Why CDS?

Why CDS?

Welcome to Chatham Day School!

David Buffum, Head of School

Within these pages you will see words like joyful, kindness, compassion, community, and empathy. CDS leads with these words front and center. Combined with our small classes, skilled teachers, and innovative curriculum, we have fostered an environment that allows students to take risks and fully access all of their burgeoning interests. It allows students to be challenged and to challenge themselves, and it is a place where hands are happily and eagerly raised in every class and where bravery is rewarded.

However, you will find that a great number of schools use the words above, and there are plenty of ubiquitous educational cliches— “each child is a unique individual,” “teach to the whole child,” “instill a lifelong passion in learning,” etc., so why CDS?

I believe in all of these words and cliches, of course. They are clichés for a reason. But more so, I believe that when you gather a group of adults who are committed to encourage and guide children to find their passions, amazing things start to happen for the child and for the school. Things that aren’t passions become them. Things that will never become them become manageable, even enjoyable, because the culture around the child has encouraged self-discovery and risk-taking. Learning for learning’s sake becomes a reality instead of a catch phrase, children begin to support each other in their own versions of self-discovery, and bravery and creativity is rewarded, not ridiculed.

This doesn’t mean that school should only be a place to pursue passions or that things should or will always be easy. We believe in teaching and helping students gain a self-awareness of their individual strengths and challenges, and we believe in teaching resilience and grit, as well as empathy and compassion. Why CDS? Because, as a school, we believe in modeling challenge, joy, courage, humor, vulnerability, engagement and hard work. Teaching and learning are supposed to be tough, and on top of it all, students are going through radical physical and psychological changes that have nothing to do with their school education. Why CDS? Because, we understand that it is our job to understand what a child needs and when, to create a culture that allows for the natural creativity and curiosity of children to flourish as it should, for them, in their fashion. It is our job to create a culture that allows all children to become, to find their own passions, and to feel secure and safe enough to take risks along the way. And then it is our job to push them to become more than they ever thought they could be. Then, and only then, can things like equations and experiments and essays become truly educational for all students. Why CDS? Because we believe that school can be transformative. We believe school can- in fact, needs- to be a place where one can feel comfortable enough in their own skin to truly absorb what is happening around them- to truly grow and learn.

Please scroll through our website and learn more about the school. The pages here can never be a substitute for seeing a school in action. Please, book a tour and come see the interactions of our students, faculty, administration and parents. It is only then the words above can fully leap to life. I’m sure you will see, as I have, that this is a truly special place.

We look forward to meeting you and to help your own child thrive in their own fashion.


David Buffum