Tuesday, 22 March 2016

“Smash!”
This clatter was followed by the sound of a car’s shattered bumper hitting the asphalt.
What we hear next are vehicle doors opening and the exchange of raised voices and frustrated words.
“What were you thinking?”
“I don’t have time for this!”
“I can’t believe this just happened!”
“This is just my luck!”
We came to understand that a 2015 Audi A4 had rear ended a Dodge Ram.
This was the start of my first ‘Sandwich for a Story’ experience. When the two cars collided, I was standing with Sam Sawchuk and Joey Hubbard, two members of the ‘Sandwich for a Story’ team, at the corner of Edmonton Trail and Memorial Drive in Calgary preparing to walk the downtown streets of Calgary.
When the accident happened, Sam, Joey and I jumped back slightly, assessed the situation and determined no one was injured and continued to cross Memorial Drive to start distributing sandwiches to Calgary’s least fortunate. We walked onto the Langevin Bridge and across the Bow River towards downtown Calgary. In our hands were bread bags filled with ham sandwiches made by the students of Rundle Academy’s Kid Helping Kids group.
The Langevin Bridge took us from the luxury cars of Calgary’s downtown culture to the reality worn out shoes possessed by those sitting and standing outside the Drop In Center. As we approached the heart of the downtown we met one individual after another and asked them if they would like a simple sandwich. To a person, everyone did.
What struck me about each of the individuals who accepted our goodwill token was their warmth and generosity of spirit. They were willing to stand and talk about the weather, about their day-to-day frustrations or their hopes and dreams.
Maybe most memorably, under one of the flyover overpasses we came across a woman who is in her mid twenties. She wore a single shoe, was wrapped in a worn blue fleece blanket and was surrounded by remnants of her daily life; a toothbrush, a can of soda, a lighter, and a jacket she was using as a pillow. We asked how her day was going and she indicated that it was actually going pretty well. She went onto tell us that her day would be better if the people at the Drop In Center would just give her some toothpaste and shampoo, she really wanted to ‘clean up.’ During the course of our conversation she said she just wanted to do the ‘normal things’ like going to the gym for a run and being able to go to work. As the conversation evolved, the subject of personal dreams came up and she said she wanted to act and maybe even become famous one day.
Listening to her concerns brought several thoughts into my mind. It reminded me that the first step to success is being afforded personal dignity; the opportunities to have two shoes, to wash your hair and to brush your teeth. In addition, it was impossible to ignore the fact that the human soul is hard wired to have dreams and aspirations; our new friend was no different. The image of her sitting with one shoe and no toothpaste but still having a ‘pretty good day’ is imprinted on my memory.
It took us less than 30 minutes to deliver several bags full of sandwiches and hear a dozen stories of loss, homelessness, wishes and dreams. In the same way we came, we left. We walked back across the Langevin Bridge and past the stranded Audi A4 that had been in the accident when we first left. The owner of the car was red in the face and still furious about his misfortune. As we walked passed him, he exclaimed, “Can you believe my luck!?!”
After experiencing what I had experienced for the prior half hour, I could.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Heads Up - Your Monthly Communication From the Headmaster
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Heads Up
Your Monthly Communication From the Headmaster 
Dear Parents,
Welcome to 2016! It is exciting to see our students arrive back to our College and Academy programs for another year filled with learning and celebration. This month, I thought I would focus on the value statement - “Together: Be Kind, Be Curious, Be Well.”
Together:
  • Progress Reports: Be sure to stay informed by regularly checking our website for updates. In addition to our website, you will also be able to see the most recent photos from inside the school by following the Twitter handles: @rundlecollege or @jasonbrogers
     
  • Primary Family Skate: I am excited for the upcoming Primary Family Skate where we will once again see our Academy student leaders coming along to enjoy an afternoon of skating with some of Rundle’s youngest students!  
Be Kind 
  • Snow Angels: Before Christmas, Rundle Academy sent their students into the neighborhood to clear the walks around the school and the homes in Marda Loop. This unsolicited act of kindness warmed several hearts that day! Thank you to all the students and staff who took part. In fact, this tweet was retweeted by Mayor Nenshi and was viewed by over 16,000 people! 
  • How to get into Harvard: I stumbled upon an interesting article in the Washington Post this past month that addresses a changing admissions landscape for some of North America’s top universities. If you are curious as to how kindness factors into garnering admission into some prestigious institutions, take a moment and give this article a quick read.
Be Curious
  • Campus Life: It has been really exciting to see how our student body has embraced co-curricular academic pursuits. Over the course of the past month, and in the coming days, we will see our students take part in Elementary Chess Competitions (involving over half the school), Speech and Debate Competitions (already having earned a Provincial Title!), TEDx Rundle Academy, STEAM robotics/coding labs, and a spectacular Elementary Science Fair. Needless to say, our students are finding ways to be curious and, ultimately, it is this curiosity that will allow them to innovate and make our world the best place it can be!
Be Well
  • Wellness Week at Jr. Sr. High: We all know exam week can be a trying time for students. This past month, I was inspired by the efforts that Rundle College Jr. Sr. High Peer Support put into creating the conditions for student wellness in the face of stressful exams.
  • Bullying Prevention - Wear Pink initiative: Thank you to all who are supporting the Society wide ‘Wear Pink’ initiative. As result, in late February, our campuses will be flooded with over 500 students wearing pink to raise awareness towards bullying prevention!
Thank you for all your ongoing support during the first month of 2016.  
Be well,
Jason Rogers, Headmaster
Rundle College Society 
Books on the shelf this month:
 
“Work Rules” by Laszlo Bock
“Grit to Great” by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
“The One Thing: The Surprising Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller
and Jay Papasan
 
 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

"Design Your Dream School, part 2"
Discussions with Students

December 16, 2015

As a member of CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools), I have had great opportunities to 'think big' with some of the most talented educators and leaders from across Canada.  CAIS, in an attempt to fulfill its mission, "To pursue continuous whole school improvement through exemplary leadership training, research, and accreditation," has recently embarked on Project 2051.



Project 2051 is endeavouring to project what education will look like in 2051.  It is an important question that begs to be answered.  Too often, we as educators, have relied on simply saying, "We are teaching 21st Century Learning Skills," without a clear definition of vision of what the elusive 21st Century learner needs.

  


I have had the opportunity to be involved in some of the preliminary conversations and focus groups.  Needless to say, I have been inspired by the process and overall outcomes thus far.  And even though the future of education is hard to predict, I have learned some important things from Project 2051.

A few salient examples of these learnings are:

  • schools need to start becoming 'future ready' environments 
  • we need to consider, reflect upon, adapt to and become educational disruptors
  • personalized education is critical
  • and, student voice is one of our most valuable assets as we consider change



At Rundle, we have been working hard to embody the essence of the 2051 mindset by hosting several events that leverage our students' voice.  Examples of our commitment to listening to our students are:

  • Grade 5 tours of the Academy
  • Junior High Headmaster Luncheon
  • Senior High Prefect/Peer Support Lunch


Prior to my Junior High Headmaster Luncheon, I sent a note to all the students who were going to be attending and invited to them to start thinking about two things:

  1. What is the best thing about Rundle?
  2. What could Rundle do to make the 'Rundle Experience' that much better?
These questions created an environment where our students felt at ease sharing their insights and experiences.  We have all learned a lot as result.

Beyond the meetings and the dialogue, one of my favourite moments came when a week after the Junior High Headmaster's Luncheon when I received the following e-mail:

"Dear Mr. Rogers,

Thank you for the opportunity to join your Headmaster's Luncheon.  Although we covered a lot of ground during our meeting, I had a few points we did not get to.  You will find these items listed below:

  • Future Ready. There is a future ready movement going across the US, which encourages school districts to action plan to use technology effectively. Rundle would be an ideal Future Ready school. More info here.
  • More hands-on projects and educational tools. Several examples include the Sphero SPRK, which introduces and encourages students to code. It is similar to Lego Mindstorms. On their website, they offer lesson packages for elementary and middle school. Next, Google Cardboard. It is a virtual reality headset made of cardboard. I have put together a presentation about what it is and how it can benefit Rundle.  In the near future, Rundle may have a Cardboard cart. Also, there is Breakout EDU. It is similar to escape the room games, with educational twists. Students are "locked" in a room, and they have to solve puzzles around them. This is also a great critical thinking activity. 
  • Rundle students should have more exposure with other cultures and countries all over the world. At some points, classes should be encouraged to Skype another classroom across the world and learn from them. In fact, Skype is hosting a skypathon on November 3-4. Their goal is to travel 1 million miles in those two days, encouraging teachers to speak to a guest speaker, go on a virtual field trip, or play mystery Skype. In mystery skype, students ask yes/no questions to another classroom, trying to determine their location. This also encourages critical thinking. Here is a video. Skypathon Website
  • I also believe that students should have the chance to meet professionals in the line of work that they are learning about. For example, it would interesting to have a geneticist present for the Grade 9 science classrooms.
  • Rundle should also be more involved in the community, by participating in global initiatives connected to their subjects. For example, Discovery channel recently aired a documentary called Racing Extinction. On the website, the documentary featured an initiative entitled My 1 New Thing. It's goal was to encourage people to think about their habits and try to cut down on activities that may endanger more animals. For example, some people opted for Meatless Mondays. This would've been great to participate in science class, as it links directly with our curriculum. That being said, Rundle students should also share their own work to world, whether it is student work, or even projects (by using blogs etc.)
  • I understand the the new parking changes were necessary, but there is one thing I would like to suggest. The school should build a sidewalk along the pick up/drop off lane. This not only allows students to avoid slipping, they also don't have to step in snow, which tracks mud into the school.
  • Inspiring spaces. EdTechTeam have issued another challenge, where they ask teachers to send in photos of their inspiring spaces. The goal was to create inspiring spaces for students to learn, where creative thinking is encouraged. For example, this desk would be great to use for brainstorming. 

  • These would be great to use when brainstorming, as well as using in math, however, it likely won't work out in the Junior high, due the the fact that it is already full, and the individual desks are predominant. However, this would be perfect in the new elementary. Possibly by having a "brainstorming lounge", a place where students can brainstorm and be able to think creatively, inspired by the space around them. A "brainstorming lounge" would fit perfectly in the library. You can follow #inspiringspace on twitter to see more ideas. Here is the EdTechTeam info graphic for Inspiring Spaces. 

And that's just the beginning! I hope to share with you many more ideas, which cover the Junior and Senior High, as well as the new elementary. Also, I would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to student voice, which is essential to make Rundle the best it can be."

Wow.  I particularly enjoy the consideration taken in the area of our parking lot.  These are points well taken and we are already designing changes to meet these needs.

I can hardly wait to see what we continue to learn as we continue to ask.



See you in the future,

Jason B. Rogers
Headmaster, Rundle College Society
"Why It Took Me So Long To Craft My 
AGM Headmaster Update...."
"Rundle Cares"

December 2, 2015

Faculty, Board Directors, Parents, and Society Members, it is my pleasure to deliver this year’s Headmaster’s report.


Before I begin, I would like to extend a special thank-you to the founders of our school, Dr. Collett and Dr. Conklin for their enduring vision of an attention to excellence and to Mr. Dave Hauk his mentorship and never ceasing support.


As the 2014-2015 school year drew to a close, I reflected on my inaugural year as Headmaster and the remarkable achievements that were made possible by the dedication the staff, administration, students, alumni, parents and friends of Rundle.    


As in past years, Rundle delivered on its promise of ‘small classes – big experience.’ Whether in Grade 6 or Grade 12, at the College or the Academy, the academic results of our students are among the finest in Alberta and the entirety of Canada.


The quantitative data, however, tell only part of the story.  The ‘Rundle Experience’ is also defined by students in our hallways who are engaged, helpful, respectful of one another and are kinder than is necessary.  It is this development of good character – in all of its dimensions – that complements academic achievement and is a hallmark of our programs, our schools and our students.  


Over the past several weeks, I have been contemplating what I could possibly say that might better articulate this non-quantitative measure that continues to make Rundle such a special place to work and learn.  It would be easy to list the dozens of championships won, scholarships earned, individual academic achievements garnered - many of which are immortalized in the photos of the Annual Report - however that tact didn’t  seem to bring me any closer to the true essence of the report I wanted to deliver tonight.


My contemplations brought me all the way to a 5AM morning earlier this week when I was still vexed by the challenge of summarizing the essence of the 2014-2015 school year.  When I woke, my wife, knowing that I have been struggling with this task, asked me what I was going to say, and I explained that I had yet to get the words out of my head and onto paper.  She, in all her wisdom, simply asked me ‘why - what’s the main struggle.’  My response was, “I want to make sure it’s perfect, I really want to give justice the great things that in our schools.”  Her immediate retort was, “It’s your deep care, that’s what is holding you up.”  It was in that moment the true essence of my address came to light, “Rundle Cares.”




Rundle is unique because of the deep care that the staff and faculty put into their day to day.  If you wander our hallways, every day you will see teachers, administrative assistants, care takers, directors, or the administration making connections with students through extra help in their classrooms, through coaching or co-curricular clubs.  Our Rundle staff works hard during the day with our students and and sometimes to their own detriment, take their work home with them at night.  Each and every conversation I have with them comes back to the fact that they only want the best for their students.


Rundle is also unique because of the deep care that our students take in themselves, their peers, their academics, their character development and in the pursuit of their passions.  This point was perfectly articulated by Alumni, Noah Cooke, at a recent evening of the Academics.  I am excited to share a portion of his speech here tonight.  Noah said:


“As a whole, the high school is intensely passionate about learning; you don’t have to be afraid of being nerdy; everyone has caught the bug.


Noah went on to say… Now let’s expand into the balanced education piece.
Rundle understands that a successful education is a holistic one. There are many avenues for learning to occur. I first developed discipline and grit in my skiing and running, and then applied them to my academics. Supported academically by my teachers and athletically by my school cross-country running and track coaches, I grew in both of these dimensions. Rundle encourages synergy between academic and extracurricular interests, and the reward is greater success across the board.  


To conclude Noah says...
For me, this balanced high school education also included travelling to Scotland on a school exchange and hosting my exchange student at Rundle; competing in competitive speech; and being a member of the CAUSE steering committee, which involved planning charitable initiatives. Of course this list is just a small sample, one experience, of what the high school has to offer.”  


Wow - pretty inspiring words - I couldn’t have said it better myself.


The second shining example student caring came in the mail just yesterday.  It was a birthday card, which left me a little perplexed as my birthday had passed by nearly 6 months ago.  However, when I opened the card, a cheque for a substantial amount dropped out.  Inside, in children’s writing, it stated, “Instead of presents, I asked for money to put to the playground at the new school.”  Signed Student, Grade 2.




It’s clear - from our earliest grades to our alumni, Rundle student’s care.


Finally, our community cares.  Whether it is the countless volunteer hours our Board of Directors give or support our parents give to our entire staff - it’s clear that we share a very caring community.  


I believe it is this deep and enduring ‘care’ that really best summarizes our Rundle Experience; past, present and future.  


In conclusion, in an effort to give a flavour or the multidimensional complexities of the Rundle Community, I am happy to report on our progress in our schools and business operations.  Here are a just few of the highlights to illuminate all the hard work that goes on to support our school’s mission:  


  1. At Our Primary/Elementary - “We continued to innovate by introducing STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Mathematics Curriculum).  It is with this initiative that encourages our students to grow in all areas these thinking including robotics, application design, critical thought, inquiry, design thinking and science application.”
  2. Admissions - "Interest in all our programs remains constant, even amidst economic downturn.  In addition, to remain current and innovative, this year our admissions department has moved to an on-line application process and payment option.  In the year 2014-2015 our enrollment was 1035, Rundle’s largest enrollment ever."
  3. Student Life - "We continued to support the enrichment of the curriculum through Field Trips.  On top of the 100's of in city field trips, Rundle College staff took a combined, incident free, 85 out of city field trips, with over 1500 students to 4 provinces and more than 6 countries.  In addition, our students have given 1000’s of hours of service time through year round initiatives."
  4. Communications - “In keeping with the notion of "keeping it small" we are focusing much of our efforts on recruitment and retention and providing a positive experience during these important decision-making stages. As result, our retention rate was 96% for the year 2014-2015. "
  5. Facilities - “We have embarked on the largest capital project in the history of Rundle College Society.   The team effort that has gone into this project will create a legacy that will serve inspire generations of Rundle families to come.”
  6. Alumni - "The Rundle Alumni Association has increased their group membership over the past year to 1150 members. Along with minor functions and class reunions, they also host 4 major alumni events during the school year.”
  7.  Jr. Sr. High  - “There were several highlights, including:
    1. The frequency that our alumni are streaming back into the school to connect with students in academics, sports, fine arts and service.
    2. The number of students in older grades that are helping students in younger grades, from peer tutoring to helping coach teams, to working together in arts and music classes.
    3. The way that staff came together to support staff members during times of tragedy and loss.
    4. The genuine and fun engagement of our students in theme days and special events like Friday Night Lights, Spirit Day, Halloween, Frosted Formal, …”
  8. Advancement continues to acquire donations towards the building of our new school and is pleased with the success of Project 20.15, our bursary program initiated last spring, which has raised over $150 000 in the past 6 months. The department's continuing goal is to foster the culture of giving in the Rundle community."


This is just a small sampling of the many magical things that happen in our programs on a daily basis.  Rundle College continues to be a place where “We Inspire Impressive Minds and Cultivate Unparalleled Character.”  


It is incredible that Rundle College Society sits among the top 10 largest independent schools in Canada, but manages to maintain the ethos of small.  It is evident that members of our society care deeply about the elements that make Rundle what it is.  


The Rundle Experience is one that recognizes the fact that every member of our community counts.


I begin my second year as Headmaster with optimism, pride, confidence and the certainty that our students will be prepared for whatever awaits them, academically and personally, when they graduate from Rundle.  


Thanks for your continued support.  


Sincerely,

Jason B. Rogers

Headmaster, Rundle College Society