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The Country Day School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — King, ON (Map)


Roundtable Q&A Discussion About The Country Day School (2020)

The Country Day School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Corson Panneton, Paige, Julie Joffe, Peter Kerogen had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Corson Panneton — alum

Corson attended Country Day School during his high school years, and graduated in 2017. He went on to study engineering at the University of Waterloo and has spent the last 12 months interning for Tesla Motors in Palo Alto, California.

  • When I come back to CDS for alumni events, or to visit my teachers, when I walk in, I immediately feel comfort. What’s unique about CDS is that when you see the teachers again, it's like you hadn't seen each other for two weeks, not two years.

  • I really found that the teachers I had were dedicated to getting to know me, understanding my interests, and how I learned. All the information that the teachers collected about what they understood to be who I was, they held onto that. So, when the teachers saw me again years later, they were as passionate about what I was doing these days, as I was about them.

  • The number one thing that students and parents would notice when they attend the Country Day School is that this is a group of high-achieving professionals in terms of teaching staff, and it’s a group of high-achieving students that your son or daughter will be joining. I found, along with the support that came from the teachers and the staff and a lot of my close friend circles and my classmates, there was also a hint of competition. I feel that when we say ‘competitiveness,’ it comes across as a negative thing but my closest friends were also my closest supporters in terms of motivating me to do better and to improve.

  • The online tools that CDS provides are incredibly beneficial. It would be somewhat short sighted to ignore the technology. I mean, that's our world now. Computer skills in so many industries, almost every one, are essential. By being able to access school content online, going home, doing homework, pulling up notes from class, things like that are extremely valuable to a student. I think CDS has done a good job of not oversaturating such that we became somewhat robotic in our education and missed a lot of the interpersonal social skills.

  • I think there's a lot more to be said about a mixed academic approach. I think CDS set me up well to take on some of the challenges I have now at university and in the workplace. The quantity of work that I received at university increased, and that's just due to a high school versus university curriculum. I found that I had the tools, the skills to understand what to do, and how to work through a lot of coursework in university.

  • One thing that I really appreciated about the CDS curriculum were the AP applied courses. AP calculus was much more of a key player in my life now than I ever realised. The benefit that I really saw as soon as I got to university was just having the exposure from the Country Day School, and the courses that they offered late in my high school education. I had some good friends who told me, ‘You know, man, I really wish my school offered AP calculus or taught me that content.’

Paige — alum

Paige attended Country Day School from Kindergarten, all the way until her Grade 12 year. She graduated in 2016 and went on to attend Parsons School of Design in New York City where she studied interior design and architecture, and she now works as an intern at a design firm in Toronto.

  • I remember that, on graduation day actually, I described CDS as a home away from home. And I stand by that statement every time I go and visit. I just love seeing the teachers and the relationships that I built with them over the 14 years that I was there. It was truly an amazing community to be in. I was even thinking today of the art teacher that I had in Grade 4, who was the same art teacher I had in Grade 12, who I'm still in touch with.

  • ‘Supportive’ is probably the best word to describe CDS. It's really just an amazing place to be, everybody's supportive of one another, and just encouraging each other to really be our best and learn everything that we can and anything that interests us. Definitely not competitive. The CDS environment encouraged everybody to be their best and be helpful in any way possible.

  • I studied art in university, and so my art class in Grade 12 was very important to me. We were seven girls, and we were so supportive of one another. We were always in the hallways saying, ‘How is your art piece going?’

  • I liked how much you could get involved with sports from a young age. I played sports every semester as soon as I could, starting in Grade 4. There was a coed team and some of my best friends to this day were on the team with me. It's crazy to think of how long ago that was and I’m still close with all those people as a 21-year-old.

  • I would probably describe the technology as something that was used when it could benefit the students. So it wasn't always used and it wasn't ever used. It was using the best opportunities or using the best ways to help the students. The biggest thing that I remember was the no-phone policy at school. Eliminating cell phones from the school environment was something that I stuck to even through university, because I could focus best when I was just down with my work rather than sitting down with my phone and my work.

  • The guidance system at the school was amazing. You could walk into the office any time you needed virtually anything. If it was something that you really seriously wanted to talk to them about there was always somebody supportive. It didn't even have to be a guidance counsellor. It could be a teacher. You could really go to anybody, even the students at the school, my friends, everybody was just encouraged to be there for one another, which I really loved.

  • I spent my whole life at CDS, and if I hadn't liked it at any point, my mum would have made the decision to switch schools. I loved getting up in the morning and going to school. I was waiting at the door every day, like, ‘Let's go.’

  • CDS teachers were beyond helpful with me applying to university 100%. Studying in the United States is something that I never really expected would happen. I always knew I wanted to study art or design or something of that capacity, and I wasn't really aware of what programs were out there. They were the ones who introduced me to Parsons, which is where I just graduated from. They have a first-year program where you can try a bit of everything and then declare your major going into second year, which is exactly what I did.

Julie Joffe — current parent

Julie has two children and has been involved in the community at Country Day School for six years. She has a son who graduated from Country Day School in 2017, and now attends the University of Waterloo for engineering. She also has a daughter who currently attends CDS as a Grade 12 student.

  • We were blown away after that parent-teacher interview night, how every teacher consistently took such ownership over what happened in their classroom, ownership over the success of the students, of the types of support, and of the level of commitment the teachers had for the students. It almost felt like the teachers had each created their own mini-private school. We were so happy, just thinking, ‘Oh, my God, how lucky are we that our child is going to the school,’ and it continued all the way through.

  • I've had two children at CDS and had two very different but equally amazing experiences. My son was a maths and science kid and had great experiences with the science teachers doing the robotics and the competitions and all that kind of stuff. My daughter was in the business side, enjoyed DECA, became a member of the rugby team, and has had such a great experience at CDS. Still a great experience, but on the other side, on the more arts and business side than the science side. The school is really, really 360°, well-rounded for any student.

  • I'm finding that as world events are happening, the school is getting better and better with their communication to the parents and the students. You're never left thinking, ‘I wonder what the school thinks about that? I wonder when we're going to hear from the school about that?’ Amazing support from the school, especially guidance—bridging a gap between the teachers and the students, kind of being a middle person. Teachers are very approachable and answer to students as well as parents, very, very timely, usually on the same day. So if there's an issue or something, nothing gets dragged through. Never ‘I didn't hear back from the teacher. I can't get in touch with guidance.’ I really like the 360° cohesive approach to the whole team: teachers and administration.

  • There's an active parent community at CDS. You can connect with parents, and you don't have to do it through the students. I've met some friends that probably will be friends for life, through parent committees, through various events that the parent committee organises.

  • My husband and I found that one thing that CDS offered that other schools didn't was having some type of ushering into the post-secondary experience, starting to talk about it in Grade 10 and Grade 11. Not in a confrontational or pressuring way, but, ‘Hey, it's time to start thinking about things.’ That was a big reason why we came to CDS, because we felt we were making such a huge financial investment in our children. We wanted it to carry through and pay it forward for post-secondary. And so that really was the clincher of why we signed up for CDS.

Peter Kerogen — alum

Peter attended Country Day School during his high school years, and graduated in 2015, and went on to attend McMaster University for Arts and Science. He graduated from McMaster in 2019, and now works as a business consultant at a software company in downtown Toronto.

  • I first started at CDS in Grade 9, coming from a relatively small school. So, moving to CDS was definitely a little daunting for me, but I settled in very, very quickly. All the teachers were very welcoming. They paired new students with an existing student at CDS to show them around and help them figure out what's happening, and where their classes are. They know that they have somebody to sit with for lunch. I think the biggest piece of advice for a new student is don't freak out. If you're uncertain about something, don't hesitate to ask the question. They're so welcoming and so friendly.

  • I spent four great years there with lots of sports, lots of arts. I was particularly musical. I was involved in the choir and jazz band and concert band, sports, hockey, rugby, track, a whole plethora of different activities from CDS. I love to play sports and musicals. What I was a bit less certain about was the other ways I was going to become involved in student life, let alone in leadership positions. I looked up to older students and found it really inspiring. Once I reached a point where I could also begin to pursue some student leadership opportunities, I was motivated.

  • CDS combined self-directed learning with the presence of teachers and mentors who were really passionate about encouraging students to pursue what their interests are. The teachers were incredibly empowering, not only in that they supported you and what your interests were, but they also encouraged you to explore and they encouraged you to ask questions that maybe you would have been hesitant to ask before. CDS was certainly very empowering and gave me a lot of encouragement to pursue knowledge outside of what is mandated that we learn. I've heard stories of students entering Grade 9 and then being told, ‘You have to look at science as the way to go.’

  • I think the teaching styles were great to prepare us for university. CDS really helped us get a feeling for what we would be dealing with in universities. The pace at which material is going to be taught in university, and also the lecture style. The teachers prepared us on the academic, course-specific side but also in the way that students and teachers interact at university. CDS did a really good job of preparing you for that.

  • Along the way to the student council, there were so many different opportunities to practise leadership, to become more comfortable. It could be public speaking, or it could be working with a group of people. There were so many opportunities to become more comfortable with those things, if that's what you were interested in.

  • I graduated in 2015 and went to McMaster University for Arts and Science, where I studied for four years in the interdisciplinary program. I graduated in the spring of 2019 and now I am working as a business consultant at a software company in downtown Toronto.

  • I think CDS was amazing in assisting students to find the right university and helping us along that path. For me, as somebody who is really passionate about school and has a passion about learning, it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Two teachers sat down with me for 10 minutes and had a full conversation about how applying to university is scary and talked me through that. The staff are supportive for the whole journey.


More about The Country Day School

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Key insights on The Country Day School

Each school is different. The Country Day School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

See key insights about The Country Day School

Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of The Country Day School is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • The Country Day School sits on 100 acres of protected wetlands, fields, and forests.
  • Relational teaching—a method that prioritizes trust and mutuality between teachers and students—is a core pedagogical approach at The Country Day School.
  • The Country Day School fosters public speaking skills from the early grades, and has brought home the world championship in debating four times.
Read our in-depth review

Our Kids Feature Review video

Learn about The Country Day School's unique and defining characteristics through this informative video.

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More written reviews


Alum, Vivien Zhang (2022)

Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 — Thanks to The Country Day School I was well-equipped heading into university. The courses I took in high school were stimulating and built a strong learning foundation for me, so I made an easy transi...


Parent, Sarah Hepburn (2022)

I have been a parent at The Country Day School since 2014 when my boys started in grade 5. Throughout their years at the school they have grown as individuals be it through the smaller, more personali...


Parent, susie bousada (2021)

My three children started the same year at the Country Day School when they were in Grades 7, 5, and 3. The school made sure that they knew at least one other student at the school before they starte...
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THE OUR KIDS REPORT: The Country Day School

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