Dear HFS Community,

I am so humbled to be able to address you as we are in the early stages of our school year.

Time flies so quickly. Even though our kids have only been back in school for less than three weeks, it feels like summer has long passed us by. I find myself already thinking about apple picking, the telltale sign that fall is just around the corner. Shockingly, some of us have (gulp) registered our kids for skiing already – yet another sign that we have rounded the corner from summer. But, while it is scary to think that summer is gone and the new school year is here, this transition is also a time to reflect, much the same way we do as we enter the month of Elul, which precedes Rosh Hashanah.  

It is a time to take stock, to reflect on the sacrifices we have made to get to this point, and look forward to the school year and the hopes and dreams that we carry for our children and our families. When I take stock, I can’t help but envision the incredible things that will come for my two children, the milestones that they will reach, and the values and learning that they will take with them from HFS and draw on to thrive in the next step of their academic journeys.

This past week, many of us were glued to the television, mesmerized by a 19 year old Canadian girl from a humble immigrant background, Bianca Andreescu, who took the tennis world by storm by winning the US Open. Was her road to this championship smooth? Not at all. Bianca had a major set-back this year, dealing with a serious shoulder injury that forced her to miss several months of competition. How did Bianca overcome these setbacks and ascend the highest peak in the tennis world (against the legendary Serena Williams, no less)?  

What became apparent in the aftermath of her win was that Bianca trusted the process that was put in front of her, a process that was methodically planned by her team to allow her to achieve success. She trusted her team and knew that they would work tirelessly with her to allow her to succeed. When she won a tournament in Indian Wells earlier in the year, Bianca, exhausted and frustrated in the final set of the finals, was heard telling her coach: “I want this so bad. I want this so bad. » Her coach listened, pumped her up, refocused her on the plan and Bianca executed with precision and positivity. With her team and their open communication, Bianca would prepare and adjust for each opponent, changing her tactic in preparation and during each match as well.  

Perhaps most importantly is that Bianca would spend countless hours visualizing success, not dwelling on the negative thoughts that surely must have crept in during practices and games. She imagined what it would be like to win the US Open and went so far as to write herself a $3.8M cheque as part of this positive visualization exercise. She believed in herself, the plan and the team. I was personally moved watching Bianca battle back from adversity even when she was on the precipice of losing a set or a match, and how she worked even harder to reverse negativity and re-focus on that vision.  

How does all this reflect on HFS?  At the start of the current school year, we saw our recent graduates stream into the highest levels of French and Math at Herzliah and Bialik. As well, we saw three HFS graduates win top awards at West Island College (in Math, French, and English) at their beginning year ceremony. Our HFS students do extremely well and our educational process works. Will it always be smooth? Will there be bumps along the road? Will there be moments when the plan needs to be readjusted and the tactics rethought? Absolutely, and that’s part of the process! Just like Bianca who was able to go to her team of coaches and trainers and adjust her tactic to the situation, as members of the HFS community, we are able to do that and engage with our HFS team to get the support that we need and allow our kids to maximize their potential. We can be proactive and engaged to work together for the best possible outcomes.

We all have moments when fears and negativity creep in, when setbacks are the only things that we can focus on. And it can be easy to shut it down and give up. It is in those moments where I think it’s exciting to look at our kids and who they are becoming, and look up and envision the role models who they can be and the community leaders that they will be. We are three weeks away from Rosh Hashanah and this 40 something-year-old man can’t help but learn from a 19 year-old teenager who showed the power of positivity, engagement, trust, envisioning success and fostering a culture that encompasses all of those key points. I know our wonderful new board of directors and your committed educational team share in these cultural values and I envision all of these wonderful aspirations as they come to fruition.

Shabbat Shalom. Welcome to our new families and welcome back home to everyone!

Boris Gorbatyuk

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