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Mission and Philosophy


First kindergarten class at City Day, 1981

Founded in 1981 inside a church basement by Mrs. Galeta Clayton, Chicago City Day School is an independent private elementary school serving children in junior kindergarten through eighth grade. 

Mrs. Clayton, who served as headmistress until she retired in the fall of 2020, developed the school's mission statement: To prepare students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and aesthetically to participate in a changing and increasingly complex society. 

The City Day community continues to follow Mrs. Clayton's vision and be inspired by her example. We prepare students for success in high school and beyond with a rigorous curriculum that combines traditional classroom work and innovative experiential learning. Our kind school culture, one based on trust and mutual respect, creates the nurturing environment needed for students to become active and principled members of society.

City Day teachers, administrators, and students work together toward a common goal — intellectual growth and academic achievement. We hold students to high standards, and we provide the support they need to achieve them. 

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We keep class sizes small, to ensure a strong relationship between teacher and student.

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We make it a priority to foster open, spirited, and respectful class discussions.

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We connect our students to vital educational, civic, and cultural resources throughout Chicago.

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We integrate technology throughout our program and encourage a design-based approach to its use.

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We give students opportunities to apply their learning to real-world settings.

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We encourage students to ask questions, try new things, and take risks.


The student is at the center of everything we do at Chicago City Day School. We have structured our curriculum to challenge students while also giving them room to learn according to their unique abilities and styles. Our excellent teachers are experts at differentiated instruction; each of our students is engaged and inspired. 

We encourage students to stretch themselves. That means students occasionally will fall short of their goals. At City Day, "failure" is just another learning experience. We help students overcome setbacks and develop the insight and confidence necessary to succeed going forward.

Our classrooms hum with activity, as students collaborate and teachers guide them toward discovery. The curriculum, while firmly rooted in tradition, embraces innovation and prepares students for next-generation challenges.