Near The End Of The Line For Our Weekly Update

Today┬áis the first day that we allow our teachers to come in and start preparing for the new school year. Some of them will be teachers who have been with us for 30 years, some of them have been hired in the past 30 days and in some cases, they will be “paired” with each other. The pairing is done so the new teacher can learn the ropes from the veteran but inevitably it ends up working both ways as techniques and technology from the two generations are shared.

I reluctantly admit that I am one of those veterans now and technology has changed many aspects of my job in the 26 years I have been with the school. This update actually began as a quarterly newsletter (on paper!) I put together 25 years ago before evolving into a Word-based weekly email update. Mr. Petrosian had showed me with his work on our websites (my version of the school’s first website is humbly presented here!) that there was a more effective and attractive way to present the information and came aboard the update train in 2007. In the past few years, we have noticed that our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Blog feeds are becoming more and more popular and at the same time, the number of weekly update “opens” has decreased. Just as the paper newsletter had its day, so too has the weekly update. Once the school year starts, we will be using our five (and counting) social media channels to bring you up-to-the-minute school news (more on that next week).

We still have three more weekly email updates, though, so please note the “back-to-school” information in this edition…particularly the entrance assessment date next Tuesday.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

This Will Be a “Lot” of Fun

This is the time of year when we have lots of guests at our schools. The year-end musicals (tonight at the Primary Campus and next week at TEAM School and Mentor Intermediate), year-end assemblies and Grade 8 graduation ceremonies see many smiling parents and friends of our students in the audience. It puts a bit of a strain on our parking lots and we need to utilize street parking so make sure you give yourself a little extra time in order to get to that school event before it begins.

This is also a time when we have some “fun” and a few folks have been asking “What is happening with Fun Day since we can’t have it on the field anymore?” Don’t worry! In addition to the usual selection of exciting amusement rides, we have added some extra attractions (including an inflatable soccer field!).

The catch? The rides will be placed in the north parking lot (the section along Queen Street) at the Main Campus and this will mean that everyone will need to be a bit more creative (and patient) at that campus during pickup and dropoff times. The evening performances of “Beauty and the Beast” will also be affected by this. Our high school students are in the midst of their final examinations and do not attend every day so this will help with the number of vehicles moving through the lot during the day but even if it gets a bit busy, Mr. Macdonald and his crew of lot attendants (Mr. Philbrook, Mr. Cowle, Mr. Milkovich and I) will keep things moving for you.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Doing Our Part to Maintain “Forest” Avenue

Mr. Philbrook loves trees so when he passed along the “tree” portfolio to me a number of years ago, I made a point of ensuring that the schools would remain environmentally-conscious when it comes to our leafy friends. The need to remove four trees to allow for the construction of the field and track, switching from a natural grass field to artificial turf, and the fact that we had a number of ash trees at the Primary Campus succumb to the emerald ash borer made it difficult to appear that we are an earth-friendly school.

Over the past few weeks, however, we have been doing our best to preserve and build the canopy at the schools. A dozen new trees have been planted at the Mentor campuses along with another dozen bushes and shrubs and more work will be done in the next few weeks with mulching, watering and trimming. The company that consults me on all of our tree needs says that they see fewer and fewer companies every year that invest in their trees the way we do. They say that the TEAM and Mentor properties have a very nice mix between old, new, deciduous and coniferous and that they are proud to be part of our commitment. They also like some of the surprises they find at TEAM and Mentor; the arbourist who declared a hackberry tree in the southwest corner of the field “on its last legs” in the fall couldn’t believe that it budded and is now in full leaf. Perhaps Mother Nature appreciates our efforts as well?

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

It’s School Musical Season!

Last night at the HS Athletic Banquet, the theme was “Look How Far We Have Come”. I was able to pass along some anecdotes from the beginning of our sports history and compare and contrast them with the 2015-2016 school year. Other than the greater number of student-athletes participating, the main difference is the facilities our students now enjoy.

Our year-end musicals could also have a “Look How Far We Have Come” theme to them. In fact, the very first school musical held at the Main Campus in 1987 took place before the school was even open! Explanation: the school was entirely housed at the current TEAM School location that year and, as a way of creating some excitement for the move to Port Credit, the founders decided to get the Auditorium (and the hallways leading up to it) all ready for the show. The lighting and sound equipment was rented, there was no air conditioning and the rest of the building was in shambles after being vacant for 3 years. Nowadays, our lights are pre-mounted and programmed, the sound equipment includes wireless microphones and iPad controllers, and we have three shows at three campuses (all in air-conditioned comfort). What hasn’t changed is the sense of accomplishment from the students, the 100% participation behind-the-scenes of our teachers and the smiles on the faces of the audience members.

There is one unfortunate change with modern technology, however. Copyright rules and production agreements no longer make it possible for the school (via the school store, The MT Room) to offer DVD copies of the musical. If you plan on attending “The Lion King”, “Charlotte’s Web”, “Beauty and the Beast”, or all three (!) in the next few weeks, please keep this in mind.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Emulating Our Mentors

A high school friend of mine who chose an army career posted a video on Facebook yesterday. It was an address by Canadian Army Commander Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse to those in a senior leadership course.

He started by saying “Welcome to THEY”. He clarified by saying that the leaders were now those referred to in “They made the decision” and “They don’t know what they’re talking about”. He then told the commanders that while it was important that they need to be the person in charge, they also needed to give as much influence as possible to the “chief”. His reasoning was that “when you take your parade every morning and you look at all of those soldiers…most of them don’t want to be like you, you the CO. They want to be like your Chief”.

This analogy works on all kinds of levels. It certainly applies in the business world with CEOs, executive officers and management teams but I think it also works at a school like ours. Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Philbrook have their principals, the principals have their teachers and the teachers have their students. Each level strives to emulate the example given to them by the person or persons just above them and thereby become leadership models for the group below them. And at a school like ours where we have Pre School to Grade 12, the older students are exemplars for the younger ones. I look at our high schoolers and see excellent role models for our junior and intermediate students. They in turn are a wonderful template for what a primary student should strive.

Do you remember your favourite teacher from your school days? For me it was my Grade 8 teacher, Mr. Snell. He was the first teacher who did not allow me to just “coast” through the year; he would not accept anything but my best effort and my “best” kept getting better as the year progressed. I didn’t have another teacher like that throughout high school but I know that my daughters have a number of teachers here at our school who were mentors to them. These teachers both continue to inspire them to do their best and force them to re-evaluate what their “best” is each year.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School