Head Lines: September 2015

Chantal Gionet, Head of School
Chantal Gionet, Head of School

Dear Parents,

I hope that you have had a truly memorable summer with friends and family. We are looking forward to welcoming your daughters to an exciting year full of discovery and learning at York House School. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to get to know everyone that much better throughout my second year at YHS. I have no doubt that this academic year will bring many rich opportunities for our community.

It has been a busy and productive summer for the Administration Team, and I am pleased to share with you a number of exciting new developments. Each of these new developments attests to our commitment to enhance communication and to provide an exceptional education where each girl is supported and challenged to reach her full potential. Our goal is to ensure that we prepare our girls to thrive now and in the future.

Yorkies need to be globally aware and able to network, collaborate and work effectively with others from around the world. We equip our students to be responsible global citizens by cultivating key capacities such as creativity, critical thinking and the ability to identify and solve complex problems. It is essential that we foster curiosity, open-mindedness, empathy, adaptability and resiliency in each girl.

We continue to strive to create unique learning opportunities that inspire our girls to flourish, while also providing the support necessary to ensure that each student has the guidance she needs to achieve both her academic and personal goals.

Throughout the school year, I will continue to share with you the tremendous work being done in the classroom and with our strategic planning process – York House School 2030. This is an exciting time for York House School as we plan for the future and beyond.

The York House Family Handbook
In an effort to provide greater clarity regarding policies, procedures, day-to-day activities and expectations, we will be introducing a new Family Handbook (previously known as the “Parent Handbook”) that will allow you to easily review the handbook online or print a downloadable pdf version.

The Learning and Guidance Centre
Recognizing the need to adopt a more integrated approach to how we support each girl to achieve her personal, academic and career goals, we have launched the new Learning and Guidance Centre that will be led by Anita Irani, Director of Guidance. Still located in the underground, the Learning and Guidance Centre consists of the Learning Support Team and three Guidance Counsellors. The goal is to better support the whole girl through social emotional and academic counselling, career planning and preparing for university admissions, as well as supporting students with a range of learning styles and individual education plans. We have expanded our Learning Support Team of four people and have added one new Guidance Counsellor.

Please join me in welcoming our new Learning and Guidance Centre team:

  • Anita Irani – Director of Guidance (Gr. 11 & 12)
  • Ly Hoang – Guidance Counsellor (Gr. 9 & 10)
  • Ann Downie – Guidance Counsellor (Gr. 8)
  • Junie Brayley – Learning Support Co-Ordinator
  • Christine Bernier – Learning Support Teacher
  • Angel Bajgoric – Learning Support Teacher
  • Natalie Bosco – Learning Support Teacher Assistant

Learning Commons Renovations in the Junior and Senior Schools
In the spirit of dynamic and engaging 21st Century learning, the libraries in the Junior and Senior School will now be called Learning Commons. Renovations, started this summer, will transform both of these multi-purpose rooms into inviting and adaptable collaboration spaces equipped with the latest technologies.

The Junior School Learning Commons, due for completion mid-September, will be a beautiful, inviting and dynamic space for students to enjoy reading, learning and working collaboratively together. Students will experience a seamless transition from their hallway to this new and exciting space, designed especially for our girls.

In the Senior School, there are flexible working spaces to allow for small and large group collaboration, including a newly designated high-tech workspace for students. There is also a new technology hub that houses two Technology Integration Specialists who will support students and faculty in exploring new resources and innovative ways to learn and network with others beyond our community.

I.D.8: Innovation and Leadership Development for Our Grade 8 Students
We are thrilled to announce that we are launching a new innovation and leadership program for our Grade 8 students, “I.D. 8”. Students will strengthen their self-knowledge as well as their foundation of collaborative and communication skills through a series of workshops. Through self-exploration, they will discover their voice, and how to listen and work collaboratively with others. They will realize their leadership potential and how they can make an impact on our community and beyond. We want to ensure that our Grade 8s are empowered to develop a growth mindset, cultivate an optimistic outlook and learn how to manage ambiguity as we prepare them to be active and engaged students in the Senior School.

This year’s Grade 8 students will be divided into two groups, Cohort 1 and Cohort 2, where they will be required to complete three, four-day modules over the course of the year. Kimberley Harvey, Director of Senior School, will be sharing more information with our community throughout the year.

Senior School Music Program
We are delighted to welcome Lia Wolfe to York House to lead our Music Program this year while Spencer Bach is away on leave. Lia is a dynamic teacher who brings 15 years of music education experience from the Delta School District. As an accomplished and talented musician herself, Lia believes that music and the arts have a great impact on the full development of students and provides authentic learning experiences. We are confident that Lia’s extensive background in directing musicals and choirs, conducting band tours and annual musical concerts, and competing in events such as the Kiwanis and Whistler Music Festivals, will be a tremendous asset for our girls throughout the 2015-16 academic year.

Heather Christensen, a teacher with over 17 years of music education experience, is taking over the choral component of our Music Program. Most recently, Heather led the Choral Program at Crofton House School and was also the Director of Zing Children’s Choir. Heather received the prestigious Don Wright Scholarship in Choral Music Education at UBC. Heather and Lia Wolfe both sing together in the Jubilate Vocal Ensemble directed by Larry Nickel.

Directing this year’s musical production is Shannon Harrigan, Head of the Fine Arts Department.

Faculty and Staff Update
The following is an update on staffing for the 2015-2016 academic year.

New Positions at YHS

Julie Rousseau, Director of Creativity, Learning and Innovation
I am pleased to announce that this summer Julie Rousseau joined York House School as the Director of Learning, Creativity and Innovation (JK to Grade 12). A passionate bilingual educator (French and English), Julie has 24 years of experience in education including K-12 classroom teaching as well as school-based and district level administration. Julie received her Bachelors of Education in TESL and Physical Education from McGill University, her post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education from Simon Fraser University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from City University of Seattle. She has taught French Immersion from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and has taught at the graduate level at City University of Seattle since 2008. As an experienced administrator, Julie held both Principal and Vice-Principal roles with a number of schools throughout the Abbotsford School District. Most recently, she held the position of Director of Instruction for the Abbotsford School District.

We are looking forward to her leadership in facilitating innovative and transformational programs at York House School.

Shelley Lammie, Director of Little School and Director of Academics (JK to Gr. 7) 
Shelley will continue to lead the Little School. In collaboration with Julie Rousseau, Shelley will lead the implementation of current and new initiatives in the areas of curriculum design, instructional and assessment practices in the Little School and Junior School.

Anita Irani, Director of Guidance
Anita will oversee the Learning and Guidance Centre in the Senior School.

David Dallman, Technology Integration & Technical Operations Manager
David will manage the systems and technology that supports school operations in various departments. He will continue to support teachers and students in the integration of technology into the classroom to enhance learning.

Shannon White, Team Coordinator and Junior Kindergarten Teacher
Shannon will work closely with the Director of the Little School/Director of Academics (JK to Gr. 7) to provide leadership to the teachers and manage the daily operations of the Little School.

Kara McDonald, Global Programs Coordinator 
Kara will continue to teach English and will work with colleagues to support enriched experiential learning opportunities. Kara will coordinate student exchanges, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program and assist in further developing educational partnerships and experiences to develop global competency.

Esther Kong, Graphic Design Intern
Esther will support the Communications & Marketing Department.

Emily Matthews, Science Lab Technician
Emily will assist the Science Department Head and Science Teachers with the day-to-day preparation for classes and maintenance of the science labs and equipment.

Returning Faculty
I am pleased to welcome back the following teachers:

  • Whitney Black, Stephanie Keating, Angel Bajgoric and Tara Avenia (returning from maternity leaves)
  • Charlene Brandt (returning from a personal leave)

New Faculty and Staff:
I would like to welcome the following teachers to our school community.

Little School

  • Tracey McCloy – Senior Kindergarten teacher
  • Angela Kingerlee – Senior Kindergarten teacher (former Little School Teacher Assistant)
  • Amy Higgins – Teacher Assistant and After School Care (former Junior School intern)

Junior School

  • Heather Korlak – Grade 2 teacher
  • Carly Trinder – Grade 3 teacher (former Junior School intern)
  • Laura Christensen – Grade 6 teacher
  • Amarens Matthiesen – After School Care
  • Jeannine Torrance – French teacher (part-time)
  • Esther Tung – Intern
  • Lauren Black – Intern
  • Aleesha Bird – Intern

Senior School

  • Tara Grant – Department Head of Social Studies and teacher
  • Ann Downie – Guidance Counsellor (new position)
  • Julia Fassezke – Science teacher
  • Melanie Cote-Chartrand – French and Social Studies teacher
  • Angela Jurgensen – Fine Arts teacher
  • Elizabeth Wong – Science teacher
  • Alexis Lum – French teacher
  • Heather Christiansen – Choral teacher
  • Lia Wolfe – Music and Band teacher

Many of these teachers are replacing faculty that are currently on a one-year leave of absence for maternity or personal reasons: Chris Britt, Megan Dalziel, Magali Forte, Myriam LeMay, Jennifer Lee, Danielle Neer, Monica Regan, Clint Robertson, Sandra Richardson, Lisa Tomlinson and Spencer Bach. We wish them all the best during their time away.

Although it is always difficult to say goodbye to faculty and staff, we are delighted that David Reindl and Trond Halle have moved on to pursue career opportunities of their choice. We thank Gordon Thrift, Min Kim, Maria Moreno and Megan Kwan for their contribution to York House School during their one-year contracts. We also wish Fiona Blackburn all the best as she will now have more time to spend with her grandchildren and family!

I am looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Warmest regards,

Chantal Gionet, Head of School - Signature
Chantal Gionet

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