Heidi Staseson, Communications Manager

One morning in 2014, I jotted out a journal entry describing a dream I had just had:

“I found myself on Day 1 of the greatest job I could imagine. With open arms and bright smiles, a handful of gleaming people welcomed me into a pink-hued boardroom. They gave me a set of fresh pens and hard-shell notebooks (in every colour), and they also provided me with a clear map of the premises. And, then we all sat down to brainstorm.

At the end of the day, I hadn't a clue how to get to my building’s exit doors to head home. And, yet, even as a new inhabitant of this hazy, unfamiliar city and workplace, the problem was solved when a beaming staff member not only offered to direct me , but she led me straight to my car. 

I felt assured. I knew these people were genuine.

And then I woke up.

My eyes were half-glued from another contact-wearing slumber, but I was feeling gleefully peaceful. It had all been a dream, but oh, what a great one—leaving me with a profound sense of joy, hope, and knowing."

Not-so-fast-forward nearly a decade, and I feel as though I’m having a déjà vu—right here at SMUS. Was the dream a strange coincidence? Or could it actually be that patience, perseverance, and faith do, eventually, pay off in time? Or, in the words of loveable Coach Ted Lasso, if you just ‘Believe,' all the good things will happen (or something to that effect).

Now, just two weeks in—both at St. Michaels University and living here in Victoria, B.C.—I think it's time to stop pinching myself and face the fact I really do believe.

I believe in what Director of Senior School Eliot Anderson wrote in his September SMUS Weekly article about dynamic leadership and culture of learning; of facing your fears and pushing through life’s obstacles as they’re happening; and, importantly, to “recognize that it takes courage to move into the unfamiliar and away from the routines we have come to know...," and, that “our students must learn to lean into discomfort and hardship to build upon their strengths, grow their confidence, and uncover new passions they did not know they held.”

With no exaggeration, this place pumps you up. Whether it’s by amazing new team members who are skilled at taking the wheel and owning their respective roles with confidence and pride—or whether you're buoyed by Ruth McGhee's and Ritch Primrose’s primers for guiding Senior School leaders to feel safe and ready to face big audiences at assembly—or just simply chit-chatting with the inspiring David Lynch as he provides solid and reflective advice about truth, honour, ritual, and ceremony, in his new role as the school's Indigenous Liaison...

...the fact is, there are too many inspiring folks here to mention them all in this SMUS Weekly wordcount.

Indeed, SMUS is a veritable neigbourhood of friends and community. You see it on the school grounds every day, from catching a glimpse of Director of Boarding and Student Life, Keith Driscoll, as he cheerfully walks his dog, Buddy, to, later the same week, learning from his expertise on SMUS boarding life and its ethos of pastoral care and connection on campus.

Walking to my car after a reception, a bird’s eye view of the school before me, the still-on lights of classrooms and the library cast a luminous view against the darkening night sky. Nonchalantly peering through one window, I saw a bespectacled youth deep into his studies; I wondered if he was learning about things STEAM-related or prepping for a debate. Could’ve been any number of fascinating studies I’ve been hearing so much about. Then, looking to the left, I caught the moment the vertical library blinds closed, making my short walk seem ever that more still and peaceful.

To reiterate with more context, for about a third of my life, SMUS has been psychologically and physically adjacent to me. When I first met David Lynch, for instance, he shared with me that not only is he a sociology teacher, but he’s also the only teacher here who happened to graduate with my sister.

While there’s so much to learn in this exciting new communications role, there are also these countless ‘coincidence’ stories about the successes of SMUS students, both present and past, and their deeply rooted connections to one another, as individual friends, family members, and as a community.

Knowing this up-close and personally now, has given me pause for thought: Another thing SMUS does exceedingly well is it gives many people their ‘first tastes’ of success and ignites passions. For my sister, it was the first taste of success performing in front of live audiences (she was the lead actress in SMUS’s musical Guys and Dolls); for me, it's getting a first taste of success for managing this editorial process that is about to ‘go live,' soon.

What do you think was your ‘first taste’  of success or untapped passion to emerge from your SMUS trajectory? How has that experience furthered and enriched you as a person?

These are the types of questions I'll be asking myself, and you, our readers, from time to time. I hope that in my forthcoming communications with this incredible new community, I continue to let the leaders here inspire me to provide messages that reflect transparency and trust—two T’s of which, the older I get, personally and professionally, have come to resonate more with me now than ever.

I also hope to craft, coordinate, and manage messaging that is authentic and connective by following your lead, as readers and as people who have already experienced their 'first tastes' of success here. And, importantly, in doing so, to keep all those myriad SMUS ‘dreams’ and connections alive and thriving.

Six months ago, I would never have expected SMUS to become more than an ‘adjacent’ edifice in my life. Nor did I expect a pair of deer to cross my driving path two days in a row, one at a gas station near Fern Street, no less (although SMUS Director of External Programs Craig Kelley did tell me this is the land of ‘paradise’ and ‘peacocks’).

To be sure, I never would have thought that one day I would be embarking on my own SMUS dream come true. My former Junior School motto at Elmwood School for Girls in Ottawa was Summa Summarum, which means ‘highest of the high.’ Now, umpteen years later, I find myself wearing that same school pride of striving and belonging—to something bigger than myself; a community I can call my own and can count on. 

And so, on this Friday the 13th of October 2023, I officially declare my first ‘Vivat!’