Tag Archives: prep 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.

Ridley’s Basketball Future Bright in OSBA

The Ridley First Boys’ basketball season came to a close after a successful first season in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA), the premier league for prep and sport school basketball in the province. With one of the youngest teams in the league Ridley will continue to develop and train in preparation for next season.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” – Tarry Upshaw, Head Coach of First Boys’ Basketball Team

On April 6th, Ridley lost their OSBA quarter-final game 96-71 against defending champions the Athlete Institute; putting an end to their successful season. Aleksandar Simeunovic ’17, led the team with 31 points in a close fought game—Ridley was within five points of the Institute with six minutes left in the game.

The stacked Athlete Institute’s roster featured seven players already committed to NCAA schools. Ridley was the second youngest team in the league and will have most of its players back for next season.

That youth hasn’t gone unnoticed, as scouts from across North America have come to campus to check out the talented roster. According to Mr. Upshaw, 21 NCAA Division 1 scouts have visited Ridley, schools such as UConn, Vanderbilt, Oregon, and Columbia; while 16 scouts from the CIS have been to the campus.

“We’ve built something special in a short period of time. It’s exciting and it’s only going to get better.” – Tarry Upshaw, Head Coach of First Boys’ Basketball Team

The OSBA, consists of the best prep and sport school basketball programmes in the province, with many of its student athletes going on to play in the NCAA and CIS. Ridley finished sixth overall, in a promising first season in the league.

Ridley’s basketball team previously competed in CISAA and OFSAA, where they won back-to-back championships in both leagues in 2014 and 2015. As the first team to hold both titles simultaneously, it was decided to take the next step for the programmes’ development by joining the OSBA.

Preparation for this level of competition includes daily court sessions, strength training, and active recovery. Training and competition are supported by an experienced coaching staff, Ridley’s athletic therapy and school medical team, a strength and conditioning coach, and other professional instructors.

Ridley qualified for the playoffs by defeating King’s Christian Collegiate in a play-in game 86-66, held in the Griffith Gym. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of students and faculty,” says Upshaw. Other coaching staff for the team include Michael Bett, Brad Taylor, and Paul De Vellis.

With the season coming to end players will enjoy a short break, before beginning off-season practice and development “We don’t stop,” says Mr. Upshaw. “The sky’s the limit for our team.”

Despite the end of their OSBA season, exciting news has still been circulating for the Tigers, as fellow player, Jaden Bediako ‘18, was chosen to play in the BioSteel All-Canadian All-Star Basketball Game. This marks an impressive accomplishment for both Jaden and Ridley’s basketball programme.

We look forward to seeing our Ridley Tigers back in action in the next school year.

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.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Cassandra M. ‘17

Introducing Cassandra Mitchell ’17 – a Ridleian who opened herself Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.24.53 AMup to the opportunities that our school has to offer. Hear how she adjusted to life on campus and cherishes the inclusive, diverse culture at Ridley.

Why did you choose Ridley?

The decision to come to Ridley involved my entire family. This school aligned with many of our family values and we were impressed by what a tight community the school was. My family has never regretted our decision to come.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Honestly, I really didn’t. I didn’t know what to expect or how I was going to fit it. I think everyone feels that way to some extent when they move to a new place. Though I have a Canadian passport, I had never actually lived in Canada before and I didn’t know if I would like it here. Of course, now I feel silly for ever being nervous.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

I can’t answer that! That’s like asking who your favourite parent is. I love all my teachers and I love the community we have here at this school. It didn’t take long for Ridley to feel like family.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

My greatest challenge thus far at Ridley has been balancing my extracurricular activities with taking the IB programme. The past year was the most challenging academic year I’ve had, but also the most rewarding yet. I feel like IB has pushed me to become a member of a range of different communities in the school as well as pushed me to think and problem solve in ways that I haven’t before. I’m only halfway through the programme, but I’m loving it.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

I think my greatest accomplishment at Ridley thus far has been how quickly I have made Ridley feel like home. This is an amazing place if you embrace it and at the beginning, when everything was new and overwhelming, I had to fight the urge to close myself off from opportunities and new experiences. I am so happy that I managed to successfully fight that urge because I have gained so much from being an active member of the community.

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What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

The world is still reeling from the string of terror attacks and shootings that have taken place this year and sometimes it does feel hopeless; like we might never learn to live in peace. However, there is a moment that I hold onto when I need a little hope for the future of humanity. On the night of Earth Day, we had a campfire in the Quad. There were guitars and ukuleles and we were all singing at the top of our lungs. Around the campfire sat Nigerians, Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Russians, Germans, and Chinese, singing, laughing and sharing marshmallows. Our amazing global community sets an example of how we can all coexist.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

Tying in to my previous answer, I love how much I am able to learn from people from all corners of the globe. We have all lived such different understandings of life yet we are all still able to coexist and learn from one another. I love that I could end up having dinner with four friends and none of us hold the same passport or that I could do a group project with people whose mother tongues are all different. I strongly believe that those sorts of experiences will benefit me for years to come.

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

I am most excited to be an ambassador for Ridley. I love meeting new people and being a Prefect will give me the opportunity to meet others while I represent the school.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley College has given me the opportunity to take the IB programme, and though it has been the hardest thing I have ever done as a student, it has also been the most rewarding. I have not only been pushed to improve my time management and note taking skills, but also to be a better student. The programme has taught me some valuable life skills. I have also been expected to be a creative problem solver, an open-minded collaborator, and a more reflective person. Those things have made me a more mature person beyond the classroom, and I know I will continue to appreciate that in the future.

What are your plans after graduation?

No matter what I end up doing, I know that I want to continue exploring the world until the day they put me in the ground. After I leave Ridley, I want to go into either International Relations, or International Development. I want to do what I can in university to become as useful as I can be in teams working around the world, creating sustainable, independent communities in developing countries. I can see myself working for humanitarian NGOs in the future.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

My biggest piece of advice would be to make the most of this place. Ridley will teach you so much and give you so many opportunities if you let it. Join the clubs, the service trips, the sport teams. Try things you’ve never done before. Your time here will only be what you make it, so don’t spend it on your laptop in your dorm room.

Ridleians Take Action in our Community

Within Ridley, a thriving community, comprised of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, exists. This community works seamlessly to create an environment in which our school can flourish. Beyond Ridley’s gates, exists another community – our local community. With such importance placed on community service and contribution, it is imperative for a strong relationship to exist between Ridley and the local community.

Ridleians are introduced to community service and partnership at a young age. Ridley hopes that from these experiences and opportunities within the community, our students will become global citizens and will continue to live out our motto – Terar dum prosim.

Just recently, our Grade 6 students participated in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Exhibition, where they took action to solve local and global issues. This proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our students to become passionate about our world, and work to solve issues that struck a cord with them.

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As the end of the year approaches, our Grade 9 & 10 Civics classes stepped up to the very same challenge. For their summative project, these students were asked to look at our local community and focus in on an issue. In groups, they were then asked to choose a topic based on their own personal interests. Some topics included: environmental conservation, gender equality, animal protection and pollution.

The students were required to explore their topics of choice. Students researched their topics, conducted interviews with community leaders, asked their peers to complete surveys and went into our local community to find out more. From their research and findings, the students set a goal and devised a plan of action. Students set out to raise awareness for their cause, inform the community of local issues, donate to local organizations and even use art forms to share a message.

Upon completion of their project, 28 groups gathered in the Great Hall to share their projects and spread awareness for their causes. It was incredible to see so many students come together to discuss local issues and how we can solve them.

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Following the exhibition, we sat down with six groups to learn more about their topic and how they contributed to our community. These six groups paired with organizations, such as Youth Unlimited, Pathstone Mental Health, the City of St. Catharines, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brock University, Marz Homes and Canadian Tire, for resources and information, donations and in some cases, the opportunity to collaborate – now and in the future. View the video on the community action project.

The community action project allowed students to exercise one of Ridley’s core beliefs – that a commitment to service and social responsibility will help build a flourishing life – while completing their course. Our school encourages all Ridleians to take action, just as these students have, and contribute to our local community and beyond.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

Preparing international students for success

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Throughout the school year, Ridley is bustling with students from 44 countries around the globe and we are committed to providing as much support as possible to our international students as they adjust to life away from home. Helping them overcome a language barrier can often make all the difference in their ability to thrive.

Ridley’s English as a Second Language (ESL) programme is a course offered through our Guidance Department. It offers students – whose native language is not English – additional learning support intended to strengthen their conversational English, grammar, spelling and help them grasp nuisances. Furthermore, the ESL programme uses cognitive learning skills that can be applied in students’ daily lives. All of these resources result in improved communications and confidence on a personal and academic level.

Students begin with Level C and D ESL, as well as a Learning Strategies course in their first year here at Ridley. Throughout this first year, students work with our ESL Teacher, Ms. Loretta Whitty, as they build a set of skills that help with their English language proficiency in addition to their organizational skills, time-management, writing, public speaking and note taking. Students who might benefit from a more gentle transition into the school year, our Summer Programme also offers Level B ESL.

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In 2nd term, the students are introduced to the research essay project. Utilizing Brock University’s program, Academic Zone, the students take a step-by-step journey through the essay writing process. This process allows them to tackle one component of an essay at a time, while learning tips and tricks and developing their own writing style.

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Throughout the term, the students are encouraged to discover their own learning style. By developing character profiles and assessing their own personal skills, accomplishments and goals, the students are then able to determine what is the best way for them to learn and retain information. These skills are used throughout their time at Ridley and carried forward into their eventual careers.

“That’s the beauty of our ESL course; it gives [students] the resources and strategies that they can use at Ridley and beyond.”

– Ms. Loretta Whitty

Upon completion of Level C and D, these Ridleians progress to Level E in their next year of schooling; where they complete a course that aligns with a Grade 10 level of English.

Ms. Loretta Whitty has seen students progress with such success over the years. Students develop a passion for writing, find the confidence to speak in front of large groups of people with ease and projection and discover skills and strengths that they didn’t know they had.

“The Ridley ESL programme provided me with an opportunity to practice my English skills in a familiar and comfortable environment. The teachers are friendly and very helpful.”

– Wenze Guan ’16

This programme was designed to align with the Ridley curriculum and international culture. Its goal is to help our students reach a point in their education that they can confidently apply to post-secondary school, prepare for university and begin their flourishing lives. It is clear that this ESL course has done just that; and proves to be a great transition for our international students into life here at Ridley.

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Positive Change Ignites at Ridley College

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

– Nelson Mandela

December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.

Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.

In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.

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As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.

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As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.

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As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.

Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.

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The winning photo of Amnesty International’s photo contest, taken by Ms. Shelley Thomas.

Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.