“Can We Start Reading Now?”

It’s a Friday afternoon in the KCS Library, shortly after the Silver Birch program has begun.  There are swarms of children racing to the library after school to sign out books…..Silver Birch books!  Some of these students already have a book checked out for the weekend, but are worried that they may finish it early and not have anything else to read the rest of the weekend.  “Could I borrow a second book, just in case?”  How can I say no to such enthusiasm for reading?

The OLA’s Forest of Reading® Programs have been a tradition at KCS for over ten years.  Passports and reflection sheets, sharing thoughts and opinions through blogging, author visits, house competitions, and impromptu discussions in the hallway and classrooms are all part of the Blue Spruce, Silver Birch and Red Maple programs.  And like all traditions, enthusiasm for the program is passed from sibling to sibling.  I am often asked, the first week of school, when will it start this year?

I just love the BookBuzz around the whole school! Some things I’ve overheard:

  • “Did you like Space Raiders?”
  • “I liked The Swallow: A Ghost Story better than I thought I would!”
  • “Are there any more books by David Skuy?”
  • “My goal was 10 books last year, but this year I’m going to try to finish all 20!”
  • Clover’s Luck is here!  I can’t wait to read it!”
  •  “I’ve read all the books!  What else can I read?”

Not surprisingly, this tradition is my favourite time of the year.  There is an increased enthusiasm for reading, and even the most reluctant of readers can be found sitting on a beanbag chair in the library with a book in their hands.  At KCS, we are continuing to grow our culture of students who read for the love of it.  And there are many additional benefits. As People for Education published in a report, “Students with a more positive attitude towards reading tend to be more successful in all subjects”. (Reading for Joy, 2011.)

The Forest of Reading Program – It’s the Super Bowl of Reading!

Judy Dunn-Hoggarth
Teacher Librarian

Toronto TEDx Talks

TEDx TorontoOn Thursday, September 26th I spent the day attending the Toronto TEDx Talks at the Royal Conservatory of Music downtown.  Many of you have watched these Talks online, but it was quite an experience to see them live.  The theme of the talks this year was “The Choices We Make.”

The speakers for the day included:

  • Ti-Anna Wang, Advocate for Chinese Dissident Families
  • Michael Stone, Director, Centre of Gravity
  • Rodolphe el-Khoury, University of Toronto and Parnter in Khoury Levit Fong
  • Darrell Bricker, CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
  • Joel MacCharles, Co-Founder WellPreserved.ca, Writer, Cook
  • Steve Mann, University of Toronto
  • Gabrielle Scrimshaw, President, Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada
  • Steph Guthrie, Feminist Advocate and Community Manager
  • Mark Henick, Case Manager, Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Dr. Ivar Mendez, University of Saskatchewan
  • Brendan Frey, University of Toronto
  • Debbie Berlin-Romalis, Clinical Social Worker, SickKids
  • Mark Bowden, President, TRUTHPLANE

The organizers are beginning to post the talks from Toronto online, and most of them will be available later this month.  You can find out more by going to: www.TEDxToronto.com.  If you have ever considered attending a TED conference, I would encourage you to apply to be a delegate next year.  September 26th was certainly a day full of thoughtful, inspiring and insightful ideas.

Derek Logan
Head of School

The Last Time the Leafs Made the Playoffs

KCS Loves the LeafsTonight’s victory by the Leafs over Ottawa ensured that they would be involved in a playoff game sometime next month.  Here’s a look back on the year 2004, the last time the Leafs made the playoffs:

  1. None of our grade 1 or 2 students had been born (and even some of our grade 3s)
  2. We still had only one class in each of grades 5-8.
  3. Shrek 2 was the number one movie and Usher was the top selling album
  4. Our 18 000 square foot Third Addition had not been built
  5. KCS didn’t have social media sites…sometimes I feel it would be nice to go back to this time!
  6. Current Leafs; James Reimer, Phil Kessel, and Jake Gardiner were in high school
  7. We sent home our newsletters on paper in your son or daughter’s knapsack
  8. Glenn Zederayko was Head of School
  9. Elmo was the hottest toy on the market
  10. The majority of students did not carry around cell phones (the phone would not fit in their locker)
  11. Our student population was approximately 220 students – almost 2/3s of our current student body
  12. A daughter of one of our teachers was born on May 4, 2004
    (Toronto Star, Apr. 20, 2013 – Toronto Maple Leafs: Return to playoffs would be first-time experience for these kids)

What have you done since May 2004?

Derek Logan
Head of School

Sharing What We Know about Heroes, Big and Small

A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure
in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

–        Christopher Reeve

Need a hero? Look no further – we’ve cornered the market at KCS.

Every student is creating a work of art that represents either a hero or heroism to them. Students in grades one to five are each working on a teacher-led project. Students in grades six to eight have designed their project entirely on their own, choosing everything about it other than the theme. Each student has his/her own hero, and their own way of showing it. The Spring Showcase from May 17th to June 6th will be the richest, most interesting, and most inspiring exhibit of Sharing What You Know at KCS ever, I’ve no doubt.

Since reading a biography of Golda Meir in high school, heroes have always nestled in the periphery of my thoughts – all the big ones, the ones who stared down gross injustice, the ones who believed humanity could be better, the ones who courageously devoted their lives to it – reminding me to get off my duff and strive to live a life that matters.

I’m also recently thinking a lot about a smaller hero. Most people don’t know him, though all KCS faculty and staff, and many of our parents do, as well as many people like us in communities across the continent. He’s small in stature, quiet and humble in demeanor. In that way alone could he be considered small. A hero for me, he speaks a common sense about raising and educating children of character that few people speak. Challenging mindsets à la mode, he devotes his life to helping parents and educators be the better people they are capable of being.

This hero, Ron Morrish, is speaking at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School on May 9th. You can also learn more about his message by visiting http://www.realdiscipline.com/ or reading his book Secrets of Discipline for Parents and Teachers: 12 Keys for Raising Responsible Children.

Heroes come in all sizes. Whether big or small, far away or right in our midst, their example has earned them a place in the periphery of everyone’s thoughts. Thanks to the artistry of our students, our Spring Showcase is KCS’s effort to make that so.

And maybe, just maybe, this occasion of Sharing What You Know might help us ordinary folk move one step closer to being heroes: people devoted to making humanity a little bit better.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

A Good Read

On the weekend, I finished reading a book entitled, Inside Out Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann.  The author is a former scholarship athlete who played football in the NFL.  He now coaches high school football, writes and speaks about the impact coaches have on children.  He certainly provides an important and thoughtful perspective on a coach’s influence.

While reading the book, I made notes on a number of quotes/stories that he references.  Two of my favourites are below.  This morning I forwarded the first story on to my son’s soccer coach as I know he’s experienced similar situations to this one over the past few years.

From page 193
The following is the story of the coach and a conversation he had with one of his players. Please note the quote is taken directly from the book and does not reflect the everyday vocabulary of the author of this post.

“Do you understand what cooperation is?  What a team is?”  The player nodded in affirmation that he knew.  “Do you understand that what matters is not whether we win or lose but that we play together as a team and do the best we can individually and collectively?”  Again, the player nodded yes.  “So,” the coach continued, “I’m sure you know that when a coach makes a bad call or the referee drops a penalty flag you shouldn’t argue, curse, or call them a peckerhead.  Do you understand all that?”  The player again said he did.  Coach continued, “And when I take you out of the game so another player gets an opportunity to play, it’s not good to call your coach an idiot, is it?”  The player shook his head.  “Good,” said the coach, “now go over there and explain all that to your mother and father.”

From page 214
We are all familiar with the saying, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  Ehrmann prefers Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy’s retort:  “The only must win was World War Two.”

Derek Logan
Head of School

Do What Is Right

“Happiness varies more with the quality of
human relationships than with income.”
– World Happiness Report, presented at the United Nations Conference on Happiness

Call us old-fashioned. For all the impassioned talk about ‘21st century skills’ and life-changing advances in technology, manners remain at the core of what makes the world go around.

Our grade fives went on a field trip the other day. At KCS we directly teach, practice, review and remind students of behavior that is right. Before leaving to get on the TTC, the grade five teachers did so.

Here is Mr. Sawyer’s account of what followed: “…the thing that stands out most in my mind was the excellent manners that the students displayed on the subway…I felt so proud watching students in our class get up and offer their seats to elderly passengers or to women with small children.  I also saw two occasions where a boy from our class offered their seat to a lady.  All of this was done without me saying a word…I had many people comment to be about the excellent manners of our students.  I agree!!!!!!!”

Positive relationships with others, nourished through the use of manners, have always mattered. Encouragingly, in a world that has sometimes forgotten the importance of this, it is starting to get the public attention it deserves.

Offering your seat, holding the door open for others, welcoming visitors to the school, and greeting others each day are but a few of the ways in which ‘doing what is right’ is practised at KCS. Practice makes perfect.

Grade fives, that was perfect.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
Kingsway College School

Just Play and the Lessons Learned

Over the past eight years, I’ve been involved coaching and taking my son to minor sports, mainly soccer.  I’ve watched him play for club teams and various school teams over the years.  I’ve written about some of my thoughts on what I’ve seen in minor sports in this blog and in other newsletters at KCS over the years:  treatment of referees by spectators as well as the behaviour of some coaches are topics that I’ve observed and commented on. Upon reflection, I realized that I’ve never written about the players.  And this brings me to a story of watching my son play basketball with five guys he never knew before he stepped on the floor with them on Easter weekend.

My thirteen year old son, Brandon, and I went to work out at the fitness facility our family joined.  We started off together doing various exercises and then he went off to shoot baskets in the gym.  Earlier this year he decided that he was going to play on the school basketball team for the first time.  The playoffs were starting the next week so he wanted to go and practice dribbling and shooting for a while.  After an hour or so I finished what I was doing, and with the help of an oxygen tank, made my way up to the gym.  When I arrived, I noticed Brandon was involved in a 3-on-3 game with some other boys, who ranged in age from 12-15.  I sat and watched for twenty minutes.

To me, this was sports at its essence:  a group of children getting together to play a game.  It reminded me of my childhood when a bunch of us would congregate after school or on the weekend to play road hockey, soccer, football or baseball.  We’d set a time to meet and then we “figured it out” from there.  So many times, other kids we didn’t know would wander by and get invited to play in whatever game we were playing.  Brandon and these five other boys ended up together on the court not knowing each other when they arrived.  They picked teams, changed them when necessary, and called their own fouls.  They congratulated each other on great plays and shots; they competed, disagreed, laughed and poked fun at each other for over an hour.  Amazingly this was all done without listening to the input of others on the sidelines.  They just played.

I think for my son, he likely took away other memories than I did from that Saturday; as a thirteen year old, he’s likely forgotten about the game in the same way he forgets about the things I ask him to do around the house!  But for me that game allowed me to witness something about Brandon’s personality: it showed me that he has the willingness to get together with others he doesn’t know for a brief moment in time, and because they shared a common interest, have a good time.  It also  reminded me what my role is as a parent of an athlete: to get Brandon to his games and training on time, let his coach do the coaching, and let Brandon tell me about the training or the game afterwards.  The rest is really up to him.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Act with Empathy

One of our grade one classes had a big talk last week about the habit ‘Act with Empathy’. A classmate was away that day having teeth extracted, so they all thought about what they could say to express their empathy and make him feel better.  Here is what they came up with:

  • I feel bad for you.
  • I hope you feel better soon.
  • I hope your mouth doesn’t hurt.
  • I hope you come back to school tomorrow.
  • I miss you.
  • How did it feel?
  • I’m really sorry for you.
  • I hope you can come back to school tomorrow.
  • I hope you get better soon.
  • I hope your teeth get better soon.
  • I hope you get used to it.
  • I hope your teeth grow in soon.
  • I hope you could get a good rest in your bed today.
  • I hope you can have some fun tomorrow.
  • I hope you lie down in your bed so you have energy for tomorrow.
  • I hope you can go to school tomorrow and you can eat apples, your favourite.
  • You can cut up your apple.

Empathy matters, so we teach it at KCS. ‘Sharing What We Know’ also matters, so we do that too. If someone in your life could use a little empathy and you’re wondering what to say, revisit this post. The grade ones know what to do.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

Grade 1s are So Honest

Today we had a Spirit Day at KCS.  It was beach day.  I was sitting in my office with one of my colleagues with my door open.  My office is across the hall from the grade 1 classrooms.  The younger students are always interested in seeing what the faculty and staff wear on Spirit Days.  The two boys peeked their heads in to see what I was wearing – my Toronto Maple Leafs beach shirt, shorts and sandals.  One of the boys said to the other, “He doesn’t look that weird.”

Derek Logan
Head of School

7/8 Boys Floor Hockey Team Triggers Memories

Last Wednesday, I went to our boys floor hockey tournament in Oakville with Mr. Marshall.  As I expected, the boys were competitive, terrific sportsmen, and represented KCS in the way I’ve come to expect over the past thirteen years.

The boys were playing our arch rival, Mentor College, in the semi-finals.  Mentor had squeaked out a 5-4 victory in the round robin portion of the tournament against us, and following the game I heard a number of their players say in front of our boys that they were expecting to play Fern Hill in the finals.  Our boys had other plans for the first 21 minutes of the game.  We were up 6-2 with six minutes remaining…but we lost 7-6.  I was disappointed for the boys, but fifteen minutes later, they had “recovered” from the defeat and they were back to being their usual selves on the bus ride back to KCS.

As we were driving home, and I was thinking that this is what Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle must have felt like this year, I remembered a particularly memorable defeat that my Dad reminded me of just a couple of years ago when he said to my son, Brandon, “You should ask your Dad about the time his team lost to Ottawa in hockey.”  I remember him saying this and thinking to myself, I’ve forgotten about this loss for the past 30 or so years, and yet you’ve kept this in your memory bank for that long.  One of the messages of this exchange is that the things we do as kids can often stay with our parents longer than it might stay with the child who actually does them.  Anyways, when I was either 14 or 15 we were playing ice hockey against Ottawa.  We were winning 4-0 with two minutes to go in the game.  When ended up losing 5-4 in the first minute of overtime.  My Dad had remembered this event and triggered my memory about it two years ago when he was speaking with my son.  The KCS boys on Thursday brought it back.  I have a message for the boys:  You’ll forget about this in time.  Your parents might not.

Derek Logan
Head of School