by Mr. Hugh Burke
Parents and Independent Schools: The Meadowridge Experience
Just today, I ran into one of our school parents at a local store. We chatted about our last Gala, and about the Parent Guild meeting last time, and about who would be driving for our kids’ team this week, and about who would be coming to the Scotch-tasting party that went in the Gala Auction on Saturday.
It got me thinking about the role of parents at our school, and how it is different from any of the public schools I have ever worked within. Often, parents within the public system feel disenfranchised – see the Ontario experience, and indicators of the B.C. experience here.
Our parents, on the other hand, are essential to everything in our school. First, our parents form our Board, our Finance Committee, or Advancement Committee, our Facilities Committee, and just about every other committee in the school. Their oversight and scrutiny is essential to the continued high functioning of our school. And at all of those levels, they have established Governance practices which are outstanding.
We have hundreds of volunteer parents in the school, and they are there often. Parents are intimately involved with, and run, the Gala, the Golf Tournament., and most other school events alongside of teachers and administrators.
The Parent Guild is an essential part of our school, invaluable in dozens of ways. Their support has been critically important to the growth of our school.
Since there are about 34 Administrator and Teacher children at the school, it is also true that many of our teachers are also parents at the school.
And here is the thing: I cannot remember the last time that any parent lobbied for some sort of special status for their children based on what they do at the school. Our parents are hugely supportive of the teachers, and of all the children, not just their own. They are thoughtful, and excellent to collaborate with. That is not to say that there are no disagreements; rather, than when anything needs serious discussion, we have come to know that the parents at our school are people with whom we can work things out. As a professional community, we often brag about how supportive our parents are, and how our parent interviews are amongst the best days of the year.
Over half of our families are now contributing to Annual Giving, and it is parents who give most to the Golf Tournament, and the Gala. Our parents have come to understand that philanthropy is essential to our success with the children.
Why the difference between us and the public schools? It might be size, or access, or trust, or many things…but being an independent school community is the most important factor.
Thank you to all the parents, who make this school such a great place to work!