Category Archives: In The Community

A Graduate of I.O.U.

It is human nature to want to better ourselves. As a school, this is our main purpose…to give students academic tools and a nurturing environment that makes them better students and prepares them for the next step in their educational and life journeys.

Unfortunately, society has replaced this old-fashioned thinking with one of entitlement. Putting in the time and doing the work has been supplanted with shortcuts (usually accompanied by a monetary exchange). This story from the CBC is an excellent example.

Erwin Sniedzins, a Toronto entrepreneur and would-be politician, spent $8,100 to get a Master of Education degree in Technical Education from King’s Lake University. Sniedzins also noted that he did not want to spend $30,000 on a real degree that required him to actually do any work to earn the degree. He was shocked to find out that the “no studying, no exams, and no academic work” policy of the school was too good to be true and he had been scammed.
Sniedzins repeatedly told CBC Toronto that he never suspected a degree based on life experience that required no academic work, studying or exams could be fake as it was in line with his approach to education. “I thought that was great. They should actually have universities that do that,” he said.

Now if it were me, I would rather consider the $8,100 as unrecoverable rather than have everyone in the GTA know what an idiot I was to fall for the scam. Even worse would be to let my family, friends, and colleagues know that I was willing to buy accreditation rather than earn it!

This is not a phenomenon with adults or with post-secondary education as we see this kind of thinking even at the high school level. There are schools who offer course credits with the same promises that Mr. Sniedzins cherished; in exchange for low effort and a fee, you can get a high mark in a course that you need for university acceptance. The long-term problem comes when the student gets to post-secondary education and her/his artificial marks do not help them understand the concepts being taught. Our students, who have put in the time and effort, quickly see the difference between where they rank academically (regardless of their entrance average).

Whether it is a kindergarten student who reads their first picture book or the Grade 12 student who finally “gets” how to find an indefinite integral, it is our mandate to give students the skills to work independently and to feel that they have “earned” these skills. After all, would you rather give your child the marks to get into post-secondary studies or the skills needed to be successful and finish their degree?

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Poise and Burrito Boyz

A month or so ago, I blogged about a family many years ago who came for a Primary Campus assessment, accidentally ended up at the Main Campus, and were so impressed with the high school students who got them across the field that they were sold on the school before they even got to their appointment. Mrs. Talarico (Primary Campus vice-principal) just had a similar experience.

There was an assessment morning at the Primary Campus and between the assessment and the afternoon parent interview, a Mom took her child to Burrito Boyz for lunch. With the influx of Mentor students, lunch at Burrito Boyz is like an ice cream shop in the middle of a heat wave but instead of going to another restaurant, the prospective family stayed and actually did a bit of market research by asking the high school students what they thought about their school.

Mom said the students were poised, well-mannered, spoke highly of the school, AND were very nice to her daughter. Based on their experience at the Primary Campus, the decision had been made that Mentor was the best fit for their family but the interaction with students 10-14 years older than her child was a positive experience that really cemented that decision.

We remind our students and staff members frequently that they are representing the school even when they are not inside the building. How lucky we are that they do so in such a wonderful manner!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Wrong Site? Feels Right!

I think it was 2003 when a family joined our school. Within a few days, the mom of the family and Mrs. Starkey found themselves with a similar daily routine and it was discovered that their family had two girls in the same grades as we did (JK and Grade 3). Friendships developed with all of the members of the two families and one evening during a social gathering, I asked my favourite question: “So why did you decide to come to our school?”

As it turned out, they liked Mrs. Philbrook and Mr. Macdonald (who was the vice-principal at Primary at the time) and they got a good feeling from the teachers they met at the Open House. They had already decided that they wanted a private school education and they had heard about the school’s excellent reputation from friends in the community.

The clincher for them? When they came for their pre-assessment interview, they mistakenly arrived at the Main Campus. They walked into the front lobby and (expecting to see little children) were surprised to see Grade 12 students at the tables there. Without being asked, one of the students asked “Can I help you?” and after realizing that they were in the wrong building, the student offered to walk them over to the Primary Campus. The conversation during that walk across the field had the parents saying later “If that student is typical of Mentor teenagers, this is the place we want our girls to be, too!”

Since 1981, our best “advertising” for the school has always been our students, families and staff. At our Open House on Saturday morning, we once again learned that 90% of the families at our Open House and Entrance Assessment already have a connection to the school through a colleague, neighbour, friend, or family member. Thank you for your continued support of Mentor College and TEAM School.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

One World, One Gym!

_rt_2137For those of you who have been born and raised in the GTA, cultural diversity has been part of your life. For people like me who were raised in small town Ontario, it was not…in fact, I was thinking this week that if they held a Celebration of Cultural Diversity at my high school, they could have held it in a classroom! I had no friends who were of a different culture, skin colour or religion and even if I counted in the entire high school, there would have been 3 students in one of those categories. It wasn’t until I got to university (and even more so once I started working at TEAM/Mentor), that I realized what a vacuum I had lived in all those years!

At the conclusion of the Culture Show concert last Thursday, Mentor high school principal Mr. Whyte noted that it was one of his “favourite nights of the year” because it involved every student of the school. All JK to Grade 8 students had the opportunity to tour the pavilions during the day where they were guided around the world by what ended up being almost 1/3 of the high school student body! The concerts included dance, vocal and instrumental performances by students from all four divisions of the school. Mr. Whyte then also pointed out that this was an event where PARENTS also play an active role; whether they are sewing costumes, coaching dances, cooking desserts, or delivering toothpick-pierced treats, they are proud of their heritage (or in the case of some students, an “inherited” one as they represent a country of which they simply have an interest).

The biggest takeaway for me (and hopefully for the hundreds of volunteers, performers, and guests) at the Culture Show is that our school is like Canada in miniature. Almost 40 countries were not simply represented but they were celebrated. The ability to celebrate everything that makes us different is what makes us the same.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Connections

mamas-papas-california_dreamin“All the Leaves Are Brown and the Sky is Grey”

While the inspiration for the headline could have been the weather on Friday the actual inspiration for this week’s blog comes from Mrs. Pengelly, one of our junior kindergarten teachers. She mentioned to me that the Primary Campus Choir is learning “California Dreamin'” this year. She noted how cool it was that they were singing a song made popular by The Mamas and the Papas, a band featuring singer Denny Doherty. Doherty lived in Mississauga after his active stage career and was a “Mentor/TEAM Dad” with a son and daughter attending in the 1990s.

The degrees of separation don’t end there. Denny’s son, John followed in his Dad’s musical footsteps and was a founding member of the band illScarlett. Their first demo album was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, a place co-founded by Rik Emmett of the famous Canadian band, Triumph. Emmett’s three children also attended the school in the 1990s and the musical connections continued when jazz great Oscar Peterson’s grandchild attended the school in the 2000s.

We also have some political connections with our parents here at the school. Longtime Conservative member Tony Clement is also a longtime Mentor/TEAM Dad and Mississauga politicians Steve and Katie Mahoney enrolled their children at our school, including current councillor Matt Mahoney. Every single one of the Mississauga mayors in the past 40 years have a connection to the school, too! Hazel McCallion’s granddaughter was a Grade 8 graduate and Bonnie Crombie was a regular at the MTPA Volunteer Breakfast with her kids’ connection to the school.

For me, personally, the most memorable “famous” Mentor parent was here only in my first year at the school. I was a huge hockey fan as a young boy and my favourite line in hockey was from the Buffalo Sabres. “The French Connection” consisted of Gilbert Perrault, Richard Martin and René Robert and I was a right winger in hockey so Robert was my favourite. He had finished up his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs (the year that the Leafs traded Darryl Sittler and broke my heart forever) and was still living in the area. I found out that his son Mike was in his graduating year here and even though René did not come to very many school functions, I did get a handshake from him before the end of the year.

We are still a fairly young school but it is probably only a matter of time before it is not our former parents but our former students who will be the celebrities. Come to think of it, there is so much musical, athletic and academic talent within our walls that I am sure it will be the case.