Tag Archives: coed boarding school

Adding Grit To A Positive Education

One of the advantages of a Ridley education is that the experience of being a student is about more than passing tests and meeting standards. In recent years, researchers have identified predictors of success as well as keys to living a satisfying, happy life and this is something our school consciously enacts.

At Ridley, we are infusing the best of this research – centred on grit and flow – into a Ridley education to help instill in our students the lifelong habits they need to flourish in our global community.

The concept of grit is one aspect of Positive Education that Ridley has incorporated into school culture. Grit is defined as the tendency of a person to sustain interest and effort in pursuing long-term goals. Grit allows people to pursue challenges over the course of years.

In her groundbreaking research, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Psychology and MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellow, determined that passion, perseverance, and stamina outweigh IQ as a predictor of success. In other words, grit is the key to lifelong success.

“Educational policy has not yet taken adequate note of the whole child. Kids are not just their IQ or standardized test scores. It matters whether or not they show up, how hard they work,” says Duckworth, in an interview with the Washington Post. Duckworth has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Ridley encourages students to discover and pursue their passions and equips them with the capacity and determination to persevere through challenges, risk failure, and develop grit and resilience, while creating a supportive culture that allows students to face adversity in a positive and engaging environment. Accomplishment and engagement are essential elements of a flourishing life, and both can be fostered through conscious effort, grit is a fundamental element for achievement.

“The importance of the environment is two-fold. It’s not just that you need opportunity in order to benefit from grit. It’s also that the environments our children grow up in profoundly influence their grit and every other aspect of their character.”     – Angela Duckworth

Duckworth’s research began by searching for an answer as to why some people succeed while others do not. Being ‘gritty’ means consciously deciding to push forward in the face of adversity, failure, and physical or emotional pain, without knowing when the adversity will be over.

“One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t,” explains Duckworth. “Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.”

Self-control and grit are often confused, says Duckworth in her research, while they are related there are key differences. Grit allows people to pursue challenges over the course of years, while self-control, helps to maintain focus, in the face of distraction, in the pursuit of those goals.

The concept of grit has been around for some time. In 1889, the year Ridley was founded, Dr. Francis Galton reviewed the biographies of eminent individuals, throughout history and concluded that success resulted from intellect combined with “zeal” and the “capacity for hard labour”. The modern study of grit continues in examining single-minded perseverance over the very long-term.

“I believe grit will for many adolescents be more evident in activities pursued outside of the classroom–in the school play, on the football field, in the school orchestra, in community service, and so on.” – Angela Duckworth

At Ridley we are empowering our students to do more themselves, by increasing opportunities for Ridleians to play an active role in their school communities so that they can gain the necessary habits, skills, and practice to lay the foundation for flourishing lives.

Ridley strives to be at the forefront of educational development to ensure our students become successful members of the global community. Ridley will continue to review the latest research in education for new ideas to ensure we are a leader and innovator in molding the minds and lives of our students.

Student Filmmakers Ready for the Red Carpet

On April 19th, the lights will go down in the Mandeville Theatre, for the 9th annual Ridley Independent Film Festival (RIFF). This festival showcases an array of films made by Grade 11 and 12 Film Studies students.

Eleven student films will be screened; ranging in genre from comedy to horror. The entire festival – not just the films – is a student initiative. “They are involved in every aspect of the festival,” says Ms. Danielle Barranca, the Film Studies teacher. The students coordinate the gala, write scripts, host, and produce programmes.

Seeing their work on the big screen is one of the highlights of the course. “I think it’s the moment you see your ideas on the screen,” says Amelia Ritchie ’17. Her film Meaning, is a coming-of-age drama about two kids who meet at a driver’s education course and challenge each other to discover the meaning of life.

RIFF, like many film festivals, will feature a red carpet for the student directors, actors and writers to walk down, while being cheered on by friends, family and fans. “It’s a chance to be the star on the red carpet,” says Ms. Barranca.

The student produced films are the largest project of the year, worth 50 percent of the final grade. Students spent the year learning about films, techniques, writing, editing and everything they need to make a film. “I like being able to create something from beginning to end,” says James William Gross ’17. “Being able to make whatever you want.”

His film Smart Casual, is about how people interpret socio-cultural norms and breaking them down. “It takes a lot of interpretation to understand,” says James, who plans on studying film in university.

Before filming begins, students must submit their proposals, write their own scripts, create storyboards and have a detailed filming schedule. The students often spend many hours filming and editing to have their films ready for RIFF.

“It becomes more interesting every year because of technology. The technology has allowed it to come a long way in terms of the quality, polish, and effects that students have access to.” – Danielle Barranca, Department of Visual and Performing Arts

Through filmmaking, students can pursue their creativity and self-expression, while problem solving and persevering through the myriad of challenges that come with making a film. RIFF continues to gain momentum, with an audience of alumni, parents and guest filmmakers growing in size, waiting to see the latest student creations on the big screen.

We invite all members of the Ridley community to come and enjoy this free event, that takes the audience on a visual and dramatic journey. Join us on April 19th at 7:00 p.m. in the Mandeville Theatre.

For now, enjoy a few of this year’s trailers:

Watch trailers on Youtube.

Top 10 March Break Trip Experiences

During the 2017 March break, six groups of Ridley students embarked on life-changing trips around the globe. With many adventures and memorable stories, it was almost too hard to limit the list of amazing experiences to just ten.

1. Bonding with the talented students of the Jacaranda School in Malawi through music lessons and theatre.

2. Putting the finishing touches on the Centre of Hope – a school for special needs children, that Ridley Students helped build in El Progreso, Guatemala.

3. Earning scuba diving certification at Sodwana Bay – South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Visiting the Vimy Memorial in France just before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

5. Rowing with the Canadian National Team, who were training at Shawnigan Lake, in British Columbia.

6. The Days for Girls group presenting 50 feminine hygiene kits to girls in Malawi. Having worked tirelessly, for weeks, to prepare the hand-sewn packages.

7. Climbing one of El Salvador’s highest peaks, the Santa Ana Volcano.

8. Experiencing a mock elephant charge at Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa.

9. Attending the Last Post Ceremony, at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, which has been held every night since 1928.

10. Visiting with Old Ridleian, Gaby Florigo de Luna ‘99, in Guatemala.

The Value of an Arts Education

This April, Ridley celebrates the arts as a distinct and valuable part of the Ridley educational experience. The various arts events being held across the school represent a wide range of student achievement in Ridley studios and classrooms.

Ridley’s arts programme is designed to inspire students to develop their inner muse by exploring their creativity and skills in drama, music, visual, digital, and spoken arts.

 

“My favorite aspect of the arts is that arts can be anything, regardless of the medium, the subject matter and can be made regardless of time and place. There is no right or wrong in arts and no barrier of entry. Everyone can enjoy the beauty of arts.” Helen Wang ’17

All students at Ridley have the option to work in the studios, perform with an ensemble, act on a stage, and explore their creative talents once the academic day is done. Students learn from faculty members, who are accomplished professionals in their artistic field. In class, students can explore a variety of styles and mediums. Many student produced artworks are prominently on display in hallways throughout the school.

At Ridley arts education has two key roles. The first role of art education is to facilitate the development of fundamental skills that enhance a student’s physical and mental capacity to engage with the myriad of day-to-day tasks that require fine motor skill, creative problem solving, and fluent expression. Through careful study of the auditory and visual world, students also develop heightened sensitivity and awareness.

“Arts is a unique type of education that develops intellectual wealth of a person. It helps me to recognize my personality and to discover my environment. Arts itself might not provide me any knowledge that will explain the fundamentals of this universe (like physics and chemistry), but it enhances my ability to observe and to reflect on the world around me. The creativity part of arts also train me into a better learner, in terms of finding alternative pathways to solve problems.”                              Helen Wang ‘17

The second key role of art education is the development of an awareness of art as an essential component of civilization. Through an array of artistic experiences, students acquire knowledge of the important achievements of artists throughout the ages and across cultures.

“Many people view arts as unnecessary, but in fact it is not. Arts can exist in different ways and is not limited to visual arts. It blends in our life and contributes significantly to the Ridley community,” says Helen. “There are many aspects of life that involves arts, it’s just we don’t often realize these.”

The work of Ridley artists—past and present—can be seen on display all over campus. Through the arts, students gain an understanding of why creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of aesthetic form are fundamental aspects for the foundation of a flourishing life.

Ridley Exploring Mindfulness as Part of a Positive Education

Ridley strives to be at the forefront of educational development, to ensure our students become successful members of the global community. For this reason, our school was an early adopter amongst independent schools, embracing positive education as a fundamental approach to learning.

Being on the leading edge of positive education means continuing to explore new ideas and research as it becomes available. This semester, the students of Lower School have been part of a pilot programme to evaluate the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on students. The programme developed by Jacqueline Oscvirk, creator of The Mindful Family, involves students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 practicing mindfulness twice weekly.

Mindfulness meditation focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of the past or future. It is a way to calm the mind and develop clarity, calmness, empathy, and positivity.

Within educational systems, mindfulness has shown an improvement in students’ attention and focus, emotional regulation, creativity, as well as problem solving skills. Studies have shown youth benefit from learning mindfulness, in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well-being. These benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.

“Our intention is to equip all of our Lower School students with the tools to overcome everyday challenges.” – Hanna Kidd, Lower School Counsellor

There is substantial evidence that skills which increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement, and meaning can be taught to school children. In this way, without compromising either, Ridley teaches both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement.

“It’s another tool for teachers to use,” says Hanna Kidd. The Grade 7 and 8 students will begin their mindfulness training in early April, with the goal of using mindfulness to help reduce stress and anxiety as they prepare for exams.

Ridley is incorporating the latest research in positive education from around the world. Discoveries such as gritthe ability to persevere through challengesby Dr. Angela Duckworth, and flowthe ability to become immersed in a challenging taskby Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, have already been added. Based on this science, Ridley equips students to deal with the daily demands of life and learning by creating an environment that:

• Generates positive emotions
• Practices mindfulness
• Builds on strengths not deficits
• Models grit and resilience
• Nurtures positive relationships
• Encourages goal setting and accomplishments
• Fuels our vitality

Ridley students are empowered to embrace their individuality, develop who they are, strive for who they will be, and define the lives they will lead. They develop the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social skills needed to succeed. They are inspired to acquire the knowledge, explore the truths, and nurture the values that will allow them to lead flourishing lives.

Ridley Junior Scientists Win at Science Fair

Six Lower School students competed at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NRSEF) held on March 29th at Brock University. The Grade 7 and 8 students worked hard all year to get their projects ready for the competition and it showed, as the group won the Junior Division with the highest combined score.

Ella Belfry ‘22, Chloe Cook ‘22, Olivia Massis ‘22, Taylor Searle ‘22, Syni Solanki ‘21, and Isha Walia ’22 combined to win nine awards. Syni and her project “A Novel Approach to Causing Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” which tested the use of garlic and hot pepper extracts on reducing ovarian cancer cells, were chosen to represent Team Niagara at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Regina, SK. This is the second time Syni will represent Ridley and Team Niagara at the event.

Continuing Ridley’s tradition of fostering global mindedness and service to others, the science projects focused on finding alternative and accessible ways of bettering the lives of the less fortunate. This year’s projects included solutions to water transportation, filtration, and purification. “It’s something they were passionate about,” says Mr. Ben Smith, a MYP science teacher.

The 55th Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair is dedicated to encouraging students within the Niagara Region in science pursuits. Over 200 young scientists participated in the fair, with their projects reviewed by approximately 100 judges composed of local scientists, engineers, and businessmen.

Get to Know Your Prefects: David X. ’17

Introducing David Xue ’17 – a Prefect who discovered what it means Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 10.08.16 AMto become a global citizen. Hear how he adapted to life abroad, and discovered comfort, confidence and culture within the Marriott Gates.

Why did you choose Ridley?

I chose Ridley because of its size. I am talking about the perspectives of cultural diversity, the physical size of the school and its open-mindedness to connect to the global society. This year alone, Ridley welcomed students from more than 44 countries, which is a perfect opportunity for us students to interchange our cultural practices and get comfortable with becoming a global citizen. On top of the rare cultural diversity offered by Ridley, the school itself is 90-acres, which is spacious and gives plenty of choices for sports, activities and scientific research. Lastly, Ridley’s mindset is in line with what I am looking for; the motto is “may I be consumed in service”. I have always been looking for the connection between Chinese culture and western culture; through the humbleness of the motto, I have found the commonness.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Of course I felt prepared coming to Ridley! Although it was quite scary to think of coming to an English-speaking country for the first time in Grade seven, I managed to watch all of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies and five seasons of ‘Friends’ during the summer of 2011 in preparation…I would say if you are an international student, definitely try to get a good grip on English conversations before coming to face the academic demands. However, there is no need to panic; the students and faculty here are very friendly and are more than happy to help us through the bottleneck of overcoming the difficulties of the language.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

To me, every single faculty member I know is unique, and very important. Mr. Hutton, Mr. Bett and Mr. Jones are my parents abroad and keep me safe. My teachers are absolutely experts at every subject and are awesome friends that I know I could feel comfortable talking to whenever I encounter an obstacle. The nurses and sewing room members keep me healthy and classy, respectively. Therefore, I am equally thankful to every single one of them.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

As an international student, my greatest challenge at Ridley was stepping out of my comfort zone and blending into the Canadian culture. The difficulty in language was minor; it was the decision of whether or not leaving the herd of Chinese speaking students, step into western culture and make friends from other countries, the most challenging. I have to admit that it was a hard time in the beginning; most of the times I did not understand what my peers were talking about. However, I soon adjusted myself to learn things my Canadian friends would be interested in and had made myself a part of the international community. I would say that the decision I made five years ago was absolutely beneficial to my global perspective.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley would be the appointment as a Prefect. At Ridley, being a Prefect requires high academic performances, the trust from the student body and faculty, and the ability to be highly responsible. I am grateful that Ridley has gradually shaped me into a person that is seeking knowledge and willing to contribute. Therefore, I think prefectship is just a reflection of the cumulative efforts I have made from my five years of experiences here.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley experience has been joining and enjoying the competitive sports programme. I have been lucky to have played so many sports that I would have never had a chance to play before, such as softball, rugby, basketball and soccer. Not only was I able to play with my fellow peers, but the athletic department would always organize road trips to schools in the province and we were able to compete against them… I think to some extent, the sports programme at Ridley has created a bond between us and the school; it gives us a sense of pride. Thus, I enjoy and will never forget the experience of playing competitive sports at Ridley.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley life is knowing that I can put my head on the pillow at the end of the day and feel safe. At Ridley, any adult is approachable and is there to support us. When we experience homesickness or illness, the Head of House’s door is always open for us. Whether it was Ms. Thacker driving you to the health centre at 3:00 in the morning, or Mr. Jones trying to console you after a breakup, Ridley is a place that any of us could open ourselves up and it is guaranteed that we will be supported. Ridley is my second home.

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

I am most excited for planning the future activities for the student body. The Prefect team this year is dedicated to focusing on student lives, and I am very excited about the upcoming events, such as Saturday activities, house competitions and semi-formal dances.

29394158192_b98cffca16_z

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Well, I have to say, basically in every way. Academically, the full IB programme challenges me to take risks and step up to become a global citizen. Athletically, Ridley reminds me to always keep myself fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of my life. Aesthetically, Ridley gives me opportunities to take on several musical instruments and provides me abundant art supplies to express myself in the universal language. Lastly, the faculty members act as role models and always keep me positive, which I will do the same to others in the future.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to pursue further education from a university in the United States. I am glad that the guidance counsellers are experts at Ridley, to help me through the difficult process. I would like to pursue my degree in either architecture, law or chemistry because I am absolutely excited about chemical reactions, designing buildings and defending a case.

On top of that, I will keep playing the violin because it has become my companion during my time of homesickness.

Although Ridley has given me a breathtakingly fresh and exciting experience, I also had some times of hardship. First and foremost, homesickness… So I found a place to heal my homesickness – the basement of the Second Century Building, where I could play the violin. There, I enjoyed playing music, because not only the sound of music brought me happiness, but also it became a friend to me. From then, I knew that I could always retreat from the fast pace school environment to slow down and balance myself with healing music. This helped me to overcome another obstacle – stress… When things are overwhelming, I just clear my mind and play music for an hour. Trust me, after concentrating in my violin piece, the overwhelming assignments did not seem impossible anymore! Of course, music is only one of the ways that could help you through your difficulties here at Ridley. There are many other options such as painting, filming, and meditation club that you could enjoy in order to feel the flow and find your centre.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would say definitely seize every opportunity you can, because Ridley provides us privileges that other schools do not offer.