Category Archives: In The Community

Getting Aligned Online

paul-davis-mentor-oct25We are really looking forward to tomorrow¬†with the three presentations from social media expert Paul Davis. Our Grades 5/6 students and our Grades 7/8 students will each receive an age-appropriate presentation about both the wonders and the pitfalls of social media. I have not seen a Paul Davis presentation before but I imagine the students go into the auditorium thinking they know everything there is to know about social media and come out realizing (but perhaps not admitting) that there was lots they did not know (and that they didn’t think anyone over the age of 21 knew more than they did on the topic!).

For the evening seminar at 7:00, I imagine that Mr. Davis frequently sees the exact opposite set of emotions. I am sure there will be parents come into the talk with a combination of fear and ignorance and leave at the end with more comfort and confidence in their knowledge about online activity. Parents, I imagine many of you are like me. You have pretty much mastered emailing (even adding attachments!), you consider yourself quite proficient at looking up stuff on Google and YouTube videos and get Magnum P.I.-type satisfaction in finding old school friends on Facebook.

I also guess that, like me, you do not have much interest in Instagramming, Tweeting, Tumbling or Snapping, but this is where our kids are now. And if your kids haven’t hit their tweens yet, I have no idea what you will be dealing with in a few years but I do know that you need to educate yourself NOW. There is a delicate balance between letting your kids be independent and keeping them safe and with online activity, that balance can shift even quicker. This is why we are inviting ALL parents to the evening presentation.

One parent asked me if he should come to the presentation and my answer was “only if your kids know more about the internet than you do!” Based on that, I expect a full house!

Tickets are available in each campus office and the presentation starts at 7:00 at the Main Campus.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Standing Up

bystanderLike many of you, I was glued to my TV on Tuesday night watching the baseball wild card game between the Blue Jays and Orioles. And while the game itself was fascinating (and the right team won!), I have been just as interested in watching the “Beercangate” controversy unfold.

Just in case you haven’t been following the story, an almost-full can of beer was thrown from the outfield stands at an Oriole outfielder as he was making a catch. In the 48 hours since, police and amateur online detectives have been trying to unlock the mystery of “who threw it?” After one day without solid leads, police released the photo of a “person of interest”, a name soon followed and the world went berserk from Mississauga to Maryland and beyond.

What I cannot understand is how the culprit was not caught within 10 seconds of the incident. I have been to many sports games, concerts and other stadium events and I am pretty sure that I would be able to identify the beer chucker. I might know who in my section purchased a can, who was acting rowdy enough to endanger a player and mostly, I think I would notice anyone who took a huge wind-up to launch a projectile from that distance. I think I could do this for a few people either side or for a number of rows in front of me…maybe 10-15 persons or so. Everyone in that section was looking at the play; there must be at least a dozen people who saw it happen and could identify the person. The health of a baseball player and the reputation of Blue Jay fans are in question so why has no-one stepped up and pointed a finger? And if I was in the same position, would I have the integrity to do so myself?

I am wondering if this is the part of the challenge that schools have with anti-bullying strategies. I think our kids are WAY more likely to point out wrong-doings (publicly or anonymously) than we are because they have grown up with the message (at our school and previous ones) that wrong is wrong and that if you see something that shouldn’t be happening, you should tell an adult you trust. The kids get it but maybe parents (sorry, but the people in that section look to be parent-aged, not kids) aren’t quite there yet. How many of you remember being in a classroom after some sort shenanigans had taken place and heard the teacher say before storming out of the class “Nobody leaves this room until they confess!”? How effective was that? We sat there are argued with each other until one of our classmates falsely admitted (or was “pressured” into) their guilt.

Your kids will tell you that the real culprits are the people nearby who saw it happen and know who it was but didn’t say anything. It will be interesting to see if this “person of interest” is an innocent bystander or not. As our kids have been trained to recognize, the “innocent bystander” cannot be innocent while standing by, only when they stand up.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
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

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

We Love Hearing Your “What A Small World” Stories … Share Them With Us!

When I first started working here over 25 years ago, I found that when I told people that I worked at Mentor/TEAM they would very rarely know about the school. My guess is that this was because there were “only” 575 students in all grades back then and we were considered a well-kept secret.

Now when I am first introduced to people and they ask where I work, I find that we have a much greater recognition in the community:

“Oh really? You must know so-and-so…she is a teacher there!”
“The kids next door to me go to school there and they love it”

and the most popular answer this past year…

“I see your field and your dome from the GO Train! That’s a really nice facility.”

Sometimes the conversations are started by someone else, though. Across from the Main Campus, there is a house under renovation. While I was on traffic cop duty one afternoon this week, one of the construction workers came and asked “Is TEAM School still around?”

Long story short, it was the father of a boy named James who attended TEAM in the early 2000s from Grade 6 to 8. He said that having his son join TEAM was the best decision he ever made and that James would have been lost in high school without us. He told me that he still recommends TEAM to anyone who asks (and was a bit upset with us for not having the TSS programme back then!). The next day, I took a yearbook over him and he got a kick out of seeing 12-year-old James in Ms. Salo’s class. When I told Ms. Salo about the encounter, she was tickled to hear that James is now managing a company that installs trade shows all over North America and told me that the stone sculpture James gave her at the end of the year still sits on her desk!

I love hearing “it’s a small world” stories about who people meet who have a connection to the school. Let me know if you have one to pass along!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School