Heads Up

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Update from the director of community relations

Happy New Year to everyone. This is the first in my new series of monthly updates. As your director of community relations, I’ll use this space to share key issues that come before me. In this introductory message, I’ll start by answering a question I often get from parents: So, what does the director of community relations do?

ruth ann pennyMy work is split between external and internal matters. Both sides of the work aim to strengthen the relationship between the College and all the stakeholders in its community.

On the external side, I hear concerns and complaints from members of the College community who, after trying to resolve a problem following the usual route, still feel that their issue has not been dealt with adequately. Mostly parents contact me, but on occasion I hear from alumni and from students. My job is to investigate the matter raised, always in confidence, and to take as impartial a view as I can:

Has a process error been made? A human one? Has school policy failed them? Is the College walking its talk? I make recommendations to the principal in the manner of a “court of appeal.” Sometimes my recommendations support the complainant, sometimes the College.

On the internal side, I work with senior administrators and teams to understand how policies and processes in common use might improve.

Those reviewing my reports at least twice a year are the principal, the board and the executive team. Interesting patterns emerge over time and form part of the school leadership’s ongoing reflection and planning.

These themes have been shared with the executive team, the board of governors, department heads, some non-academic departments and with PO and PPO. They’re also a source of information that those designing our next strategic plan will consider.

(In future months I’ll discuss specific, chiefly parental concerns around several key themes including our responses. They will include academic challenges, university preparation and assessment; boys’ welling-being, stress management and developmental transitions; character growth including approaches to healthy competition; and clarity around policies and communications.)

I’ll begin tackling some of the complexities of some of the key issues noted above next month, and describe how the College is dealing with them. I look forward to it.

My position is unique among Canadian independent schools and I feel both privileged to occupy it and proud that the College saw benefits in creating it. Please be in touch with me if you have any queries, concerns or general feedback; I’m happy to listen.

Ruth Ann Penny