the students and to their classrooms. They were just so ready to help all the time. There was never a time where I would ask a teacher and they wouldn’t seem upset or disinterested to help me. I appreciate their enthusiasm for what they did.NEXT ALUMNI INTERVIEW