What a great start to the 2022-23 school year. From the return of teachers and staff readying to welcome JK to Grade 10 students to saying goodbye to the kids as they finished their first week of classes, it has all been such a positive start to what I feel is going to be a fantastic year. We are all looking forward to the return of all the things that we love about the KCS Junior School and the excitement and challenge of opening the new KCS Senior School on Lake Shore.
I would like to reflect on some of the great things that have happened in the past two weeks.
On Monday, August 29, all our teachers and staff gathered for our first meeting of the year. It was the first time our returning and new staff gathered in person, and I could see everyone face-to-face. I heard so many of my staff say how happy they were to be seeing each other again and how much they had missed the comradery that comes with working side-by-side with each other. As much as we worked as a team during the past couple of years, I must admit that I prefer seeing everyone in the school and not on a screen. That full staff meeting was the highlight of the pre-school week. The energy and enthusiasm filled the room and I felt excited to be starting this year with such anticipation of a full return to “normal”.
As the week progressed, I enjoyed getting to know our new staff. We have hired new faculty for both the Junior and Senior Schools, and a new Director of Guidance for the Senior School, as we increase our enrolment and expand to offer Grade 10. We also hired a new Director of Marketing and welcomed back teachers who had been away on leave. One of the things that makes KCS such a great place is our sense of community. That starts with relationships. Taking the time to get to know staff and show them that KCS is a great place to work is part of my role as Head of School. The onboarding and success of our team starts with me.
After a packed week, including our Senior School Curriculum Night, and the Labour Day weekend, the school year was about to begin. The Junior School Curriculum Night on Tuesday, September 6, was a full house in Canada Hall. I met parents who I had never come face-to-face with since they registered their child(ren) at KCS. Our teachers got to meet our parents and confidently talk about what to expect this year. I reminded people that our musical will return next March, and Mr. Magee was so pleased to be able to inform everyone that we now have a crossing guard and that the corner of Wimbledon and Dundas will be getting a traffic light – both things we have been working on for many years. Hearing our parents’ laughter, the conversations and excitement about being able to come back inside KCS again, was wonderful.
But nothing was as thrilling or as fun for me as seeing our students on Wednesday morning. From the newest JK students to our Senior School students getting on our new school bus, it was just amazing. There were smiles and excitement for the most part. I enjoyed seeing the teachers and staff smiling right back. However, as I’ve seen in my almost 30 years of opening days, not every child is happy on their first day, and there were a few tears and a few children hugging their parent’s leg or slipping behind them and being shy. And me, in the middle of all of it, thinking this is one of the reasons I chose education as a career.
What a day! And what a week. Our youngest students visited the library for the first time, ever. All of our Junior School children were playing in Humbertown Park and you could hear the laughter as they participated in their Be Active sessions. Our Grade 7 and 8 students were immediately off to Norval and Canterbury Hills for their outdoor education trips ,and when we send out or Stay Connected Month in Review, parents will see some of the great team building and leadership activities that happened while they were there.
Although our Senior School opening unfortunately did not occur during that first week, our faculty enacted the contingency plan we had in place since the spring. Our Grade 9 and 10 students made use of our new bus for their orientation week. Place-based learning happened around the Senior School and downtown Toronto, and their week ended with a surprise lunch at the Junior School donated by one of our very generous families. We look forward to opening our Senior School facility this week.
As I said goodbye to our students on Friday as they were leaving after their first week of school, it was nice to know we had a start that was feeling like that of the 2019/20 school year.
See you around the school.
Head of School