Being The New Kid

Being “the new kid” at a school is both scary and exciting but starting a new school in the middle of the year can multiply those feelings even more. When I was in Grade 6, my family moved from the city of Windsor to the townships surrounding Goderich. To make matters worse, there were almost never any new kids at this school and I was starting at Thanksgiving after all the classroom routines had been set. It was clear from my first day that this “city boy” was not welcome.

Fast forward to this week at TEAM School when principal Mrs. Sawtschuk told me that five new students have joined since March Break. I visited their classrooms on Tuesday and when I asked them the biggest difference between TEAM and their old school, they said (predictably) “the uniform” but they also mentioned things like:

  • “I have a homework book now instead of a bunch of pieces of paper that had my homework on them.”
  • “My old teacher gave us homework but she never checked if we did it.”
  • “This is the first time I have a grammar and a spelling book.”

I visited with Mrs. Sawtschuk and vice-principal Ms. McDonald afterwards and told them that in each class, I couldn’t tell who the new students were until I was introduced to them! When I asked why, they smiled and said that TEAM teachers are accustomed to having students joining during the school year because of the individualized academic programmes. They then got very serious and whispered to me that their real secret weapons when it came to welcoming students are the classmates of the new pupils. These students all remember their first day at TEAM…both how nervous they were and then how amazing they felt at the end of the day. They want to make that same experience come true for others. Case in point? During gym class, one of the new students was the first to do an activity in front of the rest of the class. When the student finished, there was an unrehearsed “high five” from the next student (and very quietly after the drill began, phys. ed. teacher Ms. Sweeney went over and gave the student a congratulatory hand slap as well!). The smile on the new student’s face continued for the rest of the class! It’s just too bad that TEAM School wasn’t around back when I was in Grade 6…

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

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