A lesson from real estate

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.

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