Mike Downey became the ninth headmaster of Selwyn House School on July 1, 2020, taking over from retiring Headmaster Hal Hannaford.
Previously serving as Assistant Headmaster and Head of Senior School, Mr. Downey has worked at the school as a teacher, coach and administrator for 30 years.
Then SHA Board Chairman Jonathan Goldbloom made the announcement to faculty and staff on the morning of November 13, and shortly afterward to the students. Parents and alumni were simultaneously informed of the decision by email.
“We scoured the world,” Mr. Goldbloom said of the search process.
“We interviewed people from Hong Kong, California, Ontario and here in Montreal. And what we discovered is that the best candidate is right here in our own backyard. We have someone amongst us who knows and loves Selwyn House. He knows all the staff and faculty, he knows all the students, he knows all the parents and he knows all the alumni. And one thing that came through in the process is the enormous amount of respect all of us have for him.”
The announcement was met with a standing ovation from the faculty and staff, as well as from the Middle School and Senior School students.
At Selwyn House School, Mr. Downey has taught ecology, biology, physical science, chemistry, science & technology, environmental science, and math. He has coached football, hockey, rugby, tennis, basketball, and ball hockey.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the future of the school,” said retiring Headmaster Hal Hannaford. “I’m convinced Mike Downey will be one of Canada’s great heads of school.”
In his first address to the Selwyn House community, Mr. Downey thanked “teachers who were
asked to switch their teaching methods on a dime, parents who have had to become home schoolers, and students who stepped up to the plate and worked hard through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“It’s been a great year and I’m proud to say I was part of Selwyn House during this time,” he said. “It was as positive a spring as it could be.”
“I’m very excited about the fall.We are working very hard to return to school. We believe that kids need to be with other kids. We believe that the social side of school is so, so important.”
“If we’ve only learned one thing from this pandemic, it’s that we are all in this together,” said Mr. Downey. Everything that’s happening around the world is affecting everyone else. We need to be aware of that. Everything we do as people affects everybody else. So, it’s important that, as you go through life you always take care of one another. You always be kind and respectful to everybody at all times. This is very, very important, and I will insist on it.”