Profile of Wayne McKelvey, Principal, Metropolitan Preparatory Academy
Wayne McKelvey, Principal (since 1982), Hons. B.A., M.A., Dip. Ed.
Wayne McKelvey founded Metropolitan Preparatory Academy in 1982 after becoming frustrated with Ontario’s public education system, one that he describes as riddled with bickering, strikes and never-ending debates. “I was just fed up. I had had enough.”
There isn’t a board of governors at Metro Prep, and that’s how McKelvey likes it. McKelvey hires staff who share his vision of what a great school should be, which he describes as a shared, supportive culture of learning.
But that doesn’t mean they all think the same. Just as Metro Prep encourages students to think for themselves, staff are given real ownership over programs and policies. McKelvey believes that educators with the right attitude can have a profound impact on a student’s life. Both staff and students are encouraged to have a voice. McKelvey appreciates diversity of thought. He doesn’t want to surround himself with people who think just like him, but with people who challenge him and challenge the students to think for themselves. “I’m very much into individualism amongst kids. There aren’t too many schools, private or public, [that] encourage young people to really question things, to encourage young people to think the impossible.”
Students at Metro Prep are not required to wear uniforms like other private schools. Instead they are encouraged to express themselves as individuals through their clothing, and their voices.
The staff at Metro Prep appreciate this about McKelvey. He walks into classrooms not to check up on the teachers, but out of genuine curiosity what students are up to. He’s even known to engage in debate with students in class.
Nowhere is McKelvey’s philosophy more apparent than in his own office. It’s a cozy space lined with bookshelves and comfy leather couches that encourage guests to stay awhile. While for many students in other schools, being called down to the principal’s office is a fear-inducing situation, at Metro Prep, students actually enjoy being called to the Principal’s office. McKelvey greets students with an open door and often calls students into his office to complement them on their accomplishments or for a genuine conversation about what they’re up to.
It’s not uncommon to see a group of students gathered outside McKelvey’s office. McKelvey is a man who knows every student and what they’re involved in. The goal? “To let them know that somebody cares about them, that what they do is important. And that if you may feel you’re mediocre? You’re not mediocre, there’s a talent we haven’t found yet”.
McKelvey believes that success only happens when students believe in themselves. “You let the kids know they’re important, and you go from there”. He says in his letter to prospective students: “This may sound "corny", but little happens unless you believe in yourself and what you are doing. You don’t want to look back on your life one day and dream about what could have been. Set inspiring goals and work toward them now. When doors to opportunity open, walk through without hesitation.”