Thursday, October 09, 2014 - By: David McCarthy

The excitement on campus at the start of every school year is palpable. There are new courses, classmates, teachers, and, for many, a whole new school experience. From my seat, the year has started very smoothly, in large part due to the planning and communication carried out months earlier in terms of establishing the plans of each student, new or returning, selecting their courses and balancing the beast known as the timetable. A huge tip of the hat goes to Mr. Rick Rodrigues and his team for putting “people and places” together in the academic morning, providing access and choice in as personalized a way as possible.

There will always be wrinkles, however, and, in some cases, the need to switch classes or courses in the early few weeks is apparent. Again, with guidance from and consultation with advisors and post-secondary counselors, wherever possible also involving parents, adjustments are made to ensure the best placement for students at the grade level and “challenge” level most appropriate. As an increasing number of our students hail from overseas educational backgrounds, this “fine tuning” of the program is an essential part of the process.

As the year settles down, we encourage students to focus less on “marks” and more on the process of striving for excellence in their assignments and tests. The assessments teachers make in the first term are largely “formative” providing rich feedback to students as part of the reach towards better academic skills. Teachers submit commentary and effort grades at the start of October and advisors summarise these for parents in a letter indicating the student’s progress in the first five weeks of term. After Midterm, percentage grades are gathered, again as “progress” indicators along with effort ratings on a 1-5 scale. Parents are encouraged to attend Parent Teacher Student meetings after Midterm and this year a fourth session has been added in the second term to allow more parents to attend.

At any point in the school year, parents are welcome to be in touch with advisors, classroom teachers, and administrators to discuss the academic progress of their child. A two way flow of communication is the best way to ensure there are “no surprises” on report cards and that both students and teachers are having a thoroughly positive experience.

Mr. David McCarthy, Director of Academics

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