'Roadmap to excellence, enhancing the parent voice'
Karl Subban shares secret to student success
By David RosWhen Karl Subban talks about what parents can do to help their children to excel in school and in life, he does so from personal experience.There are few better examples of the pivotal role parents play in not just the academic success of their children, but of their success in life, than Karl and his wife Maria.Of their five children, daughters Nastassia and Natasha are teachers. Their sons P.K., Malcolm and Jordan all either play in the NHL or have been drafted by NHL teams.It was from this perspective that Karl, the retired Principal of Brookview M.S., addressed an audience of students, parents, educators and community members at Westview Centennial S.S., as the keynote speaker at the 2015 Parents and Teachers Making Connections conference.Before he began his Apr. 11 speech entitled "Roadmap to excellence, enhancing the parent voice," Karl used a lighthearted moment to acknowledge the pivotal role his wife played in helping their children to achieve the success they enjoy today.“My wife Maria is here tonight, sometimes she comes, she's heard all these speeches before, but she only comes just to critique me,” he joked. “Maria, are you here? I just want to know where she's sitting. Oh, she's at the back. That's my wife Maria there,” he points.The crowd looked back and gave her a resounding applause.With three sons playing professional hockey, Karl said people always ask he and his wife the secret to their success.“I call it the million dollar question, 'Karl and Maria, what did you do?' What did we do to help our children to excel the way that they have?” he said. “I was born in Jamaica and my wife was born in Montserrat, we were not born with the hockey genes.“With the odds of your son making the NHL, you're a lot better off buying a lottery ticket but we have three kids [in the NHL] and how do we explain that?”Of their three sons, P.K., is a star player for the Montreal Canadiens who, in addition to winning the Norris Trophy, which is given out to the NHL's best defenceman, for his performance during the 2012-2013 season, also won a Gold Medal with team Canada in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.Malcolm, a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization, made his NHL debut this past season and Jordan, a defenceman, is a Vancouver Canucks draft pick who has just finished his last year of junior hockey with the OHL's Belleville Bulls.Hockey isn't the only sport the Subban family has excelled at, Karl was a basketball player at Lakehead University and is still among the school's all time leading scorers and daughter Nastassia is second in all time scoring in women's basketball at York University.Karl credited the “three-legged stool" approach instilled in them to strive to reach their potential, which he defines as “having or showing the capacity to become something,” as a key ingredient in their success.“You're born with a purpose and you're born with potential and it is your gift to develop and when you develop that potential, it becomes your gift to the world,” he told the audience. “Schooling is about developing their potential. Parenting is about developing your children's potential.”To explain it, Karl asked the audience to imagine a three-legged stool, on the seat of that stool is the word “potential,” the first leg has the word “dream,” the second, “belief,” and the third, “action.”Just like the stool requires all three legs to remain standing, he explained, all three ingredients are required for one to reach their potential. According to Karl, you need to have a dream of something that you want to accomplish, have enough self-belief that you will be able to achieve it and finally, to take the necessary action to do what it takes to make it happen.“You need to have a dream, I had a dream. My dream was to play in the NBA, so I went to Lakehead University. I started working with kids and then I realized that dream was going to have some competition, and you know which one won out, I found my passion.” Karl told the audience. “P.K. Subban had a dream to play hockey like those guys on television and Maria and I worked to make it happen.”Karl's passion developed through teaching kids basketball caused him to have a new dream which led him to a lengthy career in education as both a teacher and administrator.Along with that dream, Karl said it is also important to have a strong belief that you will be able to accomplish your dreams, so that you will be able to “starve the doubters.”He told a story of how one of P.K.'s minor hockey coaches told him that he would never go further in hockey than the coach, who, at one point had played semi-professionally.“We know that our children face adversity and we face adversity, but we need to know that we all have that thing inside of us called potential to help us overcome these adversities but also you need to have a strong belief system,” Karl said. “Belief in yourself, if you believe that you have it in you to do something, you're not going to be stopped unless you're stopped, and you don't give anyone permission to stop you.”P.K. did not give that particular coach permission to stop his dream, and now, he is one of the NHL's best defencemen.The last leg of the three-legged stool is to take the action necessary in order to make your dream become a reality. Karl said he believes that if you have a dream, and the belief in that dream, it makes it much easier to do the hard work required to achieve that dream.When he was an educator, Karl said that his purpose was to “save lives” by helping and inspiring kids to reach their potential.“Our community gets better when you develop your potential, boys and girls, our schools become better and our homes become better,” Karl said. “The kids at Brookview knew this very well, they knew why they walked through those doors every day, because, if they don't know why, they're not going to learn. I don't care what anybody says, I don't care how good the lesson plans were.”Jaqueline Spence, a Toronto District School Board superintendent, who was previously principal at Shoreham P.S., which is on the same property as Brookview, said when it comes to his commitment to supporting students and parents, Karl is someone who “walked the walk.”“When [Karl] talks about parental engagement and supporting parents, he really did that because he was there and he was visible,” Spence said.According to Karl, developing a child's potential is something that starts in the home, and thus, it is essential for parents to set an example for their children.While he was principal at Brookview, Karl started a program called Parents are H.E.R.O.E.S., which stood for Home is where Education is Reinforced Over time to Ensure Success, in this program, parents were given recognition for the time and effort they put in to raise their children.“The one thing that stands out in my mind is the time that we spend with our children, I'm telling parents that is important,” Karl said. “It's not the money that you spend on them that stays with them, it's the time you spend with them.” Another component that Karl said that he believes is critical in helping kids to excel in school and in life is what he calls “the third parent.”“I tell [parents], your child needs that third parent and that third parent is that thing that they love to do other than school and because as they get older, that will help to parent them, it'll help to keep them focused,” he said. “That third parent was hockey for my three boys and it taught them some very important life skills: Determination, discipline and delaying gratification, you know all those things that they need to succeed in life.”