Category Archives: Mentor/TEAM Teachers

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

New Strategy For Staff-Student Games

Last March, I was on the teacher team in the high school staff-student basketball game. The teachers had wisely chosen the smaller East Gym as the location of the game (less running for old legs) and the strategy paid off with a double-digit lead. In the past, this would usually mean that the coach-less students would start to play more individually and the lead would grow even more but on this occasion, the students actually started passing more and playing tougher defence. Before we knew it, we were shaking hands after the first teacher defeat in recent memory.

I was watching an interview with NBA star Stephen Curry on the weekend about his Grade 7 year when his father (Del) was a member of the Toronto Raptors and Stephen was a student at the now-defunct Queensway Christian School. In the interview were photos of Stephen and his teammates with the Mentor College Invitational championship plaque and a story from his coach about their big comeback in the tournament finals. It was a really great game to watch and having an NBA Dad in our gym at the same time made it an even more exciting day for everyone in attendance. The piece also included some crackly video footage of Stephen playing in a staff-student game with his Dad as an honourary staff member for the day.

In this week’s update, I noticed that my experience is not just a high school phenomenon. Despite the obvious height and experience advantage, the TEAM teachers went down to defeat at the hands of the Primary (Grade 1 to 3) students in the recent, annual “Hoops For Heart” staff-student game. So while it could be argued that the students are so well-coached by our teachers that they are unbeatable, I think it is much more obvious what needs to be done. If anyone knows if Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas or Demar DeRozan have a teaching degree, please have them send me their résumé…and preferably before this year’s high school staff-student game!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School