cmu15 0129 A51R9087Last week, Quebec Education Minister Yves Bolduc was forced to comment on a comprehensive report from the University of Laval that was very critical of a decade of significant educational reform here in Quebec. Quebec is not alone in attempting changes in educational approaches; these have been implemented across most of the western world in recent years. All nations have attempted to shift away from old-world priorities: memorization, drill & kill (interest), and a “one-size fits all” mentality. Today we stress more relevant 21st century skills—the nurturing of creativity, collaboration, problem solving, IT integration and resilience—so students can better navigate a rapidly changing world.

Unfortunately, after 10 years the evidence on Quebec student performance has not been impressive. In fact, in mathematics and mother-tongue French, scores have slipped, while Quebec continues to wrestle with one of the highest high school dropout rates in North America—still entrenched at a rather shocking 25%—and even higher in some regions.

Although there are clearly some serious issues in Quebec, we need not see ourselves in the same light at LCC. Here we enrich and aim higher than base standards, and that approach has actually served us very well over the past decade. Our academic results are very solid, and I continue to be impressed by both faculty innovation and student achievement.

So let me present my LCC Top Ten Joyde List.  What’s Joyde?  Well, it’s my own word. Joyde is the intersection of “joy” and “pride”. Despite the negative media portrayal of student performance, I believe there is still plenty of room for joy in learning—and pride still matters a great deal at LCC. I wander our halls a lot and see activities and initiatives from K-12  that reflect genuine Joyde.

As a testimony to the much-loved Top Ten List that is so popular in our culture, in no particular order, here are 10 examples that  is alive and well at LCC:

1.   Kindergarten

This programme is a serious “cuteathon”. Our class sizes are very small—and by November the flexible and malleable minds of our youngest students allow them to already understand and express themselves in French in a surprisingly competent way.


2.  Faculty Growth

For many years behind the scenes our teachers have worked hard at developing and enhancing specific aspects of their teaching.  This takes time, effort, thoughtful reflection and collaboration. Most recently this has been further enhanced by the introduction of the IB Diploma and IB training seminars, as well as all-faculty PLC mornings for teacher collaboration. Many impressive achievements have emerged from focused teacher reflection and collaboration.


3.  EF  – Executive Functioning & Positive Mindset

Several years ago as a result of some Faculty Growth initiatives, a group of Middle School teachers worked to develop a program in EF skill development that we could reinforce throughout Middle School and beyond. It begins with an understanding of “metacognition” —how to learn best—and development of a positive mindset so students can be resilient and overcome obstacles in learning. Now, twice a year an EF Report Card goes home to Middle School students/parents. This is very helpful in making learning more meaningful.


4.  Committed & Service-oriented Staff

Non-teaching staff are key to student success at LCC.  We try hard to hire for attitude in addition to skills.  From our front reception to our nurses, part-time coaches, to maintenance and security staff, these are positive and committed people who make a positive difference in students’ lives every day. Whether clearing the snow, welcoming students when late, helping to coordinate pizza lunches, mopping up bloody noses, and repairing our facilities, these roles are critical for success in our learning community.


5.  STEM Engagement & IT Integration

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math.  It’s an area where North Americans fear we are falling behind compared to challengers in Asia and parts of Europe. LCC Teachers respond with cool science labs, robotics, real-world math initiatives, Grade 9 CSI day, IB science & math. Our teachers are energetic and creative. From the Junior School Science Exploratorium to the Senior Schools classes, labs, and workrooms, our talented science, math & IT teachers do not tolerate anything less than excellence in STEM.


6.  Internationalism & Global Perspectives

As a Round Square & IB school, we are firmly committed to opening students’ eyes to the world and helping them embrace “the other”, people culturally different from themselves. Whether it’s specific courses, international exchanges, international students, service projects, Duke of Edinburgh leadership activities, or the connectivity of our digitally-connected classrooms, LCC students have more meaningful opportunities to learn about the world than any school in this city.


7.  Co-Curricular integration:  Athletics, Arts, Leadership, Service (Non Nobis Solum)

Athletics, plays, bands, leadership and service opportunities are too numerous to mention. But these activities bind students together, help them gain skills, grow and emerge as young adults. These are often the most engaging and memorable experiences of our students’ high school years.


8.   Bilinguisme

Ici au Québec c’est esséntial de parler francais. Le Français n’est pas seulement une deuxième langue, mais c’est aussi la connaissance d’une culture. Ça peut assister nos étudiants d’etre plus ouvert à la connaissance de plusieurs cultures.


9.  LEAD  –  Learning Enrichment And Development

Our unique LEAD Team and LEAD programmes are designed to help all students be empowered as learners, and develop the skills and confidence to allow their true potential to emerge. We have learned more about learning and the brain in the past decade than in all prior history. Today we are applying the research and LEAD teachers are proactively changing lives.


10.   Volunteerism  (Parents, Alumni, Community)

Much of what we do well at LCC is well supported by parent and alumni volunteers who help with special events, staff our Board and Board committees. They also offer generous philanthropic support that has helped to build our outstanding campus and finance bursaries and scholarships that provide for so many unique opportunities.


So I am genuinely sorry Mr. Bolduc has problems on his hands with the broad state of education in Quebec.  But here at LCC we take nothing for granted and “joyde”—both joy and pride combined —are alive and well.  All things considered, we should be very proud. —Chris Shannon, Headmaster



A Special Visit

American psychologist Wendy Mogul wrote a best-seller for parents of teens a couple of years ago titles The Blessing of a B-Minus.  She reminds readers that the upsetting aspects of adolescence are not only normal, but also necessary. They are the blessings that represent healthy growth. Both students and parents have to find a way to put them in perspective and react thoughtfully instead of impulsively.  In Mogul’s words, “bad grades, emotional outbursts, rudeness, breaking the rules, staying up late and experimentation become signs that a teen is actually on course, not headed for disaster.”

So let me tell you about a visit I received just over a week ago from an LCC alumnus, now 20 years old.  He made a formal appointment to see me, only telling my assistant that it was personal.  When he graduated three years ago, he had gone through a difficult time on a lot of levels: he was very competent, but academic achievement in grade 11 was often well below potential. There were complicated personal dynamics at play and he was an elite athlete involved heavily in community sport with demanding coaches and others who did not really see him as a whole – just as a cog in his team’s dynamics. In short, when this young man was in grade 11, he was caught in a tight squeeze of many demands and too little time. I remembered that he had actually missed his graduation to play his sport in a showcase match, which was a metaphor for unbalanced priorities. Despite efforts by many teachers and administrators, LCC life simply became a second-class priority in this boy’s life.

Imagine my surprise when a confident young man sat in my office a couple of weeks ago.  He openly told me that looking back, today he is very disappointed and embarrassed by his own behavior while at LCC. He felt he needed to tell me how much he now knows – how the academic and character foundations laid at LCC have served him well. He went on to an American prep school where he flourished in both sport and the classroom. He credits it all to LCC. Two weeks ago he was offered a significant scholarship to play his sport at the NCAA Division I level at a prominent university in New York State. He said he owed most of it to LCC – to his teachers who set high standards and held him accountable, to his advisor, and to the many people who showed interest in him as a complete person.

All of this came out of him very calmly, very genuinely and in significant detail. I was impressed by his maturity. It is not in the DNA of every young man to recognize what he was expressing.  But then to go further and make a formal appointment to see me and express his thanks in person was another level of maturity and responsibility.

But that’s not all. He explained that he had been working for the past couple of weeks – and will be saving and training over the summer before university begins in the fall. He pulled out a thank you card he had written and explained that he needed to do more than just express his thanks. He took his first $500 pay cheque and signed it over to LCC, saying that he owes a great deal to the school – and he looks forward to being an active and constructive member of the alumni well into the future. Impressive to say the least!

What I know for sure is that the work of our teachers is very valuable.  It can be demanding, tiring, occasionally irritating, but always extremely valuable in the long term. Education is fundamentally about helping each student build character and find ways to embody important values.  It’s the long-term impact that will serve our students for a lifetime. –Chris Shannon, Headmaster

Membership Has Its Privileges

Blog_Mentorship_03May2013I have had many mentors in my life who have taught me valuable lessons and skills. The significance of having a mentor and the impact they can have on a mentee is something I have experienced first hand. Beyond my personal relationships with close friends, teachers, or relatives, I’ve had the chance to work with some incredible people in our community. These individuals have guided me in my efforts to pursue a specific industry.

In the summer prior to my graduating year, I interned at the Michael Kors Canadian headquarters. This experience was both enlightening and challenging. Given my inherent passion for fashion, I saw this internship as a great opportunity from which I had to take full advantage. While even observing simple office activities was a learning experience in itself, I was lucky enough to test the waters in most of the departments. To my delight, this internship was not just a job to fill my empty schedule in August – on the contrary, and my fervor was only further strengthened. This summer, I am excited to start my next internship in New York City’s famed fashion industry.

Given the incredible opportunities I have been given, and assuming my position as Head Girl, I wanted to implement a project that could help my peers in the same way I have been helped. This is a project that could help them not only today, but also tomorrow. Based on my personal experiences, I felt it was important to connect our current students and young alumni with our impressive roster of alumni and current LCC parents with the hopes of offering internship and job opportunities.

As luck would have it, Mr. LLano (Director of Development and Alumni Engagement) along with the LCC Alumni Association, already had similar objectives in mind. With an exclusive “LCC Alumni” LinkedIn page, new graduates and past graduates will have the opportunity to connect and share or seek job and internship opportunities.

As grade 10 and 11 students, joining a LinkedIn page may seem like a useless task. However, the opportunities that are “linked” with this program have the potential to open many doors for you down the road. Whether you log in for the first time next summer, after your undergrad, or even after your masters, the members of this page will soon be posting employment openings looking for LCC graduates as prospective candidates.

We encourage creating an account with LinkedIn and joining the alumni page as LinkedIn has the power to introduce our students and young alumni to various industries and professions that are already being managed by LCC alumni.

It is my hope that by doing this you will be given opportunities that are valuable and enriching, and that you too will find mentors to help you along the way. —Sabrina Aberman ’13

Happiness Quotient

Blog_HappinessQuotient_10Jan2013Happy New Year – and welcome to 2013!

Despite endless media tales of corruption and doomsday scenarios, I believe that we are very fortunate as Montrealers and Canadian citizens. There are also many benefits from being part of our caring and supportive LCC school community.

On our last day of school in December I was struck by a report in the Globe & Mail of a notable good news story reporting that 80% of Canadians have a great day most days. This comes from an international poll of people in 148 countries.  They were asked if they had been treated with respect the day before, whether they had done a lot of laughing and smiling, whether they had experienced positive feelings and had enjoyed their day.  Eighty per cent (80%) of Canadians felt positive about most of these elements of their lives – which tied for 11th out of 148 countries worldwide, tying us with Colombia, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ireland. We were ahead of countries like the UK, the United States, Australia and France (all in the mid to low 70’s).

Notably, all of the countries with the highest rate of positive responses – the top 10 – are all in so-called “developing nations,” and eight of those are in Latin America, led by Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela, and followed by Trinidad and Costa Rica.

So on this scale – what I will call a “Happiness Quotient” – it appears that above a certain level, the old adage is correct: “money does not buy happiness.” Singapore, the 5th wealthiest nation on earth, earned the lowest score at 46%, while Panama which only ranks 90th in income per person tied for 1st.

The pollster, Gallup, cited the research of two Nobel laureate economists (Daniel Kahneman & Angus Deaton) of Princeton University who concluded that earnings only have a positive impact on emotions up until $75,000.  Beyond that, additional income does not appear to make any difference at all – an important message for all of us in our money-obsessed culture.

So why do Latin Americans stand out at the top of the pack? It appears that a significant emphasis in Latino culture on the value of family & friends contributes to a particularly positive outlook on life. This was affirmed in my very unscientific straw poll of one person. I recently spoke with LCC Spanish teacher Señora Navarette , who is originally from Chile. She knew nothing about the poll, but she was not surprised when she heard the results for Latin America. She affirmed immediately that general happiness in Latin America is closely associated to family, friends and community as most important in life.

So why is Canada among the happiest of the world’s wealthiest countries?  Well, we enjoy a great deal of personal freedom, our crime rates are low and we have government policies and programs that reduce social inequality compared to other peer countries. It is also believed that immigration is likely an important factor.  At 250,000 people per year, on a per-capita basis, Canada has more people arrive on its shores than any other developed country in the world.

So diversity and a genuine comfort with multiculturalism as a norm, likely have a positive impact on the way we see the world and feel about our daily lives in Canada. As the Globe & Mail article on this poll stated in December, perhaps we should not over-analyze the data, but instead, focus on some of the feelings we all no doubt felt over the holidays when we looked back at 2012.  We are lucky to live in a beautiful country with a diverse and generally upbeat population.

In many ways Canada is a beacon to the world – civil, prosperous and safe. I hope you count yourself among the contented.  I also hope that for the rest of this year you will appreciate your many blessings and do your best to celebrate family, friends and our school community – for therein lies our greatest riches and relationships that are the seeds of true happiness. —Chris Shannon, Headmaster