Category Archives: Principal’s Message

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

Safety First This Year … And Every Year!

img_0633Every year I enjoy listening to the evening news on the first day of school (“Principal Caught Speeding in a School Zone” is my personal and, unfortunately, annual favourite). I think that as staff members, parents and students, we obsess over having all the proper “stuff” and forget about the more important back-to-school item…routine!

As parents, we hit up Costco for things to pack in lunchboxes and our kids agonize over which red pen at Staples has the best underlining feature but we don’t think about the more important things. How many of us didn’t have the “Where will we meet after school?” conversation until we were driving for the 5th time around the school on Wednesday (unsuccessfully trying not to look like we are not texting our kids). Have you waited at the afternoon bus stop to find that your child didn’t get on the bus and were prepared to request an “amber alert” before your high school student FINALLY called you back to say “Sorry I forgot to tell you I was trying out for basketball!”. This admission is usually followed by “When are you coming to get me?” and replied with “When you have graduated!”.

Now that we are back in the swing of things, please make sure you are being mindful of your surroundings. High school students who are out on lunch break need to go to an intersection and look both ways before crossing the road. For staff, parents and students driving around the schools (and in the parking lots), please ensure that you are paying extra-close attention behind the wheel. If the past 30 years are any indication, we will be paid visits from both police and parking control officers as early as today. We flood the sidewalks and parking lots with staff members to keep foot and vehicular traffic moving but we cannot get you out of a ticket for stopping, parking or U-turning in the wrong place. Our city works on the complaint system so as long as we are all doing our part to move around the schools safely, we should see fewer visits from enforcement patrols. I think that all of those signs are there for a good reason but you can post a message below if there is any signage you want me to try to get changed (as I have had some success in doing this in the past).

Enjoy the weekend and get rested up for the first five-day week of the 2016-2017 school year!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

Keeping You Informed Through The Winter Months

We managed to make it through another one of those promised “Snowmageddon” events this week. I think the fact that I grew up in a snow belt area (Goderich) has jaded my outlook on these storms and it seems as though more wind is created talking about them than actually blows during the storm! I was in Ottawa with two of our volleyball teams this past week just a couple of days after 50 centimetres of snow had fallen and with the exception of a couple of side streets that were down to a single lane with the snowbanks, it was business as usual (at least until it rained all night and the city streets looked more like Venice!).

To be fair to meterologists, most of them became less sure of their predictions as the storm approached and passed along their uncertainty. “Better safe than sorry” would be a good description of this. Just so you know, the school takes these same precautions. We always have a plan (and a Plan B and a Plan C) in place whenever inclement weather may disrupt our school day with regards to extra-curricular activity cancellations, school bus cancellations or school closures. After we decide, you are the next to know as the plan is always shared via our Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as through this, our email update!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School