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Interview: Round Square and interview with Duncan Hossack

What is your role within Round Square?
As Regional Support Manager for the Americas, I work to bring added value to member schools by ensuring they are aware of new initiatives, answering questions about student exchanges, and assisting with logistics or signing up for projects.

I also help identify new schools in the Americas region that might be different from our existing membership so we can enhance the network through diversity, and visit candidate schools to see how they measure up to that application. 

What do you hope to see when visiting Round Square candidate schools?
I hope that I see that what’s happening in practice is what the school said will happen on the application. I love to see the things that Round Square is passionate about: student engagement and leadership, schools that are willing to do things that are better for students, schools that are willing to try things and if it doesn’t work, to try again. I love what you at CFIS are doing. You assign students to houses by giving them a personality test and putting people who share common personality traits together in one house. Nobody else is doing that! It’s a lovely idea and I can see what the advantages would be - so that sort of thing is admirable. I love to see a school where the students are given an opportunity to lead, where global competencies and a spirit of internationalism are abound because we know that that’s going to be incredibly important for students. I love to see extracurricular programs that allow students to get involved in adventurous activities and discover themselves when pushed beyond their boundaries. It doesn’t have to be rock climbing, it could be standing on stage and saying some lines, playing a band instrument in public for the first time, anything that allows a student to go a little bit beyond their comfort zone and discover what more they have within themselves. 

As someone who has visited many schools around the world, what are your reflections after visiting CFIS? What stood out to you as special or unique? 
I love the fact that you drive up to CFIS and it says in very large letters above the front door “Calgary French & International School.”  I love the fundamental nature of what you do - you are an international school, an immersion school, a bilingual school. These are things that Round Square schools aspire to help their students achieve, and you’re doing it right up front by making sure their confidence is unleashed. You are  internationally focused, even in your name! You have the benefit of having an upper school within a small school - it’s that familiarity that produces very special relationships between the students, students and teachers and co-learners. Your students really love the fact that they know each other so well. I love your spirit of adventure. I gave the earlier example of student houses. I must say that school leadership has been pretty strong over the last few years so that the teachers, students, parents and board members I spoke with were clearly marching to the same tune, which is lovely. Head of School Margaret Dorrance has firmly brought certain principles and initiatives forward, and it’s clear that everybody in the school has paid attention to that. 

What were your perceptions of CFIS students?
I was given a tour by some exceptionally articulate and lovely students who were very even-handed in their opinions and comments, and pleased and proud to be part of a school that had a mission that was relevant. They knew they were in a school where what they were learning was actually going to help them be happy and successful in their future. 

What do you think will be the greatest benefit to our school community as a Round Square school?
You’ve joined a great network of 180 schools in all parts of the world that share certain commonalities. If you choose to engage yourself with the network, you will find a world of opportunity there. Your teachers can plan a lesson and interact with professionals in different parts of the world to enrich that curriculum. Your students could have a Skype conference with students in Francophone countries around the world. 

What are the ways that you see CFIS giving back to the larger Round Square community?
When you come across something that’s obviously best practice, that you think might be interesting to other schools, share it with the network. The more you give, the more you’ll get. Use the website to engage in the network and then, on a more exciting and adventurous level, get your students and adults to events within the region and around the world, as budget and the ability of parents to pay for these things allow. Mme. Chantalle Bourque, your Round Square coordinator, has got the right idea of the value of Round Square: engage with the network.