More than Spring has Sprung at KCS

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.
~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

The warm sunshine, return of the robins, dancing daffodils and burgeoning tree buds weren’t the only new arrivals to recently grace our community. Though the emphatic entrance of spring was deeply appreciated, something else has awoken that even topped the weather for its sheer delight.

After years in our thoughts, dormant but developing, KCS is now proud to offer electives, electives with some significant twists, twists that had many of the grade 6 students, who get first crack at this opportunity, beside themselves with excitement.

A general introduction to electives was in last week’s parent e-newsletter Stay Connected. They’re designed for students to just learn for the love of it, learn by choice, not for marks, nor because the Ministry of Education says you must. It’s a time to develop the Habits of Mind, Body and Action that indisputably set us up to be successful. And it’s a time to offer an unlimited array of meaningful learning. If teachers and students can dream it, they now have time to do it. Directly connected to our school mission of developing lifelong learners, it’s designed to stoke the flames that fuel lifelong learning.

Judging from my small group of third-language learners, it’s working.

Students in grade 6 were given eight electives to choose from. Based on their choices, the forty-two students are now in one of six electives for 100 minutes each week of third term. One group is learning to cook from Chef Cirillo of Cirillo’s Culinary Academy. The result of their labours this past week was a mouth-watering chicken cacciatore dish that went directly to a youth shelter. Another group is engaged in geocaching. Enriched technology, art and drama are also taking place. And my group has each student learning the foreign language of their choice. Concurrently, (and thanks the significant help of Rosetta Stone language learning software), the students are learning the following languages: Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Filipino. Just because they want to.

Some of you may have read Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element: How finding your passion changes everything. He’s right, of course. The bulk of his book exposes the far too common disconnect between the regular school day and finding one’s passion, as if passion only has relevance in extra-curricular pursuits. Not here.

One of my students announced he was going to try to learn enough Mandarin to use it exclusively with the flight attendant on an upcoming family trip (hmm, not sure how that will go but keen to know!) To achieve his goal he has asked if he can use the software at home and if there are apps he can download on his iPad.

Lifelong learner, check.

Being Remembered

During our chapel service on the last Friday before the March break, I said goodbye to one of our grade 1 students who was leaving KCS the next day to move to Sweden with his family.  As Josh was a grade one student, he had only been around KCS for the past seven months, but he will be remembered positively in many ways by his classmates and teachers.

Before leaving for chapel, I was speaking with Ms. Murphy about Josh.  His friends had made him a book to take with him:  Things We Like About Josh.  In the book it mentioned that Josh always played fairly, he was a fast runner, a funny guy and a super soccer player.  The book spoke volumes about the person he is becoming at such a young age.  For me, I will always remember Josh as being very respectful.  He would always say hello to me or give me a high five.

We will miss Josh around here this week and in the years to come, but we know his move to Sweden will bring about many memories and adventures.  It got me to thinking:  when a person leaves a place (work, school, etc.), how would they want to be remembered?  Just prior to the March break our 35 grade 8s decided on which schools they are going to attend for high school:

Bishop Allen:  5
Branksome Hall: 2
Etobicoke School of the Arts: 2
Father Redmond: 3
Greenwood College: 7
St. Clement’s School:  2
St. Michael’s College: 6
St. Mildred’s School: 1
Upper Canada College: 2
The York School: 1

As the grade 8s finish their final term at KCS, I hope that they will all consider the question:  how do I want my classmates and the staff and faculty to remember me at KCS when I leave?

Derek Logan
Head of School

A Tribute to Quiet Leaders

Be quiet. If you listen, you will hear them roar.

A quiet leader at KCS told me about the new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain, introverted author and now uncomfortable-yet-superb TED Talk speaker (see her speak here), makes the compelling argument that volume, voice and unabashed extroversion should not be treated as a preferred modus operandi, the standard all should strive to reach. Communication matters, but so does quiet, and particularly so for some.

This reminds me of some students I know.

Each term, a student from each class in grades four through six is chosen to receive the Junior Merit Award. The second-term ceremony was the week before March Break. Making the ceremony a teachable moment for all students in the audience, homeform teachers introduced the recipients with a speech that made clear why they were chosen. Here are some of the many ways in which the recipients are exceptional:

  • Concise writing
  • Clever sense of humour
  • Hard-working
  • Always listening and learning
  • Showing concern for others
  • Consistent sportsmanship
  • Listening carefully to suggestions
  • Though shy, first to participate
  • Exceptional effort
  • Courageous
  • Exemplary work

The second term awards were handed out the same week this quiet teacher-leader and I were talking about Susan Cain and her work. Though talking about ‘quiet’, it was loud and clear to us that the very worthy recipients were living proof of Cain’s message. Knowing the six students, they are quiet leaders. They are supremely able, significant contributors. Their modus operandi is a model to us all.

In our rather loud and busy world, take time to be quiet, and notice the quiet leaders in your life. Their example speaks volumes.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics