Interview with Athol Murray College of Notre Dame Alum, Phil Ridley
Highlights from the interview
The beauty of this school is there are no distractions. It's about the kids, the school, and academics first and foremost. This was true for me both as a student when I attended and later when I taught there for four years. So, nothing against other schools in Canada or good private schools elsewhere, but at Notre Dame, you have the students' full attention and focus. It continues to be a place devoid of distractions, allowing for absolute concentration on learning. The world today is teeming with distractions. How is a child supposed to focus when there are so many distractions? Notre Dame allows the child to do great things without these distractions.
For parents who need a place to entrust their child's education without worry, Notre Dame is the ideal place. It's about honesty, and how the students learn to be honest. Then, through their interactions with each other, they naturally become very passionate. And due to the success of numerous alumni in the NHL, CFL, politics, business, and more, you're trained to remain humble, in the face of any success you might achieve. Students from all backgrounds attend Notre Dame, not only international kids but also extraordinary students from small towns, phenomenal athletes, and those experiencing personal difficulties or difficulties with their families.
Here, you've got the school, and it has everything the child needs to excel. This school does have its challenges, though. For parents, it's tough to drop your child off and literally put them in a boarding school. And for the kids, they're not going to a city filled with numerous attractions or activities. It doesn't have what you would find in a big city, like London, Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, Vancouver, or Dubai. All they've got is the school. So, it's a reality check right away.
‘Luctur Emergo’ in Latin means ‘struggle to emerge,’ and they mean it. They have a couple of significant quotes in the school. So when adversity strikes, the young students, whether 14, 15, 16, whatever they are, they persevere through it, struggle, and emerge. And the other one I loved was, ‘Every human life is insignificant unless you yourself make it great.’ This quote teaches you the importance of individuality and self-realization.
This is where they grow up quickly. Students learn to rely on each other. This reliance is positive because the students have to navigate through it on their own. They don't have the distractions of a bustling community with dance halls or music clubs. All they've got is each other. So, they're going to learn really quickly about the importance of camaraderie and working together, making them better business people, teachers, lawyers, doctors, because they're learning about people.
I've taught in five different countries, and the thing I recognize most about Notre Dame is its giving nature, from the kids to the faculty and community; everyone genuinely helps each other. Athol Murray College of Notre Dame is a school I was very fortunate to attend and later teach at. It's a place of action, not merely words. There is an abundance of giving and helping each other. The most recent school I taught at was the American School Dubai, a city of 3 million with an International Kids AP program. The city was magnificent; it had everything. I've also taught in Nice, London, and, of course, Canada.
My children, who are successful educators, attribute their success, in part, to their time at Notre Dame. It was a transformational experience that emphasized the importance of prioritizing the students' needs over my own.
If I could give advice to students contemplating joining Notre Dame or any other school, it would be to ‘go for it.’ Whether it's badminton, singing in the choir, painting, pottery, theater, dance, football, rugby, or a sport you've never tried before, don’t hold back. Go for it. It might be difficult to take that first step, but it's worth it. There will always be some excuse or something that throws them off, like peer pressure, but I encourage them to push past these obstacles and follow their passion.