Global Mindset

bakerAnother season of Admissions travel is almost complete. Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia, and North America have all been visited and students from the far reaches of this planet are already excited about joining our special school in September, 2015.

“Where the World Comes to School” has been our tagline for many years now. I thought it was fitting as so many young people often dread going to school each day, yet at Brentwood, students travel many thousands of miles to take advantage of all our school has to offer. With one of the lowest attrition rates in North America, it is a happy, energized place for students to learn.

Brentwood College School is more than a school; it is a community – a family. Learning happens well beyond the classrooms, studios, courts and fields. It is a 24-7 experience and has a powerful impact on our students. Brentwood quickly gets into your soul. It empowers our students in ways most schools and communities can only dream about.

As the Director of Admissions, this year alone I have logged far too many hours in airplanes, trains, taxis, and buses to count; all in an attempt to let the world know more about this amazing community of learners. Our diverse community is unique and that is one of our greatest assets; it gives me great satisfaction enrolling new students each year.

Next year we will have students from nearly 35 countries around the world. While the majority of our school will be North American (87%), our international community will be exceptionally diverse. It is an exiting time to be at Brentwood College School and I invite you all to come to our campus to see for yourself.

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Where in the World?

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Believe it or not, Admissions recruitment has begun in earnest for boarding school Admission’s folks. Seems the dust has just settled on a new year and we are off, scouring the globe for potential students for the 2015-16 year.

At Brentwood, I never actually think of these trips as ‘recruiting’ trips; I see them as information sharing trips. As I see it, my job is to convince people to simply have a look at Brentwood; learn a little about us. The school (more precisely, the students) sells itself. Once prospective families are on the ground and see our facilities, the location and what is happening at this amazing place, they need very little convincing. We even encourage them to look at other schools because only then will they see how unique and special our boarding culture is.

At Brentwood we only accept students if it is their choice to be here. One of the results of this philosophy is that our attrition rate is less than half the national average. Our students are happy, engaged and keen to be here. The ‘vibe’ prospective families have when they visit cannot be faked; the school they see when they visit is the same one the students arrive to in September. At Brentwood we keep it real – we under promise and over deliver.

The current Brentwood family is from the 6 continents and 32 countries around the world. They come to our school because they recognize the quality of the education, the modern ‘west coast’ facilities, and the uniqueness of our school culture. 190 new students arrived on our campus this year and they are already thriving and feeling like they have been here for years.

So here we go again; we are about to head to the far reaches of our planet to let people know about this special school. Hopefully we will see you sometime out on the road!

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We are Family

Wearefamily

 

Classes start in earnest today. The last few returning students returned yesterday. One of the things that always strike me at the beginning of a new year is the emotions students’ show when they first see each other again after the summer holidays. Screams of joy, leaping and hopping up and down, and loud, raucous banter are everywhere the first day back. It is so heartwarming and emotional to witness. For our new students, this scene must seem somewhat peculiar.

 

Over 100 students volunteer each year to come back to school 4 days early, cutting short their summer holidays to be here to welcome the new students. How many of us remember begging our parents to come back to school early? Brentwood is more than a school; it is a community where deep and powerful friendships are formed and cultivated. Evidence of these bonds are everywhere you turn on our campus.

 

When you only accept students if it is the students’ choice to be here, you create a school that is focused solely on the students. In so doing, a culture of caring, compassion and commitment is created. Brentwood is not a cliché. We are not pretending to be anything that we aren’t. We are a second family in the truest sense of the term.

 

At Brentwood we care deeply about each other. It is a school like no other in so many ways. As I like to say, “seeing is believing”. Prospective students are welcome to come and stay overnight in the boarding houses and ask all the questions they want. They can dive in and see for themselves. Experience shows, they will come away in awe of how ‘tight’ and caring our community is. More often than not, they are the next wave of students asking their parents if they can join this special school.

 

Welcome to the Brentwood family.

 

 

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We are Family

Wearefamily

 

Classes start in earnest today. The last few returning students returned yesterday. One of the things that always strike me at the beginning of a new year is the emotions students’ show when they first see each other again after the summer holidays. Screams of joy, leaping and hopping up and down, and loud, raucous banter are everywhere the first day back. It is so heartwarming and emotional to witness. For our new students, this scene must seem somewhat peculiar.

 

Over 100 students volunteer each year to come back to school 4 days early, cutting short their summer holidays to be here to welcome the new students. How many of us remember begging our parents to come back to school early? Brentwood is more than a school; it is a community where deep and powerful friendships are formed and cultivated. Evidence of these bonds are everywhere you turn on our campus.

 

When you only accept students if it is the students’ choice to be here, you create a school that is focused solely on the students. In so doing, a culture of caring, compassion and commitment is created. Brentwood is not a cliché. We are not pretending to be anything that we aren’t. We are a second family in the truest sense of the term.

 

At Brentwood we care deeply about each other. It is a school like no other in so many ways. As I like to say, “seeing is believing”. Prospective students are welcome to come and stay overnight in the boarding houses and ask all the questions they want. They can dive in and see for themselves. Experience shows, they will come away in awe of how ‘tight’ and caring our community is. More often than not, they are the next wave of students asking their parents if they can join this special school.

 

Welcome to the Brentwood family.

 

 

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A New Year

Brentwood Campbell Common

Another school year is like a fresh start and a new beginning, a chance for rebirth. A time to improve, reinvent and reignite.

One of the amazing things about being involved in education as a vocation is that one spends a lifetime immersed in the same annual routine. Not much changes with age when you work in a school. The major rhythms of the year, the gearing up and winding down and all the great stuff in between has really not changed for me since kindergarten!

In a North American school, a ‘year’ typically begins in September, not January. When we speak of a year, we think of September to June. When we say “next year” we mean next school year and we assume the rest of the world thinks the same way. We get small pangs of anxiety when we see yellow school buses on the highway or “Back to School” advertisements in August; just like we did when we were kids.

The first few days of September are nervous times for teachers and students alike as we all get to know each other. In a boarding school we learn a great deal more about each other and ultimately this is what makes the bonds so deep. Friends for life are about to be created in September. Futures are to be determined.

This year we have over 185 new students joining us from 32 countries around the world. Many are already packing up and beginning to prepare for their journey to Mill Bay. Most are coming from Canada but 19% of our school will be traveling from quite a distance and will be a long way from their families.

What can they expect when they arrive? My experience shows that they will be greeted with an almost overwhelming wave of warmth, acceptance, caring and empathy. Within minutes they will be openly embraced and feel a great affiliation and sense of belonging.

We are so excited for this school year to begin. Travel well, welcome to the Brentwood family and we will see you all soon.

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The Brentwood Difference

As we gently roll into summer, I can reflect with great satisfaction on what has been a very busy year in Admissions. After spending a dizzying 3 months on the road visiting 12 countries and countless communities (and telling anyone willing to listen about our amazing school!) I am giddy with excitement about the student body that will convene on this campus in September. It will easily be the largest and the most diverse school in our long and storied history.

Among other things, one of the differentiators that make Brentwood so special is that our boarders have a ‘Canadian boarding experience’. It sounds logical – seeing how we are a boarding school in Canada – but it is rarer than you may think. At Brentwood, if we count the expatriate population, our student population is well over 80% Canadian. As well as benefiting from a truly Canadian boarding experience, our students will also prosper from the diversity of our International population. We are a school representing 31 nations. Can you imagine the educational opportunities this poses on so many levels?

From where, exactly, will our students be coming in September?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the 2014-15 Brentwood student body:

Countries of Origin 2014-15 Academic Year

  1. Canada • 322 students
  2. USA • 40 students
  3. Saudi Arabia • 25 students
  4. Mexico • 13 students
  5. Germany • 12 students
  6. Hong Kong • 11 students
  7. Brazil • 5 students
  8. Nigeria • 5 students
  9. Taiwan • 4 students
  10. Turkey • 3 students
  11. Malaysia • 3 students
  12. Rwanda • 3 students
  13. Vietnam • 3 students
  14. China • 3 students
  15. South Korea • 3 students
  16. Japan • 2 students
  17. Philippines • 2 students
  18. Russia • 2 students
  19. Singapore • 2 students
  20. Ukraine • 2 students
  21. South Africa • 1 student
  22. Australia • 1 student
  23. Austria • 1 student
  24. Brunei • 1 student
  25. Cuba • 1 student
  26. Iran • 1 student
  27. Pakistan • 1 student
  28. Swaziland • 1 student
  29. Switzerland • 1 student
  30. Thailand • 1 student
  31. Tunisia • 1 student
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The Island Life

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My job requires me to travel around this planet each year– both head to toe, as well as around its belly. While exhausting, I never underestimate how lucky I am to do this: to meet such amazing people in the most intriguing and exhilarating cultures. It has changed me and has made our school more diverse.

On these recruiting trips, I meet scores of people from all walks of life. It is hard to describe the depth of pride people justifiably feel for their nations; the richness and intensity of these cultures are indescribable. Suffice it to say that each smell, taste and immaculate sunrise is indelibly inscribed on my brain. As tacky as it sounds, I love this planet and its people.

Like most people, I have immense national pride; being Canadian is an important part of my being. Being from British Columbia, specifically Vancouver Island, is even more impactful; it represents something innately powerful to me. After long trips there is no better feeling than landing at Victoria International Airport. The long awaited trip ends with my last boarding pass: Destination: YYJ.

Ahh… YYJ.

In rain, snow, sun or darkness, I don’t know how many times I’ve landed here. Each time I am greeted with familiar faces and an almost sedate, über-friendly and provincial calmness. YYJ seems familial. Even folks from big cities comment on its quaintness, in that ‘Oh my, this is so parochial!’ kind of tone. They don’t entirely get it.

Unlike most airports with their stressed out patrons and disgruntled employees, with their jet fuel smells and fast food stalls, Victoria International offers a different sensation upon landing: breathe inocean, grass, kelp and salt. Home.

Then there is the journey from the airport to Brentwood. Initially, one is ‘put out’ by the 50-minute drive ahead. Inward mumbles of ‘I just want to get home’blah, blah, blah. But, to be clear, it is not the 401 through Toronto nor is it anywhere near the frenetic causeways surrounding LAX or LaGuardia. No matter how impatient is the journey to get home, calmness soon returns as one gazes out at the beauty that flies by the window.

The Malahat mountain pass. The trees and their foliage. The stunning vistas.

It can overtake one’s senses and there is nothing left to do but to sit back and reflect on the sheer beauty of it all.

Then here is home: the unfettered, fresh-aired-joy of driving down Mt. Baker Road to Brentwood College School with the ocean and Mt. Baker as its backdrop! There is no school setting like it.

We lack for nothing at Brentwood and appreciate each day on this campus. We have no smog, no traffic congestion or political strife, no threat of imprisonment or violent coup. People treat each other kindly here; nobody cowers nor averts her eyes because of veiled threats. There is no bullying, nor poisonous stares or accusatory glances. There is no religious intolerance and narrow-minded judgment. Doors are rarely locked and the windows need no screens. At Brentwood, like our airport and our town of Mill Bay, one is simply and warmly ‘welcomed’ with a genuine smile and a wave.

Welcome to Brentwood. Welcome home.

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