Town Hall Meeting - 2016 - Q&A

    • Town Hall Meeting
September 14, 2016: Listed below are the questions posed by our community to Headmaster Fellin during the Town Hall meeting. Some questions have been grouped by theme. To reveal responses, please click on the question.

List of 37 frequently asked questions.

  • What are your immediate plans to address the very late lunch for Upper School?

    The short-term solution is to provide Upper School boys with a substantial and healthy mid-morning snack each day. We tried this twice a week last year with great reviews from the boys. It is not perfect but will help bridge us until we build a larger dining hall. The longer-term solution will be incorporated as part of the master facilities plan.
  • What specific day to day habits will you teach the Upper School boys on how to manage stress and adopt mindfulness?

    With the support of Dr. Greg Wells and his team, we will provide opportunities to educate and practice deep breathing and short periods of mindfulness practice. It is our hope that boys will be able to use these strategies whenever they need them in the course of the day
  • Going forward, how will the Outreach program be organized, and will it be ready for the current Upper School boys to enjoy?

    Our Outreach program is being designed to fit with our overall strategic academic plan with an emphasis on "service learning." The focus for boys in grade 9 will be local service, the mandatory community service hours required for the OSSD; grade 10s will focus on leadership development and national outreach; and grades 11&12 will be focused on international outreach. Our commitment is to ensure deep learning and the very best risk management for all trips locally and abroad.
  • Please explain briefly the structure of the board.

    (The following answer was provided by Barry Gordon, Chair of Crescent's Board of Governors.) 
    The Board of Governors of Crescent School is a volunteer board consisting of 18 people (in addition to the Headmaster who sits in an ex officio capacity). It is responsible for the overall stewardship, governance and direction of the school in accordance with the Strategic Plan. The Board includes representation from the Crescent community, drawing on expertise in finance, facilities development, management, advancement, human resources, law and marketing among others. There is specific representation of the Crescent Parent Association, the Alumni Association and the Crescent Foundation. There are both standing committees and, from time-to-time, ad hoc committees of the Board, which assist and provide advice to the Board. Those committees draw from the Board and the broader Crescent community.
    Governors must be 18 years of age, are nominated by the Governance Committee of the Board, and typically sit for three-year terms which may be extended annually for successive one-year terms. As noted above, Governors represent the skill sets needed to assist the Board as a whole fulfilling its mandate and candidates are identified through the Board, its standing and ad hoc committees and in consultation with the school’s constituencies.
  • Are there any plans for boarding in the long term plans for the school?

    No, we are not considering a boarding program at Crescent at this time.
  • What was the thought process behind not naming a separate Middle School Head upon Aaron Dion's departure? Is this temporary?

    Rather than posting a position for an external candidate, I felt we had the right person in Dr. Boyes already at the School. The required work in building a grade 3-12 Academic plan that is aligned across all divisions made the decision quite easy. Her leadership expertise in curriculum design and mapping will be extremely helpful in the Middle School. My view is no decision is etched in stone. We'll keep in place systems, processes, and programs that work ... and change those that do not.
  • Why doesn't the Board post its minutes?

    (The following answer was provided by Barry Gordon, Chair of Crescent's Board of Governors.) 
    The Board of Governors is like any other private governance body, and deals with sensitive and confidential matters in the normal course. In addition, the Board discusses matters and makes decisions which are competitively sensitive. Accordingly, for these reasons it would be inappropriate to post minutes.
  • Gender diversity is an issue for corporate boards today. Is it an issue for the Crescent Board of Governors? Which stakeholder groups do Board members represent, and how are they elected or chosen?

    (The following answer was provided by Barry Gordon, Chair of Crescent's Board of Governors.) 
    Promoting diversity in all of its forms is a goal of the Board, and in fact is highlighted as an objective in the latest Strategic Plan. Currently of the 18 Governors, 6 are women. 
    There are two Governors who ensure that specific stakeholder groups are represented in all discussions – the President of the CPA and the Chair of the Alumni Executive – with the Chair of the Foundation Board attending on an ad hoc basis. The balance of the Board is typically a combination of current 父母, past 父母 and alumni. 
    The Governance Committee of the Board, which has the responsibility to identify and nominate potential Governors, undertakes an annual process to assess expected Governor turnover, determine which skillsets are needed, creates lists of potential Governors from a variety of sources, and ultimately makes recommendations to nominate dedicated individuals who possess skillsets which align with and inform the priorities flowing from the Board’s mission and the Strategic Plan. 
  • What are the performance indicators to measure progress?

    I assume you are referencing the progress in achieving elements of the Strategic Plan 2015-2020. My annual goals are built upon the strategic plan and must receive Board approval. At the end of the year, the Board evaluates my performance based on the achievement of the goals set out for the year. My senior leadership team and all staff set their goals and objectives based on my goals for the year.
  • What do you feel is Crescent's "weakest link" and what is being done to strengthen it?

    I believe that having a vision of our graduate is the missing link in building our strategic Academic plan. Our mission and core values are already in place and embraced by all. Knowing what we want to aim for will require us to aim at the target. We cannot leave this to chance; we have to be intentional about the type of Boys of Promise we are building to be Men of Character throughout our learning program.
  • What do you attribute to the 40% increase in applications to Crescent?

    We believe that several factors contributed to the increase in applications received last year. First, our External Relations team worked hard to create compelling marketing material, a comprehensive media outreach program and increased our presence at independent school expos, fairs and shows. We have a loyal parent community who share their positive experience with prospective families and friends. As Headmaster, I was in my second year so there was stability and a track record following a year of transition. And we had the advantage of offering a safe harbour relative to the labour unrest taking place in the public school system.
  • What's on the horizon re: new facilities on campus?

    The development of the strategic academic plan is foundational to determining the evolution of our physical campus. As the academic plan takes shape this year, we are simultaneously conducting a facilities audit to gauge required renovations to our existing infrastructure. Some preliminary plans being considered at this time are a more permanent structure in place of the Field House, an expanded cafeteria with capacity to accomodate two versus three lunch periods, and a new school entranceway that provides a more fitting entry to our school.
  • What is the average gpa of a student graduating Crescent today?

    The grade average for the 2015-16 graduating class was 85.94%.
  • Crescent has great success in placing grads into business and arts programs in Canadian universities but to a lesser extent into science programs. Do you plan to foster and enrich the program for science students?

    We are quite proud of where our boys enrol at university. For example, the class of 2016 pursued the following courses of study in Canada:  Science and Engineering (30 students),  Arts and Social Science (21 students), Business (13 students),  Math/Computer Science (10 students).
  • What changes have occurred to the Academic programs or are being planned? Please explain how the school's approach to teaching and learning is changing to be relevant in the 21st century?

    Strategic planning is underway to align all our Gr 3-12 Academic & Character-in-Action programs; It will take in to consideration 21st century learning as it relates to curriculum, character education and the vision of our graduates. Our pedagogy around relational learning is also key to the academic program at Crescent. This process will be rooted in our Portrait of a Graduate, which, along with the mission and core values will set the foundation for every aspect of the School's curriculum.
  • You mentioned the ongoing quest for the highest quality staff. Would you consider allowing the boys to vote on all their teachers at the end of each year?

    Our ongoing quest to recruit and retain the highest quality staff falls within our People & Culture department. Key to their role (and the role of faculty managers) is to ensure they obtain valuable professional growth opportunities as well as meaningful, annual goal setting and performance evaluation. Our staff receive regular and formal feedback from their managers. A number of schools are testing student feedback - we are monitoring this practice closely especially if it drives staff performance.
  • What is the desired profile of the prospective Crescent student from the Enrolment Deptartment's perspective?

    At Crescent we seek to enrol boys with diverse experience, talents, interests and backgrounds.  Boys who are academically curious, motivated and demonstrate a growth mindset tend to be more successful here at Crescent.  We enrol boys and families who embrace Crescent's mission (our focus on character) and we seek to find boys whose talents and interests align with our academic and extracurricular programs.
  • What are Crescent's aspirations with respect to student financial aid?

    We want to put a Crescent education within reach of as many worthy boys of promise as possible, regardless of whether they have the financial means to afford Crescent's tuition. We passionately believe that diversity benefits all students as it exposes our boys to different walks of life and different ways of thinking that are vital to education. Our goal is to make Crescent more reflective of Toronto today.
  • What is Crescent doing so the boys graduate with a sense they owe an obligation to their community and to serve others?

    Our curriculum -- what they are taught, the co-curriculars in which they participate, the service in which they engage and the relationships that they build -- is designed to build empathy and develop our boys into "good men" who strive to make things better than they found it. Moving forward, we intend to be even more explicit about service leadership than we have in the past.
  • In an environment where students are exposed to a lot of wealth and privilege, how do you make sure they don't graduate with a sense of entitlement in a competitive world? How do you teach 'inclusiveness' given that this is a boys' school with reasonably well off students?

    Our boys are surrounded by a lot of privilege and it is a privilege to attend a school like Crescent. There is healthy tension in this reality. That is why character education and service leadership are so critical. A Crescent education provides our boys with the moral compass necessary for success and fulfillment in their life after Crescent. This is an area where the School needs to work in partnership with the home and not at cross-purposes.
  • What is Crescent's philosophy on university placement?

    We counsel our students to first find an area or program of study that relates to their passion, talent, and interest. Once an area or program of study is selected, we then help them find the university institutions that offer the best programs in this area. We are proudly in favour of helping boys locate their first-choice program versus school.
  • Are you proud of Crescent's athletic program?

    Yes we are. We believe that athletics helps our boys build character while developing a skill, experiencing competition, staying fit, and building friendships. We are proud that we can provide our younger students with as many opportunities to participate on a team as possible to help them learn teamwork and engage in healthy activity. Our Middle and Upper School boys are successfully competing with our peer schools in a variety of sports and continue to be recognised for balancing good character with competiveness. We strive to offer these experiences within a culture of high academic expectations.
  • How will Crescent foster a culture of academic excellence and intellectual curiosity?

    It starts with maintaing the culture and climate of the School. We believe that boys thrive academically when there are high levels of support, empowerment and expectations. This comes from having the right teachers on staff. We also believe that having a vision of our graduates guide our learning program will ensure that we keep our daily work tied to their long-term success which includes having traits such as curiosity, persistence, resilience and courage.
  • How does the Board measure the success of the school?

    (The following answer was provided by Barry Gordon, Chair of Crescent's Board of Governors.) 
    This is a very involved question, but here is my attempt at a summary:
    The Board of Governors is ultimately responsible for the stewardship and sustainability of the School. It establishes and directs policy and strategy for the School, oversees its financial affairs and physical resources, and appoints the Headmaster. The Board measures success of these responsibilities in a number of different ways, some of which are quantifiable and metrics-driven, and some of which are less easy to measure. The Board is data-driven whenever possible. Financial success is measured primarily by whether our expenses are covered by tuition, levels of debt (or lack thereof), and levels of  cash available for current projects and unforeseen events, among other things.  Student enrolment success is measured by the number of mission-fit applicants we receive, the number of acceptances we receive relative to offers made, and the overall quality and character of both the applicant pool and the resultant student body.  Recently, the Board has begun to measure success also in terms of the level of student financial assistance the School offers and the acceptance rates of such offers. The Board monitors the state and expected life of all of the School’s material assets, and a measure of success would be the existence (lack thereof) of unforeseen problems or expenditures on capital items. The Board, together with the Headmaster, sets annual priorities and the Board monitors and assesses the success of achieving those priorities all in accordance with the Strategic Plan.
    With priorities established under the Strategic Plan, clear and measureable goals are set annually. The Board monitors progress and ultimately measures success by whether the goal has been achieved.  These annual priorities are typically discreet, actionable items which feed into an overarching objective. 
    整体, the success of the School in delivering on its mission of graduating men of character is oft times measured by success in achieving entrance to universities of first choice, and the Board pays very close attention to those metrics and year-over-year trends. On a broader level, 然而, measuring the success of the school is no less complex a proposition than is measuring the a success of a boy or young man. It is, to say the least, multifactorial and in many respects more qualitative than quantitative. The Board firmly believes that this analysis is and should be much more nuanced and complex than simply the arithmetic calculation of objective numbers such as enrolment, grades, university acceptances and the like, although such data is clearly relevant and important.
    For me personally, I also tend to measure the School’s success in terms of the anecdotes I receive regularly on the character in action demonstrated by our boys and the smiling faces I see whenever I am on campus.
  • How do you think Crescent compares to UCC? What school does Crescent benchmark itself with?

    I am less interested in comparing ourselves to UCC, but rather focused on the 'Crescent Way'. This means knowing what we're good at and being the best school for boys that we can possibly be. Comparing ourselves to others is not helpful nor is it the Crescent Way. Our ultimate benchmark is the type of young men we graduate from the School and who they become as fathers, spouses, friends, and/or professionals.
  • Will 父母 have access to the CAIS report?

    Yes. We will be circulating the CAIS accreditation report to our entire community, and posting it on our website. You can expect this material to be available later in the fall.
  • What keeps you up at night?

    With such busy days and a young family that keeps me busy after hours I actually sleep quite well! If you're asking what creates some level of anxiety in my job it is trying to find balance between being fully present to the day-to-day operations of the school and fully anticipatory of what's on the horizon for the school's future.
  • Was there higher than normal turnover of staff members this year? If so, was that a deliberate part of your people/leadership plan?

    Every year we experience some staff turnover as members of our staff retire, seek new opportunities, relocate geographically and for reasons of poor performance. Some changes were made to align with the strategic direction of the school, but this percentage is nominal relative to the natural attrition that occurs each year. It is important to know that we handle all personnel changes delicately and with great care for each individual. Our boys and families demand the very best people on staff and our people is Crescent's greatest differentiator. I am proud of and excited by the team we now have in the place.
  • How do you feel about technology in grade schools?

    We are committed to supporting students in reaching their full potential by leveraging the technology at our disposal and utilizing it, wherever appropriate, in transformative ways, in order to deliver our mission.
  • How will Crescent prepare boys to be in touch with their emotions and their internal wellness?

    Supporting our boys' social-emotional wellbeing is crucial for success at school and after graduation. This is one of the reasons we have expanded the range and scope of Crescent Student Services. Emotional and mental wellness is spoken about in large group divisional settings, in small mentor group settings, one-on-one with school social workers and guidance counsellors. Last year, we were thrilled to launch Crescent's Mental 健康 fortnight.
  • What was the outcome from the Portrait of a Graduate initiative and when will this outcome be shared?

    A draft framework of the Portrait of the Graduate will be shared with the Board this month and refined over the fall as we socialize it with students, 父母 and alumni. It will serve as the foundation, along with the mission and core values, of the strategic Academic plan under development. We will update the community throughout the year on our progress.
  • You mentioned mindfulness as a part of boys being well; Are there specific plans to teach our boys about mindfulness?

    One of the reasons why we undertook the wellbeing initiative with faculty and staff prior to our students was to 'teach the teacher'. Mindfulness is just one of the habits that teachers will look to implement in their classrooms, mentor groups and teams this year. Dr. Greg Wells will remain a critical friend and partner as we role out the program to students.
  • Can you speak about the importance of character at crescent and describe the character traits that Crescent strives to develop in our boys?

    Character development is the mission of Crescent School and is infused at every level of a Crescent education. The moral character traits of respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion are our core values. We are exploring how other character domains, namely performance character and civic character, round out a more fullsome character profile. Character traits such as courage, persistence, selflessness, citizenship and gratitude will be articulated as we finalize our Portrait of a Graduate profile.
  • Can you give us an idea of what the health and wellness program for the boys will involve?

    This year our Wellbeing initiative will allow Dr. Greg Wells to work directly with our boys to educate them about the 健康 and Wellbeing Pathway: Sleep Soundly, Think Clearly, Eat Smarter, and Move More. This year's primary emphasis will be building a solid knowledge foundation but this will be complemented by practical sessions and coaching.
  • How do you feel about the all boys setup of Crescent?

    The Strategic Plan 2015-2020 reaffirmed our School's commitment to boys' education and our mission of Men of Character from Boys of Promise. It is an exciting time to be working in and leading a school for boys. The future is very bright for Crescent and for our boys. Our world needs us to produce good men perhaps more now than ever.
  • What is your personal opinion on the curriculum of Crescent?

    In my view, there are three types of curricula: explicit, implicit, and hidden. Our explicit curriculum is what we overtly teach; what is found in our course of study. This material is closely linked to Ontario's Ministry of Education and taught through a personalized approach and enriched standard. We are thinking a lot right now about how this area will evolve. Our implicit curriculum is what we teach indirectly through the experiences our boys have with their teachers, coaches, and mentors. It is built on a relational mindset and is probably our strongest area of impact. Our hidden curriculum is what we teach by not teaching anything at all. It is what boys pick up and learn from the environment and climate of the school. This is one area we are becoming increasingly interested in - both in terms of measurement and improvement.
  • What do you view to be the biggest challenge as Headmaster?

    One of the biggest challenges I encounter is being fully present to each and every person in the current and extended Crescent community. Everyone is eager to have a bit of face time with me - and I enjoy being available to students, 父母, and alumni. As an introvert, I find this to be tiring work but I keep up with my own health and wellbeing plan to stay fresh and energized.