Signature Programs
Global Citizenship

IDEA at Country School

IDEA = Inclusion, Diversity, Empathy, Action

At The Country School, fostering inclusion, embracing diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences, cultivating empathy, and inspiring students to take civic action are at the core of what we do. IDEA is not just about what we think or how we see the world; it is about our desire to listen and learn, to engage in meaningful conversation, and to take action as, together, we work to serve the common good. 

IDEA Statement

Guided by our mission statement, we affirm that inclusion and equity are essential to our caring community and exist as natural components of our educational program. Understanding diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives promotes the kindness, respect, and responsibility that we build in and beyond our classrooms. Developing empathy allows us to embrace our common humanity by respecting all individuals for who they are. Country School students are leaders and listeners who, through their compassionate actions, can change the world.

*We welcome you to read this National Association of Independent School’s document “Principles of Good Practice - Equity and Justice.”

IDEA Day at The Country School

Each year, students at all grade levels engage in a special day of age-appropriate workshops designed to embrace diversity, foster empathy and inclusion, and inspire action.

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  • IDEA Shared Texts

    Students and teachers plan their workshops around shared themes, anchored by texts. Recent themes and texts include:
    • Empathy and Civic Engagement: If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall
    • Assertion and Taking Action: The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Embracing Differences and Empathy: Wonder by R. J. Palaccio
    • Diversity and Cooperation: One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
    • Telling stories, Sharing Stories: A Year Full of Stories: 52 Folktales and Legends from Around the World by Angela McAllister.
  • IDEA Workshops

    • Civic Self-Portrait
    • Supporting the Common Good
    • Unfolding Identity
    • Empathy Builders Game
    • Adaptation Design Challenges
    • Multicultural Games
    • I Am Peace (Mindfulness and the Brain)
    • Call it Courage
    • Through Different Eyes
    • Genealogy
    • Stand Up and Speak Out
    • Identity and Names
    • Music for Social Justice
    • Growing Your Roots

IDEA Speakers

The Country School is also committed to reaching out to the broader community, expanding the range of voices and ideas our students hear from and engage with. 

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IDEA Alliances and Committees

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  • IDEA Student Alliance

    The IDEA Student Alliance is made up of Middle School students who meet regularly to discuss issues related to inclusion, diversity, empathy, and action. Together with faculty advisors, they plan IDEA programming, hear from others doing this work, introduce IDEA speakers and topics at school assemblies, and attend the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference. The work of the Middle School IDEA Alliance has inspired a Kindness Club among younger students.
  • IDEA Teacher Alliance

    The IDEA Teacher Alliance is made up of teachers from across the grade levels as well as administrators and staff members. Throughout the year, members of the IDEA Teacher Alliance engage in professional development, invite speakers to campus, advise the IDEA Student Alliance, plan IDEA workshops, explore curricular enhancements and updates, and host regular IDEA-themed conversations at faculty meetings.
  • IDEA Family Alliance

    The IDEA-Parent-Teacher Alliance, made up of parents and teachers, holds periodic meetings and hosts events, ranging from visiting speakers and artists to community gatherings such as our Taste of the World Multicultural Dinner, all with the goal of celebrating and honoring the benefits to be had from a diverse and inclusive community.
  • Alumni Sharing IDEAs

    Country School alumni routinely visit campus to share their experiences and expertise. Recent alumni visitors have spoken about: understanding and valuing different ways of learning, anti-racism work, fostering inclusion in collegiate athletics, running a for-profit business that also supports people who are experiencing homelessness, launching a startup that tracks the health care needs of our most vulnerable citizens, and working at the intersection of business development and poverty alleviation for the benefit of the common good. 
  • Board of Trustees’ IDEA Committee

    The school’s IDEA initiative is embraced at the leadership level, with a special IDEA committee on the Board of Trustees strategizing about ways to enhance equity and inclusion on campus as we embrace a more diverse community at all levels, from student to faculty.

The History of IDEA

Although the Country School community has long understood the value of diversity and inclusion, the IDEA initiative began a decade ago when then-5th Grade teacher Gabby Mbeki introduced a daylong series of workshops devoted to exploring issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (learn more about the first IDEA Day). Initially scheduled to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the program has expanded over time, with IDEA events and activities now taking place not just for one day of workshops but at regular intervals throughout the school year. 

The Country School stands against all forms of divisive speech, hate and violence.

Through assemblies and programs on campus, the Faculty IDEA Alliance will work with the Student IDEA Alliance to determine steps to address the surge in national violence and racial targeting in developmentally appropriate ways. The Board is engaged in this important work.

We invite parents and employees to anti-racism webinars we are helping create with the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools’ Office of Equity and Inclusion. 

The Country School will set an example of tolerance and empathy and send our students, families, trustees, employees, and alumni out into the world as role models of inclusion and love, showing that caring individuals, acting one at a time, can help in bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
341 Opening Hill Road, Madison, CT 06443
P. 203-421-3113  |  F. 203-421-4390  |  Health Office F. 860-469-2550
Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent school serving students in PreSchool-Grade 8. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child.