Why Mentor/TEAM? A Little Push…A Little Pull, Say Our Parents

new-schoolI am often asked why our schools are so popular or “Why should I send my child to Mentor/TEAM?”. I do have a standard answer but as I took part in the MTPA’s “Meet and Greet” coffee mornings this week, I thought it would be interesting to re-direct the question to all the parents who are new to the Mentor/TEAM community so I asked, “Why us?”.

The answers varied but as I learn every time this question is posed, there is always a “push” and a “pull” involved. The “push” is something that isn’t working with the previous educational experience. It can be anything from philosophical (eg: Montessori-based learning) to personal (eg: conflict with a peer, teacher or principal) to practical (eg: school goes to Grade 5 so we need a new school) to geographical (eg: just moved to the area).

The “pull” is obviously something that fixes the problem by coming to Mentor/TEAM. Our traditional teaching model and code of conduct for students and staff is attractive to many of those who need a change but I am most impressed with the way new families express their surprise at how quickly the students adapt to their new surroundings. There is a poster at TEAM School we made a few years ago from parent and student comments that summarizes this. Comments like “He used to dread going to school but now he is the first one in the car every morning” and “I love recess now; I have friends!” show not only that our new students are adaptable and capable but that our returning students are just as willing to make the first weeks at school great ones for everyone as well. I always say that by “Meet the Teacher Night” (next week), I cannot tell which students are new to the school because they have already settled in to their new school comfortably. And if you see me there (I am usually “guarding” the cookies in the gym), please introduce yourself and share your “first month of school” story!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Close Encounters of the Alumni Kind

img_0699When I was a student, I would see my teachers outside of school quite a bit. The fact that I was from a small town with one mall and two grocery stores was the main reason; there were relatively few places to go so you were bound to see people you knew. During my first summer of university, I would frequently serve former teachers when they were looking to cool off as I was the proprietor of the “Tin Roof Ice Cream Hut” and also worked part-time at the Brewers’ Retail.

I have enjoyed several alumni encounters and heard of others recently. Myna was my waitress at a local restaurant (earning money to pay off student loans accrued while getting her MBA). Virginia popped into the school today to tell us that she is the head coach of the U of T cheerleading team. I congratulated Shahir on his new gig as a co-host of the CBC show “The Goods” when he tweeted a photo of himself with Peter Mansbridge (who was a part of our school for a few hours as a participant in our “Speaker Series”. While I was umpiring this summer, I re-connected with alumni-turned-slopitch-players Shawn (now a lawyer) and Mitch (who at 28 years old is the senior staff member of an online app company with almost 100 employees!).

It wasn’t just me; three of our high school teacher had this happen to them as well. Mrs. McRae enjoyed a night with some members of the high school Class of 2006 in August, Mrs. Zorec ran into the three Paterson sisters at a restaurant in Niagara and Mr. Miller, while participating in a Tough Mudder race on the weekend, found himself being helped over a wall obstacle by his former student/wrestler, Gianni.

In each case, the former students remember their time with us fondly and always ask about their “old” teachers. We encourage them to return to the schools for a visit and in some cases, they stay for more than a quick chat. The teachers in the photo (Ms. Towey, Ms. Benak and Ms. Brownridge) are just the latest in a growing list (nine) of former students who now work here!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Coming Soon: Edsby!

edsby-horizontal (1)Mentor College and TEAM School have made a change in our online portal for students and parents. We are pleased to present Edsby to our students and parents and will provide login information in the next few weeks.

Students will receive their login code at school, and parents will receive their login to Edsby using the email addresses we have on file. Edsby provides course, class, and school information. By the end of September, everyone will have access to Edsby as a replacement to our previous service, Edline.

Both teachers and administrators have been enthusiastic about the many possibilities available in Edsby and we know you will enjoy the information that is available to you as you access information about everything from course work, club and sport activities, to current news and events happening at Mentor College and TEAM School.

Chuck Macdonald
Director
Mentor College/TEAM School

Safety First This Year … And Every Year!

img_0633Every year I enjoy listening to the evening news on the first day of school (“Principal Caught Speeding in a School Zone” is my personal and, unfortunately, annual favourite). I think that as staff members, parents and students, we obsess over having all the proper “stuff” and forget about the more important back-to-school item…routine!

As parents, we hit up Costco for things to pack in lunchboxes and our kids agonize over which red pen at Staples has the best underlining feature but we don’t think about the more important things. How many of us didn’t have the “Where will we meet after school?” conversation until we were driving for the 5th time around the school on Wednesday (unsuccessfully trying not to look like we are not texting our kids). Have you waited at the afternoon bus stop to find that your child didn’t get on the bus and were prepared to request an “amber alert” before your high school student FINALLY called you back to say “Sorry I forgot to tell you I was trying out for basketball!”. This admission is usually followed by “When are you coming to get me?” and replied with “When you have graduated!”.

Now that we are back in the swing of things, please make sure you are being mindful of your surroundings. High school students who are out on lunch break need to go to an intersection and look both ways before crossing the road. For staff, parents and students driving around the schools (and in the parking lots), please ensure that you are paying extra-close attention behind the wheel. If the past 30 years are any indication, we will be paid visits from both police and parking control officers as early as today. We flood the sidewalks and parking lots with staff members to keep foot and vehicular traffic moving but we cannot get you out of a ticket for stopping, parking or U-turning in the wrong place. Our city works on the complaint system so as long as we are all doing our part to move around the schools safely, we should see fewer visits from enforcement patrols. I think that all of those signs are there for a good reason but you can post a message below if there is any signage you want me to try to get changed (as I have had some success in doing this in the past).

Enjoy the weekend and get rested up for the first five-day week of the 2016-2017 school year!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Near The End Of The Line For Our Weekly Update

Today is 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