Dr. Sandra Boyes can often be found singing. She conducts Crescent School choirs, directs school musicals and also performs regularly in the Canadian Opera Company Chorus.
Her musical activities are in addition to her responsibilities as the Head of the Lower and Middle Schools. She was appointed to this position in Summer 2016, after serving as the Head of the Lower School since 2011.
Her role at Crescent today is the latest step in a lifelong passion for teaching.
“I love working with children,” says Boyes. “I’m passionate about understanding how they learn and how to create innovative curriculum to support their learning.”
Boyes says she always wanted to teach. “I came by it naturally. My father was the superintendent of a school division in Winnipeg and my mother was a special education teacher.”
Her own teaching career began in 1989 in Winnipeg. In 1995, Boyes came to Crescent as a Grade 4 form teacher and the Grade 3 and 4 music teacher. She was earning her Master’s degree at the time, and later completed her Doctorate of Education. Her dissertation, published in 2005, examined how student participation in the performing arts can strengthen a school’s culture.
Research continues to be an important aspect of her work, says Boyes, and her focus has shifted to studying the impact of relationships in education. She has conducted an action research project through the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, and is now contributing to relational learning research led by Dr. Michael Reichert of the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives.
“Learning is all about relationships,” says Boyes. “This is not a new idea, but it’s more important now than ever before. A trusting and respectful relationship creates the right environment for learning.”
Leading Crescent’s overseas choir trips in recent years – which combined her love of music with relational learning – has been a highlight of her career, says Boyes. These included performances at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, and tours of Europe.
Thanks to the support of families and faculty, Boyes says, hundreds of Crescent boys and their families have been able to visit important Canadian heritage sites in Europe, including Juno Beach, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele as part of the choir trips.
As the families involved in the tours travelled together, they formed strong relationships that made the impact of the boys’ performances and the lessons of Canada’s history resonate even more deeply.
“The moments we experienced on those tours will have everlasting significance for me,” says Boyes. “I’m very proud of being part of that.”
Although her roles at Crescent have changed over the years, Boyes says there has been a constant note through all her work.
“In everything we do, we are helping boys to discover what is unique about them,” she says.