An Interview with Mr. Kidd – Ridley’s Newly Appointed Headmaster

Will N. '13 & Andrew P. '13 talking to new Headmaster Mr. Kidd on Skype

Bob Dylan once said “the times they are a changin” and this is the current situation at Ridley. As many of you may already know at the conclusion of this school year our current headmaster Jonathan Leigh will be leaving the school after eight years of headship. When Mr. Leigh first arrived at Ridley it was a very different school. The average staff member had been at the school since the early 80’s, cadets was believed to be on its way out and the new rink was merely another soccer pitch amongst many. Since then there has been a profound shift between age generation, now the average age of a Ridley staff member is thirty nine, the school’s population has increased exponentially and sports programs such as rowing, basketball and hockey have flourished.

In comes Mr. J. Edward Kidd, our newly appointed headmaster who will be taking over for Mr. Leigh starting this September. Awaiting Mr. Kidd are many new challenges that Ridley will have to face in the coming years. In particular the inclusion of the International Baccalaureate program which pending approval will be implemented into the curriculum in the upcoming school year.

Mr. Kidd brings a wealth of experience in the IB programme. At only forty-one years of age he has already worked in several different schools in Canada, Korea and currently the Shanghai American School in China; where he is the head of the Upper School. In his years at SAS he has introduced the IB program with overwhelming success. Upon his arrival at the school in 1998 the school had an overall population of approximately 600 students and since then it has multiplied five fold as it now encroaches 3000. The IB programme has proven beneficial as graduates of the school now find themselves in Ivy League Universities in the United States as well as their British counterparts Cambridge, Oxford, Durham and King’s College London.

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Mr. Kidd over Skype and he told us a little about himself and informed us of his admiration for the IB programme as well as his excitement towards joining the Ridley Community.

Mr. Kidd assured us that Ridley’s transition into IB will be a smooth one as the current requirements for a Ridley student already fit the mould of IB. He wished to clear the air of all misconceptions we may have. Anyone who is already comfortable with the demands of the current Ridley schedule will not be too overwhelmed with IB as the inclusion of activities and community service are already implemented into Ridley’s current curriculum. From an academic standpoint the biggest assumption Mr. Kidd believes students are making is that IB is only for elite students. Even the most average of student has found success in the programme and Mr. Kidd has experienced first hand the transformation that students undergo with IB.

Ridley is a school with many deep-rooted traditions, and the time set aside for tradition provides an additional challenge to IB, as a student’s schedule may become more occupied with academics. Mr. Kidd promises that no traditions are to be eliminated immediately but with IB the school will evolve and like cricket and the old boy system before, some traditions may not be able to adapt.

Aside from the International Baccalaureate, Mr. Kidd brings a lot more to the table and he hopes to bring some youthful energy to the position of Headmaster as this will be the first time someone under fifty will hold the position in a couple decades. Along with Mr. Kidd will be his wife Hanna who is also a schoolteacher as well as their three children Jayden, Mia and Ashton. Their entire family is active in the Shanghai American School community as they participate in athletics, community service and many different endeavours beyond the classroom. Mr. Kidd and his family have picked up the language, as they are familiar with both Korean and Mandarin.

Mr. Kidd and his family are truly excited to join Ridley and he believes that it is an outstanding institution and cannot wait to be a part of it. When asked what sold him and his family on Ridley he quickly answered, “The campus, the architecture, the fields, it is all just magnificent.” He knew it was the place for him.

We look forward to Mr. Kidd’s arrival this summer and wish Mr. and Mrs. Leigh a very fond farewell and the best of luck in their future endeavours.

Written By Will N. ’13 and Andrew P. ’13