2019 Retirees: Paul Leslie

Every year, we are honoured to recognize members of the SMUS community as they retire and take on new adventures. Read the 2019 Retirees series to learn more about their outstanding contributions to the school. In this story, we recognize Paul Leslie, former Director of Admissions.

Paul Leslie

Paul Leslie is quick to redirect credit given to him regarding the success of the school during his tenure as Director of Admissions.

“Admissions is a team sport comprised of the Head of School, the administrators, students, staff and alumni,” he says.

Supported by the broader team and with direction from the Board, Paul strove to meet budgets so that teachers, faculty and staff could do their jobs. “It’s not about numbers. It’s about doing your job and getting somewhere every day.”

When Paul joined SMUS, he was mentored into his role by Sue Saunders, “a great teacher.” Once she had imparted her tools, thoughts and wisdom, Paul continued to make the role his own. He was a teacher before, and this senior administrative position was a dramatic shift. Instead of the day-to-day student relationships and responsibilities, he was “meeting with students who are excited about a new adventure, for many – especially boarders – the biggest in their lives.”

Beyond the “team,” Paul revealed several key factors that played into supporting an accomplished school. Among them, “doing research, being globally aware and tracking what is happening politically in other countries. You have to be able to pivot and be nimble because, in the end, we have to fill the school.”

Ways in which SMUS evolved over Paul’s time included increasing diversity. “It is a quality place with people who care and terrific kids,” he says. There has also been “intentional change” in several programs in depth and breadth at all the schools. “SMUS can name its philosophies and can demonstrate through the programs that we offer how we are going to teach them.”

On reflection, Paul offers his top four things about his time at SMUS: Having colleagues that became friends, meeting students and their families, enjoying the benefits of a school with a good reputation and connecting with alumni (he travelled to 30-plus countries). “You have to have a good product, and we did. SMUS’s reputation also made our jobs easier.”

In Spring 2019, Paul and his husband bought a new home and relocated to Salt Spring Island. At the time of writing, he’d just savoured three months incommunicado. Paul shared he was taking some time to consider how he would like to give back, but also very much looking forward to “living a new adventure.”

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