The Summer Reset

Ali Zimmerman, News Editor '26

To get prepared the 2022-2023 school year, I met with Rob Zimmerman, head of school, to discuss the changes between this year and last. Read to find out about how to prepare mentally for the year. There may even be an inside scoop; Mr. Zimmerman teaching a class? 

Interviewer: “What is one thing you’re excited about for this year?” 

Mr. Z: “The fact that I know the rhythm of the school year and the families in the community. I enjoyed getting to know everyone last year and listening to them, but I’m glad to now know what to expect. Last year I felt like I was running a race. I had been passed the baton from Mr. Jaccaci and was running while half of me was turned around grabbing the baton. Now, I’m happy I can just run with it steadily.” 

Interviewer: “Last year when you began your position as head of CCD, you thought you would just be an interim head. Do you have a different mentality going in this time, knowing you’re here permanently?” 

Mr. Z: In most important senses, no. I’m the same guy. You have to lead authentically, so I don’t have an entirely different mindset. I do, however, have different objectives. My objective last year was to ensure smooth transition in rocky times. Now it’s a matter of thinking long term. Strategy and culture focus most of my time. We will have a strategic planning process this year that will, in the long run, have an effect on years to come. This will mostly be planned by faculty and staff, but students will be included as well. This planning strategy will have a big impact on the future of the school and is my most important job this year. The culture portion is to make swifter progress on the culture of Country Day and see a better appearance of change. We handled COVID well, better than any other school in the country, but it still took a toll on us. This year, I’d like to reclaim the CCD culture that COVID inhibited. Curiosity, collegiality, and community. This is particularly true in the Upper School. Upper schoolers are reaching the end of their CCD journey, so there is less time to remedy what was taken away. A big chunk of their crucial teenage years were affected by COVID, which is by no means over yet. Even though it isn’t completely gone, it’s better enough to get back to normal and embrace the CCD experience. This year will be all about the vibes. Mrs. Weinheimer and I were joking about it, but in all seriousness, just focus on the vibes. There is important stuff to be done, but COVID is on the way out. Experience a joyful community. That should be the experience for students today.” 

Interviewer: “Is there anything new being added to our schedule as students?” 

Mr. Z: “As far as I know, no. We are trying hard to make sure there aren’t any big changes in your daily life. There is only so much change you can take at once. The goal is just to return to normalcy. The schedule might have some changes next year that perfect it, but for this year, we will still have things mostly the same. Fall fest, homecoming, CCDX. We might do more in terms of programming outside of the classroom such as a longer tailgate before the spring musical. Just casual ways to get together as a student body. In terms of student daily life though, there will be no radical changes.” 

Interviewer: “Are there any big faculty and staff changes?” 

Mr. Z:We lost some terrific faculty as we always do, but we also have some amazing faculty we’ve brought on board. Some new teachers I’m excited about are Mr. Chandler, a new English teacher in the Upper School, and Mr. Flick who will be teaching math. Mr. McGivern’s role here has also changed. He will be focusing on college counseling. I think it’s a great thing for students to utilize, so I’m excited about that. Who knows, I may even teach a class this year… I can only tease that for now. 

Interviewer: “One last question. How do you hope students mentally approach this school year?” 

Mr. Z:I don’t need to tell you that the last few years have been the hardest years on students in generations. Even so, we’re fortunate to be part of this community. It’s fundamentally a joyful thing. I hope we can approach this school year with a sense of community and joy. When kids struggle, as all kids do, they can reach out to anyone in our community. Me, Mrs. Bowers, Mrs. Ward. The adults in this building love the kids they work with, and I hope the students can appreciate that. I didn’t when I was a student here, but now, looking at it from the opposite side, I do very much. Use that resource to your advantage. Recognize that we’re all in it together. The students at Country Day have the unique power to lead others out of that struggle. Mostly, I want you to approach this year with joy.” 

Based on Mr. Zimmerman’s words, everyone should be excited and ready for the school year to begin. It won’t always be easy, it won’t always be fun, but I have full confidence that we can make it better than the last year. Simply approach the school year with appreciation for the people around you and joy.