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Profile of Michael Fellin, Headmaster, Crescent School

“The single most important factor in whether a boy will learn or not is the relationship with the teacher.


Headmaster Michael Fellin has spent most of his life in an all-boys academic environment. He credits his education at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto for boosting his confidence and offering him a newfound sense of self and has made it his life’s work to provide other boys with the same extraordinary experience he benefitted from as a youth.

“I was blessed to go to a school that helped me realize myself and what I was potentially capable of doing in the world. I found my voice. I found my calling. I really discovered the importance of education and the power of relational teachers. For me, that was the big difference-maker in my own education.”
Fellin was named Crescent School’s Headmaster in 2014 after serving as the Assistant Head of Upper School since 2011. Prior to joining Crescent School, Fellin spent 10 years at a public Catholic boys’ school in Toronto as a teacher, chaplain, department head, and vice-principal. “I moved to Crescent because I wanted to be part of a school that was not only a leader in boys’ education but had a clarity of mission in developing boys’ character.”

For Fellin, it’s not only the curriculum of the school that is an important component of education for young boys, but the relationships that are built that are a key factor in a student's success. “The single most important factor in whether a boy will learn or not is the relationship with the teacher. If they have a caring adult, if they trust that that person is not just there to teach them what is explicitly in the curriculum but also support them in the challenges they come across, I think that makes the world of difference.” 

Fellin is not just speaking from his experience as Headmaster, but from his own experience as a student. “At the boys’ school I attended, my teachers and coaches saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, and the relationships I formed there will last a lifetime. I’m trying to give back a little bit of what I received.”
Fellin makes a point of being in front of the students, connecting with them, seeing what they’re working on, watching their games and competitions. Though Fellin can be seen enjoying a laugh with faculty and students he says he’s always thinking about how to improve. “I’m always worrying about the boys and the school, and how we can do even better,” he says. “I appear pretty stoic and even-keeled, but I’m like a duck on the placid water with my feet going furiously underneath.” 

And it seems that can be said of the school as well. “It’s not a school where you check in at 8:30 and check out at 2:30”. Crescent School strives to provide a full experience for students with a high-level quality education plus a wealth of co-curricular activities outside of the classroom. “We have boys here sometimes as early as 7:00 am on the field at practices and right through to 6 or 7 o’clock at night.” 

The school has adopted the philosophy of relational teaching, an approach that puts relationships between teachers and students at the centre of the educational system. When hiring staff, Fellin says he looks beyond whether the candidate is a trained teacher and their teaching methodologies. “Yes, I want to know that the person is a trained teacher and that they know the curriculum but I want to know much more about who they are, what they stand for, how they were raised, how they approach the relationships with their students because there’s a difference between skill and human quality and those dispositions that we see here as so fundamental to how boys will forge a deep relationship with their teacher, their coach, their drama leader, whoever it is in whatever program they’re involved in.” 

Relationships between students are also highly valued at Crescent School. Every student is placed into a mentor group. The groups are made up of mixed ages with one or two adults and boys from different grades. “These become forums where boys can get advice from other boys and have someone they can turn to. I think it’s important that kids have at least 1 caring adult that they can turn to that from their perspective that person understands who I am, cares for me deeply and will be there to assist.”

Fellin believes in providing a well-rounded education. “We don’t promote ourselves as being a school that encourages students to do extremely well at one thing alone all the way through their education. We probably lose the odd championship because of that, and we’re okay with it. But it also means that the kids playing hockey or basketball, for example, might also try being in a play or going on a service trip.” 

Crescent School seeks to provide a culture that celebrates all interests and talents, “creating experiences where boys can discover their identity, their giftedness, their talent, their promise.” 

For the Our Kids Feature Review of Crescent School, click here: Private School Review: Crescent School | Our Take (ourkids.net)

To view Michael Fellin’s one-on-one Our Kids interview, click here: Crescent School - Toronto Private Day School (ourkids.net)
 

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