The dust has settled, it has been over a week since Prize Day and we have had some time to reflect on the momentous occasion. Prize Day marks the end of our students’ Ridley experience and beginning of a new journey. Whether a student spends a year or many years at Ridley, something happens…by the end of their time here they have come into their own. The faculty sees it and more importantly their parents see it. During the Prize Day festivities I had the opportunity to speak to parents from all over the world. Each of their children had a different experience at Ridley, some were day students, some boarders, some were highly involved in athletics, others in Robotics and the Arts, but as I talked to the parents I realized there were common themes that emerged. There are at least five traits that parents continuously remarked on that their children had gained from their time at Ridley.
1- Independence and organization
2- Passion for academics
3- International mindedness
4- Leadership/Caring for others
1. Many of the parents remarked about how independent and organized their child have become over the course of their time at Ridley. For boarding students, doing their own laundry, having to organize their own schedule and developing study habits are all valuable life skills that have been learned here.
One parent of a boarding student said, “I think they are brilliantly prepared academically (for university) the study regime is obviously what you’re looking for, but it’s not just that it’s doing your laundry, it’s eating and it’s exercising and that is what I didn’t have to worry about them juggling that, they learned how to juggle that here so I think they are better able to cope with their deadlines because they had to cope with it (at Ridley).”
While day students may not sleep at Ridley they are certainly a part of the daily routine and as one parent put it, “I think going off into University she will already have the idea of what it takes and what is needed in her daily routine to excel.”
2. A passion for academics. Ridley College classrooms are very hands on- you could be extracting DNA from a strawberry in one class and then answering math questions using a Smartboard and a clicker in the next class. I have heard students say that Ridley teachers don’t just tell you to memorize information; they make sure you understand and learn the concepts through practical applications and parents echo this:
“The Ridley experience has allowed her to flourish academically, she developed a passion for learning that she didn’t have before and I knew it was always there inside it just wasn’t unleashed. I think part of that is the small class size. I think too the kind of teacher who comes to Ridley is a really special person they’re enmeshed in the fabric of the kids lives not just the academics, not just the 9-4, but the after school sports, the many extra-curriculars that are here, supervising the kids study hours. And I think their enthusiasm and their commitment and their love of learning was profoundly influential for my daughter and really to develop a lifelong passion for learning is a real gift that is irreplaceable so we have been very grateful for that.”
“The teachers they know what your strengths are. They will pull out the best of those strengths and will lead you in the right direction. They brought out the skills and the strengths that were the strongest in each one (of our children) and focused on those skills so they were prepared for the next step, the next level of education.”
3. There are students from over 37 countries attending Ridley. A Canadian parent who has two daughters who are boarding students commented,
“The international presence has been really influential for our children, they’re from a smaller community, but the broadening of the exposure to kids from around the world here has given them a new perspective. It’s one thing to hear on the news what’s going on around the world, but when you’re sitting next to in class or playing sports with or eating with kids from around these different countries you really gain a deeper insight, awareness and empathy with what’s going on in different parts of the world and we find in this day and age particularly that that’s pretty important.”
4. Leadership– Prefects, house captains, cadets, and team captains; there are numerous opportunities to lead at Ridley. The skills that are developed from being a leader are invaluable. One parent saw her daughter grow and gain self-confidence through her leadership opportunities:
“There’s been tremendous opportunity for her to grow as a leader whether it’s in sports, cadets, within the house or the school abroad there’s so many opportunities for leadership and I think it’s a very powerful experience for kids when they may have a lot of energy, creativity and enthusiasm, but they have that harnessed here they can use that and become leaders. It gives them that extra sense of confidence and that ability to see that wow these are the kind of things that I can do to make a difference.”
Caring for others – Ridley College’s motto is “Terar Dum Prosim” – “May I Be Consumed in Service” and the students truly live it. Whether it’s raising money or participating in community events locally or travelling to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or Missionaries of the Poor in countries all over the world. As one parent put it, it’s not just through community service that they show caring for others; it’s through experiences in the house, on teams and activities.
“It was something amazing they took out of him so many things in these three years that we wouldn’t be able to do at home and not at a school at home either. The environment here is moving all around him and it really brings the best out of them, and that’s what every parent wants out of their kids, to be happy, to be independent and to be really responsible for others.”
5. Self Confidence – I asked one family what their children had gained from their Ridley experience and they gave a very powerful and emotional answer:
“What have they gained? Everything…. independence, high self-esteem, they gained a lot of knowledge, how to study. They will have everything that they need for the future and it’s one of the things we feel good that we gave them, a very good education.”