Vision, Mission

Vision

A COMMUNITY WHERE EVERY SPIRIT SOARS

Motto

LET EVERY SPIRIT SOAR

(Omnis Anima Volet)

Mission Statement

Southridge develops well-rounded students with a deep sense of personal integrity who have the moral character, love of learning and self-confidence to realize their full potential in a post-secondary environment and in society at large. Each student is encouraged and challenged to become someone who:

Is a lifelong learner

Our mission statement lists a number of factors that pertain to educating well-balanced students. The first one on the list is, “is a lifelong learner”. This factor is important for the fundamental reason that Southridge is a school first and foremost. In addition, though, is the more compelling reason that lifelong learning helps to ensure the students we educate will continue to experience the wonders and inspirations that perpetual learning brings.

To a degree, lifelong learning is a natural process in that by virtue of experiencing everyday life we learn. We learn from our experiences. However, the inclusion of the phrase in our mission statement is meant to underscore the importance of an active engagement in the process that has at its roots an open-minded attitude toward the inevitable challenges that we all face. Furthermore, an active engagement implies a seeking out learning opportunities. In other words, lifelong learning in the Southridge context is a living intellectual process underscored, or highlighted, by the desire and ability to ask questions and continuously reflect.

Asking questions is at the root of learning. Questions can be passive – asked by someone else like a teacher, parent or friend – or they can be more dynamic. Dynamic questioning practices are self-directed and require initiation and often ingenuity. In both passive and dynamic questioning situations, however, the questions stimulate thought. And if the questions are really good ones, they have the potential to significantly shape how we understand a topic or concept or even how we look at the world.

Being the beneficiary of a really good passive question that stimulates excitement and immersion in deep thought or important discussions is powerful because attached to the inquiry is either a shift or an affirmation in something once held as true. The shift and the affirmation are equally important to us as we construct meaning.

A step beyond being the beneficiary of a really good question is being self-directed. By that I mean being able to ask yourself the kinds of questions that result in active investigations and the subsequent challenge of a concept or understanding that, until the question was asked, held a sense of truth within your understanding of the world or reality. These kinds of self imposed, thought-provoking questions take a degree of courage because they have the potential to agitate your foundation of truth and even disturb your sense of security.

And beyond dynamic self-questioning as a lifelong learner lies the desire and aptitude to contribute to communal knowledge and learning (in the classroom or in society) by engaging in discourse and discussions that are dynamically and intentionally shifted, provoked, or influenced by asking a group of people the right question at the right time. In this manner, the give-and-take of constructivism – that is, the construction of knowledge by challenging current understandings and beliefs – takes on an exciting, albeit sometimes disquieting and unpredictable, texture; yet in the ensuing synthesis of thought and ideas lies the essence of lifelong learning.

At Southridge, we aim to explore learning beyond the curriculum and enrich the school experience of our students by teaching them how to be lifelong learners by engaging them in the questioning process and thoughtful reflection where ideas are synthesized and an understanding of truth is constructed. Whether teacher-directed, self-directed or community-directed questions surface during the learning process is often dependent on the structure of the classroom lessons the age of the students, and the prior knowledge of individual students and the class itself.

What we ultimately strive for, however, is the cultivation of an appetite and desire for delving into the learning process by both appreciating and asking thought-provoking and challenging questions so that our students continue to experience the wonders of their world and construct meaning in their lives. We hope that our students apply the cycle of question, thought (or practice) and reflection to all aspects of their lives and, thereby, grow to their best and fullest potential intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.


Has study, critical thinking and communication skills

We believe in the importance of questioning in lifelong learning as expressed in our mission statement. The next line from our mission statement reads “has study, critical thinking and communication skills,” which further supports the notion that learning is a dynamic process which requires our active engagement.

Study skills are the building blocks of the academic profile of our students. To have a full toolbox study skills is to be set-up for success. Experience teaches us which skills work best in specific study situations. As we come to understand our academic strengths, personal talents and general aptitudes, as well as shortcomings and potential situational roadblocks, we can apply the tools more effectively.

Critical thinking skills give us a framework for filtering thoughts, information and ideas. Critical thinking is not only asking questions, but assessing whether answers are reasonable, applicable and even desirable. Critical thinking is not thinking “negatively,” looking for gaps in logic, inconsistency or faulty reasoning in arguments and conclusions. Thinking critically involves more than looking for what is wrong; it involves using specific skills to construct meaning through analysis, comparisons, synthesis and the purposeful provocation of an open mind to arrive at a breadth and depth of insight.

Thinking critically challenges us to measure the outcomes of questions by passing them through an intellectual filter. If the input to the “learning equation” is questions and the output is meaning, then the critical thought process is the mathematical operation that manipulates and evaluates input before communicating output.

Which brings us to the third skill in the trio – communication skills. The capacity to express meaning through a concept, idea, thought, perspective or insight is important because it acts as a demonstration of knowledge. Even more importantly, perhaps, communication skills allow us to connect, form relationships, and contribute to the learning process and life experiences of others.

Is a creative and independent thinker

Another descriptor in our mission statement focuses on thinking skills. We state that as a school we strive to educate students who are “creative and independent” in their thinking. It is interesting to note that, in terms of skills for the 21st century learner, we believe the ability to think creatively will be one of the most essential ingredients in how our graduates perform and function successfully in the workplace and in society in general. It is one of the identified ingredients in our Senior School academic model, and it rests as a strong undercurrent in our PYP and MYP programmes in the Junior School.

Thinking skills involve a multiplicity of elements that compliment the ability to think creatively. Thinking independently has a host of supporting descriptors that lend insight into what it means to think independently. However, before listing these descriptors it is important to distinguish between thinking independently and thinking without input from multiple sources – including the thoughts, ideas and questions of others. Thinking independently is more aligned with a person’s ability to form their own conclusions and present ideas and beliefs with conviction and confidence even when those thoughts and ideas are different from others’. Make no mistake; thinking independently is difficult to do as experiments in the social sciences have shown. Even when the correct answer to a simple question is obvious, for example, but different from that of a group’s perspective, the vast majority of us hesitate to express what we think to be true. Call it group-think, call it peer-pressure, call it what you will; the ability to think independently is not as easy as it appears to be.

Good thinkers demonstrate the ability to do a number of things well. They are sophisticated in their ability, for example, to think dialectically. In other words, they are able to hold two or more points of view about a particular topic in their minds at the same time, and they have the capability to argue two opposing positions on a given topic. Debating is an excellent example of a practice that helps to develop (and demonstrate) the ability to think in this way.

Good thinkers are also interested in the acquisition of knowledge and they strive to understand new concepts, ideas and opinions. But they do not stop there. Good thinkers follow a hierarchy of processes that stimulate higher order “brain functions” and cause them to arrive at a much deeper level of comprehension or understanding. The four levels of this hierarchy are application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

I liken these levels to building a puzzle. Application involves taking the individual puzzle pieces and striving to manipulate them or apply them to a greater or bigger picture so that they fit together logically and systemically in a complimentary fashion. Analysis involves looking for patterns and fit characteristics that enable a person to build the puzzle in a more efficient way. Synthesis is the ability to see the puzzle coming together as a whole in order to understand how the individual pieces harmonize and balance one another to create a product that has meaning. Synthesis can also refer to a person’s ability to use their understanding of how to solve other puzzles or problems and employ techniques in the current task in such a way that a novel strategy is developed for a situation that it was otherwise unintended to be used in. And evaluation is the capacity to assess everything from how the puzzle looks to how a person went about putting the puzzle together. Evaluation is ongoing throughout the process and allows a person to self-check, monitor progress, and make corrections during the puzzle-building exercise. The point is that good thinkers are adept at developing their knowledge beyond simple comprehension, and they are motivated to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate knowledge and its acquisition as they build and construct meaning in their lives.

Finally, good thinkers have the insight to identify how they think. Meta-cognition is an important key used to unlock full potential because the understanding of learning style and intellectual strengths, as well as the ability to know how to use thinking skills like application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. It also helps to focus a person’s energy and efforts in a way that accentuates given attributes. Meta-cognition also allows good thinkers to know what they need to pay attention to and develop further in their repertoire of abilities in order to strengthen their overall ability to construct meaning in an across-the-board way. In other words, meta-cognition allows good thinkers to play to their strengths while keeping their eye on potential blind spots that could ultimately stand in the way of them reaching their fullest capability.

In the end, good thinkers know how to think both creatively and independently. They know the value of self-awareness and, even though they may recognize the benefits of intellectual interaction through discourse and questioning, they also appreciate that thinking independently is a true expression of individuality and originality. In a sense, it is like an intellectual fingerprint that identifies them as unique and distinctive.

Has a positive attitude

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. A positive attitude is a trait that we focus on developing in our students. It is part of our mission statement and it is a key component of both the IB program and our Senior School academic program. A positive attitude can have a significant impact on how students interact within the classroom environment, their motivation and their overall effort. In a sense, a positive attitude is like a learning utensil, and just as a pencil or ruler is fundamental to being able to complete work and assignments, a positive attitude is essential to completing work to the best of one’s abilities.

A positive attitude is the foundation for so many other important attributes that have an effect on student learning. Attitude influences how a student makes use of class time, whether s/he is prepared for class properly and the degree to which s/he is able to meet deadlines. In addition, a positive attitude influences whether or not a student arrives to class on-time, is respectful of others, and attends tutorials when there is a need to do so. In short, having a positive attitude is an underpinning for many other elements of success.

A positive attitude also has an impact on others. Let’s face it; spending time with positive people is enjoyable and fun. It’s contagious too. One of our school’s guiding principles is to recognize that we have both the privilege and responsibility to choose how we influence our community. This principle is highly affected by the attitude we choose. Being positive shines a light on the light hearted nature of Southridge and helps others feel light hearted too. Choosing to have a positive attitude is a great way to support our school’s guiding principles.

Sometimes being positive requires an output of energy. On good days, it’s easy to be positive, but on bad days it is more difficult to find that special tone in your disposition that resonates positively with others. We talk about contribution being at the heart of what we inherit and pass on at Southridge. Having a positive attitude really connects well with this guiding principle. When we make an effort to search for the special quality that allows our positive attitude to rise to the surface, we make a choice to contribute to the community and leave something positive behind.

I have been asking the students at Southridge to leave something positive behind for years. I am the first to admit that it is not always easy to do so, though. It takes effort and a conscious effort. We all make mistakes. We all mess up. We all have bad days. No one is perfect. But part of being a member of a school community is that we make an effort to leave a positive mark, however small, on the people and environment that make up our community. In this sense, a positive attitude is a great impetus for stewardship. Stewardship is all about leaving something positive behind, and having a positive attitude is a great way to make a contribution and have a big influence on the composition of our school’s social fabric. Adopting a positive attitude is free. It feels good. It plays a role in success. It helps others feel good. It contributes to the greater good. And it leaves the school a better place. Maybe a positive attitude isn’t such a little thing after all.

Seeks their passion

As our mission statement describes our students, we hope to educate individuals who seek their passions. While we recognize certain limitations in program offerings at Southridge – we cannot be all things to all people, after all – we aim for our students to feel the sense of fulfillment that comes through engagement in activities that support them in areas they believe strongly in and to which they have an particular affinity – be it emotional, intellectual, physical or otherwise.

Whether passion lies in academics, the arts, athletics or service work, we look forward to our students identifying with something that touches their true sense of self in a rich and meaningful manner. We think it would be great if our students could engage so passionately that they lose themselves in the moment and experience a sense of timeless ease. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has described such experiences as states of flow. When people are in such a state they are so completely absorbed in their pursuit that the world seems to stand still and usual temporal awareness slips away. They are intently focused on their passion, and the experience of the activity is so entirely intrinsically rewarding that the goal is just an excuse for the activity itself.

At Southridge, this would equate to a very high state of spirit soaring. There are many other ways that spirits can and do soar at Southridge – not the least of which is ensuring that others are supported in the pursuit of their own passions. As Alan Brown once said, spirits soaring is seen as empowering students to take hold of their own lives, while making sure that those around them are not constrained because of the unkindness of others. In other words, both the pursuit and support of passions are equally important at Southridge.

That being said, it would be unreasonable to expect all spirits to be soaring twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It would also be difficult, frankly, to imagine our entire student body in a constant state of flow. Nevertheless, what we want to instill in our students is both the desire and courage to pursue a passion. It would also be wonderful if they could exist in a state of flow on occasion so that the desire to reconnect on an emotional level becomes a motivating factor for them to continue seeking their passion both at Southridge and when they leave our school.

Believes in the values of truth, tolerance, compassion and respect

“We commit to the power of community. At the foundation is the trust born of knowing that our values are shared and lived.” This statement, our second guiding principle, speaks to the importance of values in our community. Our mission statement puts a fine point on four specific values in the declaration that reads, “believes in the values of truth, tolerance, compassion and respect.”

When it comes to teaching and learning about these values, some of the most meaningful experiences students and children can have come through role-modeling from adults. I understand that not all schools – independent or otherwise – list these kinds of moral values in their mission statements. Southridge is special in that regard. The foundation on which we as a community rest, and the fabric that supports our ultimate goal of educating students who make a difference in the world, are weak and fragile without our values being role-modeled.

All of us together help to create our community’s foundation. It is through our actions and behaviours exemplified day in and day out that enable us to build the base upon which we rest. Our community needs a strong alignment at a beliefs level as described by our values and exemplified by our deeds. Although we state that our shared purpose as partners in the education of your children is to educate individuals who make a difference in the world, we actually can’t achieve that if the underlying support network of values does not get our collective attention on a daily basis. If we are not together in what we believe in, there is little chance we will be able to find alignment on other important aspects and goals of our community.

Make no mistake about it; our children are watching, listening and learning from all of the adults in their lives. And even though we may think that adolescent children do not look to us as examples, they do. They need us just as much as our younger children do. We must all act and speak knowing that our children (and children from other families) are watching us. Every member of our community has a really important job to fulfill as a role-model, and role-modeling our values is of significance if we are to build a strong foundation and weave a healthy fabric that ultimately supports our school’s purpose and maintains our alignment of direction. Acting together we stand the best chance of educating individuals who make a difference

Understands the sacrifice and rewards of community service

Our pillar of service learning grew out of our mission statement. We seek to instill in our students an understanding of the sacrifices and rewards of community service. This concept relates to the vision of our school as an important component to our overall objective of a creating a community where every spirit soars. Spirits soaring can happen in a number of ways, but one that we believe is important to introduce to our students is the sense of fulfillment that is generated when they give of themselves to the greater good of the community, society, or the world. We endeavour to provide diverse and engaging opportunities for our students to learn from service experiences – many of which are embedded in the curriculum.

Our PYP students are regularly involved in actions associated with their units of inquiry, and our MYP students are absorbed in service learning through initiatives that are supported and encouraged by our teachers. We support student initiatives whenever possible and as a school we are energized by the connections our students develop within their own school community and beyond our school’s doors.

Our Senior School students are involved in service learning in many ways. Whether through Health and Career Education classes, classroom initiatives that support the curriculum (such as sturgeon fish tagging), our unique leadership course in Grade 10, or local and global community oriented trips and excursions, our students touch the lives of others in many ways and grow themselves as caring and compassionate citizens.

Service is the act of reaching beyond oneself to help others. It means responding to the needs of others rather than simply focusing on those of the self. It is a critical component of being a functioning member of any community, but at Southridge the degree and intensity of this response is particularly high. To help define our orientation to service here at Southridge, we have developed five guiding principles that make it genuine and powerful:

Long-term, rich relationships developed over years and with repeated interactions: We believe that service requires true empathy with others, so that it can only work effectively if we come to know those we are serving. Therefore, the most fundamental trait of service is that of relationship, in which we recognize that as servers, we are always receiving at least as much as we give. The impact of the interaction on us is often deeper and more long-lasting than on those we serve. As well, the opportunity to make real change is enhanced if a relationship exists between Southridge and a partner organization or sister community, with both sides collaborating and developing simultaneously.

Hands-on experiences that involve actively interacting with others so as to have maximal meaning for our students: We believe that service needs to be experiential in order to be most valuable to our students. Raising funds is an acknowledged part of many service activities and can often make the greatest impact for local and international aid organizations. However, service that can also involve direct contact with those being served, or which engage students’ minds and spirits through taking action have much greater power. This means that awareness-raising events are encouraged as much as fundraising ones. Whenever possible, students are given the opportunity to move beyond the classroom walls, either through attending events, visiting sites where they can serve or connecting through technology with the world.

Both local and international in scope in recognition of our role as responsible global citizens and as members of the local community: We believe that we are all members of the same human family, and whenever one of us is suffering or is treated unfairly, we are all affected. As such, we have an obligation to connect with and serve others wherever injustice is found. This includes those we interact with daily in our own school community, those who we can help in Surrey and the Lower Mainland, the oppressed in our own country, and those less materially fortunate around the world, especially our sister communities in Ecuador, Kenya, and India.

Developing leadership skills by student-generated and organized activities, which empower students and give them the skills to make a difference now: We believe that students need to ultimately take charge of their own learning in service areas. While there is required service-learning embedded in the curriculum, students have choices around the multitude of service opportunities they wish to follow. This is important because it allows students to take greater ownership of their service-learning and accompanying personal growth and development, thus making it more meaningful over the long-term.

An extremely important part of education which may be immersed in the curriculum when appropriate, but is always recognized as an essential, even a defining, part of the Southridge experience: We believe that service has value educationally, because it facilitates deep, genuine, experiential real-world learning that is more durable than theoretical exploration. Beyond that, service is at the core of the ‘other curriculum’ which defines what true character is in our community and what values matter to us – that serving others is an ideal way in which to make a difference in the world.Our pillar of service learning grew out of our mission statement. We seek to instill in our students an understanding of the sacrifices and rewards of community service. This concept relates to the vision of our school as an important component to our overall objective of a creating a community where every spirit soars. Spirits soaring can happen in a number of ways, but one that we believe is important to introduce to our students is the sense of fulfillment that is generated when they give of themselves to the greater good of the community, society, or the world. We endeavour to provide diverse and engaging opportunities for our students to learn from service experiences – many of which are embedded in the curriculum.

Our PYP students are regularly involved in actions associated with their units of inquiry, and our MYP students are absorbed in service learning through initiatives that are supported and encouraged by our teachers. We support student initiatives whenever possible and as a school we are energized by the connections our students develop within their own school community and beyond our school’s doors.

Our Senior School students are involved in service learning in many ways. Whether through Health and Career Education classes, classroom initiatives that support the curriculum (such as sturgeon fish tagging), our unique leadership course in Grade 10, or local and global community oriented trips and excursions, our students touch the lives of others in many ways and grow themselves as caring and compassionate citizens.

Service is the act of reaching beyond oneself to help others. It means responding to the needs of others rather than simply focusing on those of the self. It is a critical component of being a functioning member of any community, but at Southridge the degree and intensity of this response is particularly high. To help define our orientation to service here at Southridge, we have developed five guiding principles that make it genuine and powerful:

Long-term, rich relationships developed over years and with repeated interactions: We believe that service requires true empathy with others, so that it can only work effectively if we come to know those we are serving. Therefore, the most fundamental trait of service is that of relationship, in which we recognize that as servers, we are always receiving at least as much as we give. The impact of the interaction on us is often deeper and more long-lasting than on those we serve. As well, the opportunity to make real change is enhanced if a relationship exists between Southridge and a partner organization or sister community, with both sides collaborating and developing simultaneously.

Hands-on experiences that involve actively interacting with others so as to have maximal meaning for our students: We believe that service needs to be experiential in order to be most valuable to our students. Raising funds is an acknowledged part of many service activities and can often make the greatest impact for local and international aid organizations. However, service that can also involve direct contact with those being served, or which engage students’ minds and spirits through taking action have much greater power. This means that awareness-raising events are encouraged as much as fundraising ones. Whenever possible, students are given the opportunity to move beyond the classroom walls, either through attending events, visiting sites where they can serve or connecting through technology with the world.

Both local and international in scope in recognition of our role as responsible global citizens and as members of the local community: We believe that we are all members of the same human family, and whenever one of us is suffering or is treated unfairly, we are all affected. As such, we have an obligation to connect with and serve others wherever injustice is found. This includes those we interact with daily in our own school community, those who we can help in Surrey and the Lower Mainland, the oppressed in our own country, and those less materially fortunate around the world, especially our sister communities in Ecuador, Kenya, and India.

Developing leadership skills by student-generated and organized activities, which empower students and give them the skills to make a difference now: We believe that students need to ultimately take charge of their own learning in service areas. While there is required service-learning embedded in the curriculum, students have choices around the multitude of service opportunities they wish to follow. This is important because it allows students to take greater ownership of their service-learning and accompanying personal growth and development, thus making it more meaningful over the long-term.

An extremely important part of education which may be immersed in the curriculum when appropriate, but is always recognized as an essential, even a defining, part of the Southridge experience: We believe that service has value educationally, because it facilitates deep, genuine, experiential real-world learning that is more durable than theoretical exploration. Beyond that, service is at the core of the ‘other curriculum’ which defines what true character is in our community and what values matter to us – that serving others is an ideal way in which to make a difference in the world.

Has an appreciation of, and desire for, lifelong physical activity and fitness

Our mission statement emphasizes well-roundedness; being physically fit and active supports that emphasis. Numerous studies in the life sciences and human physiology fields have demonstrated and identified the benefits of exercise and fitness. We aim to educate students who appreciate physical activity and who pursue physical fitness as a means of achieving balance and well-being.

A dimension of physical activity as it relates to the school environment is its connection with school spirit. Athletics is an important element of the education program at Southridge, and we expect our students to be involved with athletics in some capacity – either on a school team or through participation in the recreational sports program or intramurals. We believe that through these avenues, our student body develops a special connection to their school; a connection that can best be described as school spirit. Of course, athletics is only one means of developing school spirit, but it is an important one that also helps to support well-roundedness and well-being.

Physical activity and fitness supports scholastic achievement as well. On the one hand, we know that students who are more involved with their school (beyond the classroom) tend to achieve higher academic results than they would if they were not involved. Being connected to school through athletics is one way to make the link between engagement in school life and academic achievement. On the other hand, being physically fit and active supports the healthy mind/healthy body paradigm. Physical activity boosts one’s mood and gives a person more energy to handle the demands of a busy day. And exercising during the day is a great way to take a mental break. Stretching muscles, breathing deeply and pumping fresh oxygen throughout the body is invigorating and refreshing. Coming back to a mode of mental concentration always seems easier following a good bout of physical activity.

Our mission statement is multi-dimensional and does a very good job of defining what it means to be well-balanced. Its descriptors identify the focus points of our school and help to define how we conceptualize a well-rounded education. They point to our community’s purpose beyond the academic realm of classroom life and define how Southridge is unique. We want all of our students to experience the benefits of engagement in their school community. We know that involvement in our athletics program not only promotes school spirit, it also supports physical activity and fitness as lifelong pursuits, which ultimately affect well-being – physical as well as cognitive.

Appreciates the arts and their contribution to a richer life

The arts have been an important element of the educational experience and program at Southridge from the day we first opened our doors in 1995. Alan Brown’s belief in a well-rounded education challenged our young school to devote instructional time and human resources to an arts program during a period in our school’s history when many “survival” considerations were vying for the attention of valuable resources. However, there was a wholehearted commitment at Southridge to set a foundation for program diversity that would influence our school for years to come.

Appreciation of the arts has been a component of our mission statement for years. The arts were recognized as one of our pillars just after Southridge opened. This meant that our students would have exposure to comprehensive visual and performing arts programs taught by specialist teachers beginning at a young age. Fundamentally, the intent was not necessarily to develop our students into artists, although many of our graduates have pursued post-secondary studies in the arts field; rather, the intent was to engage our students in meaningful art experiences to trigger a more robust understanding of their world. Such an understanding complements a cognitive approach to establishing meaning and challenges our students to think in original and creative ways.

Consequently, our students’ well-roundedness is not so much a matter of taking a diverse array of courses as much as it is about developing the ability to construct meaning in multiple ways – intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. The arts, therefore, play a significant role in our educational program. They help our students reach a more sophisticated and holistic understanding of their world and their role in it as they interact with and engage in experiences that challenge what they think they understand, believe and feel.

The outcome of the interplay of arts education within our program at Southridge is that our students become richer. That is to say our students connect with meaning and life experiences in a manner that holds value beyond academic comprehension alone. From a sensory perspective, richness connotes a robust, full and vivid impression. And there is a beauty to such richness that improves an educational experience making it more significant, well-rounded and balanced.

Simply put, Southridge would not be the Southridge of today without the arts and their contribution to a richer educational experience and a richer life.

Can work effectively as part of a team

The last of our mission statement’s descriptors, the ability to work effectively as part of a team, is an important part of a well-rounded education and a balanced person’s success in the 21st century. And in consideration of the influence a “shrinking world” has on the way our students will learn, work, and interact with one another as the next century continues to evolve, working effectively as part of a team is perhaps even more important today than it was a dozen years ago.

The classic perspective of being a contributing team member is commonly understood. Working as a team often allows a group to achieve more than a single person could accomplish working for the same length of time independently. A collaborative approach to problem solving brings varying points-of-view that often lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the issues and a more diverse array of possible solutions. Additionally, brainstorming with a group of people on a team with a common purpose offers a range of ideas and viewpoints that can open new doors of exploration for learning and growth.

It is interesting to note that each of our guiding principles has an element of team in it. Choosing how we influence the community and the world underscores the fact that even when we act alone our actions have an impact on others (on our team). The power of community acknowledges that considerable strength is developed when a group of people (on a team) come together with a shared purpose and a common set of values. And contribution being at the heart of what we inherit and pass on connotes the importance of people giving of themselves for the betterment of others (on a team).

A less classic interpretation of the ability to work effectively as part of a team has to do with creativity and the generation of ideas. Often, a creative idea begins as a gut feeling or an intuition. According to Steve Johnson (see the video “Where Good Ideas Come From”), hunches, as he calls them, not only require time to incubate in order to germinate and become formulated into more sophisticated ideas; they also need to connect with the hunches of other people. Through the sharing of intellectual capital and the benefit of discourse and debate, hunches connect with divergent or similar points-of-view to shape and influence their eventual articulation. In this way, creativity and the generation of novel ideas and thoughts is highly influenced by the members of a team.

There are many ways to be on a team at Southridge. Whether through athletics, the arts (band and drama), outdoor education, service learning, or academics (Reach for the Top and debate) our students are exposed to common benefits of being on a team. Our co-curricular experiences are very important in this regard. They are important because of the feelings of connectedness and sense of common purpose they engender. It feels good to be part of a team working towards a goal together. Being a team member helps develop confidence in knowing that contributions both big and small are important to the success of the group. Being on a team also draws attention to the many roles that need to be fulfilled selflessly for the greater good.

Education at Southridge is not just about academics and what happens in the classroom. Participation on teams through the co-curricular program is important to the overall development of our students and helps support the skills that are needed to learn, work, and interact successfully in the 21st century.

IN SUMMARY: Someone who makes a difference in the world.

The summary declaration of our mission statement places a fine point on the purpose of Southridge. We resolve to educate individuals who make a difference in the world. It is pretty clear. But it is far from simple. Admittedly, Southridge is not the only school that strives to educate students who make a difference, but our singularity is notable in the sense that the ingredients to our action plan are listed clearly within the text of the broader mission statement. We focus our attention on encouraging and challenging each student to become someone who:

Is a lifelong learner

Has study, critical thinking and communication skills

Is a creative and independent thinker

Has a positive attitude

Seeks their passion

Believes in the values of truth, tolerance, compassion and respect

Understands the sacrifice and rewards of community service

Has an appreciation of, and desire for, lifelong physical activity and fitness

Appreciates the arts and their contribution to a richer life

Can work effectively as part of a team


In other words, the way to make a difference “the Southridge way” is to follow the road map outlined in the text of the broader mission statement. Our guiding principles are like the guard rails and light posts along the road. They help us stay on track and remain true to our purpose. In so doing, we can be assured that our students (and the rest of us) will use their influence to make a contribution that makes a difference to our community and society.

We often say to our students that it is our expectation of them to consciously identify how they have influenced their school in a positive way. The sense of stewardship that we strive to enable in them is that they have a responsibility to leave their school a better place than they found it. From our perspective, stewardship can be seen through micro and macro lenses.

Seen through the micro lens, we expect that all of our students will do the small things on a daily basis that help to create a warm and welcoming caring community culture. The point of micro stewardship is to regularly add a “drop of positive influence to the bucket” of our school culture. Micro stewardship is a daily calling to help create the kind of school that we want. It is meant to instill the understanding that we all need to actively contribute to making Southridge a special place.

Seen through a macro lens, stewardship is a contribution made to the school over a longer period of time. Think of this orientation as a reflective exercise that can be done toward the end of a school year or at the end of a person’s stay at our school. A natural tendency is for our graduates to look back over their years at the school and identify how they have left Southridge a better place for having been here. In a sense, this is a legacy reflection. But it is not limited to our graduates. All students have the responsibility to take stalk of their contributions and to consider how their time at Southridge has made a difference to our school community.

The summary declaration of our mission statement is often cited as the mission statement of our school. Although it is an accurate depiction of what our school is all about, it is important to understand all of its facets. The text of the broader mission statement helps to drive decision-making at Southridge, and without it, the summary statement becomes broad and potentially unmanageable. Out of our descriptors that make up the text of our broader mission statement our pillars were developed. Through our descriptors our academic programs were shaped. In our descriptors our values are expressed. And because of our descriptors a well-balanced attitude toward education is embraced.

Maintaining the big picture of what we are all about is necessary if we are to act with a shared sense of common purpose. Think of the strength our community can generate when we dedicate our energy to a common set of objectives. I encourage you to think of our mission statement as the truth of our community. Let’s focus on the truth . . . tell the truth . . . role model the truth . . . and be stewards of the truth. If we act in this manner, the spirit of our entire community will soar and we will all benefit.

When it comes to teaching and learning about these values, some of the most meaningful experiences students and children can have come through role-modeling from adults. I understand that not all schools – independent or otherwise – list these kinds of moral values in their mission statements. Southridge is special in that regard. The foundation on which we as a community rest, and the fabric that supports our ultimate goal of educating students who make a difference in the world, are weak and fragile without our values being role-modeled.


All of us together help to create our community’s foundation. It is through our actions and behaviours exemplified day in and day out that enable us to build the base upon which we rest. Our community needs a strong alignment at a beliefs level as described by our values and exemplified by our deeds. Although we state that our shared purpose as partners in the education of your children is to educate individuals who make a difference in the world, we actually can’t achieve that if the underlying support network of values does not get our collective attention on a daily basis. If we are not together in what we believe in, there is little chance we will be able to find alignment on other important aspects and goals of our community.

Make no mistake about it; our children are watching, listening and learning from all of the adults in their lives. And even though we may think that adolescent children do not look to us as examples, they do. They need us just as much as our younger children do. We must all act and speak knowing that our children (and children from other families) are watching us. Every member of our community has a really important job to fulfill as a role-model, and role-modeling our values is of significance if we are to build a strong foundation and weave a healthy fabric that ultimately supports our school’s purpose and maintains our alignment of direction. Acting together we stand the best chance of educating individuals who make a difference.

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