When the Weather Outside is Frightful

According to our expert meteorologist (Mr. Philbrook, Executive Director), we will be getting some snow in the next while. For those of you who are new to the school (or those who would like a reminder), here are some of the frequently asked questions when the phrase “Is Today a Snow Day?” comes up:

Does the school make its own decision on bus cancellations?

Yes. We do not automatically cancel our buses whenever the public systems in the area do. In the past few years, there has been at least one day per year when public school buses were cancelled and we ran our buses with almost no delay in service.

If the buses are cancelled but the school is open, do I still send my kids to school?

This is a decision each family needs to make based on the weather, your transportation options, and your child care alternatives. If you want to stay off the roads yourself, that is fine.

How will I know if it is a “Snow Day”?

No matter how you are connected, you will get notified! In order of how quick you can find out, the notifications are:

The “Is Today A Snow Day?” link on the school websites
Email (note: all current Mentor/TEAM families are already signed up with the addresses provided to the schools – please feel free to sign up with any additional addresses)

Please note that the school never contacts any media with “Snow Day” information; you will always get notification directly from the school.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Speaker Series: Craig Kielburger

Free The Children Founder’s Visit Continues to Build on Long Partnership

Q: How do you captivate a group of teenagers in a formal assembly, during this era of technology and videography? A: You bring in guest speaker Craig Kielburger!

Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children and Me to We spoke last week to a captivated assembly of Grade 8-12 students and guests. He previously presented to our students 14 years ago as one of the first in our Speaker Series, and returned with the same passion that had this audience engaged and alert. You could hear a pin drop!

I have watched and participated during those 14 years as Mentor College and TEAM School have grown into schools of compassion, social activism, and engagement. Our Take Action Group (TAG) and Leaders for Change clubs have allowed students to develop leadership skills while raising funds for projects locally and internationally. My fondest international school-building excursions with our TAG students have been to Ecuador, Kenya and India. On these service trips we physically made bricks, dug trenches and constructed schools while the elated pupils hovered in anticipation of their new classrooms. Our students have made a difference to break the cycle of poverty in these rural communities. We again travel to Rajasthan, India in March, 2019. I have always said that any Mentor student will forget what they learned in a unit of grade ten history in 25 years, but they’ll never forget the experience of the impact they made on a Me to We trip! And they learn to appreciate what they have and not take things for granted. Those concepts are not found in any textbook!

Mentor College and TEAM School are wholly involved in all facets of Me to We. Craig Kielburger and his brother Marc are very aware of this. As Craig so passionately stated in his speech last Thursday, “this is an extraordinary school because of its commitment to social justice, to student leadership, to empowering the students here……and you are taking those opportunities to create an amazing impact both here in Canada on some incredibly important causes….but also around the world on causes like clean water, health care, empowering kids to escape to cycle of poverty and have the chance to receive an education that we so often take for granted back here at home”. What Craig orated resonates within our school community and embodies our core values.

We are very privileged to have these guest speakers such as Craig Kielburger to Mentor and TEAM. An earlier speaker here, Stephen Lewis, spoke akin to Craig about taking action to aid impoverished nations through education. He asked, “What does a child in a developing country want more than anything in the world? A cell phone? Video games? A soccer ball?”. “No”, he replied. “That child wants to go to school. It’s where a child belongs. To play, to learn and to have opportunity”.

So Craig Kielburger reinforced these ideals of activism and volunteerism we have heard about in a variety of contexts. We are so pleased to support We Villages and marvel at the experiential learning that occurs with our student participants here and on service trips abroad. So, thank you, Craig, for your words 14 years ago! As I said to him before he took the stage last week, “look what you have started”! He smiled. I smiled. We are doing great things.





David Whyte
Principal, High School Division

What’s Coming Up Around The Schools

Today marks the half-way point in the 2018 part of the 2018-2019 school year. It has been a very busy 7.5 weeks and as you can see from the attached list of events, the calendar may be even more full in the next 7.5 weeks.

In particular, we have two of our “traditions” coming up in November. The first one takes place next Thursday as we welcome (back) Craig Kielburger from Me To We for the next installment of our “Speaker Series”. Kielburger was one of the first speakers that our Grades 8 to 12 students heard and because of his infectious enthusiasm on that day, groups like the Take Action Group and Leaders For Change were born. High school students have joined Me To We projects in South America, India, and Africa since then and students from Grade 5 and up get re-inspired by Me To We at their annual “We Day” every fall. Any parent is welcome to come to the presentation Thursday, November 1 at 10:00 AM. If you are attending, please inform your campus office so we will have enough guest chairs available. No ticket is required and the lecture is free but a freewill donation can be made to “Me To We” that morning by parents.

The second tradition is Speech Night. At one time, we had every student in every grade present their speech on the same night but we split the nights up now. The high school students of TEAM (TSS) will start things off with their night on Tuesday (the 30th) next week, followed by their Mentor counterparts on Thursday (the 1st). Students from JK to Grade 8 have their speech night in the last two weeks before the March Break. Speech Night provides a formal opportunity for our students to research, write, and present in front of their peers and parents and (despite what they may have thought a few years earlier) it is almost always mentioned by our graduates as one of the most important skills they learned while at Mentor/TEAM.

Please apply these events to your calendar and we hope to see you at one or more of them in November!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

First Impressions?

Whenever I try to explain to people what our students are like, I sometimes have trouble. I have spent my entire career as a teacher/administrator here so I really have no way to compare the typical Mentor/TEAM student to those in other schools. I do know that I am spoiled in this way but I sometimes need a reminder from someone outside our walls.

On Friday, we received a message from a personal email address with the subject entitled “Mentor College visit to Shaw Festival”. As you can imagine, the initial tendency is to take you to the worst-case scenario (kind of like when your teenager phones you late at night and starts the conversation with “Dad, the important thing is that I am not injured!”). As I read this email, however, a small smile turned into a huge grin:

My husband and I were seated in the middle of a group of Mentor College students at the Shaw Festival yesterday. [Aisle 2, Row D Seat 7]. I was placed beside a young student (we did not exchange names), however we had snippets of delightful conversation. She was friendly, interested and engaged. It was a pleasant surprise for this 77 year old Grandmother! 

My husband and I also observed that all your Mentor students were well behaved. It was interesting to watch their interactions with each other. They were thoroughly enjoying being together and even those who were sitting at the far side of the theatre came to visit their classmates during intermission.

I must admit that when we saw the school buses outside and realized that it was a student performance, we had visions of previous experiences (at Stratford), of less-than-well-behaved students. There was absolutely no hint of that from your students. My young friend parted with “It was nice to chat with you.” 

Please thank that young lady and all your students for making, not only the play, but our entire day refreshingly enjoyable. Best regards to all your staff and students, 

Dr. Richard and Laurine _____________ 

So if someone asks me what our students are like, I now have a fresh anecdote to share with them. More importantly, I would point out to them that the one special mystery student that the writer mentioned could have been one of ANY of the high school students on the trip.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Screenagers: “Why Kids Lie About Screen Time”

In 2017, our Grade 7 and 8 students viewed the movie “Screenagers”. The response was so positive with both students and staff that the school decided to host an evening when parents can see the movie as well. The filmmaker (Delaney Ruston, MD) puts out a weekly blog called “Tech Talk Tuesday” so in preparation for the movie night (Tuesday, February 20th, 7:00 at the Main Campus for parents with students of ANY age), we are going to pass along the weekly blog. At the end, there are some questions for families to discuss so feel free to start a conversation at home if appropriate.

WHY KIDS LIE ABOUT SCREEN TIME – Delaney Ruston, MD January 30, 2018

When I am talking with youth about screen time, I often ask them, “What do you want your parents to understand regarding your screen time?” The number one response is “I want them to trust me.” Many of the same kids go on to tell me about the ways they sneak tech time from their parents—under the covers, during school days, etc. It took me awhile to wrap my head around this disconnect.

I have to come to understand how kids are telling the truth about how much our trust means to them. They want adults to believe that they are capable of making things happen and capable of being independent. They need our trust and our confidence to give them the strength to deal with all the challenges they face in growing up.

So why lie? Kids and teens lie to us about a lot of things, but usually, it’s in the form of withholding information and not blatant lies. One of the big reasons that research shows is they don’t want to be judged poorly by adults, it’s not just that they don’t want to get in trouble.

Parents often put honesty at the top of the list of virtues they most want in their children.  Plain and simple, right? Not really. We, humans, partake in many untruths all the time. Yep, we lie in different forms—a lot.  Kids hear us twist the truth, omit things wittingly, and so on.

Developmentally, lying takes intelligence. It’s a skill young kids start to explore around age three and then increases until they’re about six years old. Usually, by seven it’s on the decline. When kids hit pre-teen and teen years, when sensation seeking urges increase and desire for greater autonomy also increases, often they will withhold information and at times will lie.

Sneaking screen time is ubiquitous, it can cause a ton of friction in homes and put strife into relationships. Kids don’t feel happy about sneaking—it comes at an emotional cost. They know at some deep level that they are undermining the one thing they want so much: trust.

So how to raise more honest children? Here are some data-driven ideas:

  1. Pay attention and try to decrease how often you say white lies…they pick up on all of that of course.
  2. Reward truth-telling far more than the digression. A recent study gives insight into how our actions can help steer kids towards more truth-telling as they grow up. When a truth is uncovered, particularly if the child comes forward with the truth, the key is to put a lot of positive focus on the fact that they came forward. “…children who expected more positive parental responses to confession were reported by parents to confess more in real life than children who expected more negative parental responses to confession.”
  3.  Practice the skill of effective rule setting.

Research shows that youth lie the least to parents who do these three main things:

  1. Are emotionally warm
  2. Have taken the time to set some clear rules and explained why
  3. Are open to hearing why their kids disagree with certain rules, and will, when warranted, make adjustments

Here is an example. Tommy, from Screenagers, admitted to me he would sneak his iPad at bedtime. Even though he used it under the covers, his parents could see the light. When Tommy got caught, Tommy’s dad told me he didn’t punish him. Instead, he had a conversation with Tommy about why using his device after bedtime was not good for his health and sleep. He wanted Tommy to understand that, while he understood the pull of the game on his iPad, there were reasons for needing to set limits.

Lastly, I have learned that as much as youth want to be trusted, they want to be understood. So let’s listen. Show them that their voice matters and make adjustments to rules now and then. For example, if a teen makes a good argument for why his/her phone should not be put away at 9:30 but 10, then you may decide to do that but stick to another rule, like making sure all screens are out of the bedroom at bedtime.  You can explain to your teen science and experience shows us that “sleep is supreme.”  You know me—I always want to do a plug for sleep hygiene.

For this weeks’ TTT let’s talk about honesty:

  1. Do you know people who are especially honest? How so? And, how does it make you feel?
  2. What ways do we as a society alter the truth? i.e., when we say to our kids, “Be sure to thank grandma for the purple sweater and tell her how much you liked it.”
  3. What are the reasons that people might not tell the truth, i.e., to not hurt someone’s feelings or when rules are felt to be barbaric?
  4. What are the downsides of not being honest?
  5. How does this all relate to screen time and ourselves and relationships? Are we lying to ourselves about how much time we spend on screens? Do we alter the truth to others about our screen time activities or usage?

Source: https://www.screenagersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays/why-kids-lie-about-screen-time