- The 4 Pillars
What’s Our Favorite Pillar? KIND!
RCDS students don’t have to think long about the question, “What’s your favorite pillar?” In a new video series on The Four Pillars — Kind, Honest, Responsible, Respectful, that explores the School’s core values, "Kind" was the immediate and visceral response to the question.
As new students to RCDS in 2019, Livia Tortolani ’28 and Susanna Tortolani ’22 felt immediately at ease by the kindness of the community. “I felt really nervous when I came to RCDS as a Beginner (kindergartner),” remembered Livia. “Everyone was really welcoming to me, and it made me feel right at home.”
Susanna too, felt immediately welcomed to the Upper School, making friends through the Gator lacrosse and field hockey teams, and connecting with different students and teachers through the mixed grade seating of Family Style Dining. “I think The Four Pillars make a big difference when coming to a new school,” she said.
RCDS students are highly attuned to the feelings of others, and that empathy drives inclusion and a sense of belonging at the School. Fifth-grader Laurel Finnegan ’25 used recess as an example to demonstrate the point. “RCDS students are kind because they like to include others instead of excluding them,” she said. “If someone doesn’t know how to play a game, an RCDS student will say, ‘Let me explain it to you so you can play with us.’”
Gators also expressed appreciation for the care and consideration of faculty and staff. Academic expectations are heightened in the transition from Lower to Upper School, and students say they manage the increased workload with the help of their teachers.
“RCDS teachers show kindness all the time,” said Nikolas Memtsoudis ’23. “If you don’t understand the homework, they take the time to show you how to do it or will re-teach it to you if you don’t understand something.”
Susanna agreed. “If I don’t get a lesson and the rest of my class does, I’ll ask my teacher for extra help. It can be after school or before school, the teachers here are very kind when it comes to providing extra help if you need it.”
Kindness works in the other direction as well. Head of School Carson T. Smith recalled the kindness he experienced coming to RCDS in 2020. “Being new in the community is difficult, whether you’re an adult or three, four, or five years old. Time and again, students reached out, called me by name, helped me feel welcome, and it was important. Whether it’s student-to-student, student-to-adult, older student to younger student, you see kindness again and again in the day-to-day actions of RCDS students.”