About Derek Logan

Kingsway College School Head of School

Mr. Logan’s Four Tips for Surviving Back to School

For me, September means three things – the start of the school year, getting into a suit and tie again, and the Leafs training camp.

While I’m not sure what advice I could offer to my long-suffering Leafs (except to sign Sidney Crosby), I do have a few tips for families struggling to make it through what can be a bumpy month back at school.

Tip #1 – Go to Bed!  

I know it can be hard to break the staying-up-late habit that many kids get into over the summer, but nothing sets you up for success at school like a good night’s sleep. Get your bedtime routine started nice and early. If you have a younger child, wind them down with a quiet storybook. And – most importantly – put away all those sleep-disrupting screens at least an hour before bedtime.

Sleep

Tip # 2 – Avoid the Lunch Crunch

Mornings are busy enough as it is. You don’t want to be making sandwiches before you’ve had your first cup of coffee. Make your life easier by packing lunch the night before. Or, if you really feel like promoting independence, have your child make it themselves! It will be a little messy the first few times, but it will save you hundreds of hours in the long run and teach your child some essential life skills.  Or, if it works for your family, consider trying our new hot lunch program, Kidssentials.

DSC_0271

Tip # 3 – Dress for Success

Get your child in the habit of laying out tomorrow’s clothes before going to bed. This prevents those last-minute scrambles for clean shirts or missing socks. It also helps kids take more ownership over their belongings and routines – a practice that will help them find success both at home and at school.  I even try to figure out what tie I will wear with what shirt and suit the night before!

Dress for Success

Tip # 4 – Be Kind to Yourself

This is an exceptionally busy time of year for parents, which means mistakes will be made and stress levels will rise. Don’t beat yourself up over missed homework or uniform mishaps. Unwind with some unstructured downtime as a family. Take a breath. Get some takeout for dinner. Relax. Because take it from me – before you know it you’ll be dropping them off at university, as I did with my youngest last month. So enjoy the ride.

Be Kind

Have a great year!

Mr. Logan

A Request

This past Saturday, I went to see the 15-year-old son of a friend play in a competitive soccer game in Oakville. The teams were first and second in the league, and the result would go a long way in determining the eventual league champion. Sadly, the circumstances helped fuel the spectators on the sidelines; I’ve seen it far too many times before. It wasn’t newsworthy, just disappointing and far too common.  I’m not sure what it is about minor league sports (or even parking lots) that can bring out some of the most unwelcome behaviour amongst adults.

Standing on a soccer field was part of my life for a dozen years as my son played soccer at a variety of different levels:  House League, competitive and for the high school he attended.  There were some real highs and lows throughout those years: making teams, getting cut from teams; seeing boys injured; going to tournaments; team get-togethers; winning League/Ontario Cup/National championships, etc.  I even helped manage the team for a couple of years until my knowledge of the beautiful game was not enough to enable the boys to improve their skills. Coaching was fun, but it’s sometimes harder to coach fourteen boys than it is to run an elementary school of almost 400 students (your greatest supporters and critics are standing only metres away watching your every move). In fact, it was liberating to find some outstanding people to coach my son Brandon not only about soccer, but about life.  By the time he turned 10, I moved to the role of full-time taxi driver and sideline supporter.

I enjoyed being a soccer parent. Our car rides to and from games, practices and tournaments, were a part of my life for over a decade.  When it ended last October, partially because Brandon was on hiatus from an injury, and partly because he had his own driver’s licence when he returned, I had mixed emotions.  This summer as I drove by kids playing soccer, I often found myself reminiscing about those times with him.  Those years seem to have gone by in a flash. But I quickly remembered how much you can do when you are not spending three to four hours a night five to six days a week driving to and from soccer fields across the province.

On Saturday, I was reminded what I didn’t like about being a soccer Dad:  the behaviour that you witness from some of the “fans” at the game. Shocking, juvenile, absurd or ridiculous are words that immediately jump to mind. The cheering and supportive comments were too often interspersed with continual criticism of the referees and comments about the players on the other team, who are still 15-year-old boys.  Right in front of me during the second half of the game, two moms got into it.  They called each other names, threatened each other and accused each other of things like sticking out their tongues at each other.  I thought, “Things still haven’t changed.”  The players, who were nearby, were smirking and smiling at such ludicrous behaviour by the adults even though they were in the midst of a hard-fought, competitive game.

Late this summer, my son learned that he had made the McMaster Men’s soccer team. Although he has yet to dress for a game, he trains with the team and is awaiting the opportunity to show his coaches his skills during a game situation. For now, during home games, he is in the press box with some other teammates. I’ve been attending the Mac home games since before the Labour Day weekend. While I like to think I’m social, I’m not too keen to listen to the spectators sitting near me while I watch the game, so I’ve started to watch the game while listening to various podcasts or music. Listening to Metallica with good headphones tends to drown out the unwanted noise.

On Sunday night, my wife and I were in Hamilton for a comedy show and we took Brandon out to dinner. I was recounting for him what happened on the sideline on Saturday in Oakville. After I finished, he shook his head and said, “It’s the same at university, Dad. You don’t hear it because of your headphones. My teammates and I watch the game and laugh at the commentary. It really hasn’t changed since I was 7 years old.”

Since arriving at KCS 18 years ago, I’ve watched and coached a lot of sports. Because games and meets are most often held during the school day, not all of our parents are able to attend. But those that are able to make it to a basketball game, swim meet or soccer tournament, have demonstrated year after year respect for all the athletes who are competing, the coaches who are doing their best on the sidelines and also to the referees (who are often young students). Our coaches appreciate that, as do our athletes. The other schools that we visit take notice and comment positively to our coaches about the behaviour of our fans. Let’s work together to maintain this record as a school. Then maybe we can figure out how to translate this to the minor sports fields, gyms, and arenas throughout the province. Go Cougars!

Addressing the important question of “How do we keep our kids safe online?”

Stock Photo Child with Laptop

Join us for “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” – Kingsway College School on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

When organizing a panel for our February 9th KCS  Encouraging Dialogue Speakers Series, our committee kept hearing from families that they would like this year’s panel to address issues around social media and our children.

To start our search for speakers, we called KCS alumna Marianne B ‘01., whose work is with the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University.  Marianne’s expertise helped guide us in the right direction, and this year’s panel is a result of her leadership.

In our initial conference call, Marianne said something that really resonated with our group.  I’m paraphrasing now, but she said, “When I was in grade 5 at KCS, at the end of the day I went home, played with my toys, ate dinner, did my homework, maybe did some extra-curricular activities or spoke on the phone, and then went to bed.  I didn’t have a phone connected to the Internet, and I didn’t have a laptop or iPad in my room.”  And this was only a little over a ten years ago.

A short pause to think about how things have changed, and will continue to change for our children, leaves one amazed.

Marianne and her parents did not have to deal with cellphones, texting, Facebook’s Likes and Dislikes, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or cyberbullying.   Although we might not have appreciated it at the time, I’m sure a number of today’s parents would like to see a return to just having their children play with their toys after school.  But that’s not going to happen.  For today’s parents and their children the ‘online world’ is a big part of their everyday lives.  Given this, how can we help our children navigate their digital experiences and keep them safe online?

We are confident our Encouraging Dialogue panel will help families address this important question.  We look forward to seeing you at “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Thankful

Around The WorldI spent the majority of my Thanksgiving weekend in Montreal with my son whose soccer team was playing in the Quebec-Ontario Cup. Watching competitive soccer while experiencing the culture and food of La Belle Province — what a great time!  The Ontario victory in the two game series, by a combined score of 4-0, made the chore of getting out of Toronto… on the eastbound 401… on a Friday night… of a long weekend… much more worthwhile.

But what happened on the weekend that made it really special and memorable happened on Saturday night. A number of the dads and coaches and I went out for the evening. During our conversations, I learned that all were newcomers to Canada in the last twenty years: Carlos (Portugal), Danny (Jamaica), David (Guyana), Johnny (Iran), and Mike (Poland). They all left much behind when they immigrated, but did so in the hope of a better future for themselves and their families. Many of their stories sounded much like those my grandparents had when they immigrated from England.

These dads and coaches were all appreciative of the chance to create opportunity for themselves in Canada over the last couple of decades. I was thankful to learn of their stories and to be reminded of what a blessing it is to be Canadian.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Recess Duty

Batman and RobynsEarlier this week, I happened to be reading my email around 12:15 p.m. when one of our teachers sent a message to the staff asking for someone to take her outdoor lunch duty as she was not feeling well.  I read the email, checked my calendar to see if I was free, and given that the majority of our teachers would not have a chance to read this in time to help out, I replied that I would do it.  My day, up to this point, consisted of back-to-back meetings so this was definitely an incentive to get outside, enjoy the sunshine and talk with the students.  I was surprised by the reception.

Since I was “officially” on duty, and not just wandering around the field as I do a couple of times a week (especially when the weather has been as great as it has been this week!), I felt it was important that I put on one of our orange vests – or as I call it, my “orange cape”. Our teachers wear these at recess so that they are easily identifiable to the students.  I want to point out, it clashed with my red tie and candy cane striped socks (gift from the in-laws), but I did it anyway.  I now have a better understanding of the fashion faux pas each of our teachers are required to make while on duty.

My assignment was near the play structure, so for most of the time, I was surrounded by grades 1-3 students.  I had the following interactions:

  • One girl in grade 2 asked me if I was on duty.  When I said yes she responded, “Do you know what to do?” A short time later this was followed by yet another girl asking if I knew what to do on duty. I said yes and explained that I was once a grade 7/8 teacher at KCS.  Her response, after a pause and a really puzzled look, was “Really?”
  • Two girls ran over to me giggling and asked, “Mr. Logan, can you keep a secret?”  I told them no.  Of course this didn’t matter as one of them told me that she really likes one of our grade 8 boys and is lucky enough to have him as her lunch time supervisor.  I had no response, except to let her parents know so that we could share a laugh.
  • Another student looked at me from the monkey bar platform, and told me, in a tiny voice, that she couldn’t climb across all the bars but she was going to try.  By the end of recess she had managed to hang from the bar and swing herself back to the platform.  She was quite proud and told me so as we were walking up the hill to go back into the school.
  • I watched a girl in grade 3 spend her entire recess swinging across the bars, the rings and everywhere else she could find so that she was not touching the ground.  This was the same student who took a tumble last week, which produced a goose egg on her forehead that she would sport in a wedding party on the weekend.  The goose egg is almost gone, the wedding went well, and this little girl was not afraid to get “back up on the horse” after her misadventure.  A lesson adults would do well to remember.
  • I also observed a boy who ended up with some sand in his eye as well as a grade 2 girl who showed me the scab on her hands at least four times.
  • I found a Batman umbrella owned by a grade 2 boy and decided we could get a great photo when we returned inside.  The photo that accompanies this blog should be captioned, Batman and Robyns.  You can probably guess why.

The surprises continued when I arrived back inside the school, this time from the teachers.  “How was your duty?” (at least eight or nine times) …  “When I read your response to the email, I thought it was a mistake.”…  “I thought it was joke.”…   “Are you going to do this again?”

I look forward to dawning the “orange cape” again at a future recess.  It sort of made me feel like Superman.

Derek Logan
Head of School

They Grow Up So Fast

Primary Project FairToday I was at the front doors as students and their parents began arriving for our annual Primary Project Fair.  It was wonderful to witness the smiles on the faces – and that was just the parents!  As usual the students put forth their best efforts to create terrific projects that each of them can be proud of, but there was certainly some sense of relief on the part of many parents that this project was over at least for another year, and maybe forever (if they no longer had any children entering grades 1-3 in the future).

As a Dad of a 15 year old and a 17 year old, I can certainly empathize with that feeling among the parents.  I remember looking forward to the end of some project, recital, or experience with my kids.  But this morning also reminded me of a couple of parents that I was fortunate to come across when my kids were younger who shared some advice that has stuck with me (incidentally, you get a lot of advice as a Head, some helpful).  One of these individuals was a KCS parent, who I encountered early in my career at our school who said to me, “Before you know it, they will have grown up, and you’ll look back on these times more fondly than when you were going through them.”  I have to admit, with my daughter about to go off to university in September, that message has come to mind many times during this, her grade 12 year.  There are times this year when I wish we still had grade 13 in Ontario.

The other parent is somebody I have spent quite a lot of time with over the years as a result of my son’s soccer.  One night, we were on the sidelines on a cold and rainy night, and I must have said something that sparked him to turn to me and say, “You only have a few years in your life to do this sort of thing, and when it’s over, you’ll miss doing it.”  You hear a lot of things as a parent involved in minor sports with your kids, much of it not worth repeating.  However, this comment really resonated with me both then and now.  I’m already anticipating feeling like this even though we still have a few summers left of club soccer, and maybe some university soccer afterwards.

It was so good to see so many of our primary parents, grandparents and friends here today to show support for our students.  Your memories of this project may be different than what your children remember, but I am confident you will look back on this time at some point in the future and miss it, at least a little.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Unforgettable!

Olympics Women's Hockey Gold - Sochi 2014Today we had the Women’s Gold Medal game playing on our televisions in the lobby and in various classrooms throughout the school.  We all wanted to be in Canada Hall to witness this game today to recreate the feeling of ’72 that some of us can still remember; I was six and have a vague recollection of sitting in my school gym.  However, we are in the midst of setting up for our annual musical next week and so we watched all around the school.

As we know, things didn’t look great for the Canadians with ten minutes left.  But by now we know the memorable finish.  Standing with the students and staff in our upper lobby and experiencing the energy was awesome.

I think Paul “Bear” Bryant, the former Alabama football coach had it right when he said about sports and its ability to bring people together, “It’s kind of hard to rally around a math class.”  Let’s hope our men’s team can re-create the feeling again tomorrow in their game against the Americans.  Maybe 20 years from now our students will remember where they were on February 20th, 2014, when we won Gold.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Canada

Canadian flagWith so much being said about the Olympics these days, I will refrain from adding to the pile.  There are many wonderful stories coming out of the Games that are being written about elsewhere by much better writers than me.  However, I do want to mention something about the country we live in.  This week I met with a prospective family who were looking at our Early Learning Program.  They had moved to Canada six months ago.

We had a pleasant conversation about KCS and education.  As we were nearing the end of our discussion I asked them why they moved to Canada.  Usually I hear stories about job relocation, moving to be with other members of a family, etc.  Their response was wholly different and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind since they said it to me.  To paraphrase, they said they moved to Canada because they wanted to live in a safe environment for their daughter; one in which they could take her to a park and not worry.  I look forward to this family joining the KCS community next year and being reminded by them of what we are so fortunate to have in our country.

Derek Logan
Head of School

A Dad’s Lesson

Be KindAs is usual, when I arrived at work early Monday morning, I took the time to skim through The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star – I put the Sports sections of both papers along with the Life & Arts section from The Globe for reading later in the evening!  Sometimes I cut a few articles out to read when I have a moment or two over the lunch period.  On Monday, I clipped this article out:

http://www.thestar.com/life/parent/2014/01/20/how_do_you_raise_kids_to_have_good_manners.html

We expect good manners at KCS, and when we don’t witness them, we take the time to teach or remind our students about their importance.**

As I was nearing the end of the article, I was reminded of a lesson my Dad taught me during the summer of my grade 5 year.  Our family was going on a three week vacation to England.  It was our first and only trip on a plane together.  And while I have many great memories of that trip, one in particular stands out.  We were in London visiting various sites before we set off to visit our relatives throughout the south of the country.  All five of us (I have a younger brother and sister), were sitting on the Tube.  It stopped at one of stations and an “older” lady got on.  Looking back, the lady may have been 35 or she may have been 75 (when you are a kid, everyone looks old!), but to my Dad that didn’t matter.  He looked over at me, and said something like, “How long will it be until you stand up and give that lady your seat?”  Only seconds it turns out!

It’s funny, my Dad taught me a lot of things in life (as did my Mom!), but for some reason the lesson above was triggered when reading the Toronto Star article on Monday and every time I’m on public transit around the world.

Derek Logan
Head of School

** For instance, if I was this author’s editor, I would have reminded him that you should not use WTF in your article if you are trying to show good manners.

How Do You Define Success?

This past Friday, at morning assembly, our school welcomed former Canadian Olympian Deidra Dionne.  Deidra represented Canada during both the Salt Lake (2002) and Torino (2006) Winter Olympic games as a free-style (aerial) skier.  She spoke to our students about goal setting, the feeling of being an Olympian, the importance of others in our achievements, and so many other insightful and important messages.

The message that resonated with me centred on the definition of success.  During her talk, Deidra mentioned her journey to compete in the Salt Lake Olympic games.  She described how she and her coaches planned to get to her first Olympics so that she could eventually stand on the podium.  She accomplished her goal by winning a bronze medal.  By all accounts, people would consider that a success.

More importantly, she went on to describe her journey to Torino four years later.  During training in Australia, she broke her neck.  Given this, free-style skiing at the Winter Olympics in Italy would seem, to many of us, an unreachable destination.  Not for Deidra.  Once she decided she wanted to ski again, Deidra committed herself to get to Italy.  And she did make it.  After all of the jumps made by all of the skiers, Deidra finished 22nd in a field of 23.  Given all she went through to get to Torino, she and her coaches, and all those who knew what she overcame to participate in another Winter Olympics, would consider this a success.  And I think you would too.

In school, sometimes people equate success with winning awards, first place teams, and medals for some competition or another.  There is no doubt you can consider all of those type of achievements success.  This type of success is easily identifiable in assemblies and awards ceremonies.  But there are so many other ways that our students should see themselves as successful: dealing with a difficult personal situation; overcoming a physical injury; doing something for the first time; improving their study or organizational skills, etc.

Deidra defined success in much the same way we’ve been defining success at KCS for 25 years:  try your best in whatever you do.  Success will follow.

Derek Logan
Head of School