I am in the U.K. this week visiting and contacting leading boarding schools - or public schools as they are called here.

My outreach has included Wycombe Abbey School, the King's School Canterbury and Westminster School in London.

See the photos attached of my visit to Westminster School, some with Westminster Abbey in focus, as the school and Abbey are inextricably linked. It's a half term holiday so no students were around unfortunately.

In its typical British less is more style, there is no sign to enter Westminster School. The school's quad seen in the photo is known as Dean's Yard. One of England's first founded schools, Westminster has educated a diverse group of students from Sir Christopher Wren to A.A. Milne, as well as seven Prime Ministers. Fun fact: Milne, the Winnie the Pooh creator, left his estate to Westminster!

I am pleased to be overseeing a student application to these fine schools.

That is a driving force of the MasterCard Foundation’s philosophy. I was fortunate to have dinner this week with Robin McLay, the former Director of Research, Strategy and Learning for the MasterCard Foundation, based in Toronto.

Robin has returned to Vancouver Island after a glittering career, which also included being a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and being the first Executive Director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development. His university studies were at McGill, the LSE and Harvard.

US/Canada Boarding School Placement

In their words, the MasterCard Foundation seeks “a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper.” One of their programs provides large grants annually to deserving and talented students from around the world - with a focus on Africa - to enable them to study at leading North American universities. Robin’s role was to advance thought leadership within the fields of higher education, financial inclusion and employment programs and to ensure that the Foundation’s programs and initiatives were informed by good evidence.

I was introduced to Robin by my good friend Bill Myles - another McGill graduate - who is Robin’s brother-in-law. We were able to toast Bill’s fine career in Victoria public schools, with just 30 days to go before his retirement.

We discussed education in general and collaborative approaches to help kids on a global level. Robin continues to support many causes through his volunteerism and board appointments with the Fulbright Foundation, The Walrus Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public health, to name a few. He is now working with the BC Government where he is leading their efforts to advance social innovation. We are going to continue our dialog.

J&A endeavors to help its student clients reach their potential. We go far, and go together with students and parents to make dreams happen!

I spent a stimulating time today at Aspengrove School, nestled within a calm rural environment in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It is a young day school that opened in 2003 with just 38 students. Today they have 306 students.

Aspengrove is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school from Primary years right through to graduation. They showed vision and boldness in following this path – there are only 9 schools in British Columbia following this well-respected IB educational landscape from Grade 1 to Grade 12. They value curiosity in children and aim to provide a transformational learning experience for their students. Integrated within the IB program, they provide a Family Boarding component for select international students. I enjoyed the warm, purposeful atmosphere exhibited by students and staff.

The day was made even more pleasant as I was able to spend time with former colleagues of mine from Shawnigan. Jo -Anne Kingstone, Aspengrove’s Head of School and David Hutchison, the Assistant Head. Taking the photo was the first employee of the school, Elisabeth Reay, the Admissions Director.

Today, my associate Nancy Gillies and I made final touches in updating our curriculum to help admissions staff in independent schools. It is a one or two day program based on real issues which provides practical solutions. We also created a marketing strategy to make effective outreach to schools.

The role of the admission professional in a school is crucial. They are the sales officer, the chief revenue officer, the quality control officer, the family liaison officer and other roles - all at the same time. Yet, there is no training for this complex profession.

J. & A. has two chief associates who are extremely experienced in this field, and as former teachers they know how to transmit their knowledge and experience. They look forward to spending time with admission staff at schools to demystify this profession and to provide professionals with enhanced skills for enhanced success.