Foundation Fortnight

Mark Turner

In many schools around the world, the first few weeks of the new academic year are all about laying strong foundations. If time is taken to ensure these foundations are level, structurally strong and well-built, they will prove to be robust for the weeks and months ahead, and possibly, even, far into the future. They will be resilient enough to withstand the winds, wobbles and tremors that may test them from time to time.

I have very much enjoyed watching our 224 new students begin to find their feet and lay their foundations. Those returning for the next chapter of their SMUS journey have been generous with time and advice to ensure that us newcomers have the easiest, friendliest, and most straight-forward of welcomes.

So what have I, as Head of School, been up to? The answer is a great deal of LLL (looking listening & learning). Whenever time presents itself, I head off on a learning journey. Everywhere from Learning Support, to Music and Science, to Laundry and many places in between.

I have also given 11 speeches to varied audiences in terms of both size and composition. Often my theme has been SMUS’s unique ethos which according to the dictionary is “the spirit of a place as defined by its values and aspirations”.

Several Board committee meetings have begun to induct me into the mechanisms of Governance. I have much enjoyed working with the Board, that group of volunteers who devote so much time to ensuring that the good ship SMUS is navigating on the correct course with the right coordinates.

On Friday last week, I was invited to climb the ladder to the very top of School House to survey the view from the magnificent bell tower. I symbolically rang the ancient school bell – a moment of reflection. The bell is covered with the graffiti of generations past. I like to think that the echoing sound connected them in some small way. When you observe the Richmond Road campus from this elevation stretching into the distance, it appears green, spacious, and dotted with fine architecture – a reminder of what a special place this is. It was easy to see how spending time here has such a strong positive influence on our students today and why a connection remains with SMUS alum throughout their lives.

Sunday, September 16 saw me shuffling along the seafront, journeying with our entire boarding community on the Terry Fox run. What a legend and example of Canadian resilience combined with generosity of spirit.

Earlier in the week… a riot was narrowly averted in the Sun Centre when, enjoying supper, I was persuaded by students that continuing to support the Cleveland Browns was a waste of time. On the advice of those around me, I transferred allegiance to the Seattle Seahawks – a decision that was not universally popular and clearly highly controversial.

Escaping to the Junior School, it was reassuring to be told that term has started in the best of ways. I have now completed my first ever “traffic warden/crossing guard” duty. The numerous brief conversations were much appreciated!

The Middle School is also up and running with new Interim Director Kate Knight already presenting a calm and confident exterior whatever the pressures of the role.

I am also grateful to the Grade 11 French class who wrote in with advice to the new Head of School. Apparently, I must aim to be kind, strict, humorous, serious, dynamic, thoughtful, patient, charismatic… and declare lots of snow days. No pressure there!


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