Thank you to Meadowridge School's longest-serving Headmaster. After 21 years at Meadowridge and 50 years in education Mr. Hugh Burke has retired.
Letter to the community from Mr. Burke | Sent June 29, 2021
From the Headmaster, Mr. Hugh Burke
It is now time for me to say goodbye to Meadowridge and to the community; I am now retiring after about 50 years in Education. For the past 21 years, I have been the Headmaster of our school. It has meant a lot to me and to my family. Two of my children are Meadowridge graduates, and Eva, my wife, has been instrumental in creating a culture of care within the school.
I began as Headmaster after an interview in which I was asked what I would bring to the school, which was then a struggling small school, with significant issues in education, facility, finance, and community relations. I answered that I could bring two things: Trust and gratitude.
Over the years, that sense of trust has allowed the school to grow. I trusted the Board, who have shown remarkable vision, courage, and determination in steering the school, in purchasing land, in straightening out the finances, and in engaging in governance that strengthened our school and community. They bought the additional 19 acres, built the new buildings, renovated the older building, approved the International Baccalaureate as the curriculum of the school, ensured continuous external accreditation, and set policies in every area which has led to the most comprehensive set of school policies that I know.
Trusting in teachers has also led to exceptional educational accomplishment by our students. For the past 21 years, all of our students have qualified for post-secondary acceptance. We have been consistently well above the world average for IB test scores – the most challenging curriculum in the world. It was the teaching faculty who first wanted to investigate the IB. A few of them did, and then more joined in. Over time, the teaching faculty are the ones who led us to adopt the IB programme, and it spread from the PYP through the MYP and then the Diploma programme. From the beginning, the teachers ensured that our children were amongst the most successful students in the world, even with a brand new curriculum. As well, they developed multiple programs in social justice, in a wide variety of clubs and activities, in athletics, and in outdoor and environmental education, including becoming the most successful school in the Province in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Our trust in the administration of the school has also led to outstanding achievement. Our finances are now stable, predictable, and sufficient, with enough reserves to ensure that the school can flourish. The facility has constantly been improved in facilities, in maintenance and in custodial care. The HR department has continuously moved the school to being a respectful and caring employer, leading to exemplary staff retention, a key to school improvement. Our Admissions department has enabled the school to grow carefully and predictably, demonstrating great care in ensuring that new students and their families will be well-served by the school. Our Communications people have led the way amongst schools in providing continuous newsletters and articles, along with superb magazines and reports, while being highly sensitive to the needs of families to know what is happening in the school, and to get full, transparent and accurate information which helps their children to succeed within our school. The Advancement department have been successful in increasing the gifts to the school each year, and by supporting multiple special events which have helped us to form a community.
The Administrative team has certainly used the trust we have in them to engage in continuous cycles of action and reflection, constantly asking how we can be even better, and constantly treating everyone in the school with respect and kindness. They have been instrumental in drawing the community together in order to make this an exemplary, kind, and challenging school.
I have great trust in our families, and the families of the school are what comprises our community. Year after year, they support our teachers and administration, collaborate with us in small and larger ways – from occasional volunteerism to committee work to the Guild – all have been of critical importance in forming our school. We have families that have been with us for 23 and 24 years, through multiple generations of graduates. At the same time, we have families that are just beginning on that journey, and I have trust that they will be as thoughtful, caring, and supportive as the past generations of families have been. It is parents who organized events, who sit on our Board, who attend committees, who communicate respectfully, and who enrol their children year after year because they share our values.
The children in the school are a constant inspiration to me. They have been polite, respectful, inclusive, diligent, thoughtful, knowledgeable, caring and reflective. They have shaped much in the school, and will continue to shape the future upon graduation. I have great faith that they can learn to live well, with others and for others. I also trust that they will work towards a more just community, locally and globally.
Each year, I am grateful to each of the people who really drive our school forward – families, staff, teachers, administration, and our Board. My role has been largely to thank others for the work that they have done, the care that they have shown, the vision that they share. And I am also grateful that the school is left in good hands – Mr. Banack and the administrative team, the academic team, the administrative and staff team, the families, and the Board of Governors. In leaving, I leave with the same beliefs that I had in the beginning: Trust will drive our school forward even more, and gratitude will maintain that sense of trust, thoughtfulness, care, and kindness that has come to be the hallmark of our school.
Thank you for all of your support for me and my family over the past 21 years. I am very grateful to each and every one of you.