Get to Know the Ridley College Faculty: Ms. Loretta Whitty

We have amazing teachers here at Ridley College. They’re passionate about learning, have a great sense of humor and truly love what they do! We decided to ask teachers a few questions in order for you to get to know them better.

In this interview we talked to Ms. Loretta Whitty.  Ms. Whitty is one of the kindest people you will meet, she is very patient and caring.  As you can imagine, learning a new language can be a daunting and challenging experience.  Ms. Whitty works with many of our international students and does her very best to ensure that the students are comfortable learning the English language.

Loretta

What did you take in University?
I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Child Studies, worked and travelled for four years, and then returned to Brock University for my Bachelor of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language.  I always knew that I wanted to work with students.

Did you have any interesting  jobs before coming to Ridley? 
I have worked with many age groups in various settings:  assisting in a Junior Kindergarten class, teaching Italian folk dancing to teens,  working with developmentally delayed adults as a residential counsellor, working as a medical secretary in a doctor’s office, teaching ESL at Brock University.  My favourite job was teaching English at a Frontisterion (English school) in Athens, Greece.

What do you teach at Ridley College? 
I have taught Learning Strategies, ESL, and English.  I have tutored students at Ridley for over twenty years.  I have been involved in ESL Camp, TOEFL, ACT, and SAT preparation, and the International Students Club.

What is your passion?
READING!

What do you like to do in your spare time? 
I enjoy taking care of my family.

What do you love most about Ridley? 
Everyone truly cares about the students. It is a wonderful atmosphere.

What is your favourite place in the Niagara Region?
I love driving along Highway 8.  It is peaceful, beautiful, and historic.

Do you have any funny stories about my time at Ridley? 
Looking back, I think it is quite funny that students were complaining that they were not allowed to use cell phones during the school day (it was the ’90′s!).

 

Recent Graduates Share Their Ridley Experience: Bianca D. ’14

Before our seniors graduated our summer student and Old Ridleian Nicholas ’12 interviewed a few of them about their Ridley experience. In this interview he spoke to Bianca DiBellonia ’14. Bianca is from Canada. She was a part of the female rowing crew that competed at the Henley Royal Regatta in the UK, a Prefect,  a tour guide and a chapel reader. Bianca will be attending the University Iowa in the fall where she will continue to row.

start henley

 

1. Where is your favourite place to study on campus?
My favorite place to study is the G-East Common Room, A History class room, or a private room in the Library.

2. What is your best memory of this past year?
My best memory of this past year, would be the basketball spirit night and the snake dance.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.48.07 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. What you think you will miss the most about Ridley?
I will miss all of the great friends and teachers that I have had the privilege of meeting.

4. Who is your favourite faculty member? 
Mr. Dunkley

5. What have you learnt from Ridley? 
Ridley has taught me independence, and has been a huge part of shaping me into the person I am today.

SONY DSC

6. Can you share a quote (yours or otherwise) about any aspect of Ridley/ life at Ridley (ex: academics, art, buildings, duty, history, passion, etc.)?

Ridley quote “When you lose say nothing, when you win say less”

My favourite quote “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”

Get to Know the Ridley College Faculty: Mr. Paul O’Rourke

We have amazing teachers here at Ridley College. They’re passionate about learning, have a great sense of humor and truly love what they do! We decided to ask teachers a few questions in order for you to get to know them better.

In this interview we spoke to Mr. O’Rourke.  He is a Lower School teacher, a soccer and debate coach, a former housemaster, and a Ridley parent – click here to read an interview with his daughter, Jacqueline ’14. Mr. O’Rourke really connects with his students. Through his own passion for the speaking arts (debating and public speaking) he creates a spark in students which develops into a love of debating and public speaking.  As you will read below he also has a great sense of humour!

Paul1

1) What did you take in University? Why did you pursue this?
History was something that I was interested in from high school onwards. I decided to study it at university, but I also encountered other subjects such as English and Politics. The basic rule of thumb was that if it involved a lot of reading, I was interested in it.

2) Did you have any other interesting jobs before coming to Ridley? 
When I was at university I was President of the Students’ Union. This was a full-time position and I developed a passion for debate and public affairs during that time. I also spent time working on a local vineyard in the summer. The fresh air and pleasant surroundings were attractive, and I gained an appreciation for the importance of hard work. Each of these jobs helped me understand that working in a profession (such as teaching) is a real privilege.

3) What do you teach/coach/involved in at Ridley College and why do you love it? 
I arrived at Ridley having started with the Sports Ridley summer program. My expertise was in soccer, and I have coached it since my first year at the school. Other sports such as basketball and tennis piqued my interest, but soccer has been the mainstay as far as sport is concerned.

Not surprisingly, the subjects that I have taught at Ridley are English and History. I have taught in both the Lower School and Upper School from grade 6 through to grade 12. The subjects that I teach keep me reading and help me gain an understanding of how history and language help shape our society. I try as much as possible to pass along my enthusiasm for these subjects to my students.

4) What is your passion? What do you like to do in your spare time?
As well as coaching soccer, I have been a debate and public speaking coach at Ridley for many years. Politics is a passion that I have, and this is a natural bridge between coaching debate and following public affairs.

Finding the right balance between reading and exercise occupies the precious spare time that exists outside of school life.

Paul2

5) What do you love most about Ridley? 
I most love the friendships that have developed with various people that I have met during my time here. These friendships have developed naturally through the ease of contact that takes place at our school. There are obvious ones such as those involving colleagues, but they have also extended to families that have been met as a result of various interactions. Being the parent of two Ridley graduates, and one current student, I have also come to enjoy the wide and varied relationships that have developed at Ridley through my children. These experiences have been both local and global in nature, and have enriched our lives as a family tremendously.

6) What is your favourite place to go in the Niagara Region? (Restaurant, tourist spot, any place!) 
Since moving off campus a few years ago following a long-time stint as houseparent, I have had more time to explore the Niagara region with my family, particularly my spouse, Kim, also a former houseparent. Together we have a weekend morning routine that involves a breakfast at one of our favorite local places (there are several nearby Ridley), followed by a leisurely trip to the Farmers’ Market located in downtown St.Catharines. It is a great place to get fresh local goods, catch up with friends, and become connected to the community.

7) Do you have any funny stories about your time at Ridley? 
When our daughter Erin ( OR 2011) was born we were houseparents of the junior boarders’ residence known as Governors’ House. She was born on the May long weekend, and we looked forward to a quiet weekend at home with our newborn baby. I was filming the arrival of mother and child arriving on campus, when one of the students from the residence appeared from out of nowhere on his bike to inquire about getting back into the dorm for something that he had left behind for the long weekend. Naturally we obliged the boy, and welcomed our daughter into the all-consuming world of boarding life. It was also a nice reminder that we lived as part of a close-knit community that supported and cared for one another.

Many other episodes of campus life involved the adventures of our much-loved Yellow Labrador (Caesar). He had a terrific knack for getting off the lead at the most inopportune times- wedding days in the Memorial Chapel, formal dinners in the Great Hall and suchlike. Fortunately the hosts of these events had a good sense of humour and appreciated the predicaments that family pets can get into. The passage of time allows me to smile about it now, but there were some cringe-worthy moments!

Recent Graduates Share Their Ridley Experience: Jesus Serrano ’14

Before our seniors graduated our summer student and Old Ridleian Nicholas ’12 interviewed a few of them about their Ridley experience. In this interview he spoke to  Jesus Serrano ’14.

Jesus speech

Jesus is from Mexico. During this past year he was a rower, the Drum Sergeant Major in the Cadet Band, a Prefect, and sang in the choir. He was in the first graduating class of the IB Diploma Programme, was valdictorian of the class of 2014,  and won the prestigious Mason Medal.  In the fall, Jesus will be attending Princeton University.

14047494892_980a2a155c_z

1. Where is your favourite place to study on campus?
I like to study in my room in MSO (Merritt South).

2. What is your best memory of this past year? 
One of my best memories is taking the Santa and his helpers photo during our improvised Winter White Out dance, I also loved going to Shawnigan Lake School for a march break rowing training camp, and going to the OFSAA Championships for swimming.

3. What do you think you will miss the most about Ridley College?
I will miss having life chats about whatever comes to mind in the house with the boys. I think that those are the moments where I developed the friendships and bonds that I want to have for the rest of my life.

14286650284_e42bf967af_z

4. Who is your favourite faculty member?
My favourite faculty members are Mr. Charl van Niekerk, Ms. Sarah Braun, and Ms. OR. I admire these three in particular because they had a passion for the subject they were teaching, on top of being extremely good at them. They inspired me to look for something in life where I can find a passion similar to theirs.

5. What have you learnt from Ridley?
I learned two main lessons. I learned to treasure the friends that you find, because true friendship is way too valuable to lose. And I learned to forget about other people’s opinions, and to do the things that I like without worrying about what everyone is going to think. This was huge for me, and it changed the way I think about my goals in life and my attitude towards them.

6. Please share a quote (yours or otherwise) about any aspect of Ridley/ life at Ridley (ex: academics, art, buildings, duty, history, passion, etc.)? 
“If you lose, say nothing. If you win, say less.”

Jesus rowing

Get to Know the Ridley College Faculty: Mr. Ben Smith

We have amazing teachers here at Ridley College. They’re passionate about learning, have a great sense of humor and truly love what they do! We decided to ask teachers a few questions in order for you to get to know them better.

In this interview we spoke to Mr. Smith.  He is a math and science teacher in the Lower School and coaches many sports teams.  Mr. Smith has tons of energy and enjoys hands-on learning and science experiments in the classroom.

1) What did you take in university? Why did you pursue this?
I went to school for a degree in biology and environmental science. I pursued this because as far back as I can remember I have loved to watch things grow and interact with the environment. I grew up on a farm, so my interest in the environment started early. I also took many psychology classes because I have also always been interested in how and why people think the things they do. Finally, I started teaching early on. At 16, I started as a sail instructor at the Dalhousie Yacht Club. From that moment on, I knew I would be doing something related to teaching.

Ben Sailing
Mr. Smith teaching students to sail at camp

2) Did you have any other interesting jobs before coming to Ridley?
Firstly, I was a sail instructor teaching people from 10 to 70 the basics of sailing. I have worked as an agricultural research assistant with Agriculture Canada where I helped develop integrated pest management strategies. I was a wetland ecologist and helped start research on many of the Great Lakes wetlands. I also spent a winter as a lobster and spear fisherman in the Florida keys.

3) What do you teach/coach/involved in at Ridley College and why do you love it? 
I teach Math and Science. I love that I am able to share my interest in the workings of the world around me with my students. I have coached soccer, basketball, hockey and squash. I enjoy getting to know students outside the classroom and see them excel athletically.

Scan

4) What is your passion? What do you like to do in your spare time? 
I have too many passions to list. First and foremost have a passion to share my curiosity about the world with people around me. In my spare time I renovate my house, run, read, bike, ride my motorcycle, sail, ski and garden. Currently and most often, I enjoy trying to teach my daughter how to ride a bike.

5) What do you love most about Ridley?
I love that Ridley is more than a school. It is a community and within it there is a large number (including students) that I can learn from.

6) What is your favourite place to go in the Niagara Region? (Restaurant, tourist spot, any place!) 
There is a little known walking trail on the edge of the town of Jordan the opens into the valley of a beautiful waterfall. The trees that grow there have been growing for hundreds of years, so it feels like you are walking back in time. My family and I take the dog to walk there quite often.

7) Do you have any funny stories about your time at Ridley?
Once when I was teaching summer school, I was demonstrating an experiment and it happened to make more smoke than I was expecting. As I’m doing my best to get the smoke under control, the fire alarm went off. As my class ran outside, I called security to let them know it was me that set the alarm off. I was embarrassed but relieved to find out that it was only a fire drill.

The Henley Royal Regatta Through the Eyes of a Ridley Rower: Cosmo Steier ’14

Our Henley Royal Regatta campaign started two weeks before the start of the actual regatta, in Düsseldorf, Germany. We trained in Germany for two weeks, in an effort to get away from any potential distractions at home and to focus solely on rowing and finding as much speed as we possibly could. It was the first time in Germany for most of us, and it was a great experience for all of us. As the two weeks came to a close, everybody in our group was itching to get to England, to finally start racing against some of the best in the world.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 4.01.01 PM

After a quick flight, we said hello to our home for the week: England!  The next day, Monday, we awoke eager and excited to go to the course for the first time.  It was the start of ‘Henley week’ and there was a lot of activity in and around the course as last minute preparations were underway. Big grandstands were put in place for spectators to cheer on the races, party-style tents were assembled along the bank of the river, and the grass was perfectly cut to impress all visitors to the regatta.

The days leading up to our first race were very exciting. With each practice, we became more comfortable with the course and the surroundings. The course at Henley Royal is very unique, as spectators could be as close as an arm length away at any point in the race. This is very different from what we are accustomed to back in St. Catharines where the spectators are on the shore.

Racing started on the Wednesday, but due to our success on our side of the Atlantic, we were given a bye to go directly to the second round, and would race the winner of Star Club and York City. We went to the course on Wednesday to experience Henley in full swing, and to watch how the racing occurred. The experience and atmosphere of Henley was indescribable, undoubtedly unlike any event that any of us have ever attended. There were men in fancy suits and ladies in the wildest of hats. As it turned out, Star Club beat York City by a comfortable margin, so we went to bed knowing who we were racing the next day.

The next day, Thursday, our race was slotted for 6:45pm, one of the last of the day. Before we went out to race, Coach Jason reminded us that while this is a very prestigious regatta with a very distinct atmosphere, we need not panic, he told us the water here was just like the water back home, and the oars and boat were exactly like the ones we have back in St. Catharines. He calmed us down so we could perform to the best of our abilities. As the race unfolded, ‘the big Canadian lads’ as said by the British commentators had a comfortable lead passing the halfway mark of the race. We jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The margin of victory was determined to be ‘Easily’ (more than 5 lengths) by the officials.

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 9.02.17 AM

In our second race, the quarterfinals, we raced Nottingham Rowing Club. While they were smaller than us, we had to be careful not to underestimate them. After the first 5 strokes, we found ourselves down by about half a boat length. We are typically a very fast starting crew, so we were shaken up when we realized that we weren’t leading after the start. However, our crew is comprised of 4 excellent and very disciplined racers, so we didn’t let the surprising start get the better of us. Instead, we put our head down and went to work. By the halfway mark of the race, we were now leading by roughly half of a boat length, which isn’t very much. As we approached the finish of the race, Nottingham started charging at us and passed us with about 10 strokes to go. But there was no way that we were going to allow another boat to walk right through us, so we pushed right back and ended up pulling ahead and crossing the line first. Our first reaction after the race was frustration that we didn’t win by more, but then came to the realization that this wouldn’t be like the other regattas we have attended, where we’ve have boat lengths on the next fastest crew. That quarterfinal race was very difficult, so we were fortunate to have another late race (6:00pm) the following day.

Our semi-final race pitted us against The Windsor Boys School, the surprise boat of the regatta so far. While the result was not what we would’ve hoped for, our boat had the best race we could’ve asked for, and we were satisfied with that. Coach Jason and Coach Winston have always told us that the goal is to have the best you can have, and if you get beat, there is celebration in that. The Windsor Boys School was a very good crew, and rightfully earned a berth in the final.

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.22.02 AM

That was the last time that any of us would wear the ‘R’ on our chest, and we wore the orange and black unisuits with pride, after having represented Ridley on the world stage. It was an incredible year for all of us, not without its ups and down. The overall experience was definitely worth all of the time and effort that was invested in these past 10 months.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip, and year, a huge success, including our coaches Jason and Winston, our families for cheering us on and supporting us, Ridley for allowing us to represent them at an international event, the Ridley alumni, and everybody else who made a difference this year, we appreciate your support.

Row Blacks Row.

Cosmo Steier is from the Niagara Region and attended the Ridley College Lower and Upper School. He was a part of the first graduating class of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Ridley College. In September he will be attending the University of Pennsylvania and will be on the Men’s Heavyweight Rowing Team.  

Recent Graduates Share Their Ridley Experience: Jacqueline O’Rourke ’14

Before our seniors graduated our summer student and Old Ridleian Nicholas ’12 interviewed a few of them about their Ridley experience. In this interview he spoke to Canadian student Jacqueline O’Rourke.

jacrunn

Jacqueline has been a Ridleian all of her life.  She attended the Lower and Upper School. Her father is a teacher in the Lower School and her parents are former housemasters. During her time at Ridley, Jacqueline was a Prefect, member of the choir, a debater, the minstrel in the musical ‘Once Upon a Mattress’, and a cross country runner.

PrincessJac

1. Where is your favorite place to study on campus?
I like to study in the Matthews Library. I find it to be the most convenient place as it is quiet during spare periods, the printers are there, and if you need help there are always other students around. Plus it’s right in School House so there are always teachers close by as well.

2. What is your best memory of this past year?
My greatest memory of this past year was either Snake Dance or Cadet Ball. It was a really great feeling to be on the other side of the rope leading the cheers this year, although I must say I was terrified of carrying the fire at first! Cadet Ball was also a huge success this year, and planning it with my amazing team was fantastic.

3. What will you miss the most about Ridley?
I’ll definitely miss the community here at Ridley. I have been a part of the Ridley community as a student since Grade Five, but as my parents were housemasters, Ridley has been a part of my life since I was born. It will be sad to say goodbye to all of the amazing people I have met over the years.

Jacfriends

4. Who are your favorite faculty members?
My favourite faculty members are Dr. Foster and Mr. Dunkley. I first had Dr. Foster in Grade 9, and then for IB French in both Grade 11 and 12. She made every class extremely enjoyable and really helped develop my passion for the French language. Dr. Foster also took the extra step to help me outside of the classroom as well…. thanks for all the reference letters!

Although I only had Mr. Dunkley for two years in IB History, he really helped me sharpen my skills in the course and become a more independent learner. Those are skills that I believe are vital to be successful in university. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of the class and the never ending seminars!

5. What have you learnt from Ridley? 
I have learnt a lot over my eight years as a student at Ridley, but I think the most important thing I learnt was to not be afraid to try new things. As cliché as that sounds, Ridley gives you amazing opportunities to do so many things such as exchanges, volunteer trips, and various sports and clubs. Ridley pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and through that I was able to develop a lot of my passions that will help me with life in the future.

Jacgrad

6. Can you share a quote (yours or otherwise) about any aspect of Ridley/ life at Ridley (ex: academics, art, buildings, duty, history, passion, etc.)?
As Jennifer Rhines, an American long-distance runner, once said, “Life (and running) is not all about time but about our experiences along the way.” I think this quote applies to Ridley as it can, at times, be a pretty hectic place. I think it’s exremely important to take advantage of every opportunity available at Ridley, and from those experiences you will be able to create lifelong friendships and memories along the way.