Many of us will be on flights during the March break. Boarders are returning home, families are off on holiday a few groups of students are off on edifying visits to Japan and the United Kingdom, and more notably to be of service in Kenya and Costa Rica. From the window, the sky is endless, and doesn’t really catch the attention. Instead what draws the eye is the cloudscape unrolling next to the plane, or the earth below: mountains, fields, jungles, quick rivers uncoiling slowly on a plain where erosion has carved its patterns into the earth, jagged coastlines – it is when one’s sight is filled with something, not with the empty sky, that the mind is engaged.


Suppose we could choose, what would we fill our vision with? That was, in a way, the exercise that engaged a small steering committee over the past year (a committee aided by over 300 others who contributed in various forums), whose work will be unveiled at an event at the school on April 2. The task was to articulate the School’s vision for the next decade or two, a vision defined by the themes of leadership and learning. It is an evolution, rather than a new direction. Around SMUS people will have observed, floating on the calm or energetic waters of school life, these bright icebergs of activity, under which there is an unseen bulk of steady work, research, planning and implementation. Our staff have become deliberately and intentionally better at meeting the needs of all learners, and at creating opportunities for our students to make themselves and the world a better place through our leadership programme – and its streams of sustainability, outdoor education, service, global responsibility and the principles of leadership. The visible portion of this work – the bright icebergs jutting above the surface of life here, such as the Harvard World Congress, or the Grade 10 Experiential Pilot, or the Junior School Partnership Walk, or the Learning Centre – is now much more than an array of dots on the surface of life here. This visible portion is now becoming pervasive, and rather than decorating the surface it is becoming the surface itself. It is this activity that the Board identified as the future shape of the school, and which motivated them to charge the steering committee with the task of articulating this vision for the rest of our community. Parents, alumni, staff and a good number of students will be invited to an event on April 2 to hear about the essence of this vision. The substantial body of the vision will take years to unfold, of course, but having checked with our constituencies of parents, alumni, students and staff to make sure it resonated properly with the fundamental character of the school, the vision is now ready to go out in public, so to speak. Those who can’t attend the event on April 2 will still have plenty of opportunity to contemplate the fruits of this process; it will be highlighted in the spring issue of School Ties. Exciting times indeed.



Bob Snowden
Bob Snowden was Head of School at St. Michaels University School for 22 years, from 1995-2017.


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