A friend works at a drop in centre for the homeless, and when I dropped in to visit him yesterday in Toronto’s city centre, I had the chance to meet with some of his clients, all of whom spoke very positively about the people who work there.

One man put it this way: “At other places, when you’re in line for your food, they make you feel like you’re in prison. Nobody gives a rip. You line up, and they just sort of plop it on your plate…” He shook his head in disgust.

What he was describing is “individual attention,” something of a buzzword these days in schools. It is, though, the key variable in shaping a culture and in determining the success of an institution, whether it’s a homeless shelter or an independent school.

We all want to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks, that everyone is known and cared for as an individual. Because deep down we all yearn for a place like “Cheers” — we all want to be a part of a place “where everybody knows your name.”


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