Profile of Stephen Beatty, Head of School, Royal St. George's College

“If anyone ever tells you you’ve hit your best version, stop listening to them.”

Stephen Beatty is not only the head of school at Royal St. George’s College, he’s also a former student. Beatty’s father grew up on a farm in Ontario and his mother emigrated from England. When they moved to Toronto, they didn’t know anything about the local private school landscape, but they were very impressed by a neighbour’s boys. “They saw these really nice kids helping out around the house, calling my dad ‘sir’ and being respectful to my mom. So, naturally, they asked what school they were going to in their blazers each morning. And that’s how I ended up at RSGC from Grade 4 through 13.” 

Beatty started at the school in 1976 at a time when the founding headmaster and many founding teachers were still on staff. While Beatty didn’t start his career in education, his fond memories of those years at his alma mater were what eventually led him to pursue a career in education

After graduating university, Beatty worked in magazine publishing in Toronto before reconsidering his career path. “When I landed on teaching as a second career it had a lot to do with my sense that my teachers at RSGC really loved what they were doing. I was looking for a meaningful and substantive way to spend my professional life, and I looked to their example.” 

Beatty’s first job in education was at Branksome Hall, a private girls’ school in Toronto. He then moved to a coed private school. “All through those years, my presumption was that I would return to RSGC, but I didn’t imagine I’d come back to run the place.” His two sons came with him. One graduated in 2022 and the other is set to graduate in 2025.

While Beatty loved and appreciated his time at RSGC, he says there’s always room to grow and improve. “I want their school to be even better than mine.” This spirit of improvement runs through the school. “The work of a school is learning and getting better and that is the work of an eight-year-old or a 54-year-old in my case. Our mission statement here speaks of ‘best version of himself’ and we’re always in pursuit of that. If anyone ever tells you you’ve hit your best version, stop listening to them.”

Beatty is the kind of headmaster who spends more time out in the hallways or in the field than in his office. Beatty can be found standing outside the school every morning making sure every child is greeted as they get out of the car. “I always make note of who’s birthday it is every day so I can particularly embarrass them in the morning.” Beatty does recess and lunch duty as often as he can and drops in on band practice and sports games. “I know every kid’s name and most of their parents’ names.”

Beatty is described as a warm and caring head of school who models to his students how to be both strong and vulnerable as a leader and as a man. “If we’re going to talk about loving the boys, then we better act like we do,” says Beatty. “That means I tell them I love them, but it also means I’m willing to have the tough conversations when needed.”

At RSGC, the concept of masculinity is often talked about. In fact, Beatty’s master’s thesis was on boys’ attitudes towards stereotypically feminine gender pursuits in boys’ schools and coed schools. “I was a product of a boys’ school, but I was an elementary teacher who studied English literature and acted on stage in university. Everywhere I went I was in the minority because I was a male and I wondered am I more inclined to these things because I went to a boys school or should I be less inclined to those things because I went to a boys school?” 

While in a coed school environment, Beatty says he would see male students who had great voices not want to join the choir because it wasn’t considered masculine. Beatty says removing the barriers boys face by predetermined gender stereotypes society enforces, boys are awarded a greater freedom to do things that they might not otherwise do.

RSGC has a renowned choir and a thriving knitting club, both composed of all boys. “The most popular club in the Junior School is cooking club. I don’t know that cooking club is popular with boys at a coed school.” By removing these gender stereotype barriers, Beatty believes boys have a better opportunity to shine and be the best version of themselves.

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