The environment at RHCDS is one where children are challenged, loved, understood, encouraged and held accountable. So often, some or the other of these characteristics are achieved while having to abandon others (i.e. rigorous curriculum lacks empathetic instructors, or else kind teachers lack a challenging curriculum). Also, sometimes smaller schools have the desired teacher:student ratio yet are unable to provide social/sport/extracurricular opportunity due to limitations based on size/enrollment. This school is truly the best of both worlds. We have friends in public and private schools in the South Bay and just based on our own tours and conversations paired with stories from our friends, we truly believe this school is the best. The middle school English/lit, science, and math programs are impressive. My son has arguably the best math teacher he might ever have in his schooling; she’s amazing. The middle school English/Lit department is losing their legend this year to retirement, but her replacement is working alongside her this entire year and the transition is beyond promising. They are both amazing educators who are truly invested in their students. And science… it’s a challenge for my son but one that he loves nonetheless. The science teacher’s doors are open early every morning for anyone wanting extra study time or help. As for sports and extracurriculars, there’s something for everyone. I love the option of after school sports as it allows for more time with school friends and less time running our kids around to various locations. There’s also plenty of opportunity for kids to participate in other passions: science, history, art, drama, leadership, etc as opportunities for math bowl, geography, and electives make this possible. This is an AMAZING school. Administrators, teachers and students have been so welcoming to our family. I encourage you to tour and see for yourself!
RHCDS is a great school. They concentrate on the whole child. The way I’ve seen that translate in my experience, has been that there is a major focus on studies and character. I have two daughters that have been to RHCDS. One is recently graduated. The other has been there since K and is now in 7th. Our family liked the overall philosophy of the school and bought in straight away. It’s all about the kids and helping them evolve into good, intelligent human beings. Public speaking is something that gets special attention early on and continues to progress from Kindergarten through 8th grade. By the time the kids graduate, they are well versed in being up, speaking, in front of large groups. Yes, there is homework. Yes, the tests are challenging. There is also a lot of camaraderie and connections that are made that our families finds invaluable. For example, on any given day, there may be a soccer match being played on the field, and a volleyball game being played on the court. Families, teachers, administration are about rooting on the kids. But you will also find playground staff and cleaning crew rooting as well alongside everyone else. For me, that moment sums up our experience at RHCDS: a genuine sense of caring from the top down. It was one of those decisions that we reflect on and know that we would do it all over again in a second.
We moved to Palos Verdes because of the reputable schools. After 8 years at Country Day I can sincerely note that I am still amazed every day at what a quality education and, maybe even more importantly, what a quality environment this school provides for all children. Academics are certainly above par of the excellent PV schools, but there is so much more here… a true devotion to what is best emotionally, socially and academically for each child in addition to all the amazing extras such as art, music, outdoor education, character education, team building, public speaking, after school activities & inter murals, fantastic library, and middle school economics to name a few. . . I encourage parents to come in and sit in on the classes, talk to the teachers, parents and even students. As much as academics are set at a high level, each year builds on the next. Students learn to enjoy learning.
SOME EXAMPLES: I must have been on that same art field trip at the Getty where the guides where so impressed with the knowledge and curiosity of the RHCDS 2nd graders. Art isn’t taught as just a subject the school could post as an addition to what is taught at public school – but it is taken seriously and the students not only learn a lot but they love it! On the same token, take a moment to witness Mr. Kane’s science class in middle school. He is so devoted to the subject – as much as you would expect of a university professor, but with such compassion and care for the students. He is available to help any student, every single day, at 7 am, at lunch and after school. Math is just as fantastic. We initially thought to enroll at RHCDS, among other things for the excellent English program, that I had heard about since my school days, 30 yrs prior. If you have any curiosity, attend an 8th grade graduation and listen to each student give a beautiful, impressive presentation – each student! Students enter high school generally a year ahead in English and grammar. The middle school economics class (taught grades 6-8) and teacher, Mr. Gordon, is hands down unbelievable – especially considering that there is no other middle school in the greater area (or Southern California?) that teaches economics.
***Perhaps one explanation for this amazing school is that every situation is considered to the nth detail, and most importantly, everything is analyzed by considering what is best for the children, whether it has to do with the employment of faculty and staff, to different activities for school, to parent participation.
VOLUNTEERING: I must add, especially to address a negative comment (certainly by a parent who has a skewed perception of the situations involved) … As has been encouraged by so many psychological studies, parent participation is encouraged at RHCDS, however, is only encouraged where and when it is positive for ALL students. I was very interested in Corner Stone, a parent participation school that has received good reviews from my friends, however, it seems that there parents participate without enough school review. As well, at RHCDS there are many opportunities for working parents to participate – on weekend activities, carnivals, to donate small items for their children to bring class (to feel special about contributing), to early mornings, or after school or lunch time events. As well, I know of many working parents who do not have the time or maybe the interest to participate and their children are very happy successful students in the school. There is another private local school where parent participation is discouraged and that seems to be a sad situation for all the students at such school.
BULLYing is taken very seriously. I wish prospective parents could ask my children to explain as they have explained to me that they can get along with ALL the children in their grade and school. That is just amazing! As a test, I recommend prospective parents watch how well the children of all different ages play well together in the after school program. The children, if fact, learn so many important life and social skills, just in the after school program. Yet, another point I wish I could emphasize on even more.
THE ADMIN: I do attribute so much of the superb quality of this school, to the detailed, wise, caring, compassionate, educated and highly talented administration. Again, I encourage you to visit and ask questions. Every person at the school has an open door policy. Certainly the teachers have an impressive communication relationship with the parents -but so do every person in administration, up to, and especially, the executive director of the school, Mrs. Karen Shipherd. Importantly, just based on her qualifications alone combined with her humility and her care for the children at this school, I would suggest that Country Day offers so much that will be extremely hard to find anywhere else.
We are entering our 5th year at RHCDS (have a recent 8th grade graduate and a new 6th grader) and have nothing but praise for the administration, teachers, and staff. The strong academic focus has prepared our son for high school and beyond. The extra curricular activities (i.e. sports, theater, outdoor education, clubs) and a focus on values have provided for the perfect mix of academic, social and emotional well being. Further, the administration did an amazing job navigating through the pandemic providing a strong academic experience remotely, but with a commitment to getting their students back to in person learning as soon as possible. RHCDS went above and beyond to make that happen!
In an area where the public schools are amongst the best in the nation, it would ordinarily be difficult to justify a recommendation to a private school however, the exception is Rolling Hills Country Day School (“RHCD”). For a variety of reasons too lengthy to list here in this review, I can unequivocally say that RHCDS is simply suburb and a cut above the very competitive alternatives in the area. As a Palos Verdes resident and a parent who has had children in both public and private schools, I have a good understanding of the options for schools in the South Bay. Although every child’s needs and abilities are unique, if you are serious about preparing your child for high school and life beyond, RHCDS is without hesitation the school I recommend.
We have two children at the lower (elementary) school at Rolling Hills Country Day and we feel so fortunate to have found such a supportive, well-rounded, and academically strong environment for our kids to grow. Our kids look forward to going to school each day.
The academic curriculum is carefully thought out, well executed, and typically more advanced than what you might see in other schools. Most of the teachers at the school have been there for many years, which speaks to the quality of the school and the value that the administration places on the teachers, and they are some of the best teachers we have ever observed. In addition to their regular classroom teachers, our kids get to benefit every week from classes with specialty teachers in art, computer, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. Our kids enjoy this the most because it makes every day different and interesting, they love the additional skills they are learning, and the specialty teachers are so enthusiastic about the subjects they teach.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we love Rolling Hills Country Day because of the character and citizenship that it is teaching our children. In the lower grades, the kids are paired with “buddies” in the older grades. They meet with these buddies periodically throughout the year, but also play with them informally before school and at recess. We have been so impressed by the kindness and maturity that these buddies have shown our kids, and the kids look up to their buddies and are learning a lot about mentorship from them. Through the buddy program, community service projects, and many other opportunities, Rolling Hills Country Day is teaching our kids how to lead with character and kindness and we are so grateful to be part of this special school community.
We returned to our hometown after being away for three years. We loved our local public school and put our girl back Into the same program. Six months into the school year she was still upset. The English program was nearly a year behind her old school and the math two years. It was like she was repeating a school year. The teacher was kind but explained that there was little she could do as the entire grade was filtered through the established routine. We looked into a number of schools and chose Rolling Hills Country Day School (RHCDS).
What a beacon of light in the dark. The teachers are amazing. Such kindness and thoughtfulness. With the small teacher to student ratio our daughter felt known and understood. The English department is outstanding. Conventional in the drilling of traditional writing, the importance of such needs no explanation. To spice up the English year there are a number of competitions that are recognized at the end of the school year. The math department is amazing with its differentiation and use of computerized white boards so that the entire class can participate together in problem solving from their desks. The Sciences will make your jaw drop. The depth and scope of learning are outstanding. Built into the program is the working skill of how to study and take notes. The process builds up and takes all three of the middle school years and I wish someone had taught me how to take the perfect notes in middle school! Cannot say enough about the computer and robotics department. The highlight was creatively building and programming robots that the kids would put into a pit to compete against each other. The kids solidify their typing skills, programing abilities, use 3-D printers, and get to use green screens during video production.
Social Studies is filled with special days of activities which cement the learning done throughout the school year. Did I mention the language department? The scope is not just the foreign language but includes the an understanding of the culture as well. Probably the greatest teaching skills in this school is the use interdepartmental learning (I.e. social studies project will be written through english department and technology program helps them video tape the project) and as such the kids are learning about in-depth, long term projects and more importantly team building, as they work together on these larger projects. Which brings me to the social aspect.
The staff really does help in connecting and socializing the kids through team projects, class trips and social events all year long. My middle schooler has a ‘little sister’ (older kids get paired with younger students) which she feels responsible and proud to be associated with. The school is so healthy that we are seeing our daughter learn that good friends come in all shapes and sizes and backgrounds. The community spirit isn’t just inside the school. When it’s homework time they
are on the iPads helping each other in real time from home. We have also witnessed kids helping other kids who aren't even In the same class. When someone asks for a copy of the homework page forgotten at school, or a study sheet the night before a test, it seems to be a race to be the first one to copy and send the missing sheet(s). This isn’t organized by the school or just among best friends, the kids started the texting group because they are in a school that fosters such thoughtfulness and team building. I suppose it comes from the school’s most popular motto, “Be good humans.” It really rings true at RHCDS.
I’l let someone else talk about the theater, sports teams and various electives available to all kids. I could write another three pages of good reviews. If you’d like to speak with me directly, call the school and someone should be able to put you in contact with me.
I cannot say enough of this amazing school! I have a unique perspective as I am a parent here as well as a teacher of 18 years (at a public school). When I was given a tour four years ago, I knew what questions to ask regarding the curriculum and was impressed by the rigor, the class sizes, and the feel of community. So I decided to make the investment and move my son from a nearby public school to Rolling Hills Country Day School. One of the reasons was my son was diagnosed with moderate ADD and I knew he needed more personal attention and would thrive in a smaller school setting. It was the best decision! I do admit it took him a few months to get acclimated due to the academic rigor because the standards were different at his previous school.
However, I loved it so much that a year later, I transferred my daughter there and now my third child attends RHCDS! I wish my kids could personally write a review. They absolutely love their school. They are eager to get to school early to play on the field before class! This school offers them a place where they feel safe and genuinely cared for. They not only have the academic rigor that in today’s society is imperative, but they also prioritize in teaching values. Be a kind human is their motto and they definitely instill this on a daily basis. Learning and living by these values is what a child needs to thrive and be happy so they can focus in school.
My son is now in middle school (upper school) and I know he will no doubt be prepared for any top rated high school. They focus on giving back to the community, character/values, teach independence, all the while really preparing these kids for high school. This school truly offers a fine balance. They have specialized teachers for various subjects, including technology. They also focus on presentation skills and even my little 7 year old has presented in front of the lower school! This is such an important communication skill that is disregarded in many elementary schools.
I have also made amazing friends at RHCDS and I truly feel I am part of a family, or small community, even though I am a working mom and am not able to be there as much as I would like. I know my kids are cared for, safe, happy, challenged academically, and taught the same values that I teach at home. RHCDS is truly one of a kind and am so grateful to be a part of it.
Rolling Hills Country Day has been a great experience from day one. We have had our boy there since Kindergarten. He loves it and does not want to come home most of the time. We toured other schools and hands down it was a great fit for our child and us. We have an extended family at the school and feel part of a team with the staff. They are helping us raise our child to be a well rounded, caring, and thinking person. I feel the teaching staff really does care about the children and are top notch in helping them be the top academically. I can’t say enough good things about the school and it is one of the best choices my wife and I have made for our child.