My daughter came home from her first week of school and reported that, “Mr. Kidd said ‘Hello Kathleen.’”
Of all the things that she could report to me – from birthday party invitations to cross-country running – she reported that the Headmaster said hello. She must not have been satisfied that I was suitably impressed for she emphasized one point to me as if I hadn’t understood, “By NAME.”
We know from research that ‘personal attention to students’ is the number one reason that parents choose to send their children to independent schools and I see CAIS schools working hard to know all students. Last week alone, I saw Heads in action in Toronto, Bermuda, Mill Bay and Duncan and there was a common theme.
- Jim Power (UCC) let me run a CAIS Finance meeting in his office – time spent out and about is time well spent.
- Ted Staunton (Saltus) not only greeted students by name; in many cases, he exchanged quick conversations about co-curricular involvement, siblings, and holidays.
- Peter Harding (Somersfield) says he drops whatever he is doing and greets families during drop off every morning. He said that it may seem superficial, but it is a way to get to know the community, the families appreciate the greeting and he likes helping out with backpacks and car doors.
- Bud Patel (Brentwood) said he interviewed staff, parents and students in his first month at the school and heard over and over – however you spend the rest of your day, be with the students during morning cookie break. So he’s there.
- Wilma Jamieson (Queen Margaret’s) ended the leadership team meeting – almost mid sentence – so we could all head out to the pool to watch the cardboard box boat races.
I am proud to report that in our CAIS schools, leaders value time with students and they know them.
We can take a lesson from real estate: A friend wrote to tell us that the house that we bought in Montreal for $179,000 in 2000 and sold for $379,000 in 2005 is now on the market for $700,000. Ouch. Meanwhile, our St Catharines home has stayed about the same. The lesson? Location. Location. Location.
I asked Ted Staunton, who is running his fourth CAIS school successfully, about some of the secrets of his success. The lesson? Visibility. Visibility. Visibility.