Category Archives: Mentor/TEAM Events

Mentor/TEAM: A Truly Collaborative Environment

At the recent awards assembly for the Mentor grade 7/8 science fair, the science teachers congratulated the students on their ideas that were so inspirational, and encouraged them to realize the impact they can have to make something better, and to make a difference in the world. The teachers also helped the students recall the number of people involved in the process of completing their science fair project and recall the moments of collaboration among their peers, their teachers, and the parental support from the start of the project through to the final day of competition.

As the school Director, I have the privilege of seeing our students on a daily basis, and each week while spending time at all 3 campuses of TEAM and Mentor, I witness firsthand the many accomplishments of our students. While working with our students, we certainly celebrate their moments of success, but we also observe our students demonstrate their growing maturity and personal development as we provide guidance in the handling of the situations and experiences in their young lives. As teachers and administrators, we enjoy a tremendous sense of pride in our students; though it is on a professional level, it is akin to the pride of a parent.

Our students have been involved in numerous activities where we see evidence of them making a difference in their world, whether locally or internationally, either now or in the future. During this past very busy term, our students have also been enthusiastic participants in so many activities. We have seen them achieve excellent results in both individual and group activities in academic pursuits and academic competition, in interest activities, and we have also celebrated their achievements in the athletic arena.

Thank you parents for attending Speech Night, the Celebration of Cultural Diversity, Science Fair, sport games, and for enthusiastically encouraging the students in Deca, OEC trips, SK 100s day, TEAM Hoops for Heart, participation in the arts, play auditions, community activities like TAG and Habitat, the preparation for the India and the England/Iceland trips, student organized conferences, Intermediate Carnival and Primary French plays, and all of the many other second term activities.

Students, we urge you to enjoy your March Break holiday in whatever manner will assist you to re-charge and re-set, and to prepare for the next and final term of this academic year.
Parents, we thank you for your support to our students, our teachers, and to our schools.
This truly is a collaborative environment where we work together toward the best achievement and success of our students, as we witness their strides to make a difference in the world.
We wish you an enjoyable March Break and look forward to everyone’s safe return on Monday, March 27th.

Chuck Macdonald
Director
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

Holiday Board-om

School Year Calendar 2016- 2017

School Year Calendar 2016- 2017

One of the jobs I have at the end of November each year is to prepare all of the registration documentation for the following school year. Because the first round of 2017-2018 registrations go out on January 2nd (for current Mentor JK to Grade 7 students), we need to have the school holidays set before we leave for our Winter Break.

The Ministry of Education sets the holidays three years in advance and we follow their lead with regard to when the Winter and March Breaks will be. Setting the holidays should be easy for everyone based on that but this year, public education boards started thinking out loud in the early part of this year that they would like to finish one week later in December and then return to classes January 9th. The “catch” is that Boards need to pre-obtain permission to go against the Ministry guidelines but when they released their list of holidays, there was an asterisk saying “pending Ministry approval”. Even if we had a way of knowing when the Ministry would approve the dates, it was already 4 months since we set our holidays and 2 months after we had given those dates to our families in the registration packages. I cannot understand how the Boards would not know three years ago (let alone two years ago or even 12 months in advance) what they wanted to do or why the Ministry would create holidays that their Boards would not want but I guess that is why I am (glad to be) in the private system!

I have spoken to many teachers, students, and parents who are part of the public boards and have yet to hear anyone say that they are excited to spend an extra week in classes with excitable students during December. When I walked through the Primary Campus front lobby this morning, there was an appreciable increase in the decibel level of the kids just because the holiday decorations were up so I know this will only increase throughout the month of December. The parents in the public school system are very jealous that we are going to be back in school on January 2nd. My personal experience with kids and the winter holidays is that after New Year’s Day, children are ready for the routine of a school day again because the excitement of new holiday gifts has worn off (eg: a week after dropping a few hundred dollars on the latest video gaming system, we just love to hear “We’re bored…there’s nothing to do”!). More importantly, parents need to get some semblance of normalcy as soon after the holiday as well.

Our holidays (or as I like to say “their” holidays) have proven to be a challenge for our high school sports in particular as we have three weeks of the winter season that are not common to most of ROPSSAA but that has been the only stumbling block. I hope that those who like to travel are finding good deals with two weeks of “uncommon” holidays and that those students who do their own gift-giving in December will take advantage of the extra shopping time. As for next year’s Winter Break, you can see on the Ministry website that the Christmas Break will be from December 25, 2017 to January 5, 2018. But you can also see on the site that, despite the modifications made by most Boards, the Ministry holidays for the current year (see the image above – click to enlarge) have not been amended…

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

“Murdoch Mysteries”

diplomaI had the pleasure of attending the Grade 8 to 9 Orientation Night at TEAM/TSS last Thursday night and was even given the opportunity to tell a few stories about TSS students and teachers. I am not at TEAM School as much as I would like so the stories were from my perspective as a principal that spends most of his day at the Main Campus.

TEAM Secondary School really is the best of both worlds. For students who thrive in small class settings and are leaning towards a college education, the academic environment we provide is a perfect fit for them. Other private schools like TSS exist but not only do we believe that our academic programme is more challenging, we know that none of them are able to provide all of the extra-curricular opportunities that the Mentor/TSS student body combined can. High schools with even twice as many students as TSS rarely have sports teams, specialty clubs, cool trips, and arts programmes and when you think about it, those are things as parents you probably remember most about your high school years. Why is it that I can tell lots of stories about experiences and skills learned from Mr. Murdoch my Grade 10 basketball coach but none about Mr. Murdoch (same guy!) my Grade 10 business teacher?

In my youth (and in my town), there were no real high school choices. There wasn’t a Catholic secondary school anywhere nearby and I had only even heard of one private school (Alma College in St. Thomas). There weren’t acronyms like IB, AP and SHSM being advertised by the Board to entice me to a specific school; it was Goderich DCI or nothing. It worked for me but it was not suited for everyone. Our Grade 8 students (both at TEAM and Mentor) have already found a good “fit” for an academic programme so the transition to high school (while still an adjustment) is not that daunting and actually really exciting.

If you missed last week’s orientation nights at Mentor or TEAM, please contact the school and we would be glad to inform you about the Ontario secondary school system and tell you about TSS/Mentor’s place within it.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Possum-bilities? Endless!

opossumIt was pointed out to me on Wednesday night that, with my youngest child in Grade 12, I was attending my final Speech Night as a parent (4 years with the eldest, 8 years with both kids and 4 years with the youngest for a total of 16 years!). I told my daughter afterwards that I thought it was her best one of the lot and her response was “You don’t remember my ‘Opossum’ speech in Grade 3, do you?” She inherited her mother’s looks and intelligence but definitely has her father’s wit!

Many, many years ago, we invited a graduating HS student by the name of Mike Zogala to speak to the Grade 8 class at their grad ceremony. We hand-picked him because we knew he was an excellent speaker and marketing-wise, we hoped he would be a great example of “how your kids will turn out if they stay at Mentor for high school”. His very first lines to the audience were: “I have dreaded Speech Night for 13 years. Now that I actually have a choice in the matter, I say ‘yes’ to giving a speech in front of students and parents! What is wrong with me?”

Mike had those feelings of dread almost 20 years ago and I imagine if I took a quick poll of the HS students who presented their speeches on Tuesday (TSS) and Wednesday (Mentor), the majority would agree that they could think of much better things to do on a school night. What I will also bet is that if I asked the question “was Speech Night worth it?” to our alumni, they would no doubt be on the other side of the argument. University students come back and tell us all the time that when it is time for group presentations, they are almost always voted as the person “to do the talking”. One of the shyest girls I ever coached in volleyball is now a liaison officer for a university and talking in front of strangers for a living. And Mike Zogala? Last I heard, he is a lawyer in New York City and I assume still uses “persuasive speech” in order to be successful.

As we prepare for our first Open House this Saturday, I think that one of the great advantages we have as a JK to Grade 12 school is the school-wide events we hold like Speech Night. We smile at our kids while they recite poems and songs in kindergarten and then before you know it, they are in their graduating year discussing varied topics like “Memory and Self-Identity”, “The Butterfly Effect”, “I Speak Cantonese, NOT Mandarin”, and “Hilma af Klint”. I doubt that my kid (or anyone!) will ever need to speak again about Hilma af Klint (a turn-of-the-century Swedish abstract artist obsessed with the paranormal…to save you a Google search), but the skills used and experience of presenting this speech will be used for years to come. If you know a family who would find the same benefits in a Mentor College and TEAM School education that you have discovered, please invite them to come see our school this Saturday morning!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School