As our community takes time to remember its roots this Founder’s Day during our centennial year, my thoughts turn to the needs, possibilities and dreams of Matthews Hall. After all, we know that such dreams were important to Kate Matthews and the generations of students who followed her. It is important for everyone – even small schools – to have dreams and work hard to reach them. Founder’s Day is an opportunity to honour the traditions and values of our school as we look confidently to the future and confront the educational and cultural challenges unique to our time. One value that I am sure Miss Matthews would remind us is essential in every age would be the increasingly rare quality of true character.
There is an old maxim that Kate Matthews and her contemporaries would have applauded at the time of our school’s beginnings:
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words;
Be careful of your words, for your words become your deeds;
Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits;
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character;
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said it simply and countless others have echoed it ever since: “Character is destiny.” Character shapes the destiny of an individual person in the same way that it determines the destiny of a whole society. It also shapes the destiny of institutions like schools – in fact, it is the one enduring quality of great schools. How fortunate we are that past generations of students, staff, governors and families have worked to uphold such values at Matthews Hall! Our mission to “discover and inspire” – to shine light on the importance of honesty and integrity for each student – expresses what is at the heart of what we say we do.
Our core values of community, excellence, inclusion, joy of effort, personal growth, respect and responsibility, and a spirit of caring accurately reflect what have been described by character educators as the 7 essential virtues for building moral intelligence in children: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness. These are the skills and intelligences that will make the difference between a high-achieving student who merely excels and a high-achieving student who excels AND has the integrity to make a difference in whatever field of endeavor they choose to pursue.
On Founder’s Day, we should agree to safeguard this priority for our students, children and ourselves.
As we recall the life and legacy of Miss Matthews today – so generously reflected in your participation during our first-ever “Day of Giving” – let’s move forward with purpose and commitment as we celebrate our school’s one hundredth birthday, a milestone of which we can all be proud!
Ric Anderson, Head of School