Flourishing in these Challenging Times, Vol. 2

Support for Parents

By Director of Wellbeing and Learning, Sue Easton

This past Thursday, our community embarked on a new adventure through Ridley Remote Learning, or R2L. The initial response from students, teachers and parents was resoundingly positive. Every member of the community was excited to reconnect, share their experiences and emotions, and begin to bring some normalcy back into their lives through the addition of regular learning and new opportunities to connect. We know that Ridley is built on relationships; these will help us get through these challenging times.

But how best to thrive when we are surrounded by change? Please consider these five inspirational statements about change—along with some resources to help support you and the Ridley community.

  1. Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.

How can you create the space in your home for your child(ren) to create or do something to support or inspire others?

Recommended Resources:

Corona: Artist Illustrates the Matterhorn

Charitable apps and websites

Kid-staffed Newspaper

2. Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

How can you model or support learning during and beyond R2L?

Recommended Resources:

Building Growth mindset in children

Virtual Marine Biology Camp – free for kids

The Top 100 Documentaries we can use to change the world

3. Embrace change. Emerge positive.

How can you ensure that your child(ren) uses their identified VIA character strengths to stay positive? (If you haven’t read Dr. Lea Waters’ Strength Switch, now is a great time!)

Recommended Resources:

101 Strength-based Actions to Connect, from a Safe Distance

Ideapod: Complaining properly

How School closures can strengthen your family

4. You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

How can you ensure there is still fun and challenge in your child(ren)’s day?

Recommended Resources:

Games to play collaboratively online

ESF Breakfast of champion challenge

Poem: Gone Viral

5. Change is a process, not an event.

How can you ensure your family builds practices to endure this change process?

Recommended Resources:

Sleep Better, Do Better (infographic)

Science-backed strategies to build resilience

A Simple Exercise to stay calm in the face of Coronavirus uncertainty

Our lives have changed. But is our response to those changes—both as individuals and as a community—that will ensure we continue to flourish.

Flourishing in These Challenging Times, Vol. 1

Keeping Your Well-Being in Focus

By Director of Wellbeing and Learning, Sue Easton

The Ridley community is moving into uncharted territory, with new Remote Learning for students, and most of us either practicing physical distancing or in isolation—even quarantine—wherever we are in the world. Though this may be a time of uncertainty and change, our well-being doesn’t need to suffer. It may take more conscious, deliberate work than usual but, in keeping with Ridley’s vision to inspire flourishing lives (as defined by PERMA-V: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievement, and vitality), each of us can benefit from incorporating the following five behaviours into our days—until we see each other again.

1. Connect with others.

Whether you’re spending time with those you live with, be it to share a meal or complete that jigsaw puzzle, or you’re reaching out via video call to family and friends, or playing a shared game of online Scrabble, connecting is important. We are practicing physical distancing, not social distancing, since we know that relationships are vital to support our well-being.

Recommended Resources:

Discover well-being videos on Facebook’s ESF Discovery College.

Got gamers in the house? Common-Sense Media features family-friendly games and other helpful resources.

New in The Guardian, Dr. Lea Waters shares videos to support families who are in isolation.

Balloons at Pep Rally

2. Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Day.

Mindfulness helps children become more self-aware. Knowing how they are feeling during this unsettling time not only promotes conversation but helps them nurture self-compassion. Mindfulness also helps students learn self-management and develop important decision-making skills. These skills support us in being present and engaged in our new reality—and ready to participate in learning and living activities.

Recommended Resources: 

Greater Good in Education offers well-being resources for both adults and children.

Clear your head with Headspace — a free site which features a variety of meditation practices.

GoZen includes family-friendly videos and activities to support anxiety, resilience and more.

Celebration of the Arts

3. Seek beauty to savour and appreciate.

Immersing ourselves in art, music or nature—be it inside, outside or virtually—boosts our positive emotions. By exploring the resources available to us, we learn where our interests lie, which in turn increases our engagement and helps give us a sense of control over our new situation.

Recommended Resources:

Google Arts and Culture is a virtual treasure trove, providing visitors with tours of hot spots, street art, museums, and more.

Listen up! NPR offers this comprehensive list of live concerts to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

Go on your own ‘home safari’ via webcams from your favourite zoo. Learn more in this handy guide from The New York Times.

4. Get physical.

We all know that exercise helps with our physical health, but it is also one of the best ways to build positive emotions, decrease anxiety and stress, and support healthy sleep. Exercising outside while practicing physical distancing is a great way to get the benefits of being in nature while moving our bodies. But if that isn’t possible, there are many ways to get physical while keeping indoors.

Recommended Resources:

Get moving with one of these active apps highlighted by Common Sense Media.

Your kids are sure to love these movement and mindfulness videos from Go Noodle.

Stretch it out with classes from YogaDownload.com — the perfect size for any space.

Cross Country Run

5. Find your purpose.

Every human benefits from a feeling of achievement—often connected to what we believe is our purpose in life. For students practicing physical distancing, it may at times feel like academic work provides their sole sense of purpose. It is important that they know they make a difference in the lives of others, within their families, communities and beyond. For inspiration, consider some of these resources.

Recommended Resources:

Reach out via one of these great ideas from Random Acts of Kindness — be sure to check out their kindness calendar!

From practicing gratitude to building optimism, Positive Psychology is offering great resources and activities you’ll want to try.

Keep it close to home with Operation Warm — a website highlighting online volunteer opportunities.

We’ll be sharing more resources in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please remember that as part of the Ridley community, you’re only an email away! Feel free to reach out for support and to learn more.

All That’s Real

With her new album recently released, singer-songwriter, Jane Lewis ’90 shares how she found her voice—and is helping others find their own.

The chapel light travels warmly along the pews, coming to rest on the rich curves of the piano. A woman sits at its keys. She’s slight, fair, her face framed by a riot of silver curls. Her eyes are closed, fingers moving deftly along the instrument as she sings, softly at first, then with increasing emotion: “Here we are at the end, here we are, no regrets, just gotta take that one last step off the edge.” Above her, the stained-glass beckons, a reminder of things beyond the chapel space.

Jane Lewis Piano

The singer in the video is Jane Lewis ’90, and the song, Carry You Home, is dedicated to her late father, Paul, a teacher, coach and historian whose name many Ridleians will recognize. For the daughter of two long-time faculty members—her mother, Janet was the first housemaster of Dean’s house the year girls started boarding and eventual Assistant Head of Upper School—it was the perfect place to be. “I started writing it when he was sick, and we knew his time was limited,” Jane responds, when asked about the song. “It was really special to be able to film it in the chapel.”

The girl who once wrote poetry and was one of Ridley’s first environmental activists is now a musician based in Guelph, Ontario. Her passionate vocals and piano accompaniment have been compared to legendary singer Carole King, her songs described as “intelligent, poetic and cinematic.” (You’ll want to get to know her playful Beatles cover of Come Together—it won the Independent Music Award for Best Cover Song in 2015.)

All That's Real Album

“It might not be the way you initially imagined, but if you have a passion for something, if it’s authentic to you, you’ll find a way to manifest it.”

Speaking to her, it’s easy to see why. She’s thoughtful, reflective, empathetic—and if you read through the yearbooks, you’ll see that early writer’s voice slowly take shape; listen to her lyrics now and you’ll still find those echoes. It’s unsurprising that she finds inspiration in confessional songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, and perhaps even less so when she says she’ll often choose silence, as it gives space for the ideas to come. When she’s not busy writing, singing solo, or teaching vocals in the popular workshops she runs, Jane is half of award-winning folk duo Gathering Sparks. Their compelling new album, All That’s Real was just released this fall.

For Jane, the road to music was a winding one. A philosophy major in university, she was already working in publishing when the opportunities to perform started popping up. And, by 2009, Jane found herself wandering a different, surprisingly natural path—“a decision that came out of what was already happening,” she eloquently puts it.

As someone who herself was at first shy to perform, Jane kept hearing from people who wished they could sing. She soon realized she could fill a need. “If you don’t go to church or aren’t a musician yourself, if you don’t have a family that sits around the piano, then where’s your outlet for singing?” she asks.

Jane founded All Together Now, a singing workshop series in Guelph. There’s no pressure to attend, no public performance; it’s simply about being in the moment, about embodying music. “It can be a powerful thing to get in touch with your voice, or the reason you’ve felt blocked,” she says. “But to share your authentic voice as a human being can be an act of courage. That really motivated me.” For some, these workshops have become a place where they learn to use that voice; for others, it’s a place to stop in and just let it all out. “I’ve had people say this is better than therapy,” she laughs. “And cheaper.”

Jane is also co-founder of the Women’s Music Weekend, an annual retreat where women of all musical abilities can perform in a supportive, inclusive community. There are powerful moments at these events, moments where a woman gains confidence, where she feels brave enough to step out front and sing on her own.

Jane Lewis Headshot

“It can be a powerful thing to get in touch with your voice, or the reason you’ve felt blocked. But to share your authentic voice as a human being can be an act of courage.”

The Women’s Music Weekend also has a bursary programme, now in its third season, where women can apply for financial aid. Having herself received assistance for a workshop she’d once found challenging to attend, the musician quickly saw an opportunity to pay it forward. “That definitely ties back to my time at Ridley,” she recognizes. “The motto, ‘may I be consumed in service’—that’s important.”

Ridley feels those ties pulling right back. Last year, Gathering Sparks performed as part of an artistic lineup at the Toronto Branch Reception at the AGO. “It was a celebration of the arts,” remembers Jane, “and felt like a recognition that this is an important career path a lot of people are taking.”  

When asked what advice she has for Ridley’s budding musicians, she takes a moment to reflect. On where she came from. On the work she puts in now. On the new album that’s taken years to come together—and the recognition that’s already trickling in. “It might not be the way you initially imagined,” she muses, “but if you have a passion for something, if it’s authentic to you, you’ll find a way to manifest it.”

And, if she’s learned anything, it’s that you never know what’s next. Looking back at the road which led her to this point, in some ways not where she thought she’d be, in others right back here at home, Jane seems content.

“Maybe the road is still winding.”


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our winter issue.

Canada’s King of Theatre

Award-winning actor, Colm Feore ’77 talks Canada’s arts scene, giving back—and how his time at Ridley helped give him his start.

Even when he’s travelling, he’s working. But after forty odd years in the business, Colm Feore ’77 will tell you it’s the key to his success. With Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics at one elbow, and a thick history of the Bard at his other, we spoke with Colm this past August when he was visiting his wife—acclaimed director, Donna Feore—while she directed Bernhardt/Hamlet at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. “She promised me a birthday dinner,” laughs the Stratford-based actor, who just turned 61. “So, I came to collect.”

These days, Colm is delving into the ways in which Shakespeare explores the lust for power in his plays—and how society suffers at the hands of his ‘fictional’ kings. One of Canada’s most celebrated actors, the proud Old Ridleian has played many of Shakespeare’s leading characters at the Stratford Festival, and will be taking on the role of Richard III this upcoming season. The play is poised to inaugurate the Tom Patterson Theatre Centre, a stunning, 100-million-dollar space that positions the Festival at the forefront of theatrical innovation. For artistic director Antoni Cimolino, choosing Colm to utter the powerful first words at the new theatre was easy, touting the thespian as “part of the Festival’s DNA” in a recent press release. And, though rehearsals are still months away, for Stratford’s latest king there’s plenty of reading to be done.

But if you haven’t seen him on the stage, you’ll know him from the screen. “To make a living in Canada as an actor, you have to be able to do everything,” Colm imparts—and over the years he’s proved he has the chops. His impressive career has taken him from stage to film, television and Netflix, where you’ll catch outstanding performances in everything from Chicago, Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Thor; to the critically acclaimed Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould; to his award-winning performance as Pierre Elliot Trudeau. You’ll also find him capturing TV audiences in a number of popular series: think The Borgias, The West Wing, House of Cards, 24, The Umbrella Academy and more.

Colm and Donna Feore at Governor Generals Awards

“The whole point of my job is to disappear,” he says simply. “That’s the job. Be something else.”

It’s a diverse body of work that reflects his mantra—just show up—in many ways developed here at Ridley. “That was always the lesson: you’ve got to be here to play,” he reflects. “And it became a very simple mantra. If you show up, you’ll learn; if you learn you’ll get better.”

Though Colm had a diverse career on campus—becoming a Prefect, taking an active role in public speaking and debate, participating in a range of sports, and becoming editor of the Acta’s sports and literary sections—it was the acting bug that got him. Colm credits Ridley’s teachers with instilling in him a genuine love for words and the stage. “We weren’t just doing the standard production of West Side Story, or whatever was making the rounds at school gymnasium plays,” he remembers. “They engaged us in a serious commitment to drama, and to the idea that there might be a life in the arts. And when you have masters and students, fellow students, above and below you, who are all into the same thing…” Colm trails off. “Well, a guy could dream.”

Colm Feore on stage at Ridley

“That was always the lesson: you’ve got to be here to play,” he reflects. “And it became a very simple mantra. If you show up, you’ll learn; if you learn you’ll get better.”

And as his parents returned to Ridley time and again to see him act, they were learning just how good their son really was. “Once someone leaned over to them during a play and said, ‘This is very good, but it’s not really fair for them to bring in professional actors,’” he smiles.

But it was when he was applying to post-secondary school that Colm really received their endorsement, learning they’d accepted an offer from Montreal’s National Theatre School on his behalf—and suddenly the dream was off and running.

That Ridleian mantra kept Colm showing up right through theatre school and onto stage and screen, helping him navigate the requisite ebbs and flows of the biz. “Ridley’s a school that’s based on hard work and determination—your effort is going to matter just as much as your talent,” he shares. “Because for every six miracles in this industry, there are a thousand people behind them who just keep doing the work. Professionally, that pays dividends.”

Colm Feore accepts Governor General award

And as the accolades keep coming, with peers and critics alike applauding his ability to “disappear into roles,” it’s clear both talent and hard work pay off. In 2002, Colm received a Gemini for his performance in Trudeau, and the Gascon-Thomas Award by the National Theatre School of Canada in 2013. That same year he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, for “bridging Anglophone and Francophone cultures as a fluently bilingual performer.” This past spring, Colm was recognized for Lifetime Artistic Achievement at the Governor General’s Performing Arts Gala in Ottawa. But the popular actor takes his success in stride. “The whole point of my job is to disappear,” he says simply. “That’s the job. Be something else.”

“There’s a great application of these skills we learn communicating in the arts: speaking to one another, showing and telling our stories, exploring each other’s histories and lives. We learn from each other. And one of the best ways to do that is to take a risk, to stand up in front of people and to say, ‘I think this’—and I trust that you will find some value in it.”

In true Ridley fashion, Colm is also giving back, raising awareness of the importance of studying Shakespeare as a guest in Marvin Karon’s summer camp, Shakesperience, and as a board member of REEL CANADA, a unique programme which engages and inspires youth, and promotes Canada’s cultural identity. “REEL CANADA brings Canadian film into Canadian classrooms,” he explains, clearly passionate about the project which connects students with directors, writers, actors, and producers. “It says, ‘Here’s our story. Here’s who we are—and you’re going to see yourselves reflected in these spaces.’”

Colm on stage

And as he sits in his Chicago hotel, thinking back to his time on the Ridley stage, of the hallways he once walked, Colm hopes his story will inspire the students who walk them now. Because he knows, perhaps more than most, that telling stories is what brings communities together. “There’s a great application of these skills we learn communicating in the arts: speaking to one another, showing and telling our stories, exploring each other’s histories and lives. We learn from each other,” he concludes thoughtfully. “And one of the best ways to do that is to take a risk, to stand up in front of people and to say, ‘I think this’—and I trust that you will find some value in it.”


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our winter issue.


CHAPEL TALK: THANKS-GIVING

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

With our Thanksgiving break rapidly approaching, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect upon why we should give thanks. In this “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” in the words of English poet John Keats, ripened fruits and swollen gourds signal that the wondrous bounty of mother nature’s harvest has arrived. And yes, we have much for which to give thanks.

We give thanks that at Ridley:

our teachers have high expectations of their students;

our students come to school ready to be stretched and challenged;

our teachers support and scaffold curiosity in their classrooms daily;

our students are inherently curious and motivated learners;

our teachers arrange their learning opportunities, carving out space for imagination, wonder and reflection; and

our students flourish when they find passion and relevance in their studies.

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk writes on the power of gratefulness. He encourages us to see each new day as a gift where the only appropriate response is gratitude. He urges us to open our hearts to all our blessings.

It is quite radical to see each new day as a gift. If you were caught thanking the sun for rising each morning, people might wonder about your sanity. Normal people don’t go around being grateful all the time. But why not?

I believe that it behooves us to show respect for – and be grateful to – nature, other people, and the past.

We have all stood transfixed and filled with awe in the presence of nature’s marvels – Niagara Falls is an obvious and near-by example. At moments like that, it is not hard to feel a sense of gratitude and to think to ourselves, “what a wonderful world!” The feeling is probably like that of a child playing in the garden. The difference is that, unlike us, the child does not need a raging cascade to get her attention. Here is how John Keats’ older contemporary William Wordsworth put it:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

The poet goes on to say that this time is gone: “The things which I have seen I now can see no more.” And yet, despite our obliviousness and routine and normalcy, nature does not stop being the miracle that it is. As a later 19th century English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins put it: “And for all this, nature is never spent; / There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.” Even in this time of climate change and global warming, an appreciation for the blessings of life on this earth is still the right way to respond. In fact, I wonder if things might be different on our planet if more people felt more grateful to nature.

At Ridley, we frequently emphasize the importance of thanking each other as often as we can. By doing so, we are recognizing the worth and significance of other people. It turns out that admitting the reality of what is outside ourselves is a necessary step toward well-being. Furthermore, by thanking others, we are acknowledging the other’s presence as a gift. We are saying to the other: “You have given me something that I did not deserve; you have been to me more than a friend.” What almost inevitably comes next is: “I will do the same for you when I can. I will try to be a gift to you.” It is a virtuous circle that fosters and celebrates loving relationships.

Being thankful for the past might seem somewhat strange, even suspicious; some of us might feel much more inclined to reject the past in our struggle for a better world. But human civilizations and cultures throughout all time have universally honoured those who have lived and died in earlier times. Similarly, our society commemorates heroes and martyrs and wise people who have done or said things that remain meaningful to us today. One of those we remember is Martin Frobisher, who in 1578 arrived in Canada and held a formal ceremony in which he gave thanks for surviving the long voyage from England. (Some 43 years later, the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts and did something similar.) This nation began by opening its heart in gratitude to the blessings of life.

And that’s why I am so grateful to be part of a community that has opened its heart to all its blessings. Every student in our community is a blessing, and regardless of their academic trajectory, they are cared for and valued. They are loved.

As in so many of my chapel talks and conversations with parents and students it is the character strength of love that I find myself returning to so often. Love, it seems, underpins nearly everything we do at Ridley.

In the gospels, God tells who we are, and we know that it can be the hardest thing in the world for us to receive love, especially the love of God. Whether you are a Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist, non-believer, let’s be united in the idea that love is the strongest thing in the world, and to receive it demands that we begin by loving ourselves.

Unlike the bees in Keats’ ode to “Autumn,” we know that these warm October days will cease, but giving thanks at Ridley is not limited to the season of thanksgiving. At Ridley, we practice gratitude daily, all year round. May I wish all our families at Ridley a Thanksgiving break filled with joy, appreciation and, of course, much love.

Fresh Year, Fresh Start: How Ridley helps students forge their own paths

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

A new school year is just around the corner, and it is holding out hands full of promise. It is time for another fresh start, time to discover the wealth of untapped potential among our magnificent community of learners. Who can say what great new friendships will be forged in the Houses of Ridley College, what tests of courage, commitment, and collaboration will be faced on our sports fields, or what giant steps will be taken on the path of success?

Ah, but what do I mean by “success”? What do we at Ridley think we are trying to achieve? I would like to explore – and perhaps clarify – what success looks like from a Ridley College perspective, and to suggest a way for you parents to help.

Sir Ken Robinson’s highly regarded book, Finding Your Element: How to discover your talents and passions and transform your life, might be a good place to begin our exploration. Robinson says that one’s “element” is the convergence of natural talents and personal passions, and that finding one’s element is the most important quest that any of us can have. Finding your element is the quest to find yourself.

This quest involves both an outward and inward journey. The outward journey is the discovery of the opportunities the world can offer. The inward journey includes unlocking a student’s academic aptitude and accepting one’s unique purpose. 

Speaking of purpose, I have been impressed by Richard Leider’s recently published The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better. In this book, the author says that to live with purpose is to actively live one’s values. Purpose is our essence and what makes each of us so special. When we get up in the morning ready to contribute to the world, we are living with purpose, living with meaning. Living like this is not just living – it is living well.

Research suggests that having a purpose requires an aim outside ourselves. Naming our purpose helps satisfy our need to matter and feel worthy. Through a Ridley College lens, we can see three important messages for our students:

  • They are part of something bigger than themselves;
  • They are committing to live a life of service; 
  • They are going to transform a world that needs them.

So when we talk about steps on the path of success, we are saying that the quest for each of us at Ridley is to find our element, our passion, and our purpose. Once we identify these, we need to learn how to live these values every day.

We believe that advisors, housemasters, teachers and coaches can all provide invaluable assistance to students on this quest because authentic learning and discovery thrive in a kind and caring community.

I think that high school is the right time for young people to begin thinking about these things. Students confront a bewildering range of choices and must make decisions all the time, but the most important of these decisions have to do with their own identity and integrity. 

I am reminded of a poem that many of you will be familiar with by American poet Robert Frost, called “The Road Not Taken.” In it, the speaker is walking through the woods, comes upon a fork in the path ahead and wonders which way to go. It is not always easy to know which road leads to success, to one’s purpose. As Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said, you cannot connect the dots going forward; you can only connect the dots looking back. In other words, despite our best-laid plans, we can never know the future. It is only when we look back on those choices, those experiences, those seemingly chance encounters, that we can discern a direction.

So it is in the poem. The speaker finally chooses one of the roads, recognizing he will never know what he has missed by not choosing the other, but concluding that his choice has “made all the difference” in his life. The Grateful Dead sang a similar sentiment: 

There is a road, no simple highway

Between the dawn and the dark of night,

And if you go, no one may follow,

That path is for your steps alone.

As their popular song suggests, this path, this quest for one’s element, passion and purpose is exclusive, singular, “for your steps alone.” This year, each of us at Ridley will make choices that help to define us as unique individuals and to name that purpose that drives us forward. There is always some risk in making a choice, since we cannot know exactly where it will lead us, but when we look back one day we will be able to connect those dots, to see how our life’s path has led us to become who we are.

Given the various quests of the members of our community and the many pathways that lie ahead of us, perhaps you will understand when I write how delighted I am by the wonderful adventure that awaits us this year. But I also mentioned that there is a way that you could help. Of course, as parents you know your children in ways we never can, but there is one area on which to focus that I think could be valuable. 

Lea Waters, the developer of the Visible Well-Being program (which as some of you know has been adopted by Ridley College), has recently published a study that investigates the relationship between what she calls “strength-based parenting” and educational outcomes. 

A strength-based approach to parenting is one in which parents encourage their children to recognize and use their own character strengths. These strengths may include humour, kindness, self-control, persistence and so on. Waters accepts that emotional warmth and appropriate control are important aspects of parenting, but suggests that awareness and acknowledgement by parents of their child’s strengths helps support the healthy development of the child’s character and personality. 

Furthermore, Waters’ work shows how promoting a young person’s character strengths fosters academic achievement. She found that strength-based parenting not only influences a child’s well-being but also positively affects academic outcomes. Surely, it is good to know that Ridley’s emphasis on our students’ visible well-being has benefits both in and outside the classroom. Universities in Canada and beyond are still interested in student grades, and I believe that our educational priorities, along with your support, provide the best possible environment for young people to flourish academically, socially and personally.

In closing, I want to offer a warm welcome as we embark on our exciting, collective journey of discovery this year. Ridley’s faculty and administration are dedicated to helping each of our students discover their element, passion and purpose, and to thrive in every area of school life. This year will provide many challenges for us all – but challenges are simply stepping-stones to growth when we love what we do. 

Author and speaker Simon Sinek famously said, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” One of our most important tasks as educators – and parents – is to help your children, our students, find their passion by discovering what they truly love.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Steven Q. ’20

Introducing Steven ’20 – a proud Tiger who has truly taken advantage of all that Ridley has to offer. Read about the challenges he overcame and the success he has experienced in the interview with Steven below.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

When I first visited the campus, I was deeply attracted by the energy of the students and the community. Everyone was super friendly and there is always something to do and something happening. I simply couldn’t wait to throw myself into the action and get started. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Definitively the unbreakable bond between Ridleians. There is no better feeling than to bump into an OR on the street or at a university that I visited and still be able to chat like old times while grabbing a coffee. The connection you build during your time at Ridley will be priceless later on in your life. It really gives you a sense of belonging and unity. Also, can’t forget Snake Dance! 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is strolling through the campus at daybreak, watching the sunrise as the fog slowly clears from the fields. Getting takeout with friends and eating them on the field as the sun slowly sets is definitely a bonus as well! Not to mention the sweet, sweet feeling when you see a level 7 on your test or scoring the killing blow on the tennis court. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience/trip/memory?

Well… It’s hard to say because I have so many! I appreciate every day I spend at this school, and everyday holds something different and unique for me to discover. I have made so many irreplaceable memories with my friends, my teammates and my teachers it would take forever to count them. Therefore, I am afraid I can’t give you a good answer, not before my graduation. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of belonging to a boarding house is the feeling of home.  I have been both a day and boarding student in Merritt North House, and the boys I have met and became friends with throughout the past three years are all very easygoing and friendly. The Head of House and Residential Dons are always there for you. The overall environment of my House will make you feel right at home. No matter if you returned tired from a heavy day of school or sports, you can always count on your housemates to relax together and play some pool in the common room. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

It depends on how you define accomplishments. For me, I don’t like to define my accomplishments at this school by the prizes I won. They are merely a token of recognition. My real, greatest accomplishments at this school would be that I have really grown as an individual. In Grade 7, I was this shy student that wasn’t very good at English and was afraid of this foreign and vast country. Now I am a proud Ridley student, enrolling in full IB diploma, member of the 2019-20 Prefect team, president of the Ridley College Model United Nations society, and a senior member of the Choir. I have made the best memories of my high school life at this school, and I have learned indispensable transferrable skills that I will most definitely need even after I graduate from Ridley College. 

The Drowsy Chaperone, by Michelle Scrivener

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

Wow… You are putting me in a tight spot here. All the faculty and staff members around have all supported me in their own unique way. And I always appreciate their help and their dedication to educate every student here at Ridley, so that they may be better prepared for the world beyond the gates. 

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am most excited to continue the legacy left by the previous Prefects while working with my current, fellow Prefects to innovate and create new student-led initiatives in order to make Ridley College a place enjoyed by both students and faculty members alike. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley College has taught me so much. I learned teamwork and perseverance on the sports field, I honed my public speaking and debating skills on stage as an actor and debater. I polished my singing in Chapel along with rest of the Choir. I learned what it means to learn and flourish through my teachers, and how to love myself and others around me through my friends. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

DON’T PROCRASINATE!!!!!! Seriously, please, please, please, please, don’t procrastinate, especially if you are a boarder. It is so easy to get lost in all the stuff Ridley has to offer and you will wind up crunching away at a major project, two hours before its due… (ahem that guy definitively wasn’t me…) Ridley College is a school that places heavy emphasis on academic excellence, especially if you are planning on taking the full IB Diploma. And it only gets worse busier once you start Grade 10 and beyond. Make sure you make yourself a schedule and STICK TO IT. Ask teachers and your Head of House for help– they will more than happy to help you out because they care about your well-being. Only when you have an organized life can you enjoy all the wonderful things Ridley has to offer. 

Promoting Antifragility in Education

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

In 2008, the New York writer Lenore Skenazy found herself at the centre of a media storm, but she probably only had herself to blame. She had published an article in the New York Sunnewspaper and then had been interviewed on national television, all in the effort to explain her seemingly novel approach to parenting. The results were not quite what she anticipated, for before long she was widely decried as “America’s Worst Mom.”

What was Skenazy’s offense? She had let her 9-year old son ride the New York subway by himself. Her son had wanted to do this for some time, so she took him to a downtown Metro station and then gave him a ticket, a map, some money, and clear instructions how to get home. Forty-five minutes later, right on time, he reached his house, delighted with his experience. His happy mother wrote about it in the newspaper. But after hearing the story, the country was shocked.

Mr Kidd, our Headmaster, and several Ridley administrators learned more of Leonore Skenazy’s fall from grace at the International Positive Psychology Conference in Melbourne, Australia last month, where one of  the keynote speakers was Jonathan Haidt, author of several books including his most recent The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.Along with other educators, researchers, psychologists, counselors and academics from across the world, we learned  more about the new word at the conference: “antifragility.”

The concept of antifragility is not really new; in fact, it is very common in the field of health care and in our understanding of the human immune system. The idea is that some things, like china teacups, are naturally fragile; others, like plastic teacups, are naturally resilient; but still others, and especially complex systems like human beings, are antifragile: they requirestressors and challenges to learn, adapt, and grow.

According to Haidt, understanding about antifragility is important to educators and parents. Children need to develop their own interests, learn how to make decisions and solve problems, cultivate their ability to regulate their emotions, and discover how to get along with others and experience joy. Over-scheduled children surrounded by risk-averse adults are less likely to acquire these important life skills.

As it happens, trying to eliminate all risks from children’s lives might even be dangerous. There may be a psychological analog to the hygiene hypothesis proposed to explain the dramatic recent increase in allergies. In other words, by codling our children and over-protecting them we may be denying them the real opportunity to learn from their mistakes. 

At the Positive Psychology Conference in Melbourne, Haidt explained  that positive child development thrives under conditions of unsupervised free play, autonomy, risk, and even failure. Short-term stress is not to be avoided – it is essential for proper growth. Negative experiences provide rapid learning and strengthening. Those young people who are prepared for the failures they will encounter in life will have gained the resilience and mental fortitude to succeed. This is summed up in the saying: “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”

Haidt claimed that the generation born at the beginning of the 21stcentury might well be the loneliest ever because so many children spend so much time indoors. They may be digitally connected, but this electronic connectivity does not nurture authentic and enduring relationships. When children go outside, climb trees, play with friends, swim lakes and enjoy nature, they are augmenting their well-being. Haidt’s advice to parents is to get your children out of their bedrooms or they may  just end up living in your basements!

Of course, giving children opportunities to participate in activities like hockey camp, basketball practice and piano lessons is important; but Haidt wants us also to give children the freedom to develop their curiosity, exercise their creativity and just marvel at the wonderful world around them. He wants us to give our children the precious gift of un-sanitised, un-structured time that will nurture their imagination and wonder.

Lenore Skenazy responded to her own negative experiences with America’s media by starting a blog called Free-Range Kidsand a non-profit called Let Grow, where she calls out over-protectionism and offers advice for parents wanting to raise healthy, happy children. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, “ see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range”. Any risk is seen as too much risk. But, as she points out, we parents have to realise that the greatest risk of all just might be trying to raise a child who never encounters choice or independence. 

Our long summer break  is not quite over, and there’s still opportunity for us to cultivate our very own free range Ridleians. Although high attainment is certainly one of the elements that account for success at Ridley College, there’s more. At Ridley, we celebrate and emphasise positive emotions, engagement, relationships, and meaning in addition to grades and exam results. Under the leadership of Mr Kidd, Ridley’s central mission has been to help young people to discover what it takes to lead a flourishing life, not just in this community but also beyond our gates. Our aim is to prepare all our children for the road.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Sydney M. ’20

Introducing Sydney M. ’20 – a boarding student from Trinidad and Tobago, who has made a home for herself amongst a flock of flamingos. Read about her experience in the boarding house and what has made it her favourite part of Ridley life.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I was most excited to attend Ridley so that I could meet new people, make friends from all around the world and have the ability to learn about different cultures and lifestyles .

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

The sense of community at Ridley makes me so proud to be a Ridleian. Every single person that attends Ridley – whether it is the students, faculty or staff – is involved, encouraged and welcomed in some way and it is truly beautiful to see and to be a part of. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite  part of Ridley life is the residential life.

What is the best part of being in your boarding house?

The best part of my boarding house are the girls that make up Gooderham West. I  have made so many friendships and had so many experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I owe it all to them. They are such a welcoming, easygoing, accepting and friendly group of people, and they are like my second family…we even share rooms! I am beyond grateful.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My  greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been becoming a Prefect.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

My favourite faculty member is my Advisor, Ms. Scott. I can go to her with any problem or situation I have and she will always give me great advice on how to go about the problem effectively and responsibly . She is very kind, giving, selfless and easy to talk to. She is like a mother away from home for me, not to mention she is a math teacher and helps me whenever I am struggling.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am most excited to work with the other members of the Prefect team, as it is a very diverse group of people and I think we can brainstorm and create some really fun and exciting activities for the student body to participate in. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has encouraged me to become an independent individual, taught me how to manage my time effectively and how to be aware of what is expected of me. I believe these new skills will help me in the future whether it’s in the workplace or beyond.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

As I was a new student not too long ago, I believe you should look at all of your options and imagine yourself attending the school. I visited three schools including Ridley and from the minute I walked onto the beautiful campus of the school , I knew this was where I wanted to go. Meeting students, witnessing the classes and experiencing the sense of family and community at Ridley only cemented my ideas.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Catherine F. ’20

Meet Catherine ’20 – a talented student-athlete, who can often be found skating up and down the ice in the Tiger Arena or supporting her fellow Crocodiles in Gooderham East. Read more to discover the milestones and accomplishments that have influenced Catherine’s Ridley career.


Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I was most excited to start my journey at Ridley and meet new friends coming from all-over the world. I was also very thrilled of being part of its very well-known hockey programme and school curriculum. Ridley College is modern and well-organized in all aspects. The second I stepped under the arches of Ridley, I knew this is where I wanted to be. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am extremely proud of being a Ridleian for numerous reasons. Firstly, there is no better sense of community than at Ridley College – people care for each individual’s growth and flourishment.  Secondly, this school embraces modern philosophies, and new technologies for greater learning and experiences.  Lastly, I’ve realized that this school has an extremely great reputation.  When someone is wearing a Ridley sweater, she/he will cross paths with another that knows a Ridleian or has gone to Ridley themselves.  Day-to-day, I go to school knowing that someone cares about each other’s development and success.  I am extremely proud to be a Ridleian.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

I have enjoyed my hockey experience in many ways – the team experience, friendships, development and success. I made lifetime friends and memories. From bus rides to plane rides, we ended up creating a strong connection with trust and loyalty. I also loved social life at Ridley – we’ve had a lot of laughs and amazing interactions during events and activities such as school dances, café, Bradley shield competitions, etc. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley memory was when my team and I went to play hockey in Vancouver. It was our first trip on the plane together. We were all so excited to go on a trip across Canada with each other. We had a lot of fun while visiting a suspension bridge – this activity helped us bond as a team. We were at first a little scared to walk on a moving bridge up in the air, but then we crossed it laughing. It was a key moment for the growth of our team and friendships.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Gooderham East is a very positive environment. I would say that people make G-East one of the best Houses of campus.  My Head of House and Assistant Head of House are both very positive and outgoing people. They deeply care for every single girl in the House.  They guide us towards growth, for us to achieve a better self. They are always there to help us. Also, our house maintenance ladies are tremendously caring – they assure that Ridley is welcoming and homey. All in all, G-East is a House full of trust – this is my home away from home.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I am extremely proud of having won the CISAA league championship with my hockey team.  We worked so hard throughout the year to develop our skills and team chemistry to achieve this goal. On a personal note, I have to mention my commitment to play hockey at Boston University after graduation. My coaches and teachers helped me achieve that goal by pushing me every single day to become a better student-athlete.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

There is lots of special faculty and staff members; Mrs. Postma, my Head of House, being one of them. She is an exceptional person, being very positive and caring. She is always there to make me feel at home, and support me throughout the year. Her continuous smile helped me stay positive the whole year.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

Being a Prefect at Ridley College means a lot to me, particularly to be part of this special group of students. We, as a group, are very diverse. I have no doubt that we will all bring different ideas and perspective to the table. I am looking forward to doing different activities and initiatives with this group to help and improve the Ridley College community. I want to positively participate in others’ memorable time at Ridley College.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley helps me to be more open-minded to new ideas and new ways of learning.  The exceptional teaching staff give me tools and responsibilities to help me be more prepared for future challenges. The IB programme is very well-structure and challenging to further develop skills and knowledge for post-graduation experiences. On the other hand, my hockey coaches help me every day to improve and have an impact at the next level, not only as a hockey player, but also as a person. I’ve learned how to trust my abilities and knowledge.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

My best advice for all prospective students would be to take advantage of all the resources offered at Ridley. If you always wanted to be part of a certain club, sign up for it, if you want to be part of an activity and it does not exist, create one. There are so many opportunities, so take advantage of them. Here, at Ridley College, we can go out of our personal comfort zone in many different ways. Always be in the moment and trust yourself. You can do more than you could ever think of. Make your experience at Ridley the best imaginable.

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