41 Years

Guy McLean is retiring this June after 41 years at Appleby College, and his retirement celebration on Sunday was, in a word, remarkable.  All of the past Board Chairs paid a tribute, the Appleby student orchestra played professionally and beautifully, and Michael Schade, an Appleby parent, closed the program with an incredible musical tribute.

My favorite part of the program, though, was Guy’s speech. Now Guy is not one who likes attention, and many people joked that his wife, Joanne, had the most important job of the day – to make sure that Guy showed up! Guy spoke passionately about his motivations to develop Appleby. He said he was inspired by Joanne’s vision for schools to be places where kids have fun. Under Guy’s leadership, Appleby focused on enhancing the arts and the extensive co-curricular programs. His other motivation was to ensure that the school excelled in all areas; evidence of this goal is everywhere – Appleby was the first to introduce laptops and has continued to be a school that others look to in terms of facility development, global programs, differentiated learning, human resource strategies, and leadership development. Guy has demonstrated his commitment, for 41 years, to research, innovation, and learning.

I find myself repeating that number  – 41 years. It just seems so unbelievable that someone could spend an entire lifetime in one place.  Does anyone today expect to work in the same place for that long?  When CAIS Heads and Chairs identified Human Resources as the number one challenge facing independent schools, did any of them think about how to manage a faculty that is entering their school in 2010 and planning on teaching there until 2051?

But for 41 years, he pursued his vision for Appleby. And more than that, he didn’t become complacent or even coast a little; in fact, he picked up speed and also gave his time over the years to CESI, CAIS, Round Square and now the Collaborative Boarding Project.

I will never forget all of the work that Guy did to get 94 schools to form a new national organization or to get 28 schools to market boarding and Canada collaboratively. These bold visions can take thousands of countless – and thankless! – hours of determination to succeed. But Guy forges onwards.

On Sunday night, I sat in an audience of hundreds of people who had been influenced by Guy. But I found myself contemplating his far-reaching impact. I write this now from Mexico City, waiting for the CAIS Recruitment Fair to begin, and Sarah is making her way to Russia, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. We are promoting CAIS and Canada because of Guy’s commitment.

Makes me wonder, after 41 years, how many other people are out there thanks to Guy’s impact?  Now that’s remarkable.

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