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.

Maria Ullmann

Maria Ullmann

Class of 2008

Other Alumni

Elsie Han
What are our graduates doing now?

Maria Ullmann graduated from 6th grade at CDS in 2008, having attended CDS from preschool through elementary school. After college, Maria served in Peace Corps in Panama as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Volunteer. She continued to work for a non-profit that focuses on ending the global water crisis. Today, she works for a company that provides a sustainable solution to disaster relief water. Maria also attends Northwestern University for a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration.

What is important to CDS graduates?

CDS sets a foundation for students to develop values, morals, and a sense of character. As a graduate, I don’t think I would be the same person that I am today if it wasn’t for this foundation. CDS values not only our education of the present moment, but our continued education and growth as we proceed through life. No matter what class I’ve been in or group I’ve had to work with, you can tell a lot about a person and how their education has shaped them. Not to toot my own horn, but any teacher, professor, or group leader has always appreciated my character. I think that every CDS graduate has had one or two experiences of this at least. The only problem is that this should not be the minority. People should all have great character and hold great values, but that is not the case. Luckily, this is what sets CDS and CDS graduates apart from others. It is our kindness, thoughtfulness, uniqueness and infinite other qualities that never go unnoticed.

What habits, skills, and character qualities do graduates trace directly back to their time at CDS?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that no matter who went to CDS, these qualities were seen every morning they walked into school. Respect. Responsibility. Resourcefulness. Personally, in any job interview I’ve had that has asked me what my strongest qualities are, I without hesitation say the 3 R’s – and I always got the job! But in all honestly, respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness are three qualities that we all grew up with and habitualized. I think I said this before, but it was never something that was lectured to the students. It was engrained in us and will forever stay with us.

Another quality that I trace back to CDS is my time management. Admittedly, while attending CDS, I do remember the (few) times I sat in a single seat because I wouldn’t finish the tasks on my list for the day. This really taught me how to prioritize and manage my time, which has definitely been a trait that I value especially in the working world. We always had journals to record the specific times of day and lessons we’ve had to note what we did. So to this day, I’ve always been in the habit of knowing my schedule and knowing what I have to get done.

How does the CDS Mission (Respect, Responsibility and Resourcefulness) still guide its graduates?

Respect. It is a shame that not many individuals hold this value. But for a CDS student or graduate, we don’t think twice. If we had the choice, we would always choose respect. CDS students have seen the value of respect and what that carries. Simply respecting yourself, your peers, and others, is extremely valuable and honored.

Responsibility. This part of the mission enables students to be great workers and leaders. If you are responsible, and you can deliver what is asked of you, you will go far. To be responsible also entails respect. If you are responsible with your work and your assignments, you respect your education and you respect your peers to complete your work. The 3 R’s play hand in hand.

Resourcefulness. Learning this value was the most challenging, and the most rewarding. It is not an easy skill to be resourceful… but luckily CDS students have LOTS of practice. Resourcefulness will put you above any student in school, any job application, it will set you aside from others. CDS allowed students to develop their creativity and their resourcefulness every day. Not only did we learn to be resourceful, but we learned resiliency, perseverance, and grit. Those who had Mr. Calise know these values extremely well!

What defines the CDS experience?

CDS is defined by the values they instill and the success and contribution each student provides to the communities they’re a part of. My siblings and I all went to CDS and we all see CDS as family. We always feel a connection to CDS from the students, teachers, and staff that make CDS feel like home.

I would say that if there is one word to define CDS by, it would be preparation. Every student that goes to CDS is prepared for how to interact with the world and how to be a significant part of it. CDS students are all unique in their nature and I believe always will be for their entire life. It is the preparation for the world that sets CDS students a part and makes us all valuable as coworkers, as peers, and as friends. CDS prepares us in many ways that not only include academics. It prepares us by learning how to treat others and how to value others. I will always thank CDS for that!

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Countryside Programs

We offer a continuous program from 16 months through 8th grade — inculding an all year program option for Pre-K/K and elementary school. LEARN MORE

TODDLER — Ages 16 mos.-3yrs

PRE-K/K — Ages 3-6

LOWER ELEMENTARY — Ages 6-9, Grades 1-3

UPPER ELEMENTARY — Ages 9-12, Grades 4-6

MIDDLE SCHOOL — Ages 12-14, Grades 7-8

SUMMER PROGRAMS — Ages 16 mos.-12 yrs., Toddler-Grade 6

ALL YEAR FULL DAY — Ages 3-12, Grades Pre-K/K-Grade 6

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