After leaving a VERY busy Open House for prospective parents and students on Saturday, I was listening to a sports talk radio show. They were talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs (as they often do) and the discussion revolved around the reasons why the hockey team was struggling as of late. The host pointed out a quote from coach Mike Babcock earlier in the season where he warned that skill alone will not win you many hockey games but if you make hard work your priority, THEN the skill will have a better chance of being displayed.
If this is his coaching philosophy, I think Coach Babcock would be a good person to have for our speaker series. When I look at the student body at Mentor and TEAM, I know that we are very fortunate to have “skill” because if we didn’t think a student could handle our academic expectations, we would not offer them a spot in our school. Most new students already have a significant academic skill level when they come to us but they do not always have the work ethic that we expect. One family I spoke with at the Open House assumed that coming to Mentor would automatically boost their child’s average by 10%. I had to warn them that their son would probably need to work harder than he was now just to maintain his current average.
I think this “skill before hard work” trap can affect returning students as well. It is easy to say to yourself “I got on the honour roll last year” and assume it will happen again but if you don’t continue to put in the hard work, your reputation alone will not get you the results. Our high school DECA team (business competition) is a good example of this. They could go into competitions with just their smarts and do OK but they work hard at preparing for their competitions months in advance and are rewarded with way more ribbons and medals than they could get simply on their intellectual skills.
This applies to our school as a whole, too. We know that we cannot simply open up our doors every September and assume that last year’s families will all be back and that a bunch of new families will join us based simply on our past successes. We strive to provide a top-notch educational experience for our students and this means that we need to put in the work to do so. If our current families are satisfied, they will not only continue to send their children to us year-after-year but they will also be our most effective “brand ambassadors” as they talk about Mentor and TEAM with their colleagues and circle of friends. That’s what makes days like last Saturday fun; almost every family present listed a number of current students or alumni who recommended us to them. We certainly had a better Saturday than the Leafs did!
Mentor College/TEAM School
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.
Mentor College/TEAM School
January is “application month” at several levels of education. Semestered public high schools are about to start their second term so students are juggling course schedules and transferring to new schools. College-bound Grade 12 students are working on their applications and those applying to university have a looming January deadline as well.
Most private schools begin the acceptance process in January and we are no different. Assessments have already begun at TEAM and the Primary Campus and next Saturday, January 14 is the first entrance examination date for new students at the Main Campus (along with an Open House at all campuses). Parents of all Mentor JK to Grade 7 students received their 2017-2018 application forms in the mail this week as well. note: Grade 8 to 11 students will get their forms the first week of February and TEAM’s Grade 1 to 7 students will get this package the first week of March.
We encourage you to let your friends, colleagues, and family members know about next Saturday’s Open House in whatever format you like to use whether it is social media, telephone, email, sharing a link to this blog or a person-to-person conversation (yes, I have heard these still take place!). We love having guests and it is really special when a current student takes a prospective family they know on a tour of the school so feel free to come in as well! If not, we will have administrators, teachers and students who will answer all of their questions and give them a warm welcome (there’s no windchill inside the school either!)
I 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.
Mentor College / TEAM School
It 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!
Mentor College / TEAM School