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



Heartfelt Gratitude

2012_2013_Assembly_May21_14I witnessed one of our best LCC school traditions on Tuesday morning—one that parents never see. It was an impressive series of heartfelt “Thank Yous” and words of appreciation from Middle and Senior School students to departing faculty.

So what is the impact of a good teacher? Incalculable. They work long hours shoulder to shoulder with students of potential. Young people need practice, refinement and opportunities to try and then try again. That’s how deep learning happens. Teachers’ work is more of a craft or art than a science. Teachers are in the people-building business. No single recipe for success works with any two students. It’s complicated and important work.

Several words come to mind when I think about a good teacher:  intelligent, patient, insightful, concerned, connected, intuitive, committed, inspired, inspiring, invaluable, fair, industrious. The list goes on.

Today our students proudly took time to be genuine in their public thanks. It was clear from the students’ words that each teacher had really made a difference. Each one has touched students profoundly and in different ways. My thanks to all departing faculty for their commitment to learning and living by our LCC ethos of  “Students First.” —Chris Shannon, Headmaster


teachersCreate, push, pull, inspire, repeat, repeat, repeat —

Lead, laugh, discover, introduce, complete.

Develop, compare, contrast, critique, follow-up,

Be brutally honest, hone, amaze, focus, analyze,

Grow, advise, envision, coach, tutor, assess, nurture….

… and bid farewell. Job well done!

Thank you LCC Faculty. Congratulations graduates of 2010!

— Chris Shannon, Headmaster

We Can’t Afford to be Lazy

NoLazy_03Nov2009The sustainability committee is proving to be a very useful clearing-house for ideas on how to make our operations at the School more efficient. There are many different points of view and it’s a good reminder (for me at least) that there are many different reasons why people want to help reduce our impact on the environment.

The one point that I really love is efficiency. This particular idea gets the most die-hard skeptics on board in most cases. It’s just about impossible to make a reasoned case for inefficiency. Even people that couldn’t care less about what happens to their garbage or why they should not idle their cars, understand why paying for garbage pickup is silly if we can compost 65% of our solid waste (food) and make fertilizer for the gardens around the school to avoid paying for manure each spring.

Part of the reason why I like working at LCC is that fighting this battle isn’t even an issue. The maintenance staff gets it. Resource management is their game and I don’t have to make a case. The rest of our campus resource users (i.e., students and staff) need to come on board. Like many other members of our society, we are too accustomed to wasting for the sake of convenience. The world can ill-afford our laziness.

—Chris Olive, LCC faculty Member & Green Team Liaison

Theatre Pro-D Benefits Students

Theatre_2Have you ever been randomly chosen from a circle of adults to create a monologue on the spot? Have you ever had to convey the text of a Greek myth without saying a word? Or maybe, you have been asked to create a documentary drama in two hours with a group of strangers? That was the nature of the “Power of Leadership” theatre conference that I attended in Anaheim, California, recently. Hosted by the Educational Theatre Association of America (EDTA), this professional development opportunity offered hands-on workshops ranging from commedia dell’ arte, how to create a documentary drama, Disney costuming secrets, to even a master’s class in the Michael Chekhov psychological gesture technique.

As an educator, these conferences offer many benefits. Firstly, I become a student again. I am able to learn new teaching and acting techniques from world class, international instructors. These workshops reawaken the sense of being a student and enhance the curiosity, excitement and apprehension that come from taking a risk and trying something new. This keeps me current and enables me to understand the perspective of my LCC students.

As a result, this experience helps my students in that the curriculum is in infused with fresh new ideas. This year, we will explore the art of Italian comedy through the mask work of commedia dell’ arte in my grade 10 theatre arts class. In grade 9 theatre, I will incorporate the “monologue orchestra” as part of my acting unit.

Secondly, since I find myself surrounded by like-minded thespians, these conferences provide an invaluable support network in my field of expertise. I have always been the only teacher in my field in all of the schools in which I taught. This networking time is therefore important for me because it helps situate my work within a larger community. We are all setting out with the same objectives, passionate about theatre education and are creative observers of the human condition.

Thirdly, each conference has a keynote speaker whose task is to inspire and mobilize new ideas and passions in theatre education. This year’s keynote speaker was Jason Alexander who is best known for his character, George Costanza, on Seinfeld. Not only is Jason Alexander a gifted actor, he is also an intelligent writer and director who has a lot to say about leadership in the arts. He sits on an advisory board for the arts at Boston University and has a compelling argument for theatre education. He highlighted new research that shows how theatre, music and art stimulates and develops the right side of the brain. Secondly he conveyed the notion that it is the artists’ job to go against that which has been established in order to create something new. Experimentation, creativity, risk taking as well as understanding your culture and critiquing it, is a profound way in which the arts shapes us to become more evolved human beings.

—Natasha Hart, LCC Department Head of Fine Arts