How does a new parent measure success in Senior Kindergarten?
For Reid Chen, it happened at home at Christmas. Daughter Kate, who’d only been at Branksome Hall for four months, was previously too shy to speak to strangers or wouldn’t respond when they addressed her. Yet there she was, shaking guests’ hands with eye contact and confidence.
“We saw so much improvement in her communication skills in such a short time,” says Reid.
Thrilled with Kate’s progress and their overall first impressions of the school, Reid and wife Brenda have stepped up with a $500,000 gift to support the Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre (iCAST), naming its Robotics Lab.
“I know some parents focus on picking the ‘best school’,” says Reid, “but we should also think about another side—what can we give back and contribute so nothing is taken for granted. This school is going to be a very valuable part of Kate’s life for 12 or 13 years and it’s our hope other parents will work with us to build a better community together.”
Branksome Hall was Reid and Brenda’s only application for Kate, attracted by its emphasis on building confidence, along with the International Baccalaureate offerings.
From social skills to penmanship, “Kate improved so much so quickly,” says Reid. “‘Soft skills’ are such an important part of learning at this age and not all schools teach them.” For example, he noticed how Kate began to listen to others before speaking and even tried out her new-found self-regulation skills on her mother.
“Her mom was on the phone and she talked a bit loud,” he says. “Kate came up to her and said, “Mom, if you don't feel happy, try a deep breath. And she’s also packing her toys away after playing without being told!”
No doubt, Kate has a long journey ahead and much more to learn at Branksome. But, for now, Reid’s own background in engineering and his desire to invest in what he knows will be one of the more advanced facilities of its kind in North America, has informed the family’s decision to make a difference at a place that will be central in Kate’s life for more than a decade to come.
“This is the right decision,” says Reid. “Why wait?”
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.