Leadership Lessons on a Snow Day

Michael Fellin, Headmaster of Crescent School
I never thought it would happen in my tenure: a snow day at Crescent School. Never say never! On February 12, along with all Toronto schools, we closed due to the inclement weather. And while it wasn’t necessarily the quantity of snow that kept us from opening, it was certainly the wicked wind and freezing rain that made commuting a real safety issue. I must say that the snow day was one of my most popular decisions to date.
While the school closure was noteworthy, an encounter I had that morning made a far more significant impression on me. Upon arriving at Crescent to ensure the safety and security of the campus and those who had already arrived at school, I made my way to the Dining Hall to check in with the kitchen staff. At that exact moment I realized once again just how much each individual at Crescent is committed to modelling the qualities, dispositions and values we espouse for our boys.

On that frigid morning, our entire kitchen staff had already arrived to prepare food in anticipation of school opening as usual. When I asked them to finish up their work and depart home safely since school was closed, they told me that they would do so after they set up meal service for the following morning. Amazing… just when there was every excuse imaginable to leave, our kitchen staff collectively put others first, without anyone else knowing.

In a world that often associates leadership with individual success and prestige, Crescent School offers an important alternative: leadership that puts others before self, interrelationship in advance of individual interest, and contribution ahead of achievement. The dedicated, caring work of our kitchen staff is an example of this.

Recently, a number of parents have visited the school during lunchtime to see the magic that happens in the Dining Hall. Along with the salad bar, deli counter, soup stand and hot buffet, they have been amazed at just how much our boys are able to enjoy – at no extra charge. Our meal program is wonderful and it sets Crescent apart from other schools. However, beyond the butter chicken and chocolate chip cookies are the kitchen staff who pride themselves on making sure our boys are well fed and well nourished. They are very much a part of what we call our Crescent family, and we are most thankful for their service leadership to Crescent School. After all, building character and leadership in our boys starts with modeling it ourselves.

As defined in our Portrait of a Graduate, we strive to give each of our boys a strong foundation to learn, lead, and leave a legacy. In addition to them knowing who they are as a moral person, and to leaving the world better than they found it, we desire that each of our graduates commits to being a positive leader who builds relationships and understands the importance of serving others to inspire action and accomplishment. Like with our mission to build men of character, teaching boys to lead in such a way first demands that every member our staff teaches leadership by example.

See all of Headmaster Fellin's Open Mike Blogs