I am delighted to be able to write this first letter of the 2019-20 academic year. Welcome back!
I hope that the summer provided a wonderful opportunity for you to spend quality time together as families, and for your sons and daughters to recharge their batteries, ready to fully exploit the opportunities and challenges of the new year.
Elizabeth and I very much enjoyed spending time exploring our new Vancouver Island home. We travelled from the very northern tip, down to the south coast, visiting numerous fantastic places in between. Our first impressions were certainly reinforced. We feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. I can also report on my first encounter with a Canadian bear. This story is fast becoming hugely exaggerated, but it certainly provided a memory that will stay with me.
As we begin the new academic year, I thought I would share with you a few headlines:
- Firstly, congratulations to the 144 members of the graduating class of 2019. The plaudits paid to this group through their tributes at the closing ceremony, were impressive – so too were their AP results. We were delighted to announce our best results since 2010.
- Under the new leadership of Alexis Lang Lunn as Director of Admissions, our Admissions team have been working hard. Once again, records for our school enrolment have been broken – we welcome approximately 1015 new and returning students. With 247 boarders from 32 countries, we have been able to recruit a pool of outstanding talent from around the globe.
- During the holidays, many members of our staff continued to work flat out. I must pay particular tribute to our Finance team who completed a most successful audit. I’d also like to pay tribute to our grounds and maintenance team for working so hard to ensure that the school was prepared for the return of our students.
- We welcome three new members to our Senior Leadership Team:
- Richard Brambley arrives as Director of Middle School
- Alexis Lang Lunn takes over as Director of Admissions
- Adrienne Davidson joins us as Director of Advancement & Campaigns. You can read more about Adrienne’s distinguished career on the SMUSpaper.
As well as catching some fish and escaping from bears, together with our Senior Leadership Team, I was pleased to be able to devote priority time to planning ahead. In fact, our horizon was 10 years ahead, as we started to craft a draft Strategic Plan to present to the Board and its various committees over the course of the fall. This 2020-2030 Strategic Plan will be evolutionary not revolutionary – building on the best of the past and seeking to propel the momentum of the last 50 years forward, into the future. It will also be ambitious but achievable. It will aim to reinforce and enhance our longstanding academic reputation, together with a broad vision for holistic education. It will also include the launch of a major advancement campaign, to ensure that the school has the facilities in keeping with a leading Canadian school, committed to providing excellent opportunities for its students.
As you know, this plan will be based on the responses that we received from the broadest consultation exercise ever undertaken. This involved a questionnaire and survey exercise that touched almost 5,000 members of our extended community. Whilst there was certainly many, varied opinions expressed, there were also other key themes around which there is strong and enthusiastic consensus.
As we start the new academic year, I am really looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with our students. I aim to shadow a student at Junior, Middle and Senior School, to see our school from the students’ perspective. I am also looking to do a little teaching at the Senior School – Grade 9s beware; a small, but nevertheless symbolic commitment. As well as the bureaucracy, the policies and the administration, it is good to remind ourselves that at the very heart of every excellent school are great lessons taught by inspiring teachers.
Many thanks for entrusting us with the privilege of educating your sons and daughters for this next academic year.
I look forward to sharing more details of our Strategic Plan 2020-2030 once it has been discussed, amended and approved by our Board of Governors.