To learn, to lead, to serve


The full version of our Vision Statement is:


To learn, to lead, to serve;

discovering the promise in our selves and the world.


I dwelled on the word “selves” a couple of weeks ago – its rather special separation from the word “our”, intended to evoke the potential and fulfillment of the individual, along with the responsibility and role of the individual in a community, a society and the world.


When we started the vision process, the parameters were to build it around the exciting and substantial work going on at the school in the two domains of leadership and learning. This morning I presented the Vision video (available on the School’s home page – ), and gave these Kindergarten to Grade 5 students a bit of a preamble, focusing on leadership and learning. About learning, the essential element is that we want to build a school where every student’s particular strengths and talents are explored and fulfilled, meeting the needs of all learners. About leadership, the essential element is that we believe every student in the school should develop his or her capacity to make the world a better place; if they have experiences that develop them thus, they will influence others by the example, their actions and their words.


So how did “to serve” get in there? Quite simply, it gives direction and additional meaning to the two preceding concepts. We discovered in our various focus groups as we undertook the vision process, that without service to modify leadership and learning, we ran the risk of two things. First, the notion of learning might too easily be understood as a private, almost selfish thing, about one’s own intellectual growth and fulfillment. Secondly, the notion of leadership might be understood in terms of the individual who gains prominence in many arenas of human activity by manipulation of power, by right of birth, or by financial instruments. This vision is about the future, and not just the future of our school, but also of the wider world, and we want to build a world where one’s personal intellectual and character development is part of a world that can use people with selfless impulses.


How fitting it was, then, that at this morning’s Junior School Assembly (I have done my “video show” also with the Senior School and the Middle School), that the students also heard about the World Partnership Walk, a service activity undertaken by our Middle and Junior Schools that raises more money for this cause than any other school in Canada. Also, how fitting that the students would learn about the Spring Fair, a massive enterprise and huge event at the school, on May 9, which brings together the entire community to raise funds to support this very vision I have just talked about. It’s not just about our school, ever; it’s about the place of our school in a wider and more complex world. I hope to see everyone at the Spring Fair, and thanks to those parents who are toiling away right now to make it a success!

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


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