By Tina Kennedy, Senior School Learning Strategist
After twenty years of teaching in six different schools, I have worked with thousands of students of various ages, in various settings, and have always hoped that I'm making a positive impact in these young peoples' lives. Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) is the first school where I regularly see tangible evidence of this positive impact because it is the first place I've taught where it is the norm for student-teacher relationships to extend beyond the student's Grade 12 year; and where it is the norm for teachers and students to share life experiences.
Our graduates come back to STS during their university breaks to visit teachers, to participate in alumni panels, and offer their new-found expertise to specific programs like our Design classes or the Outdoor Education program. After university, many of our alumni participate in special days such as Speech Day and Homecoming, reconnecting with teachers and fellow students.
When our alumni come back to the school to share their lives, they are acknowledging and reciprocating all that teachers gave of themselves during the students' formative years and, as teachers, it is not lost on us how special this connection is.
When our graduates return, they are greeted with hugs and genuinely interested, How have you been's? and What are your next plans?. As we've always done, we encourage them to keep moving towards extraordinary futures. Students are in the beginnings of their learning journey when attending STS, and it is an honour to continue as their cheerleaders after they leave our walls.
At STS, teachers travel all over the world with their students, coach them in various sports, OE adventures, speech and academic endeavours, and advise them through many long-term projects. If you ask any teacher here, they will comment on how these experiences with students outside the classroom have helped develop life-long relationships with students and their parents, and have left them with memories they'll always treasure. We make intentional choices to participate in co-curricular activities with our students because we know the value experience adds to learning, that every child needs a mentor; and that success cannot be defined simply by marks.
In everything we do with and for our students, we are contributing to a foundation which allows students to go boldly into this world to make positive impacts; we are giving them the tools they need to carry themselves successfully forward; we are creating relationships which enrich all of our lives. Every year our teachers, and these relationships with students, add to a community which is the "home place" for so many alumni, parents of alumni, and former faculty who can blossom because of the roots started here at STS.