The sense of community at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) is deep, crossing multiple generations. Todd and Esther Worsley say they are “big fans of the STS community” not only for the great education in the classroom, but for the caring relationships that develop between teachers, staff, and students.
It’s that culture of inclusion, Todd insists, that inspires his family to donate to the Scholarships and Bursaries fund. He and Esther consider it an endowment; one that they contribute to and that they hope their son will, too, someday.
We spoke to Todd about his feeling of belonging at STS, and how it influences him as he watches his son pass through our School.
“I remember my young son just starting at the School in Grade 1, and he’s sitting with his Grade 6 'buddy' at lunch, a kid in Grade 4 is helping him learn how to use his computer, and he gives a 'high five' to a high school student in the hallway when I am picking him up one day. That’s pretty special.”
When Todd was a student, the facilities were nowhere near what they are today, but his experience here had an enormous impact on him. He says that while the facilities (entirely funded by donations) definitely enhance the School, the most important thing about STS has always been the people. Todd elaborates on the topic of giving to the School, explaining that without the legacy of generous past donors, STS' culture wouldn’t be as special as it is. He believes scholarships and bursaries are essential to the STS community.
Todd’s parents both worked hard to send him and his sister to the School, and he believes that having students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds creates the best atmosphere.
“We don’t know who receives financial aid, but diversity is a reality in the real world. We’re proud to say that 12% of our students receive funds via bursaries or scholarships. Providing funding broadens the range of candidates, further improving the School by making it feel like the world in which our kids are going to be living.
I find that the students receiving financial aid often feel very fortunate to be able to attend the School. That appreciation often translates to kids who work very hard and are motivated to take advantage of as many of the opportunities that STS offers as they can. In particular, if such students enter the School in later grades, after attending other schools, they can better see and experience the uniqueness of the STS community – being both inspired by it and inspiring others.”
For Esther, it was the sense of welcoming and community at STS that caused her to want to send Willem to STS in Grade 1. Now, with Willem having finished Grade 10, she has seen and experienced the strength of the STS community and the positive impact it has had on her son. Esther sees donating to Scholarships and Bursaries as a way of helping to perpetuate a strong STS community that supports and celebrates its members.
The Worsleys, including Willem, chose Scholarships and Bursaries but are grateful for the variety of gifts that make up the School they love so dearly.
“No one thing is more important than the other. Our community gives to teaching excellence, scholarships and bursaries, arts programs, capital assets – you name it; all of the things that tuition alone can’t possibly cover. Our successful Inspiring Possibilities campaign also raised funds for these “invisible” benefits of attending STS. Scholarships and bursaries gained $1.9M, and $900K was raised for professional development. I’m happy that we recognize that these things are just as important as buildings,” said Todd.
Giving at STS is a tradition and a need. The size of donation is not what matters – it’s the understanding that every dollar maintains the best environment for our students – for now and in the future. Giving is about being part of and enhancing the STS community. So many families, like the Worsleys, understand that they are giving to their own children as well as those who will benefit from STS for generations to come.