Summer Reading Promoting Positive Psychology and Grit

Professional and personal growth are important aspects of Ridley life. While our students spend the school year learning new skills, our faculty and staff are encouraged to do the same; participating in professional development and collaboration to grow as both individuals and educators.  This summer, Headmaster Kidd encouraged our faculty and staff to do a bit of summer reading, with a focus on positive psychology and grit. Here is a synopsis of both books, which you may also wish to explore.

The Strength Switch by Dr. Lea Waters

As the mental health crisis expands across the globe, it has become even more crucial that children grow up in supporting and caring environments. Ridley recognizes this important aspect of student development and ensures each child is surrounded by a network of support that encourages students to be themselves. With this in mind, Headmaster Kidd and our Learning Centre support staff selected The Strength Switch by positive psychology expert, Dr. Lea Waters as one of the summer reading recommendations.

The Strength Switch introduces parents and educators to strength-based parenting. Strength-based is a method of nurturing that focuses on enhancing each child’s strengths, as opposed to improving weaknesses. This fantastic book demonstrates how to build resilience, optimism and confidence in your child to help them succeed. From chapter to chapter, Waters provides insights into different topics, such as: interacting with your children, how to discover their strengths and talents and how to positively discuss mental health and wellness with them. These are important topics for both parents and faculty, so that our students can receive the best support possible.

Getting Grit
by Caroline Adams Miller

With one of Ridley’s strategic goals being to instill grit into each student, it comes as no surprise that Getting Grit by Caroline Adams Miller made it onto Ridley’s summer reading list. Grit is defined as a perseverance and passion for long-term goals and is key to a successful life. At Ridley, students are challenged to discover their passions at young ages and encouraged to pursue them throughout their Ridley careers. Students have the chance to practice grit through opportunities such as the Primary Years Programme Exhibition, Middle Years Programme Personal Project, International Baccalaureate Extended Essay, as well as other academic, athletic and artistic experiences.

Headmaster Kidd’s recommendation, Getting Grit aims to enhance the readers understanding of grit and provide tools to apply it in one’s life. In Miller’s book, she guides her readers through the stages of gaining grit and provides her insights on major topics, including: understanding grit, key traits of individuals with grit, gaining courage, takings risks and the role of self-compassion. It’s no surprise that this book made it on Live Happy‘s top 10 list of books that will change your life.

We encourage you to pick up one or both books and let us know what you think!

Get to Know Your Prefects: Charlotte W. ’18

Meet Charlotte W. ’18 – a Prefect who has dedicated so much of her time at Ridley to serving others. Read about the challenges she overcame and the difference she has made in the community.

Why did you choose Ridley? My parents chose for me to attend Ridley because it was the best school in the region. My mom is from Niagara and growing up she had friends who went to Ridley.  I didn’t have much weight in the decision as an eight-year-old but I’ve stayed here for 10 years because I love all the friends I’ve made here.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley? I can still remember being in Grade 3 and having Mr. Bowie assist me with writing every spelling test. I went from full French immersion to learning everything in English. I could barely read and write, but by Grade 4 the teachers in Lower School had helped me catch up to everyone else in my class. By the time I got to Upper School I was incredibly prepared and ready to tackle anything!

Who is your favourite faculty member and why? It’s too hard to pick! I love all of my teachers. Above all though, I have to thank my IB1 teachers for helping prepare me for IB2 and my exams. Ms. Anderson, Mr. Dunkley, Dr. Foster, Mr. Reimer, Mr. Mugan, Ms. Han, Ms. Braun and my extended essay supervisor, Mrs. Darby have all helped me take on the challenge of IB. With how long I’ve been at the school I also know that there are so many teachers who have helped me engage in class and numerous coaches who have fostered my love for rugby and curling.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley? My greatest challenge was when I took 10 courses in Grade 10. On top of the regular eight courses you can fit into the academic day, I took World Religions and Classical Civilizations as online courses. Trying to find the time to study for and write assignments in all these different courses was extremely difficult and by second term I had to have a meeting with the counsellors in Guidance about how to solve my problems. I learned a lot about time management and my own limitations from this experience. These lessons have proved extremely valuable now that I am in IB with all the extra assignments involved in the full diploma.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? My greatest accomplishment was becoming a Prefect. I’ve done a lot of other things I’m really proud of during my time at Ridley that have lead up to this. I learned how to read in English. I became one of the youngest captains of Ridley’s Cadet Colour Party. I worked with my friend Cassidy Yu ’18 to raise awareness for Dog Guides Canada. During my time at Ridley, I’ve spent my summers on 42 and 50-day canoe trips and this March break I got to visit France and see Vimy Ridge with my history teacher, Mr. Dunkley. Being a part of Ridley’s Positive Space Group, Ridley’s T.R.U.E. group for Aboriginal rights and getting to help train Billy, Ridley’s guide dog in training, have all been a part of becoming a Prefect. Trying to narrow down nine years of fantastic experiences and community supported success is impossible for me because if I’m not putting my all into every experience and making it the biggest success I can than I’m not living right. Becoming a Prefect was the culmination of everything I’ve done so far and I really look forward to getting even more involved at school next year and helping everyone have the same fantastic experiences I have.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience? My favourite Ridley experience was going to France for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. I love history and as a passionate Canadian, it was awe inspiring to see the memorials and the way the ground has been reshaped by war. At Vimy there are still the shell holes in the ground from artillery. Seeing it for myself it wasn’t hard to imagine soldiers drowning in the massive holes if they were filled with mud and water. On a happier note, while in France we also visited Paris where I got to see Napoleon’s tomb and explore The Louvre. Seeing an old city, although partially rebuilt, was awe inspiring and reminded me just how young a country Canada is. I got to interact with passionate history students from other schools and learn a lot about the actual appearance of the battlefields fought on during the world wars and the rich history of France.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life? My favourite part of Ridley life is community service. Every Ridley student has to complete at least 10 hours of service every year and it’s amazing to get out and involved in the community. In Grade 9 Civics, we could help raise awareness for a charity, so I worked with my group partners to make a video for Start Me Up Niagara. In Grade 10 we got to write letters to Canadian veterans for Remembrance Day and as a member of Drill Team, I could go to the service at the war memorial in St. Catharines. Last year, in Grade 11 as an IB student, I got to plan a CAS project (which involved showing Creativity, Action and Service) and raise both money and awareness for a cause I’m passionate about. Throughout my years at Ridley I’ve learned the meaning of community service. It’s amazing to see the difference everyone can make if they get involved and put forth their best effort every day.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for? I am really excited to help make this school even better. I want to reinvigorate school spirit, help make the course selection process easier and make sure that everyone gets the most they can out of their Ridley experience. As a Prefect, I think the most important thing you do is helping support your fellow students. I’ve had many friends from past years who set a great example for me to follow and I look forward to following their footsteps.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future? Ridley is still very much in the process of preparing me, but so far, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a leader and a better citizen. I’ve made friends from across the globe and this has helped give me a global mindset that will help me in my future studies and career. More than that, Ridley really helped me learn what it means to be an active citizen and take an interest in what goes on around you. 

What are your plans after graduation? I plan to study computer science. I’m really passionate about computers, biology and history and I hope that in learning about computers I can work in a variety of fields that let me explore my other passions.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley? Get involved! The fastest way to make friends and the best way to make the most of your time at Ridley is by doing things around campus. Join as many clubs as you can and then quit a few because they weren’t as interesting as you thought. Try out for every sports team you can to find what you love. Mix it up with your course selections to see what really interests you. Sit with people you don’t know at lunch and try to make conversation so you meet people. If you ever feel alone or uncertain about anything, find one of the Prefects or a House Captain. We’re always around and willing to help. Coming to a new school or moving up to high school can be terrifying but rest assured that there are friends out there for you to make if you get involved! There’s a proverb I like to live by that I heard while up in Brent, Ontario on a canoe trip:

“You’ve got to make like a bear with a blueberry bush. There’s a whole lot of fruit for the picking but you never know if there’s a bee hiding in the fruit until you take the first bite.”

Get to Know Your Prefects: Anthony N. ’18

Introducing Anthony Nguyen ’18– a Prefect who has attended Ridley since Grade 2 and, in that time, has been able to develop into the person he aspires to be. Read how Anthony excelled in his passions and is looking forward to sharing them with his fellow Ridleians this upcoming school year.

Why did you choose Ridley? I was basically born at the school. My brother, Augustine ’11 also went to Ridley from 2004 to 2011. In 2007, when I had my first opportunity to join Ridley, my parents enrolled me and the rest is history.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley? I felt as prepared as any other Grade 2. I must note how valuable my Ridley experience has been since then. I have been immersed in countless opportunities that have allowed me to develop into the person I am today. The school has instilled traits of character, resilience and respect within me, which I believe have allowed me to continue to excel!

Who is your favourite faculty member and why? My favourite faculty members are Dr. Baird and Mr. Dawson.

Dr. Baird is one of the funniest teachers on campus. He always comes into class with a good attitude and ensures everybody’s learning is successful. He also shares a love for ultimate frisbee with me. Although he commonly indicates how I, being a part of the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) programme, have Inadequate Biceps (I.B.), I have enjoyed my time with him.

On the other hand, Mr. Dawson has been a mentor for me in terms of music. He has spent countless hours supporting my growth as a musician and has always been there to lend a helping hand!

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley? The greatest challenge I have faced at Ridley has been my transition from Lower School to Upper School. Like any other new student to the Upper School, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to fit in. I was very wrong about my fears. As a matter of fact, Upper School is a place where students finally get the chance to grow out of their shells and shape their own legacy. It is here where I began taking a step towards my music and healthcare careers. I had opportunities to play music at retirement homes and opportunities to volunteer my time at the hospital. So, although my transition was challenging at first, this experience was essential towards my development!

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? One accomplishment I am fond of is being accepted into the CISMF Jazz Band – an honour Jazz Band, composed of students from independent schools. I was the first Ridley student to get accepted into this band and it provided me with an amazing opportunity to play with some of the best jazz musicians in the province.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience? I have absolutely loved my Jazz Band experience. We often play at a range of retirement homes, nearby venues and competitions. My favourite part of this experience is the transcending effect that music has on people. Instantly, no matter the audience, the band can electrify a crowd and brighten a room. In addition, I get the chance to bond with my peers and Mr. Dawson! I always have a fun time in the Jazz Band and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life? The social life – I have met so many amazing and friendly people who I get to speak with on a daily basis. Whenever I am feeling down, I know I can rely on my newly-made friends to cheer me up. The best part about the social life at Ridley is that you know these friendships will last forever.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for? The most exciting part for me would be the orientation day when new students arrive on campus and situate themselves. I am excited to get the chance to meet the next generation of Ridley students and hear every single amazing story that they have to tell.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future? Ridley has prepared me by providing me opportunities to do what I love. Within music, I have had countless of performing opportunities that the music department has set up for me. This includes playing in Roy Thompson Hall, Niagara’s Professional Jazz Festival and various cafés. For my healthcare dream, I have had the opportunity to shadow an athletic therapist, have the confidence to compete in National Biology contests and explore the vast world of medicine. 

What are your plans after graduation? After I finish my Ridley career, I hope to enter into a health science program. From there, I shall see where that takes me. In terms of specific universities, I would love to be enrolled in a seven or eight-year medicinal program in Canada or the U.S. It would be a bonus if that university was close to Ontario, however, I am willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill my dream.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley? Don’t do it alone! At various points of the year, Ridley may be tough. An example of a tough time might be your first day moving in, a week of tough school, or even being home sick. That being said, remember that you have your housemates, friends, and teachers to help you to get through these tough times!

TOP 10: Highlights from the 2016-2017 School Year

There is no question that 2016-2017 has been a historic year for Ridley – with many remarkable accomplishments and memories to be proud of.  Although it was hard to narrow down, here are 10 highlights from this year at Ridley.

1. New Era for Sport at Ridley When Teams Joined OSBA & JWHL LeaguesRead more on OSBA.
Read more on JWHL.

2. Xavier West ’21 Accepts Youth Award During WE Day
Read more.

3. Fulford Cup Brought Home for First Time in 17 YearsRead more.

4. Board Chair Named One of Canada’s Most Powerful WomenRead more. 

5. Students Grow on Service & Experiential Learning TripsRead more about service-learning trips.
Read more about experiential-learning trips.

6. LS Scientists Win a Niagara Regional Science & Engineering FairRead more. 

7. Ridley Celebrates Importance of Creativity During Arts in AprilRead more.

8. First Cohort of MYP Students Complete Personal Project

9. Rowers Make Ridley History at National ChampionshipsRead more.

10. Graduates of the Class of 2017 Officially Become Old Ridleians

The National Post: Special Report, May 27, 2017

School’s in for the summer

Kathryn Booth
Read National Post article.

“Being involved in a learning community throughout the summer, whether in academics, sport, music or cultural experiences, translates into success both in and out of the classroom come September.” – Michele Bett, Ridley College

While many students see summer as a time to shed the rigors of school, don shorts and a t-shirt and head to the beach, others are singly focused on solidifying their academic future. These are the students that opt for summer academy.

Sixteen-year old Isha is one of those students. Her goal is to study mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Isha chose to attend summer academy at The Bishop Strachan School (BSS) in Toronto two years ago to get a jump on grade nine math. “I have always had an interest in math and science and saw it as an opportunity to get an early credit so that I could advance to grade 10 math when I returned to school,” she says.

Her experience at BSS summer academy was so engaging that Isha applied for financial assistance to attend the independent all-girls school full time. Last summer she took a grade 10 science credit. It allowed her to move into grade 11 biology and chemistry during the school year. Isha hasn’t looked back since. She is now a thriving advanced-level student firmly committed to learning during the off-season.

“At summer academy the small classes, single focus and one-on-one time with teachers make the subjects easier to comprehend and it gets mandatory credits out of the way,” says Isha. “In school my courses are now more balanced, which brings up my marks. Ultimately, that will benefit me on my application for university. I would encourage others to try summer school, because it gives you that added advantage.”

Summer academy is not simply condensed school. “Each course has the same hours as a school-year course. The difference is that students don’t have the distractions of multiple subjects to contend with. It is a wonderful opportunity to get into the course and discipline of studying,” says Brendan Lea, vice-principal of curriculum at BSS.

The BSS summer academy is open to grades eight to 12 students whether or not they attend BSS during the school year. Summer credit courses are four weeks. One-week skills programs are also offered. The summer academy is co-ed despite the school’s all-girls full-time cohort.

“Mixing in different circles helps reset the class dynamic, whether other students are girls from different schools or the opposite gender,” explains Lea. “Our goal is that they find the courses engaging, learn from an experienced team of teachers, and broaden their

The Ridley College Summer Academy keeps students engaged and working their minds throughout the summer. In the non-credit entrepreneurial skills program, participants develop a business model, produce a product and develop a marketing plan.

The summer academy program at Ridley is not purely focused on teens and academics, however. It offers day and boarding, credit and non- credit, and activities for children ages four to 18.

In selecting the programs for summer learning, Bett says it was about responding to the demand from students. Some want to improve their command of the English language; some seek acceleration in math. “We also offer robotics, arts, wellness and CSI Ridley, where we look at the forensic sciences,” she says. “Students can further participate in entrepreneurial skill- building or enjoy enhanced music training with a summer symphony boarding experience, where they can also perform with an ensemble.”

On evenings and weekends, boarding summer students participate in arts, activities, athletics and day trips to cultural events and locations.

“Being actively and enthusiastically involved in a learning community through- out the summer, whether in academics, sport, music or cultural experiences, translates into success both in and out of the classroom come September,” says Bett. For some students, it has also led to full-time enrolment in Ridley College. “That tells us our commitment to teaching and empowering kids is delivering in a very positive way.”

TOP 5: Reasons it’s Great to be an Old Ridleian

Each year, over 100 Grade 12 students walk across the stage to accept their diploma at Ridley’s Graduate Prize Day. They enter a Tiger and leave an Old Ridleian (OR). As an OR, you are connected to over 8,000 individuals, spanning the globe and travelling down many different career paths.

While each OR is entirely unique, there is one common element that binds them… Ridley College.

The campus, the people, the spirit: all leave an indelible mark on each student who attends Ridley.

Here are five reasons it’s incredible to be an OR:

1. You gain world-wide, life-long friends.

There’s no question that the community at Ridley is a diverse one, with students coming to campus from 44 countries around the world. With so much time spent on campus, in class and on the field, student connections become fortified.

2. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.

Whether it’s a walk around campus – seeing the same red-brick buildings, hearing the chimes of the School House bells – or finding an old jersey in the closet evokes a feeling of nostalgia, it is a feeling that binds all Ridleians together.

3. You become a global citizen.

Whether a student spends one year at Ridley or ten, they have a culturally enriching experience. Upon graduation, each student leaves as a globally-minded and accepting individual.

4. The opportunities are endless.

The opportunities presented to Ridleians over the course of their education set them up for opportunities after Ridley. The lessons, the memories, the adventures all come together to prepare one for a lifetime of moments worth remembering.

5. You can always come home.

The best part about graduating, is coming back. Returning to campus and seeing what has changed is amazing, but chatting with current students is even better.

Ridleian Pursues Career as Global Leader

Cassandra Mitchell ’17 graduates from Ridley on May 27th, ending one chapter of her story and beginning another. While Ridley will always be her home, come September, Cassandra will be packing her bags and travelling 11,121 km to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where she will attend New York University’s global campus.

Cassandra’s Ridley journey began three years ago and, in that short time, she fully has embodied what it means to be a Ridleian. She has been active in every aspect of a Ridley education – academics, arts, athletics and co-curricular programmes. With a strong passion for global change and human rights, Cassandra has led groups such as the Positive Space Group – which was just nominated for a Niagara UNITY Award – and Ridley’s environmental group, the Green Tigers. In her final year at Ridley, she has also led her peers as a school Prefect.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme has challenged Cassandra for the past two years; encouraging her to take risks, broaden her horizons and grow as a learner. However, academics were not the only valuable aspect of Ridley that Cassandra has benefitted from.

“Without a doubt I would not be going to my dream school next year without the amazing support I have received here at Ridley. I have been given the opportunity to grow as a learner through the IB programme, and grow as a leader through prefectship and the clubs I’m involved in. During my time at Ridley, I have been given so many opportunities to further my education. I have to, once again, mention the IB programme because it has helped me so much. I am a more intelligent, more thoughtful, and just a better person because of the programme. I am so grateful for that privilege, but I think the most valuable thing that Ridley has given me has nothing to do with being a student. Through the amazing people I’ve met, I have learned how to listen, and have developed some of the most meaningful relationships of my life.” – Cassandra Mitchell ’17

The network of students that spans campus is so vast, connecting all aspects of Ridley life. Students have friends in their houses, in the studio, on the field and in the classroom, creating a web of support. That deep connectivity has given Cassandra many memories to look back upon as she prepares to walk across the stage on Prize Day 2017.

“I’m going to miss the maple tree outside of the Marriott Gates. I pass it on the way to school every day and in the fall, it turns the most spectacular shade of red. I’m going to miss trying to squish seven girls on a four-person couch in house meetings. I’m going to miss reading all the plaques around the school and imagining faces to all the names I don’t recognize and imagining what the classrooms and the dining hall and the hallways looked like 100 years ago. This is a special place.” – Cassandra Mitchell ’17

High school graduation is a big step, but the promise of adventure and discovery has Cassandra eager for this next chapter. New York University’s global campus’ purpose is to foster the next generation of global leaders. Cassandra will be among likeminded individuals, who believe in the future and are prepared to dedicate their lives to changing the world. Beyond the invigorating academic and intellectual experience Cassandra is preparing for, she is also excited for the opportunities that await her in the Middle East.

“What attracted me most immediately was the ethos of the school. The vision of the institution is something that I am so excited to be a part of. The second, more superficial, selfish reason I am so attracted to the school is the location. I absolutely adore travelling and exploring places I’ve never been. The Middle East is an area of the world I have yet to explore, full of cultures I can’t wait to immerse myself in.” – Cassandra Mitchell ’17

On May 27th, Cassandra will become an Old Ridleian, connecting her and her classmates to over 8,000 alumni spanning the globe. Cassandra will continue to grow during her journey abroad and is excited to see how Ridley transforms as well.

“I’m excited to watch Ridley grow. I’m excited to watch the plans I hear about now come to fruition. I can’t wait to come back here to visit and find that the school has grown to be even better than I remember it.”  –­ Cassandra Mitchell ’17

Congratulations to Cassandra and the Class of 2017 as they embark on their great journeys beyond the Marriott Gates.


Tigertales – A blog about life at Ridley