Why CDS Faculty Stay and Alumni Return

Some liken it to a sundae, while others call it “hygge”

As I’ve said before in this column, the backbone of this magazine for our readers is the Alumni Notes section on the last few pages. I like to include the Alumni Profiles in this category, of which there are typically three in every issue. Alumni, parents and students alike are naturally interested in learning more about what our alumni are up to because, ultimately, they embody our final product. Who have our students become after passing through CDS’s doors on Closing Day?

I get to unearth the answers every time I work on an issue of The Link. I liken it to investigative journalism. Whether I have been given a lead by a faculty member or one of our Alumni Liaisons, or read or heard something myself and reached out to them, I’m the one who follows up for more details.

A few things come out of this process. 1) I get to connect with a former student and sometimes hear a few memories or something they are grateful to CDS for; 2) I become one of the first to hear about what they’ve done with their life so far; and 3) I hopefully can offer a memory or update from their school where they spent however many years.

Sometimes this conversation warrants more than an email exchange. While I receive help in writing some of the alumni updates, I wrote the Madeline Lawler ’09 profile for the Fall 2018 issue. Madeline had just returned from a cross-country cycling expedition raising money for her hometown YMCA. In preparation for our phone interview, I did what I always do. I skimmed her grad comment from the 2009 Meridian yearbook and shared it with her during our conversation.

“CDS is like a sundae. The School is the ice cream or foundation for learning, the chocolate sauce is the teacher who adds flavour and fun to learning, and the students are the sprinkles and peanuts who make CDS a home away from home.”

I hear the essence of this quotation time and time again when I talk with alumni. They remember their teachers and what they did for them. Whether they challenged, pushed, inspired, laughed with them and, sometimes, saved them, all of these verbs are used with the utmost affection when I ask alumni about their favourite memories. This is the reason behind the choice to put our 15 most senior faculty on the cover of this issue and talk about the up-and-comers on the inside. Our faculty (and staff) are what make CDS the special place it is. They are the reason our alumni come back for alumni events and why “word of mouth” marketing is so effective for our Admissions.

As much as our faculty and staff are responsible for the warm and fuzzy feelings our alumni experience when they reflect upon their time here, there must also be something about this place that makes faculty and staff want to stay for so many years, and sometimes their entire career.

The Danish use a word “hygge” to acknowledge a feeling or moment, at home or beyond, ordinary or extraordinary, as cozy, charming or special. I believe hygge is what exists inside the walls of CDS, and is what keeps our faculty wanting to stay, and our alumni coming back.

Kim Sillcox
Director of Marketing & Communications

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