Dr. Sandra Boyes joined Crescent in 1995. Her impact in the Lower School, particularly on the arts curriculum, was felt immediately; musical productions and curricular drama in Grades 3 - 8 and the international choir trip are just some of the programs she spearheaded. Boyes became Head of Lower School in 2011, and added Head of Middle School to her title from 2016 to 2019. Boyes was a principal architect of The Crescent Way (along with Nick Kovacs and David Grant), the school’s strategic academic plan (SAP), published in 2018.
In September 2019, Boyes became Crescent’s first Executive Director of Professional Development & Research. In this capacity, Boyes leads professional learning pathways for faculty, ensuring Crescent teachers remain the school’s greatest resource. She is responsible for sharing Crescent’s expertise and developing a reflective practice within a culture of research. The Crescent Centre for Boys’ Education (CCBE) is the global platform where Crescent’s research culture will be shared. Boyes continues in her role as Head of Lower School.
What motivated you to become a teacher?
I grew up in a family of educators. My father was the Superintendent for the Winnipeg Board of Education,and my mother was a Special Education teacher.
As a child, I would sit in a small student desk beside my father's "big" desk, and "mark" papers. I have always loved school, loved learning and loved education. I had great role models, many great teachers and a few exceptional ones. It is not really any surprise to those who know me that I am where I am today.
Tell us about your start at Crescent.
I joined Crescent in 1995, the year the Lower School expanded to include two new Grade 3 classes and one new class in each of Grades 4 and 5. I was a Grade 4 Home Form teacher and I taught music to Grades 3 and 4.
What is your educational philosophy?
Learning is all about relationships. This is not a new idea, but one that is more important now than ever before. The more collaborative and trusting the relationship, the greater the potential for deep and rich learning. More specifically, a trusting and respectful relationship creates the optimal environment for boys.
I have worked in co-ed schools, public schools, elementary schools, junior high schools and two independent schools for boys. It is in boys’ education that I have found my greatest challenges, greatest successes and ultimately my greatest rewards.
I believe that the way we educate our learners, be they eight or 18, is changing quickly. I expect there will be more innovation in education in the next five years than there has been in the past 15. It is imperative to me that I be prepared to support Crescent boys in their journey ahead.
You co-authored The Crescent Way: Our Strategic Academic Plan with Nick Kovacs and David Grant. What was the primary reason for publishing Crescent's Strategic Academic Plan (SAP)?
We wanted to celebrate the work we do at Crescent and capture how we operationalize our mission and plan for the future. The intersection between the knowledge, skills and character strengths we believe students need for success in life, and the way we educate and prepare our graduates, is what makes Crescent unique. The SAP provides all faculty with a shared language and way of thinking about a Crescent education. It’s comprised of three guiding questions, four core values, five Character-in-Action program and six essential qualities.
Why has the Crescent Centre for Boys’ Education (CCBE) been established?
Through the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC), it was clear that the schools leading the way for boys’ education had research centres to guide their practice and the professional learning communities in their schools. Part of Crescent’s plans for the future, as envisioned in the SAP, is to be one of the international leaders in ways that boys learn best.
We believe that the CCBE will be influential in developing faculty leadership and expertise in refining their own practice. We also anticipate an increase in student-led research and student agency. Our aim is to create a research culture at Crescent, where curious and engaged teacher and students improve the teaching and learning experience for everyone in our community.
How did you prepare for this role?
Trish Cislak (Head of Libraries and Research at Crescent) and I visited Eton College and Scots College, two of our partner schools which have established research centres. They helped us to understand the purpose of establishing a research centre, how a centre impacts research culture and nurtures professional development amongst faculty on many different levels. As we continue to strive to identify and communicate best practices for teaching boys, their insights and relationships have proved valuable as we begin our journey. I sit on the IBSC Research Board Committee, whose mandate is to develop globally collaborative research initiatives that enhance pedagogical, curricular, and organizational expertise in our schools and reflect the best practices for meeting the needs of boys. Trish continues her work leading IBSC Action Researchers globally.
What is the impact of this program (and your role within it) on your personal experience at Crescent?
I now have the incredible opportunity to connect with Crescent teachers, boys, families and staff across Grades 3 to 12. It is a remarkable feeling to be able to share what I have grown to know and love about boys’ education and education at Crescent over the past 25 years – and to also share this with educators worldwide. It doesn’t feel like a quarter-century commitment, it feels like a life’s calling to do significant and important work – almost like something beyond me. It is very satisfying for me to give back in this way.
Music is a huge part of your life, both in school and beyond. Can you share a bit about your life outside of Crescent?
I am a mezzo-soprano and have been a soloist with many Canadian organizations including Hymn Sing (CBC TV) in my hometown of Winnipeg, the Manitoba Opera Association, Opera East and Opera in Concert. Currently I am a member of the chorus in the Canadian Opera Company. I was also the Musical Director of the Canadian Opera Company’s Summer Camp for Kids for 18 years.