Profile of John Healey, Head of School, Bond Academy
John Healey, Head of School (since 2002)
John Healey has been head of the Elementary Program at Bond Academy since 2002 when Bond Academy was established. He brought with him over 15 years of experience as a public school teacher, vice principal and principal with the Toronto District School Board. “I came here for five years, just to open the school,” he says of his arrival at Bond, “but I really enjoyed what we’re doing here, so I stayed around.”
Healey is described as old-school, someone with a no-nonsense attitude who has high expectations of students and wants them to excel. He’s also a hands-on principal who is often seen in the hallways greeting staff, students and parents. “We have a very open door policy at Bond. To me, communication is critical and getting to know people is important. I strongly believe that you need to make yourself visible and to be involved in the school life so when there is an issue they will feel comfortable coming to talk to you.”
Healey thinks of the school’s role as being a place that serves the needs of the community. Supervised before and after school programs, for example, provide parents with the flexibility to pick up and drop off while balancing their work schedules. Parents are also welcomed into the school after 4:30 pm to visit with teachers, watch children in the gym or visit with other parents. “It’s got to be inclusive,” says Healey. “To me that’s the energy you can feel when you walk into the school. It’s a friendly place.”
That sense of community is one that Healey says is felt by everyone at Bond. “It’s a feeling you get when you walk in the building, the way (people) respond to you.” Healey says Bond doesn’t have open houses, because he wants prospective parents to get a real feeling for the culture of the school and he says, that involves meeting the staff and students, not just visiting a building. “The reason we don’t have the open house is because you see a building. The school is not a building. The school is the people in it and how they interact. You cannot get a sense of the school by seeing a building.”
Watching the interactions between students and between staff and students, he says, even something as simple as a student holding the door for another student and saying thank you when they do, demonstrates the culture of the school.
Healey takes a holistic philosophy of education at Bond. “I don’t see education as simply what happens in the classroom”. Bond uses several non instructional methods in child development. “You don’t go to the gym to build a better body by only working on one arm. We don’t build a better student by only focusing on math and English. You have to give them other opportunities to grow.”
Healey focuses on developing children’s self esteem and confidence, not only through academic work but through sports, drama and the arts. “We look for opportunity for every child to find a place to shine, to build that confidence.” Whether through Math Club or Zumba classes, Healey says the goal of the teacher at Bond Academy is to work with the students’ interests to build their confidence and self-esteem because those, he says, are the tools needed to be successful in life. While he says some parents will argue math is more important than drama, Healey strongly disagrees. “I will counter math is very important but your ability to think on your feet, to improvise, to sell yourself, to convince others is a more critical skill you will have in your life.” To be successful in the real world, he says, is not just about doing well in school. “Knowledge we can get. It’s not important to memorize the knowledge – it’s more important to know what to do with it”.