Madison Country Day School

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Madison Country Day School
5606 River Road
United States
School type Private, Country Day
Motto The future is made today
Established 1997
Head of school Luke Felker
Grades PreK - 12
Enrollment 400 (2014)
Information 608-850-6000

Madison Country Day School is a nonsectarian, private day school in Dane County, Wisconsin for grades PreK through 12. It is the only non-religious private high school in Dane County, and has an enrollment of around 342 students. The school is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS),[1] and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).[2] It is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, and offers the IB Diploma Program to high school students.[3] Madison Country Day School is informally known as "MCDS", and "Country Day".


The school began classes on September 2, 1997. [4] The school was originally planned for a 46-acre (190,000 m2) site in the Town of Westport donated by PDQ convenience store founder Sam Jacobsen,[5] with buildings to be designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects.[6] However, when a conditional use permit was denied by the Dane County Zoning and Natural Resources Committee,[7] the school rented quarters in a former schoolhouse in the town of Martinsville.[8] Twenty-two students enrolled in 1997 for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and Grades 1–3. Additional grades were added one at a time. The school later moved to 76 acres (310,000 m2) of land near Waunakee. A $3 million renovation project in 2001 converted sleeping rooms of the former Yahara Center into classrooms.[9] An upper school was formed when ninth grade was added in 2003.[10] The first senior class graduated in the spring of 2007.[11]

MCDS is an IB World School and accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).[citation needed]


MCDS enrolls students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The school is divided into three parts: The Lower school covers pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. The Middle school contains fifth through eighth, and the High school ninth through twelfth grade. The Pre-K and Kindergarten classes are occasionally referred to as the Early Childhood Program (ECP). As a private school, MCDS is free to choose curricula. Generally, the administration, with the guidance of educational experts from the nearby University of Wisconsin - Madison, try to select curricula from world-wide sources with documented success.

Lower School Curriculum[edit]

The math program used at MCDS is the Singapore Math program, which starts in First grade, and continues through the Sixth. MCDS was one of the first schools in the United States to use this program. Reading is taught starting in the Pre-Kindergarten with direct instruction using the Riggs phonics method, using the Orton phonograms. The Writing Workshop developed by Lucy Calkins is used throughout the lower school to teach writing. The only foreign language taught in the lower school is Spanish, which starts in Pre-k, and with daily classes for the older students. The music program has several components in the lower school; including weekly semi-private piano lessons, choir, and separate music theory classes for all students. One goal of the Lower school music system is to prepare the students to take the ABRSM practical and theory tests. Other classes include Science, Art, History, Geography, Physical Education, and Language Arts.Lower school begins in pre-k,and ends after the fourth grade.

Middle School Curriculum[edit]

The Middle school math curriculum continues with the Singapore Math. English is primarily devoted to literature and writing, it also emphasizes grammar and public speaking. The Science classes are lab and experiment based, using a curriculum from Japan. History and Geography are taught using a Core Knowledge Foundation texts. Spanish classes continue for all Middle school students, and Japanese is available as an elective. Students may also elect to continue their piano studies, or switch to a woodwind, stringed, brass, or vocal instruction in Middle school where students may participate in orchestra, jazz band or choral. Middle school starts the fifth grade and ends after eight grade.

High School Curriculum[edit]

Starts in the ninth grade and ends after twelfth grade.

International Baccalaureate[edit]

The IB Programme preserves a number of important features of the current MCDS High School curriculum and adds depth to our offerings through the diploma requirements listed below. Through a prescribed book list which mirrors our own, students in English will continue to develop a personal appreciation of literature and their oral and written communication skills. Students will also continue to study a foreign language, using literature to seek a native fluency in a given language, per the MCDS founding ideal. Likewise in Science, students will continue to learn the essential topics in a given subject and further develop their understanding of the scientific method through the IB emphasis upon laboratory work. Like MCDS, the IB Programme emphasizes an intellectual approach to academics: the IB math curriculum prepares students for further studies and careers but also aims to develop an appreciation of the intrinsic beauty of mathematics. One other feature of the IB Programme is that it is proven to develop an analytical ability and habit of reflection in students that matches MCDS’ liberal-arts ideal. In History, for example, students move beyond the AP model of exhaustive details to carefully studying a number of periods and areas in greater depth. Likewise in Art, students are evaluated on both their studio work and research workbook that ensures that their own work reflects and builds upon a solid grounding in the history of art. The Music curriculum is flexible enough to allow MCDS students to continue their pursuit of ABRSM standards if so desired.


  1. ^ "Directory of Schools". ISACS - Independent Schools Association of the Central States. Archived from the original on 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  2. ^ "Organization Member Information - Madison Country Day School". NAIS - National Association of Independent Schools. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  3. ^ "Madison Country Day School". International Baccalaureate. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  4. ^ Private school strives to build a team, Phil McDade, The Wisconsin State Journal, September 3, 1997
  5. ^ Town Of Westport Site For School Awaits Vote: Private Academy Set On Farm Land, Phil McDade, The Wisconsin State Journal, March 25, 1997
  6. ^ Ideas For Private School In Westport On The Books: Initial Draft Presented To Town's Plan Commission, Phil McDade, The Wisconsin State Journal, February 11, 1997
  7. ^ Madison Country Day School Blocked: County Zoning Committee Votes To Keep Rural Character Of Westport Site, Phil McDade, The Wisconsin State Journal, June 4, 1997]
  8. ^ Lessons In The Making: Country Day Pushes Quality: Forced To Find New Site, School Makes Pitch To Parents, Jason Shepard, The Capital Times, August 7, 1997
  9. ^ Country Day Renovation Near End: Project, Which Is Planned To End Next Month, Will Create 17 Classrooms From 64 Sleeping Rooms, Marv Balousek, The Wisconsin State Journal, August 5, 2001
  10. ^ New High School For Dane County: Madison Country Day School Grows, Erickson, The Wisconsin State Journal, September 28, 2003
  11. ^ Diploma Days, Anita Clark, The Wisconsin State Journal, May 25, 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°9′46.98″N 89°23′22.56″W / 43.1630500°N 89.3896000°W / 43.1630500; -89.3896000