Message from Ian Robinson, head, Middle Division
As the first day with some students is coming to a close – 137 new boys have spent most or all of the morning with us at the Prep – it’s time to reflect on the last two weeks. At the end of some of those August days, I suspect that I knew what a punching bag feels like after a lengthy session. There’s so much information to assimilate, different computer systems to learn, meetings and professional development in spades – and that’s apart from mastering the names of the faculty and staff. I know that I shall make mistakes, although being surrounded by so many understanding and helpful colleagues, I trust we can keep these errors to a minimum.
Although I knew a great deal about UCC, and the Prep in particular, it’s more than interesting to return to an institution after 19 years and witness the differences that are apparent now. Personally, after two years of retirement, one massive change is the fact that my clock – biological and alarm varieties – have both been rudely shaken or should I say awakened. For two years, six a.m. starts have been rare indeed, as has the wearing of a tie. Welcome to the real world!
An obvious difference is the buildings, which have evolved considerably since I left in 1995. There are significant changes internally and externally and there’s no question that today’s Prep is an extremely well-equipped school. Changes in personnel are also evident. Of the 77 faculty and staff at the Prep in 2014, only six were working at UCC when I left. Greeting a couple of fathers, both of whom have sons entering Form 6 and both of whom I taught and coached in the dim, distant past, was a delightful surprise. As some of you may know, in addition, one of those fathers is the older brother of Rick Parsons (whom I also taught and coached) and who succeeded me at Sterling Hall. Greeting parents with their sons whom I knew well, and others whom I’d never met, before was an absolute pleasure. And the list continues.
What remains, however, is I believe of far more value. Next week I’ll further discuss the thesis that the teachers genuinely care about your sons and are deeply concerned about their progress and well-being. The challenging program has continued to make the students think creatively. The accent on character and on the softer qualities is to the fore. Again, I could list many more features.
And so, yes indeed, the Prep has changed. And in many ways, no for sure, it hasn’t changed. Both answers are correct and both indicate paths that, I trust, will lead to your son enjoying a wonderful 2014-15 academic year. My door is always open and so do please come in. And lastly, I say to you what so many have kindly said to me: Welcome back!