With the new school year underway, we asked some of our faculty members how the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme enable our students to reach their full potential.
According to our faculty members, here are the top 10 ways the IB Programme helps students flourish:
Equips Students with the Tools to Learn
Students learn more than facts and figures; they learn the tools to apply them to real world situations.
Helps Them Discover Their Passions
Students are challenged to discover their own passions, while exploring the opportunities each may uncover.
Teaches Communication Skills
Students discover how to better communicate and understand themselves, their peers and the world around them.
The IB Programme teaches students global-mindedness; it teaches them to not only be open to other perspectives, but to embrace global worldviews. This helps to develop empathy and caring, and ultimately, it helps students become good global citizens.
Teaches Students to Think Critically
The IB is a remarkable programme that encourages students to think critically about the world in which we live and challenges them to think about the larger picture.
Encourages Students to Take Risks
The programme encourages students to become risk-takers and inquirers.
Teaches Lifelong Skills
The IB Programme helps our students flourish, teaches them resilience and team work and, most importantly, teaches them about humanity.
Prepares Students for Their Educational Journey
Although the programme can be challenging at times, it is a fantastic preparation for post-secondary education.
Creates a Personalized Education
With a focus on student-centered learning, the IB allows for richer experiences in education. In the MYP, through the Personal Project, students can learn more about topics that are relevant and interesting to them. This leads to greater engagement in the learning process and is highly rewarding from a student perspective.
Opens Opportunities for Faculty
Teachers can also open many doors to learning through the IB Programme, through IB professional development. This allows our teachers to continue to grow and provide students with the best learning experience.
When Tigers graduate, their relationships with Ridley don’t end; our alumni continue on as proud members of the Ridley community. For some, the connection to Ridley is so great, that they find themselves returning to campus, as faculty and staff members. You know what they say – ‘once a Tiger, always a Tiger‘.
Here are our Old Ridleians who are contributing to future generations of students:
Mike Moulden ’70 Years at Ridley: 1967-1970 Position: Senior Development Officer & Manager of Planned Giving Favourite thing about Ridley: “A diverse family of faculty/staff with amazing students from around the world.”
Geoff Park ’80 Years at Ridley: 1976-1980 (Gr. 10-13) Position: Teacher, Department Head, Soccer Coach, Squash Coach & Former Head of House Favourite thing about Ridley: “The relationship between faculty and students. Because we do so much together, we know each other better and form stronger bonds that last forever.”
Charlene (Ebert) Hutton ’83 Years at Ridley: 1981-1983 Position: Guidance & Academics Administrative Assistant Favourite thing about: “The community feeling among faculty and students.”
Paul Filion ’86 Years at Ridley: 1981-1986 Position: Teacher & Ridley College Cadet Corps No.162 RCACC Commanding Officer Favourite thing about Ridley: “Being in the classroom with students and watching them absorb new material and watching their eyes light up is a wonderful experience.”
Derek Dunkley ’87 Years at Ridley: 1980-1987 Position: History & Economics Teacher Favourite thing about Ridley: “The cultural mosaic that is our community.”
Jay Tredway ’96 Years at Ridley: 1992-1996 Position: Director of Athletics & Department Head – Health and Physical Education Favourite thing about Ridley: “The opportunity for students from all over the world to come to Canada and find their niche, their special place to thrive and grow in this amazingly diverse community.”
Anjali Kundi ’97 Years at Ridley: 1993-1997 Position: Health Centre Physician Favourite thing about Ridley: “The great memories and friends I made.”
Wendy (Crossingham) Darby ’99 Years at Ridley: 1990-1999 Position: Librarian, Archivist & Extended Essay Coordinator Favourite thing about Ridley: “The connections. I love that I can sit down with an alum from the 40s or the 80s and we can speak the same language and have a common understanding about life.”
Marcie Lewis ’03 Years at Ridley: 2000-2003 Position: Grade 6 Teacher & PYP Coordinator Favourite thing about Ridley: “My favourite thing about Ridley is the wide variety of options that we provide all students. This allows students to explore and discover their strengths, interests, and passions in academics, athletics, the arts and service.”
Alexandra Little ’03 Years at Ridley: 1998-2003 Position: Admissions Officer (International Markets) Favourite thing about Ridley: “The connections. Over the years, I have met so many people, from all over the world, who are strongly connected to and passionate about Ridley and their experiences here. The network of Ridleians is wide, but surprisingly closely knit.”
Celeste Doucet ’07 Years at Ridley: 2004-2007 Position: Primary/Junior French Teacher Favourite thing about working at Ridley: “The wonderful group of colleagues I get to work with every day.”
Mackenzie Fowler ’11 Years at Ridley: 2003-2011 Position: New Media Coordinator & TigerPost Supervisor Favourite thing about Ridley: “The nostalgia. In my position, I am tasked with capturing all of Ridley’s biggest moments and brightest achievements and because of that, I get to relive some of my favourite Ridley experiences and revisit my home away from home every day of the week.”
Nick Blaikie-Puk ’12
Years at Ridley: 2010-2012. Position: Admissions Officer Favourite thing about Ridley: “The connections! Thanks to Ridley, I’ve been fortunate enough to have more global experiences throughout my life. I’ve made friends from around the world, both as a student and as a staff member. I continue to learn through being in such a uniquely diverse environment, sharing my stories, and creating worldly opportunities for others.”
Jacob Toms-Boudreau ’13 Years at Ridley: 2008-2013 Position: General Maintenance Assistant Favourite thing about Ridley: “Seeing students excited about playing/using with something I helped to setup/install.”
Additional Faculty & Staff: Robert Poe ’90, Alyssa Toffolo ’14
Fresh on the heels of being named a 2017-18 Ridley Prefect, environmental intrepid, Jack Hilditch ’18 set out on a unique arctic expedition with Students on Ice. Having been selected from a competitive pool of applicants, this Ridleian was invited to embark upon this once-in-a-lifetime experience, where he had an opportunity to learn about the remote culture, the environment and the effects of climate change.
Jack first donned a Ridley uniform in Grade 2 and has since spent his many years on campus discovering his passion, sense of curiosity and striving to make a difference – both in our community and beyond.
“My journey at Ridley has been filled with amazing people, opportunities and personal growth,” says Jack. “I can confidently say that countless exciting opportunities at Ridley have shaped who I am today. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me throughout my journey at Ridley,” he added. Beyond Ridley, Jack has also learned much about the world around him through his early exposure to ecological restoration, environmental planning, impact assessments, as he has followed in his father’s footsteps and has even taken on an internship as Environmental Consultant.
Last year, while travelling with his father to an environmental conference, Jack was introduced to an organization called Students on Ice. He instantly became intrigued by one of its programmes, which allows students from around the world to explore the Polar Regions and learn from leading scientists, politicians and those directly impacted by climate change in the Arctic. With support from his family and his IB Biology teacher, Ms. Kathy Anderson, Jack applied to join the programme and was ecstatic to find out he had been accepted.
Alongside 100 youth, Jack departed for the Arctic expedition in
August 2017. The group’s journey started in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, where the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Chris Ballard, announced the opening of a new National Park. For the next
two weeks, Jack and his peers travelled to regions in the Canadian
Arctic and made their way to Greenland. View their journey. Each location offered a rare adventure; whether it was kayaking in the chilly blue waters, hiking a glacier, cruising through channels or observing wildlife.
About the group’s daily activities while en route to amazing locals, Jack shared that, “In between each stop, our time on the ship was filled with so many workshops led by leading scientists, Inuit elders, politicians and so many different people. Some of the workshops included studying Arctic life under a microscope, throat singing, writing songs, absorbing lectures by leading scientists and engaging in talks about mental health. These activities changed every day, allowing us to explore a diversity of interests.”
Aside from the amazing activities and workshops, Jack described his favourite part of the trip as getting to know his peers and having the chance to engage with the experts. The Students on Ice group that Jack was a part of consisted of students from Micronesia, Malaysia, India, Mexico, Monaco and many more. Coming from a diverse community like Ridley, Jack was naturally interested in the diverse cultures, stories and experiences that each member of the global group was able to share.
Upon his return to St. Catharines, Jack was able to reflect on what he learned on his voyage. The devastating effects of climate change and the importance of cultural awareness were topics that permeated the entire trip and left the participants inspired to contribute to a solution.
“Not many people get to experience and observe the climate crisis in the Arctic first hand… After meeting many Inuit families on this expedition that were directly impacted by climate changed I have realized the importance and urgency of tackling such a significant global issue… This isn’t something that will only threaten this generation and the next, but it will pose many challenges for generations to come. It is our responsibility to act as a unified people to combat climate change as it is something that doesn’t affect one group of people, but all of us. Not only did we hear about climate change within the Arctic, but we also heard from students in Palau, Micronesia who are also experiencing climate change. They talked about how flooding has become very prevalent within many of their communities. Being able to experience this very evident crisis first hand was enlightening and inspiring. While we may think, we are not directly impacted, we all are,” urges Jack.
Although his trip has concluded, his journey as an ambassador for change isn’t. This inspiring student plans to share his story and the story of those he met along the way to spread awareness of the effects of climate change and inspire others to take action.
Three years following the launch of our Strategic Plan, Ridley is confidently enacting our mission to inspire flourishing lives in a novel and intentional way. Recently, our school launched an exciting two-year partnership with Professor Lea Waters (PhD), a leading researcher and global expert in the field of positive psychology – making Ridley the first Visible Wellbeing TM Foundational School in North America.
Developing well-rounded individuals has been a focus at Ridley for over a century, however, over the past five years we have deliberately and consciously applied the science behind positive education – the notion of improving students’ emotional, psychological and physical well-being in order to help them flourish in the classroom and in their lives.
In 2012 Ridley began to effect applied positive psychology methodologies, such as Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V model, which breaks down the core elements of psychological well-being and happiness. Since then, our faculty has been participating in professional development, becoming deeply familiar with key frameworks and integrating them into their classrooms, on the sports field, within the boarding houses and even in their own lives. Today, it would not be out of the ordinary for one to walk into the Grade 3 class to witness mindfulness breathing exercises taking place, or to hear students at the lunch table talking about their top character strengths.
With this school-wide exposure to positive psychology, the introduction of a dedicated Upper School Counselor and the PERMA-V model being adopted by faculty and Ridleians alike, it became clear that Ridley was quickly becoming a leader in positive education within North American schools. It was with this realization that we decided to embark upon a fundraising effort to bring a world-class expert in this field to Ridley. With the support of our generous community, Ridley successfully raised more than $100,000 towards a ‘Positive Education Fellowship’ during the 2016-17 Annual Fund campaign.
The search for the most suitable positive psychology expert, who would advance our school’s mission, led Ridley straight to Professor Lea Waters.
Although she playfully refers to herself as a “pracademic,” Professor Lea Waters is more formally a psychologist, researcher, author and facilitator who specializes in positive education, positive parenting, and positive organizations. She is the Founding Director of Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne – where she has also published over 90 scientific articles and book chapters in 21 years. Professor Waters is the President of the International Positive Psychology Association, has affiliate positions with Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and is the Ambassador for the Positive Education Schools Association.
Among her many contributions to the field, the multi-award winning research professor has designed and developed a framework known as Visible WellbeingTM (VWB), which is an approach that combines the science of well-being with the science of learning and teaching to make well-being visible in all classes and across co-curricula. Over the next two years, Professor Waters will bring her scientifically-grounded techniques in VWB to Ridley, which will enable teachers to use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student well-being. Unlike some rigid curriculum, VWB is a flexible approach which can be applied in a trans-disciplinary manner across all grades and amongst faculty and staff. With the VWB approach, academic learning and well-being are truly integrated and produce a positive feedback cycle.
Professor Waters’ drive to develop the VWB approach was in reaction to staggering global rates of teen depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. According to the World Health Organization, 10 to 20 percent of children and adolescents experience mental disorders worldwide. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death amongst 15 to 19-year-olds. Ridley responds to this teenage need for support, explains Head of Upper School, Michele Bett, “At Ridley, we believe a child’s physical and emotional, psychological well-being will underpin everything they do – not just in school, but beyond school.”
To launch VWB at Ridley, Professor Waters recently spent two days facilitating faculty and staff workshops. During these dynamic sessions, she introduced concepts such as the SEARCH Framework, which helps identify character strengths, as well as delivery methods and measurement techniques for VWB. Professor Waters also shared why she was keen to partner with Ridley. “What made me feel that [Ridley] would do well by Visible Wellbeing is that I know that the intention of Ridley is truly and genuinely to make flourishing lives. It’s not just a statement on a document…The school has the right structure, it has the right people, it has the right ethos…From an organizational psychology perspective it ticks all the checklist of organizational readiness for change,” says Waters.
“I truly feel that the adoption of Professor Waters’ Visible Wellbeing approach and positive education expertise will provide the exact direction, resources and consistent language that our community requires to forge ahead as the trailblazer for positive education in Canada…and North America for that matter,” remarked Headmaster, Ed Kidd. Ridley looks forwards to enhancing the student experience through this ongoing VWB initiative and to sharing our outcomes with other schools around the world.
“This is a world-class school to take on this new innovation and to marry together the science of learning with the science of well-being to help everyone thrive at the school.” – Professor Lea Waters (PhD)