The information that sweeps over new parents has been flowing – and overflowing – for several weeks now. It does ebb, if any new parents are reading this blog entry. This week my wife, Joan, and I invited new day parents in the Middle and Senior School to our home for a welcome on Tuesday night, and did the same for Junior School parents on Wednesday night. Like their sons and daughters on the first day of classes, the first few minutes of tentative conversation in our living room give way pretty quickly to a noisier and happier sound – a hubbub of people making connections, sharing names of children and comparing notes about these first few weeks. Nearly all new students have a day or a week or a month of adjustment, and every new student will have a different story. The waters of SMUS have many currents, and before long it will be easier for everyone to navigate them.
These receptions are an opportunity to weave some of the essential themes of SMUS life into the lives of our new families. Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that I dwell on the Mission at this juncture, especially with new families. We are a Mission-driven school; we consider it when making decisions, we refer to it when we have cultural dilemmas, we build our Strategic Plan around it. The element of the Mission I chose to dwell on this week was “the excellence in all of us.”
The point here is a simple – and essential – one. Our School seeks the excellence in all of us. We are proud of our examples of individual excellence. For example, one of our grads from last year was one of two students in Canada to receive a full scholarship to Cambridge University in the UK. Our school was recognized in its last iteration by the College Board as the top school in Canada for Advanced Placement Equity and Excellence (out of 600 schools) and in the top 60 in the world (out of 18,000). Just this week, a Grade 11 student won first prize in her age category (15 and 16 year olds) in the international Google Science Fair – a genuinely world-class achievement involving thousands of students from all over the world. However, these examples are simply a few of the feathers that attach colourfully to the plumage of our Mission. The important message of our Mission, in fact, is that we believe in the excellence of each and every student. Every student is going to have opportunities – all kinds of them – to discover who they are and what strengths they have. Our teachers, our programs, our curriculum, our leadership, our Board, and our Mission are not designed to serve only the best and brightest, in the condescending and mistaken belief that everyone else will be carried along in the momentum of their success. Rather, everything we do at SMUS is designed to serve the success of all students in the school – in class, in the arts, in sports, in extra-curriculars, in serving others – so that they can attain the great potential that is theirs.