Getting Out

I love this wonderful corner of Toronto. Living and working here, and spending my days with those who do the same, is one of my greatest good fortunes in life.

A recent field trip reminded me of the blessings of getting out.

This past Friday, the grade 8s, Ms Gaudet and I went to Variety Village, where 240 special athletes arrived to participate in the Four Corners provincial-qualifying track and field meet organized by Special Olympics Ontario. James Noronha, Youth Group Leader at St. Georges-on-the-Hill Church as well as Manager of Program Services at Special Olympics Ontario, gave our grade 8s the opportunity to be marshalls, timers and ambassadors at the event.

Whether demonstrating shotput, enticing reluctant long jumpers, announcing race starts, timing runners, or cheering on their adopted school teams, our students demonstrated exuberance, patience, kindness, adaptability, clarity in communication, focus on task and unlimited appreciation for these exceptional athletes. In return, we were all inspired by many athletes’ undeniable skill, and all athletes’ determination to try their best, pride in participation, and willingness to take the leap, throw the shotput, and run the race, especially when for some it was new and unsettling. When I asked some of our students what stood out most for them, they shared it was the athletes’ smiles. They noticed that regardless of how an athlete did, each ended their event with a smile so immense it felt they grabbed our hearts as they raised their fists in victory.

My words can’t quite describe how beautiful a day it was, and how different a day it was. It’s good for everyone to get out of their usual stomping grounds for many reasons, of course. How fortunate we were that we got out, and that our reason was to be at Variety Village, spending the day with special athletes and Special Olympics. May we all get out more often.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

Old Enough

Sometimes as Head of School you can get mired in financial spreadsheets, strategic planning discussions, evaluations, committee meetings, Board work, etc.  Over the past 48 hours, there were a number of things that happened that helped to take me away from that part of the job for a moment and reminded me why I got involved in education in the first place.

Special Olympics Ontario

On Tuesday, our grade 8 students, one of our teachers and I had the opportunity to volunteer at a Special Olympics Ontario event held at the Toronto Police College.  Our students were asked to be ambassadors and to help supervise the scoring and “refereeing” for a bocce ball tournament for approximately 75 athletes from local schools.  As an admirer of Special Olympics from afar over the years, it did not take me long to say yes to the opportunity.  It was such a wonderful day for me as it allowed me to spend time with the athletes, other amazing volunteers and staff from Special Olympics Ontario, and to watch our grade 8s actively, and with very little guidance, help to make the day a memorable one for all involved.  To see the smiles on the athletes faces as well as on our students, ensured that this event will definitely fall into the top highlights for me from this school year.

Last night we had our first evening of parent/teacher interviews.  It was enjoyable to have numerous informal conversations as parents came in about their son’s or daughter’s progress, their accomplishments so far, and what lies ahead academically.  It’s also a time when we catch up on plans for the holidays, sports talk, and their impressions of the school year so far.

Finally, this morning I was at the front doors saying hello to students, families and staff as they were entering the school when the following encounter happened between myself and one of our grade 2 students.  He bounded up to me after he got out of his family’s van, and without a hello, got right to the point.

“How old are you?”
“You’re old enough to sit in the front seat.”
And then off he went into the school.

Now back to the spreadsheets.

Derek Logan
Head of School