Sometimes I feel caught – I want to brag about our amazing schools, but I also want to be humble. When I observe passionate students and educators and outstanding programs in action at CAIS schools, I want to sing it from the rooftop. But I also know that I have to be careful. First of all, our schools value humility – they teach it and they live it, which makes marketing a real challenge – how do you tell your story of excellence without bragging? Second, our schools are so passionately committed to improvement and learning, that it is out of character to focus on what they do well – it is just not in their DNA! – never mind tell others about it. And third, I have that added challenge of needing to speak about the excellence in ALL 93 schools, not just one.
So while the highlight of my job is working with a community of schools that share a passion for always learning and getting better and going above and beyond… I have to tread carefully with the compliments.
But when I got this letter today, I had to share it. Certainly if someone else praises our schools, I can promote that, right?
Below is a letter from Alyson Robertson, who just led a group of International Agents on a tour of our CAIS Boarding Schools… I had to share it….
With the FAM Tour now more than half way through I wanted to write and send you an update.
Thus far the trip has been fantastic. Last Wednesday, 9 agents from five different countries (Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam) arrived here in Toronto to embark on a two week tour to see 17 different boarding schools from coast to coast.
I was so thrilled to finally meet this group of agents in person, this group that the FAM Tour Advisory Committee and I had carefully selected from a huge pool of applicants. They are a truly amazing group. They are an extremely energetic, happy and professional bunch, so keen to promote Canadian boarding school programs. For some of them, it is their first trip to Canada. And for others, although they have been to Canada before, they have only ever promoted UK boarding schools. No longer! Canada is the new UK! They were all very excited to be here and invited to participate in the tour, and to date have been totally ‘wow’ed’ by our schools.
There is nothing better than seeing jaws drop as you turn in through the gates of one of our CAIS school campuses. Seeing the spectacular buildings, bright green fields, happy faces of welcoming student ambassadors greeting us out front of the schools (even the school mascots were waiting outside for us as we pulled in to one school!)…all of it left many on the tour awe struck and anxious to begin promoting our schools to their client base at home. I know that some of the agents have already been in touch with schools on the tour about prospective students, so already fruitful relationships are being established and the tour hasn’t even yet finished!
I took part in the first nine school visits and was extremely impressed with the half days spent at each school. Schools rolled out the red carpets for our international guests, and I was so proud to be part of CAIS. We ate delicious meals, some in the dining hall, some in the libraries, some in the residences of the school’s headmaster – Canadian themed meals, peameal bacon for breakfast, local apple muffins and delicious butter tarts, Prince Edward County wines, baked beans, tortiere, even steak… the food was outstanding. And the students on each campus really helped our CAIS schools stand out – students all dressed in their uniforms with huge smiles on their faces, anxious to share their love of their school with our guests. They toured them around classrooms, residences, sports facilities all the while impressing the agents with how polished and mature each of them seemed. The common theme amongst each of the schools was that they were proud to offer a ‘family feel’ – this was reiterated by the students and most certainly experienced by each of the agents.
Each school too added something unique to their visit – we were able to sit in and participate at a class, we saw chapel services, bells being rung, bagpipes being played, agents got to experience the thrill of a high ropes course, we went on a boat ride, we ate roasted marshmallows, we cheered, we walked and we were IMPRESSED.
Though 17 schools seems like a large number of visits and a lot of information to retain, the agents commented on a number of occasions how wonderful the tour was. They enjoyed only seeing two schools per day as each one left a strong impression and they were able to retain all of the information learned. They were given free time in the evenings and a free day each weekend. Many of the agents participate in a number of other FAM Tours each year and noted that while some of the tours they have done are like “the H&M of FAM Tours,” ours was definitely the ‘Gucci’ of a FAM tours! I was thrilled to hear this.
The tour continues on as I write, with the group having since carried on to Ottawa and now to Saint John since I left them in Belleville on Tuesday. Still to come are visits to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and BC.
I look forward to hearing details of the last week of the tour but thought you would enjoy hearing how well the first week had gone. I am so excited for the year ahead and to hear about relationships that are developed with this incredible group of agents.