Bob Snowden

Bob Snowden
239 POSTS 11 COMMENTS
Bob Snowden is Head of School at St. Michaels University School.
SMUS-Views-Bob

Futures: Individual and Community

Last week I mentioned that I would be sharing some of the Futures Project in coming weeks and months. For those who missed last...
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Snow

The word “snow” has been whispered around campus in the last 24 hours, especially among our boarders. Our boarders come from 26 different countries, and...

Our Past and Future Reflected in the Sun Centre

This week I announced that we are beginning construction of the Sun Centre, our new Dining Hall and Student Commons. The Sun Centre –...
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CAIS – Canadian Accredited Independent Schools

While Victoria was buffeted by wind and rain last weekend, I, my wife, Joan, and our Board Chair, Blair Hagkull, attended the annual Heads...
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Wellness and Balance

This week we are hosting the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) U15 Girls’ Soccer tournament. Starting yesterday, the fields have been full of teams...
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Disruption

Next week we are convening a group of alumni, parents, staff and students to explore the future of the School. The title for this...
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Big Moments

A movie director would want a brilliant sunny morning for the first day of school. Wednesday morning was such a day, as I milled...
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Head of School Bob Snowden Announces Retirement

After 22 years at SMUS, Head of School Bob Snowden will retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year
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Bits and Pieces

My industrious and dedicated assistant, Jennifer White, was musing on my schedule at this special time of the year. Bemused, she repeats to me...
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The Rare Birds of China

One of the highlights of my role is to swell with pride when I hear our students or alumni praised. On September 7 – yes,...
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Personalization: Parents fined for taking kids on holiday during term time

No need to panic; this blog entry is genuinely about personalization and not fines we're handing out. My title refers to this article: “Should parents...
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Personalization and Experiential Education

At SMUS we talk about personalization and experiential education as two distinct themes that will shape education in the next decade or more. While...
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Personalization visits

The path to personalization is simple in theory. It begins by recognizing several ideas: that all students have excellence inside them to discover and...
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How personalized is the SMUS education already?

This year at Alumni receptions I have introduced a new element in the message from the School: in addition to news about favourite teachers...
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Toward Personalization

Most parents and alumni who read School material, and this blog, will know that the theme of personalization has been a steady, increasingly visible...
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Masters Week

I don’t usually bring a prop along when I speak to students in Chapel, but this week I did: a golf club – an...
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Balancing your chequebook

Every once in a while (but regularly enough) a parent – or perhaps an alum, or even someone outside the School who has learned...
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This week at lunch

Last week I wrote about our Vancouver Alumni reception – a wonderful event two weeks ago. Among those in attendance was Ann Makosinski, who graduated...
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Engagement

Our Vancouver Alumni event last week was a great example of what engagement means at our school – so those of you who were...
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Student Life

Our boarding past and present has done a lot to shape SMUS. By far the most ubiquitous legacy – and the one students are...
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Fixing a flat tire

Every once in a while in the schedule of my talks to Junior, Middle and Senior School students I am able to use the...
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Christmas tree

Originally I was planning on buying our Christmas tree at one of the many cut-your-own places around Victoria. However I managed to find one...
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SMUS at the Olympics

I have talked a bit about my travel this term; now for someone else’s. To the right is a picture taken yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland. Unless...
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Highlights of the Week

Those who have read my blog lately will know I have been on a roll with visits to alumni receptions in various locations: Toronto,...
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Being and becoming

When people ask me about my university degree, and I inform them, “English and Philosophy”, they nod as if it explains everything: I ended...
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Balance and resilience

  I am fond of “twins” in the SMUS lexicon. For instance: “passion and compassion”, “truth and goodness”: the term “twins” suggests the inseparability of...
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Health, wellness and balance

The shift in health and wellness focus in recent decades has given more complex meaning to one of the School’s mottos, mens sana in...
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Halifax

My first meaningful encounter with Halifax, other than as a capital of a province on a map hanging on my childhood bedroom wall, was...
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New Countries

I wrote last June about the Takatuf Scholars program, which last year brought two students from Oman who are part of a cohort of...
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Personalization: the oak and the weed

Oaks grow slowly, weeds grow fast. Inevitably, many who are so inclined will choose to be the dandelions of personalization, bright and enthusiastic until...
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I believe

Or rather, Ibellieve – Toronto, September 23. No, it’s not a typo. The “Ibell” in Ibellieve refers to Simon Ibell, SMUS grad of 1997. Simon is...
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Here we go…

All summer, there is not much noise on the Richmond Rd. campus - apart from the occasional siren on its way to the Jubilee...
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Junior School Sports Day – great kids, great coaches.

I have composed my blog entries in all kinds of places: on airplanes, on the ferry to Vancouver, in hotel rooms, in airport waiting...
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Personalization: variations on a theme

In one of the first concerts I attended as Head of SMUS, our accomplished orchestra performed a challenging piece – and one of my...
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Oman – the Takatuf Scholars

The country of Oman forms what you might call the “ball of the foot” of the Arabian Peninsula: on the southeast corner, at the...
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Personalization – the mechanics

For the past few weeks I have mused on the theme of personalization, wandering off on a number of tangents. Fortunately, for us at...
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Personalization… more

Personalization and the excellent teacher student It’s important to put the emphasis where it belongs. More than a little harm has been done by the...
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Personalization and belonging

One of the fears of the personalization trend in education is that in the personalized school, with students following their own individual paths, they...
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Personalization – our own garden

In last week’s blog entry I ruminated on the theme of personalization in education and in our School. I have used the word “garden”...
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Path to Personalization

My colleagues at SMUS had been using the word “personalization” for a couple of years when it also appeared in the new BC Education...
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Just like when we were there

Some students get homesick when they arrive in September. They hanker for the places and community they have left behind for this new and...
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Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde is a clever title – for a movie, and more so, I think, for the musical the movie begat. Last night our...
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Musicals

Even when you go to yearbooks from fifty or a hundred years ago, a few prominent pages are devoted to the school musical. Depending...
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More on Athletics – specialization

As we personalize education – an expectation that is increasing among families and students – how is it consistent to say that we don’t...
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Athletic Review

Last week we sent out the summary of our recent Athletic Review, as promised before Christmas. (Read it here.) The document has elicited some...
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Snow on snow

For today, this phrase is theoretical, although we did have a dusting last Saturday. The words actually come from one of the carols sung...
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A Couple of Things…

I missed out a few blogs while travelling during October, so a backlog has accumulated behind the dam of my blogflow, you could say. Sporting...
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Language is an oral thing

Language is an oral thing. Socrates lamented the invention of writing, saying that it robbed language of its life. This was approximately 400 BC....
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Child’s Play

Our Senior Boys’ Soccer team is off to a great start, having won the Independent Schools Championship, and coming off a 9-0 victory in...
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Leadership and the 360 Review

Parents and students who have been at the School for some time will know that the theme of leadership is woven colourfully and powerfully...
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Opportunities

In a number of settings recently I have talked to students, or staff, or parents about one phrase in our Mission and its consequences...
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Simple Things

Each September, you only get one chance to make your first address to the students, in my position. Sort of like remembering you only...
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The Best School Year Ever

This phrase is a very ambitious one. At the same time it speaks the aspiration of every student at the School this week, Kindergarten...
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Hi-tech, Low-tech

Our Geography teachers are currently enjoying the fruit of their fine work with GIS technology in our program. Four years ago two of our...
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Highlights

This week’s blog is a collection of highlights. It is a pastiche of items that reflect the breadth of SMUS, and its future (the...
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Best School Year Ever – The Finals!

Back in January I wrote a blog entry introducing readers to our Best School Year Ever initiative. It has been greeted by our broader community...
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Experiential Education

I imagine every reader of this blog has heard the phrase, “experience is the best teacher.” Usually when one has “learned by experience”, the...
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Szechuan Cuisine

I have always enjoyed Chinese food. In recent years, travelling to a few cities in China, I have been fortunate to taste more authentic...
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Excellence? Yes, excellence.

Our School seeks the excellence in all of us. It says so in our Mission. I get impatient with people who roll their eyes at the...
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How to spend a Thursday night

This week, that was easy: you go and see the Senior School production of Spamalot. Every year on opening night my wife, Joan, and...
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Reading: A Milestone

We are very much a community that reads. I don’t know of another school (although I am sure more than one exists) where student...
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Wind and Weather

I am an early riser. This morning at about 5:30 I was outside. The only illumination at this time, in mid-February, is provided by...
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Frozen Victoria

I mentioned to a colleague this morning that for the first time that I can remember, the ground outside is actually frozen....
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Lunar New Year

This week, I can let the students speak for themselves. Students from Asian countries, especially China, share their cultures, their traditions, and the rest...
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Common experiences

Personalized education is not a flavour of the month, we have observed at SMUS. Rather it is the next step in an evolution that...
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The Best School Year Ever

Today is the Day of Silence organized by our student chapter of Amnesty International. Good thing, therefore, that I was able to say my...
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Recognition, far and wide

When Grade 11 student Ann Makosinski was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the “Top 30 under 30” who will change the world...
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Season of light, this year

I am surrendering to a temptation. As school breaks up for the holiday, an irrepressible cheer overflows from the corridors and from everyone’s cup...
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Nelson Mandela

Day after day for the past week, the mornings have been frozen, a rare thing for Victoria. Normally in December the daylight that drips...
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Calgary

It never fails. Technology overflows our briefcases, desks, pockets, and dangles from our ears. But it is a risky thing to depend on. For...
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The “bravo” moment

At the end of the show – be it an opera, concert, or play – someone in the audience leaps up, waves a hand...
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Shane Koyczan

There are not many weeks when you find your blog entry writes itself. Born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, growing up in Penticton, Shane Koyczan appeared...
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Dona Nobis Pacem

About four hours ago I took off from Victoria Airport, on my way first to Toronto, then onward in a couple of...
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Skydiving

I confess that skydiving is not on my bucket list, a fact I shared with the rest of the participants in our review of...
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Finding your way in the fog

Last week I sat for hours waiting for a float plane that could take me out of the fog in Victoria harbour. It was...
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The stories of diversity

A school doesn’t cultivate a culture of diversity so that one particular group can begin to understand the rest who are different....
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Music Review

A few days ago, one of my colleagues recalled the occasion, over a decade ago, when she first heard our Grade Five string orchestra...
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Excellence in all of us

The information that sweeps over new parents has been flowing – and overflowing – for several weeks now. It does ebb, if any new...
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The Mission

At this time of year I refer to our School’s Mission frequently. It is a time of numerous parent evenings, when they meet the...
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Outdoor Trips

Thinking of our Grade 10 students this week, away on their Outdoor Program trips, both I and they are pleased that they are encountering...
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Kindergarten

After living through several decades of Septembers in the teaching life, this September I am also experiencing it as the grandfather of a four-year-old...
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Idols and Heroes

Excerpt from my talk at Leavers’ Chapel, June 7, 2013 To talk about heroes at graduation time is common, even easy. In the popular media...
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The Grounds

If you arrived at the school this morning before classes, you would have seen the sun shining down on the empty field, the grass...
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Differences

Earlier this week I heard a group of our teachers reflect upon the completion of their stint in our Learning Institute, organized by Director...
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Pitt Meadows, and remembering

You know you are no longer in Vancouver when you are enveloped in the scent of horse farms, that combination of hay and manure,...
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Passages – a reprise

Few weekends would be a better fit for the theme of “passages” than Alumni Weekend, which starts today. Every day this week, already, many...
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Animate!

How do students show they have learned? You give them a test, you ask them to write an essay. And more these days, thankfully. Tests and...
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Travel – in their own words

As it happens, I have had an unusual number of conversations about travel in the last couple of weeks, mainly with staff and students...
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Squeezing the Brain

Yesterday at our weekly Management Team meeting, Heather Clayton, our Director of Learning, handed out to us little gray “squeeze-ball” models of the brain,...
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Notes from Beijing

Every March for the past eighteen years I have spent the first two-thirds of the March break visiting families and alumni in Asia. Over...
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“Le mot juste”: Twitter and rigour

First, go ahead and google “le mot juste”; it has a bit of a literary history. I would not have predicted a year and a...
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What makes education better?

This question has spawned many answers, not always good ones. Two weeks ago I wrote about the experience I and Nancy Richards, our Director...
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Felicity

I might be the only member of staff who once taught Latin, but I should check with my colleagues in the Language Department just...
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Winter Sports

We have had a mild winter in Victoria. I make that observation as my wife, Joan, is on a plane to see our daughter...
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Accreditation

One of our Senior Math teachers, Deanna Catto, just returned from a four-day accreditation visit to another member school of CAIS, the national organization...
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Live Streaming

This past week our Large Ensembles Concert made School history, as we tested our first official live-streaming of a School event. It was not...
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Foretelling the future

How useful is it to know that the sun will come up tomorrow? This past Tuesday, one of our Middle School students sang the song...
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Season of Light – more

When I left Reynolds House this morning it was still dark, and I wasn’t expecting the ice beneath my feet on the deck and...
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Season of Light

I have always thought of the coming season this way. Season of light: this is a phrase that for me sews together all the...
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Just when you thought it couldn’t get busier…

The end of November, and we draw a deep breath. Holidays loom on the horizon, but between that respite and today, this particular Friday,...
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The joys of Middle School Mathematics. Really.

Imagine dedicating your life to Mathematics. Or rather, to teaching Mathematics. And trying to get other teachers enthusiastic about it. A couple of weeks ago...
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Remembrance

Yesterday we had our Junior School Remembrance Day service, an occasion appropriately pitched at those young children. Today we had the Remembrance Day Service...
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Higher Learning

This morning I was interviewed by a magazine; the subject was “The Ten Questions Parents Should Ask” when choosing an independent school. Very shortly...
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BYOD Part 1

BYOD: Bring Your Own… Device. This week I have some loosely connected thoughts about technology at the School. This year we are piloting a BYOD initiative...
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Building buildings

Last week I referred to the sacrifice of Malala Yousafzai. Today in Senior Chapel, Rev. Fletcher showed some pictures of the town in the...
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Chambers Bay

At the end of a meeting last Monday, I found myself crawling to my car, and then to the hospital, because I could neither...
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Today’s tweet: worldwide teacher shortage. @snowdenrt

Today I tweeted about the worldwide teacher shortage from Education Week. Food for thought.
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Uniform

It is an axiom of consultants who advise independent schools that if you want to distract the entire community – staff, students, parents, and...
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Back in the day

When I talk to new boarding parents on opening day I like to tell them two things, that hopefully won’t get lost in the...
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Fly-fishing

In fly-fishing and literature – both the reading and the writing of it – reflection plays more than an accidental role. In July my...
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Summer Holidays

Here we are at the end of June, and people are thinking of taking trips south to experience some warmth. June is often an...
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Twitter

At least on Twitter (unlike Facebook) they call them “followers” rather than “friends”. Lady Gaga is up to 24 million of them. I am up...
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What does the future hold?

An appropriate time to ask that question is on Alumni Weekend, which is upon us today. At some point during the weekend, at a...
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Professional Development

Professional development and personal development are usually one and the same. This morning I was speaking at length with one of our Senior English teachers,...
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Letters Home

Just a couple of days ago, we received a letter from Dariusz Dziewanski '97. Dariusz now lives in London, England. He writes: I want to take...
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The Great Wall

I did get a new iPad, by the way, for those who read my blog of a number of weeks ago; I mentioned it...
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Selling profound ideas

Our mission is full of words that invite pompousness and overblown expression; these same words often also trigger cynicism and scorn:  “excellence”, “passion”, “compassion”;...
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Who has time to read?

I do. It is a difficult time of year to say that emphatically, given the end of term sports, School musical (Guys and Dolls, starting...
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Black History Month

Whenever I write about what happens in Chapel, I wonder: do people outside our community read the description and find themselves totally disoriented? Chapel?...
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If I had a hammer: the iPad

As a boy, I would take a volume of the encyclopaedia to bed and read it after my parents thought they had turned out...
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Art

Visitors to my office often comment on the art hanging on its walls, their eyes widening when they learn that it is student art....
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Chaos Theory

Fortunately I am an early riser anyway, so when the forecast suggests snow it is no inconvenience at all to look outside and check...
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Winter term

Last Saturday was my birthday, as students in Senior Chapel will remember, to my embarrassment. My brother called me from Toronto to wish me...
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Another excellence

We talk about passion and compassion in the same breath at our school. When I try to make my point a bit more graphic...
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Myrrh

At our carol services Reverend Fletcher always makes the observation that while our School has the tradition of celebrating Christmas, we are very conscious,...
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Difficult things

When I consider "difficult" things, I avoid using that word. Rather such experiences are “challenges” – or if I am feeling particularly euphemistic, “opportunities”....
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Volunteers

The row of cedars out behind Reynolds House was ravaged by disease a few year ago and many had to be cut down. Just...
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Frost

The days are getting shorter. Most of this week, early in the mornings, we have had frost. People who know my wife, Joan, and...
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Retreats and rain

Outside my office a cool drizzle is falling, even though on the horizon under the gray sky  a band of sunnier cloud is visible...
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Preserve the legacy, fulfill the Vision

This is the phrase that captures the essence of Founders’ Day, which occurred last Thursday, October 20. The centrepiece of the day is the...
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First flight

This week I am away from School, at the annual Heads’ Conference for CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools), our national organization. A lot of...
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I believe

Or in this particular instance, Ibellieve. You can find out more about Simon Ibell at the website, www.ibellieve.ca . Simon Ibell, grad of 1996, spoke to...
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The Future

Schools are all about the future, students are all about their promise. By using the word promise we suggest something a little different from “potential”,...
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Second week

If you are a parent or a student, and your first couple of weeks at the school hasn’t been quite as smooth as you hoped...
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Haida Gwaii

As of 18 months ago, the Queen Charlotte Islands are officially known as Haida Gwaii: “land of the Haida”. It is an archipelago of...
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Sentences

This week has been the first week of exams. Exams are the period at the end of the complex and rambling sentence that is...
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Snippets

Junior School Sports Day Today is the annual Junior School Sports Day. Races for everyone, the excitement of the House competition, ribbons in great numbers,...
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The Quad

I didn’t really encounter the qualities and virtues of quadrangles until I went to university. University College at University of Toronto has a quad...
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Birds

I am an early riser - my natural biological clock, it seems. Even on weekends and holidays I am up and about when the...
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Natasha Rostov

What possesses us to be so engaged in stories we read? I have written before about reading, and my Kindle, for instance. I am an...
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We few

It is a challenge to find a time for an event at the School these days - if you didn’t get it on the...
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Airports

It is hard to rhapsodize about airports. But some are definitely better than others, and it could be said: the smaller the better. Certainly...
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April

In a memorable piece of irony, the poet T.S. Eliot called April the “cruellest month”. Eliot was fond of literary allusion, quoting - or...
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Crossing the Pacific

It has been said that escapist books take you out of yourself; more serious books take you into yourself. Likewise travel. Some travel takes...
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Leslie Hinton

Our school seeks the excellence in all of us. Students who have passed through our Junior School, and many others, will recognize this phrase...
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Breathe

It’s that time of year: large scale musical productions (Senior - My Fair Lady, on right now at the McPherson Theatre; Middle School -...
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Finding your voice

This winter term a few voices have been lost, actually, as a rather distorting cold virus has run through our staff and students. A...
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Bon voyage

When thinking about the setting in which our teachers teach, I have always hoped it will be a place where they will grow and...
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The Future

It isn’t original, but sometimes it can be repeated usefully: the future is now. We are currently undertaking a review of the School’s strategic...
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Guzheng

This week a number of events took shape around the theme of the Chinese New Year. One of the most special moments occurred twice:...
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Ideas that are pearls: balance

Some ideas are like that grain of sand inside the oyster, nestled in a spot where it absorbs the elements that coat it. In...
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Reading

For the past few summers, my wife, Joan and I have gone to the south of France for two weeks’ vacation. We stay somewhere...
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Lost and Found

Yesterday at lunch I was sitting, as usual, with some of my teaching colleagues in the Dining Hall, and the conversation turned to ideals...
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Peace

The sound of students isn’t a gradual and controlled swell. It is an eruption. Once it erupts, it is constant, like one of those...
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Gingerbread

Last night, my wife Joan spent a half hour sewing back together the stuffed gingerbread man that our son’s pug, Spencer, had just finished...
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The Feast of Stephen

This is the season of light. We have had two Carol Services, and today is our whole-School Christmas assembly. This week is also the...
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November 11 – Reprise

Some of you may have read my entry on Remembrance Day, two weeks ago. In the past couple of weeks I have received a...
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Seeing Mount Everest

When I first took plane trips several decades ago, it was a pretty rare thing, not just for me, but for just about everyone....
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The Flowers of the Forest

To those who like their skirl, the bagpipes swell a poignant place in the heart’s cavity. Every Remembrance Day, one of our staff members,...
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Friday night

Last Friday night we held our annual Victoria Alumni evening. Very well attended by about a hundred and thirty people at the Union Club,...
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Founders

We have a responsibility to both the past and the future. From the past, we are entrusted with the legacy of the school. To...
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Birthdays

On television in Wales (and in Welsh, of course) there is a program that corresponds roughly to an English language program called “This is...
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Outdoors

One of the experiences our graduating students look back on most fondly is the outdoor program. Right now it is outdoor program season for...
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Inspiring

One of the highlights of this week greeted me on Tuesday morning, in a special section in the Globe and Mail newspaper on independent...
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Boarding life

Five or six years ago on the first day of school, one of our German parents, who had just dropped his son off in...
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Respect for the Learner

There probably isn’t a more fundamental question to ask in a school than “what should be our approach to learning?” At the beginning of this...
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5:30 a.m. Hockey

In much of Canada, Victoria included, the phenomenon of 5:30 am hockey practice for your son or daughter is a common one. Up early,...
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Three things: Clare Copeland, St. Michaels Centenary, Keep the Beat

Clare Copeland Two weeks ago today, Clare Copeland, one of the influential pillars of the last fifty years at the school, died. The Copeland Lecture...
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Scholarship

Last Saturday in the Business Section of the Globe and Mail, the School and one of its alumni, Hugh McGillivray, were featured. Here is...
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CAIS

All capitals? Yes. As I write this I am on a plane to Toronto, for a full day of meetings to work on the Strategic...
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Good Health

Inspired by the worst cold I have had in years, the topic of good health has sprung full-blown into my thoughts. Fortunately, I am...
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My Heart Will Go On

It was SMUS’s own Celine that sang this song in Middle School Chapel this week. The original was sung by a different Celine, who...
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Nepal trek – morning, day 3: Poon Hill

If you are a parent, or a teacher, or a student, you know that the pace of life at the school can be unthinkingly...
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The Greek gods: learning and results

We have all probably experienced such a moment: someone we know – who may be gifted, special, or loved but who is actually, nevertheless,...
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The Masters

Like most golfers, enough of my good shots are sprinkled among the mediocre and the bad to believe that on some future day, the...
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Speeches

In Taipei, as in some of our other far flung communities that send more than a handful of students to board at the school,...
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Stress, distress, balance

These thoughts were prompted by a conversation with a school parent who came to lunch in Tokyo yesterday. Every March my wife, Joan, and...
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Seattle

Because of chronic tendonitis in my thigh, my squash games are now restricted to a few games every year with alumni. Seattle happens to...
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The School is the Learning Centre

Next week we will be interviewing for the new position of Director of Learning. The position had its genesis in a single, simple idea:...
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Achy Breaky Heart

It is always illuminating when the butterfly that emerges from the chrysalis turns out to be a creature quite different from our expectations. We...
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Learning

We are currently looking to hire someone for a new position at the school, Director of Learning. A brief description of the position can...
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Six String Nation

At the opening of the Spotlight on Canada concert on Wednesday – which featured the School’s “large ensembles” (Senior Choir, Concert Choir, Grade 9 Band,...
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Rosa Parks

As soon as I tug out the long gym bench at Junior School Assembly, some of the students, especially the Grade 4s and 5s,...
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Pakse, Laos

This is the school we planned to visit, but couldn't. Pakse is in southern Laos, in a very poor, steamy lowland, full of farms and...
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Another King

Like the English School, the next school we visited in Kathmandu, has its locked gate. This was a public school, named after Mihendra Bir...
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The British School, Kathmandu

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a national average per capita income of approximately $447 US. Another indication of...
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Fertile ground

The taxi driver who took us from our hotel in Amman, Jordan to King’s Academy, in Madaba, had formerly worked in tourism in the...
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Istanbul

Ece, the female receptionist at our hotel, was impressed when the driver from Robert College arrived to take us there. Her eyes were wide...
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Un beau métier

C’est un beau métier, c’est un très beau métier. My host, Yannick, had been a captain of an ocean-going commercial ship, had made a career...
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Hard times

I wasn't really thinking about the novel by Dickens when I thought up this title, but maybe the connection is there. I ate a tasty...
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A l’école

I was introduced to Momo – short for Mohammed – at the door of our riad. He must be intelligent, because he found it....
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Medersa Ben Youssef

Appropriately, as I write this, I can hear one of the five calls to prayer that rise over the other sounds of the city,...
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Flickr

No, it’s not a spelling mistake. In fact, for Joan and me, it’s one of our main means of stretching those elastic strands that...
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More than the rest

A favourite digression when I travel is to visit the local art gallery, in this case, the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, which does...
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En Voyage

“Fortunate” is definitely the word that best describes my mood today, as I dispense with a full slate of appointments and messages, preparing for...
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Steve Nash, class of 1992; to learn, to lead, to serve.

Two-time MVP of the National Basketball Association, SMUS alumnus Steve Nash was at the school today to speak to us all, Grade 5 to...
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Cosmopolitanism

It’s hard to say exactly what is the presiding spirit of the first week of school. The renewed friendships after a summer apart, broadcast...
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Conscience is on the curriculum

Coming out of the Tyndall Strings Room in Schaffter Hall on Tuesday night of this week, I turned to someone and said, “you know,...
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The Canadian Educational Standards Institute

Later today the Canadian Educational Standards Institute (CESI) is putting up its new website, and we are one of the featured schools (http://www.cesi.edu/). The...
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New York University in Abu Dhabi

In April, our University Counselling Office was invited to New York City by NYU to hear a presentation on its new campus in Abu...
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Spring has sprung

I know this because tonight there is a wrap-up reception for the convenors and some others on behalf of the Spring Fair, hosted by...
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Keep the Beat – Chantal Kreviazuk

So much music happening! The sun is brilliant. It is recess. Pink Keep the Beat t-shirts are moving around the main quad. At the...
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Thirty years of girls

Nicky Parkinson '83, who started at SMUS in 1980, the year after girls first entered the Senior School, gives a grad bear...
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New man on campus

Friday evening we had an affecting event to kick off Alumni Weekend: the unveiling of the Wenman statue. Reg Wenman was a student at...
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Worth it

Tuesday night, 6:40 p.m., and fortunately it had been clear, sunny and dry all day. I was standing up on the wall around our...
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To learn, to lead, to serve

The full version of our Vision Statement is:   To learn, to lead, to serve; discovering the promise in our selves and the world.   I dwelled on...
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Selves

Selves. A thought-provoking word, when you see it on its own. Or, by extension, “self”. A parent asked me about that last night.   The...
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Vision

Many of us will be on flights during the March break. Boarders are returning home, families are off on holiday a few groups of...
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Peregrinations

I am writing this from Seattle, where we had our alumni reception last night. It was hosted by Chris Collins, alumnus of the class...
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A place for us…

  I couldn’t resist this phrase from West Side Story, performed this week by our Senior School students at the McPherson Theatre. On Wednesday night...
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Musicals

Today at lunch I sat with Douglas Manson-Blair and Ian Farish, the directors of the Middle School musical, The King of Elfland’s Daughter (Douglas...
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Chef Robert

I have had a couple of queries: so yes, the Valentine’s dinner went very well, and the recipe I followed, with a few minor...
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Valentine

Despite its murky beginnings (the identity of the original St. Valentine is entirely lost in the mists of time; the association of February 14...
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Vancouver (again)

I have come to like Vancouver over the years. This implies that it took a while, which is true. The scenery is superb; everyone...
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New Westminster

A couple of decades ago I read a book called The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. The central character had to travel frequently for...
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Hasta la vista

Hasta la vista.   When we say good-bye to someone, it is rarely good-bye for good. At least this is most often the case, in...
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Flu Season

A brisk wind is blowing the flags on the quad straight out, toward the main field, which means the wind is coming from the...
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Continual beginnings

First of all, the choice of the word “continual” is deliberate: when I was a student at university, and later a teacher of English,...
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Silver Linings

One of the important and fulfilling aspects of my work is to connect with alumni. In Seattle, as I have mentioned in a past...
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Snow days

A few readers of this blog in much warmer climates will be happy to experience it vicariously, through the reports of others. To the chagrin...
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Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening

Today we have our annual, all-School Christmas Assembly. All 930 students, and all staff, both teaching and non-teaching, in the double gymnasium for this...
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And did those feet…

Thus opens one of the more rousing hymns we sing in Chapel in the Senior School, a hymn that is often criticized for nationalistic...
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Despair and hope

One attends conferences in the hope on the one hand that the speakers will be uplifting and inspiring, and on the other hand, in...
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Trees

It always strikes me, wherever I go, how much trees contribute to the character and definition of a place. As you drive out of...
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We Remember

This week, just a short note. It has been a week of preparing for two events, one in the Junior School and one on...
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Going Global

As October comes to an end, so does the string of travels that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Soon I will be...
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Pumpkin Carving

A tradition at our house is to invite all the boarding prefects in on the Sunday afternoon before Hallowe’en to carve pumpkins. Some of...
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War Child

A future Head of our School from the Congo. Food for thought.   Our Service programme at the school has blossomed in the past few years....
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Grandfathers

On Tuesday mornings I go to the Middle School. A couple of weeks ago, visiting a Grade 6 Art class, a girl over whose...
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Text me

Actually, don’t text me.   Well, all right, go ahead and text me if you like. But I didn’t use that headline because I am...
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American Friends

Tonight we are holding our annual alumni reception in New York at the Harvard Club, thanks to the generosity of Douglas Freeman and Salim...
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In corpore sano…

One of the iconic images of schools is a field full of teams playing, practicing, kicking balls, wielding field hockey sticks, running around, ponytails...
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A little gem

From an article in The Economist, this quotation which you would think might come from one of our teachers, on how to be a...
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Travel

I write this as I sit on a plane. You can’t travel from Victoria without ascending above a cloudscape burnished by the sun, and...
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Serendipity

Yesterday we had an excellent turnout at the Alumni and Friends Golf Tournament at the Victoria Golf Club. Golfers included 124 alumni, parents, staff...
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On the water

Every September my wife, Joan, and I host receptions in our house (formally known as Reynolds House around the school) for all the new...
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Sunshine and alligators

While I am watching the fields outside my office erupt into activity because students have finished morning classes and are therefore cramming a lot...
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All of us

In my last entry, I observed that a blog gives a writer licence to ramble a bit – so here goes: residence construction, Nelly...
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A welcome place

I was walking across the quad yesterday with another staff member. The wind was cool but the sun was shining, not quite as warm...