Category Archives: Principal’s Message

When the Weather Outside is Frightful

According to our expert meteorologist (Mr. Philbrook, Executive Director), we will be getting some snow in the next while. For those of you who are new to the school (or those who would like a reminder), here are some of the frequently asked questions when the phrase “Is Today a Snow Day?” comes up:

Does the school make its own decision on bus cancellations?

Yes. We do not automatically cancel our buses whenever the public systems in the area do. In the past few years, there has been at least one day per year when public school buses were cancelled and we ran our buses with almost no delay in service.

If the buses are cancelled but the school is open, do I still send my kids to school?

This is a decision each family needs to make based on the weather, your transportation options, and your child care alternatives. If you want to stay off the roads yourself, that is fine.

How will I know if it is a “Snow Day”?

No matter how you are connected, you will get notified! In order of how quick you can find out, the notifications are:

The “Is Today A Snow Day?” link on the school websites
Email (note: all current Mentor/TEAM families are already signed up with the addresses provided to the schools – please feel free to sign up with any additional addresses)

Please note that the school never contacts any media with “Snow Day” information; you will always get notification directly from the school.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Speaker Series: Craig Kielburger

Free The Children Founder’s Visit Continues to Build on Long Partnership

Q: How do you captivate a group of teenagers in a formal assembly, during this era of technology and videography? A: You bring in guest speaker Craig Kielburger!

Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children and Me to We spoke last week to a captivated assembly of Grade 8-12 students and guests. He previously presented to our students 14 years ago as one of the first in our Speaker Series, and returned with the same passion that had this audience engaged and alert. You could hear a pin drop!

I have watched and participated during those 14 years as Mentor College and TEAM School have grown into schools of compassion, social activism, and engagement. Our Take Action Group (TAG) and Leaders for Change clubs have allowed students to develop leadership skills while raising funds for projects locally and internationally. My fondest international school-building excursions with our TAG students have been to Ecuador, Kenya and India. On these service trips we physically made bricks, dug trenches and constructed schools while the elated pupils hovered in anticipation of their new classrooms. Our students have made a difference to break the cycle of poverty in these rural communities. We again travel to Rajasthan, India in March, 2019. I have always said that any Mentor student will forget what they learned in a unit of grade ten history in 25 years, but they’ll never forget the experience of the impact they made on a Me to We trip! And they learn to appreciate what they have and not take things for granted. Those concepts are not found in any textbook!

Mentor College and TEAM School are wholly involved in all facets of Me to We. Craig Kielburger and his brother Marc are very aware of this. As Craig so passionately stated in his speech last Thursday, “this is an extraordinary school because of its commitment to social justice, to student leadership, to empowering the students here……and you are taking those opportunities to create an amazing impact both here in Canada on some incredibly important causes….but also around the world on causes like clean water, health care, empowering kids to escape to cycle of poverty and have the chance to receive an education that we so often take for granted back here at home”. What Craig orated resonates within our school community and embodies our core values.

We are very privileged to have these guest speakers such as Craig Kielburger to Mentor and TEAM. An earlier speaker here, Stephen Lewis, spoke akin to Craig about taking action to aid impoverished nations through education. He asked, “What does a child in a developing country want more than anything in the world? A cell phone? Video games? A soccer ball?”. “No”, he replied. “That child wants to go to school. It’s where a child belongs. To play, to learn and to have opportunity”.

So Craig Kielburger reinforced these ideals of activism and volunteerism we have heard about in a variety of contexts. We are so pleased to support We Villages and marvel at the experiential learning that occurs with our student participants here and on service trips abroad. So, thank you, Craig, for your words 14 years ago! As I said to him before he took the stage last week, “look what you have started”! He smiled. I smiled. We are doing great things.





David Whyte
Principal, High School Division

Wishing You A Safe & Happy Summer

The last week of the school year is an exciting yet emotional time for students, parents, and the staff at school. We have an opportunity to enjoy end of year activities and celebrations, to complete the year’s academic requirements in high school exams, and to celebrate the individual accomplishments of our students at various assemblies of recognition and graduation. We do however also feel a little sentimental at recognizing that it is the end of the term 3 and the academic year is now drawing to a close.

To all of our families we extend our thanks for the opportunity of working with your students and communicating with your family. We have had a very successful school year, and we are already planning and looking forward to the 2017-2018 school year at TEAM School and Mentor College. We wish you a safe and happy summer.

If your schedule allows, we hope you have the opportunity to attend some of the year end activities this week.

Best wishes for a wonderful summer!

Chuck Macdonald
Director – Mentor College/TEAM School

Talking AP With Mr. Whyte

This week, we sit down with Mentor’s High School principal Mr. Whyte to talk about the AP (Advanced Placement) programme:

Can you tell us a little about the AP programme?

The AP courses and the exams in May give our students the opportunity to earn a standardized university credit for the high level at which they complete their courses at Mentor College. All universities in North America are looking at this score as an official recognition of knowledge and skills in a certain subject. Given the reputation of The College Board (the institution running this programme) these scores are regarded as true indications of student performance and potential. While each university has its own rule for accepting the score and granting the equivalent credit for it, it definitely looks good on an application!

How is AP implemented at Mentor College?

Since we are not a semester school, the implementation is much easier. The recommendation of The College Board is that these courses are taught over the entire course of the school year … which comes as no surprise since there is need for much quality effort to be put forth in order to write a successful exam. Our students will be enrolled in a regular course, for which they are granted the regular Ontario credit, meanwhile they attend an additional AP support class required to cover all the additional units (not included in the Ontario Curriculum). The marks attained in the regular class will be the ones on the transcript and the ones submitted to universities by our school. During the support class students will be evaluated to monitor their progress, but those marks are not reported officially.

How does the scoring system work?

In May (usually at the end of the first week) all AP students from participating schools will write an exam on the same day, at the same time. Rules are very strict and the exams are immediately mailed to the College Board where readers will mark them in a standardized manner. The score is a number out of 5 with 1 and 2 considered as a fail, and 3, 4 or 5 are passes. With a score of 4 or 5 a student is almost guaranteed a university credit. Students have a choice of sending their scores to universities or not. At the start of their exam they will indicate which universities they would like their scores to be reported to. If they are hesitant and prefer to do the exam first and decide later, they can do that, too. Once the results come in, students can ask the College Board to report their score at a later date.

What if an AP University credit is not granted?

Even if the university decides not to grant the credit, the students who went through this course will have a clear advantage anyway. The AP course content coincides so much with first year university syllabus that the whole university course will seem as a simple review of what students have already done. Their marks will be exceptional and their chances to be admitted into graduate programs increase very much.

How do Mentor students tend to do on the AP test?

Last year the Mentor College average was 4.5, a great score for any school. 25 students of the 38 in AP classes at Mentor College scored perfect scores of 5!

Who is eligible to attend an AP course at Mentor College?

It is a course open to students by invitation only. Teachers of Grade 11 students will recommend a number of potential candidates. The list is subject to approval by the principal. Due to the nature of this program, there are some fees involved. There will be a deadline in terms of payments and registration, after which the AP sections will be formed for the following school year and the classes are indicated in the schedule sent out in July.

What AP courses does Mentor offer?

We try to cover as broad a spectrum as possible. Currently, we offer French, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C, Chemistry, Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics, English Literature and Composition, and United States History.

Can you offer any words of wisdom to potential candidates?

Any student who is invited should be proud and give it careful consideration. In the long run, such a program can open valuable opportunities. The dedication of all teachers involved goes beyond all expectations, and all invited students should be aware of such a great opportunity.

Why Mentor/TEAM? A Little Push…A Little Pull, Say Our Parents

new-schoolI am often asked why our schools are so popular or “Why should I send my child to Mentor/TEAM?”. I do have a standard answer but as I took part in the MTPA’s “Meet and Greet” coffee mornings this week, I thought it would be interesting to re-direct the question to all the parents who are new to the Mentor/TEAM community so I asked, “Why us?”.

The answers varied but as I learn every time this question is posed, there is always a “push” and a “pull” involved. The “push” is something that isn’t working with the previous educational experience. It can be anything from philosophical (eg: Montessori-based learning) to personal (eg: conflict with a peer, teacher or principal) to practical (eg: school goes to Grade 5 so we need a new school) to geographical (eg: just moved to the area).

The “pull” is obviously something that fixes the problem by coming to Mentor/TEAM. Our traditional teaching model and code of conduct for students and staff is attractive to many of those who need a change but I am most impressed with the way new families express their surprise at how quickly the students adapt to their new surroundings. There is a poster at TEAM School we made a few years ago from parent and student comments that summarizes this. Comments like “He used to dread going to school but now he is the first one in the car every morning” and “I love recess now; I have friends!” show not only that our new students are adaptable and capable but that our returning students are just as willing to make the first weeks at school great ones for everyone as well. I always say that by “Meet the Teacher Night” (next week), I cannot tell which students are new to the school because they have already settled in to their new school comfortably. And if you see me there (I am usually “guarding” the cookies in the gym), please introduce yourself and share your “first month of school” story!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School