Our boarding past and present has done a lot to shape SMUS. By far the most ubiquitous legacy – and the one students are immersed in more than any other – is our extensive programming in what we loosely call “student life”. These are programs that aim to educate the whole student: athletics, the arts, leadership, wellness, character development and numerous extra-curricular activities. We simply assume they are just a normal part of school life, which they are – but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case if we weren’t now, and hadn’t always been, a school for a significant number of boarders. Especially on the Richmond Rd. campus, things are never quiet; there is activity seven days a week – in gymnasiums, squash courts, libraries, music rooms, drama rooms, science labs and many other places. The Senior School consists in fact of 40% boarding students, from twenty-six different countries.
If we didn’t have these programs we would certainly consider many of them anyway – but it’s a question of extent. If one wanders through a typical day school at night or on weekends, they are much quieter, less bustling places. It’s all about offering opportunities for students to (in the words of our Vision) discover the promise in themselves. Without exploring opportunities, how can they find their passions? How can they find strengths no one – not even their parents – could have imagined?
One of our strategic priorities is “Fulfilling Student Promise”. This priority focuses on our dual purpose of pursuing academic success in an environment where the character and self also grow. We have various staff members whose role is to make sure individual programs operate well. Our Director of Athletics is Lindsay Brooke, who also coaches the Senior Girls’ Basketball, and has a daughter in Grade 3. Our Director of Leadership is Becky Anderson, who also has daughters in Junior and Middle School. Our Director of Wellness is Richard Primrose, who is also Head of our PE Department in the Senior School. These programs operate K-12, and affect the lives of all students in the School. We have recently made the move to give more attention to how these programs are inter-related and serve together to support the growth of students whose lives, after all, are not divided into separate categories but come together in their own selves. With this in mind, we have added to the portfolio of Keith Driscoll, on the Management Team as Director of Residence. His responsibility now will be “Director of Residence and Student Life”. He won’t be involved in the detail of these existing programs, which are already well-managed, but he will be making sure that the conversation takes place around the question: how are we all working together on the School’s priority to educate the whole student? The answer will continue to unfold before your eyes.
On another note…
Our Director of Learning, Heather Clayton, will be leaving us at the end of this school year. Over the past year, Heather has been undergoing cancer treatment, which has been very successful. However she has decided the time has come to devote her time to more “private practice” of her strengths in leadership and personal coaching. During her recovery, she has kept a blog, and this week posted this entry which gives a flavour of the intersection of SMUS life with our own lives and the journeys we make.