Founder’s Day 2019 broke all attendance records with the presentation of the Speirs Medal to retired Dean of Students Minna Shulman on Nov. 28. Ten previous Speirs Medal recipients and a huge crowd of family and friends of Selwyn House School filled Coristine Hall for the presentation of the highest honour the school can bestow.
Retired last year after 20 years at Selwyn House, the woman who personifies the maxim that every student—indeed, every person—at the school should be known and loved is, herself, known and loved by everyone in the Selwyn House community.
This sentiment was made obvious by the tributes made to her by colleagues such as Betty Goldwarg, a parent of two Selwyn House Old Boys and a co-worker from Minna’s earlier career in social work, who introduced the guest of honour. “It’s impossible to walk anywhere in Westmount with Minna without being stopped by people wanting to hug her, to speak to her, and to let her know how grateful they are for her presence in their lives,” Ms. Goldwarg said.
“With the exception of [my wife] Susan and my own father, there is no one—no one—who has had a greater influence on my professional life than Minna,” said Headmaster Hal Hannaford. “We are all better people for many of her decisions.”
He described Minna’s talent as sheer genius. “It’s authentic, it requires intuition and it comes from her ability to care so deeply about everyone she works with,” he said.
“This is a Speirs Medal that is based on true love.”
Headmaster Emeritus Will Mitchell, who, as Hal Hannaford’s predecessor, hired Minna at Selwyn House, had these words of congratulation: “I am forever grateful for the positive impact you had on campus life from the moment you arrived. For faculty, parents and students, you humanized the school in profound ways and helped all understand that the way we treat each other is perhaps the most important thing to teach and learn.”
In her acceptance speech, Minna said she felt blessed and grateful.
“To be honoured for what one loves to do, for being involved in the lives of others, for hearing real-life stories every day… is really a dream come true for someone like me.
“I feel honoured by your trust and your love.”