School zones and particularly their drop-off and pick-up zones were in the news recently due to an accident in Toronto that took the life of a five-year-old girl. Police, school, and safety officials all agreed that school zones are getting busier every year.
As the housing surrounding the Mentor and TEAM campuses changes, I am seeing more students walking to school but we are still far from the typical “neighbourhood school”. About one-third of our students use our school buses (with a much-smaller fraction taking public transit) so I estimate that about 60% of our students get to and from school via the family vehicle. The school feels that the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup works very well considering the volume of traffic (and we are in a position to say this because there are administrators and teachers overseeing these areas during the busiest times).
But just like the high school student with a 96% overall average, you can say that “there is always room for improvement” so here are some things to keep in mind:
- Use only the “drop-and-drive” lane for drop-offs and pick-ups. If you use the “drive-through” area, your child will need to cross the drop-and-drive lane where drivers may be coasting forward watching their child enter the school (not expecting foot traffic in front of them)
- Have students ready for drop-off. The drop-and-drive lane is named for how it is supposed to work. When vehicles stay in this lane too long, the driver who pulled up behind feels the need to back up in order to extract themselves from the lane and thereby endangering students who are crossing the lane.
- Double parking/stopping. This is usually found on Queen Street by the Mentor campuses either for a quick drop-off or pickup or in the afternoon while waiting for the buses at the Primary Campus to clear. With parking allowed on both sides of the street, there are only two lanes available and vehicles parked/stopped in one lane when the street is at its busiest makes for an uncomfortable traffic situation.
- U-turns. There is a reason why there are specific signs forbidding U-turns around our schools. If you are tempted to do one of these illegal/dangerous moves, please just do another lap of the school; there are too many vehicles and pedestrians who are not expecting such a manoeuvre.
- Be a good “mentor”. We love when our Grade 11 students start driving (accompanied by Mom or Dad in the passenger seat!) with their G1 licence. We owe it to them to exhibit proper driving habits and, because we are on the streets near the schools or in the parking lots, we should be even more diligent.
- Be patient. In my over 25 years of watching traffic around the schools, most of the issues could have been resolved if drivers just waited a few more seconds for the traffic around them to clear. So if this happens, have another sip of coffee and say to yourself “Mr. Starkey would be proud of me for being so patient!”
Mentor College/TEAM School
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!
Mentor College/TEAM School
It is no secret that everyone wins when parents are engaged in their child’s education. Students with active parental support have greater academic success, stay in school longer, and also become supportive parents for THEIR child’s education later in life.
Parental support comes in many different forms. When I was a student, my parents were always interested in how I was doing at school. I only remember two times when they visited the principal because of me (not counting the time my Mom was the supply teacher for my class and she sent her only son to the principals’ office for being sassy!) but I do remember the support they gave me for my extra-curricular activities. Volleyball started in the first week of high school and because I lived in the country, this meant arranging for after-practice transportation. Volleyball season melded into basketball season (followed by badminton and track and field without a break in between) so I was constantly in their debt for a ride home. Even when I got my drivers’ licence, I know that having the car meant that one of them was going without a vehicle for the day.
At the HS Athletic Banquet each year, the student-athletes get the opportunity to acknowledge their coaches but I always remind them to go home and thank their parents for giving them the opportunity to play because coaches and players are not the only ones who sacrifice some sleep for a 7:00am practice! It is not just our sports programme that requires this form of parental support; many of our clubs, arts groups, and academic competitors have meetings outside regular school hours that require an adjustment to your day as parents as well. I am sure your kids thank you on a regular basis for this extra effort but I would also like to thank you from the school’s perspective. Without “Mom/Dad’s Taxi”, we can’t provide the same quality or quantity of programming. We are highly-regarded for our academics of course but we know from our results in sports tournaments, academic competitions and arts’ performances that we are well-known for our extra-curricular programmes as well. So when you see your child’s name in a drama playbill or a certificate from an academic competition or get the chance to see them win a sports championship, please know that you had a part to play in that success!
Mentor College / TEAM School