Head Lines: Fall 2020

As I write my first Head Lines of the year, I can’t help but notice, outside my window, the vibrant fall foliage tinged with red, gold, and orange hues announcing the start of autumn. It’s hard to believe that September is already behind us. 

Our students have now settled into their classes and have expressed to me how happy they are to be back at school. Between classes at recess and lunch, it is heartwarming to hear and see our students interacting, laughing as they circulate in the hallways to their classes. As I write this, I hear our youngest Yorkies interacting and playing together on Lindsay Field. Some of my best interactions with students happen during these unscripted moments when Senior School students share with me the highlight of their day or take a moment to share some interesting news with me.

I also cherish the daily spontaneous moments that occur during supervision at recess and lunch. Recently, a very creative group of Junior School students convinced me to be a “judge” for a very impromptu fashion show on the Lindsay field outside at lunchtime. I am always so impressed with our students’ creativity. They had designated the runway with cones and the fashion show was hosted by a very confident master of ceremonies who narrated the different looks created by our very eco-friendly designers. It was such good fun. 

As in-class instruction has resumed it certainly is so rewarding to see and feel the energy and pure joy the girls experience as they socialize and interact with one another. Resuming school after a long period of COVID-related self-isolation has certainly highlighted the importance of socialization on the emotional well-being of our girls. 

Despite the return to in-class instruction, we still have a closed campus which means that many events that we have come to cherish are being reimagined in a virtual environment. The need to minimize the risk of exposures calls on us to rethink events and consider new ways to engage our community. Already we have held very successful events such as our Curriculum Information Night and school assemblies. 

We have received very positive feedback from our community on events that were reimagined in a virtual format such as our Alumnae Day (October 3rd) and our recent New Parents’ Dinner (October 6th). As the year progresses, I am confident that we will find new formulas for some of our traditional events. In some cases, events might look very different, but like Dr. Henry says, “This is for now; not forever”. As the year unfolds, the health and safety of our community will remain a top priority. 

On another note, I am truly excited to share the completion of our new STEAM Lab at the Senior School. Due to our closed campus, we are unable to formally introduce our new Senior School STEAM Lab to the entire community. We had imagined a grand opening event with our community members coming to visit this exciting new learning space located at the front of the Senior School. Undaunted by our current circumstances due to COVID, we still wish to share this video of our exciting new STEAM lab with you.

Recently, Manpreet Deol, a graduate of 2015, and our school’s first Rhodes Scholar visited the STEAM lab before she headed off to Oxford University. We are incredibly proud of Manpreet and I encourage you to hear what she had to say about this new learning space for our school. I also want to thank all our generous donors who contributed to the creation of this innovative new learning space for our school. 

As well, I had the tremendous privilege to interview Dr. Roberta Bondar on the topic of STEAM and exploration. It was such an honour to engage in a conversation with Canada’s first female astronaut and neurologist in space. As a scientist, passionate environmentalist, accomplished photographer and author, Dr. Bondar shares her perspectives about the importance of STEAM education for women. We look forward to sharing this interview with our students in assembly. If you have 20 minutes to spare, I strongly encourage you to view this interview to hear Dr. Bondar’s inspiring message. 

As we head into our Thanksgiving weekend, let us take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for. I certainly am thankful for our dedicated employees and energetic Yorkies who make coming to work such a pleasure each and every day. Finally, I offer my heartfelt gratitude to you for your continued support and for our important partnership with you during these unprecedented times. I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Warmly,

Julie Rousseau
Head of School

New STEAM LAB Opens in Senior School

We are excited to share that our Senior School STEAM Lab has opened. This new space—funded exclusively through the generous support of our community—will be a hub where students can explore a problem, engage in research, generate ideas, take risks, prototype, and construct solutions that draw on the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).  

In the STEAM Lab, student learning is guided through engineering and design-thinking processes. Students start with a design challenge. They identify a need or a problem. They conduct research and speak with user-groups to understand a need or problem. They brainstorm possible solutions. Students sketch a plan and gather materials. They try and test their plan. They make improvements. Through the process, students develop knowledge, practical design and fabrication skills, and critical and creative mindsets that they will apply to new scenarios and challenges. Students are encouraged to be independent learners, to drive project design, to break the mold, and to persevere through challenges using alternate design and techniques.

The YHS STEAM Lab in the Senior School is already home to Applied Design and Technology courses for students in Grades 8 and 9 and a new Engineering course for students in Grades 10 and 11. 

The new STEAM Lab will also offer students opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary projects; participate in maker workshops where they can use the lab to make and complete a project or learn practical skills like how to change a bike tire; or join a Robotics Club. The possibilities are endless and we look forward to sharing more information with you as the use of this new learning space evolves.

While we are not able to invite everyone in to come take a tour, we invite you to watch this video to see this exciting new space: 

For more information on how to support this exceptional new learning space please contact Nik Williams-Walshe, Director of Advancement at nikww@yorkhouse.ca