Head Lines: November 2015

ChantalGionetWebAlthough it seems late in coming this year, fall continues to be my favourite time of year. It feels like nature’s gentle way of preparing us for the work that is about to begin for the rest of the year.

In the life of a school, once the frenzy of the first few weeks dies down, it is the time when everyone begins to settle into their routines and the rhythm of the school begins to take shape. I have enjoyed spending much time talking to the girls inside and outside of the classroom. They have been abuzz with excitement for all of the opportunities that lay ahead this year.

It is hard to believe that so much has happened at the school already. We honoured our history and traditions at Founders’ Day, reunited with alumnae at the Golden Alumnae Luncheon and Alumnae Day, welcomed new families at the New Parents’ Dinner and Thanksgiving and Halloween have come and gone. I want to thank the girls of both the Junior and Senior School, as well as their teachers, for their poignant and heartfelt performances this week honouring our fallen heroes this Remembrance Day.

Chantal Gionet with Master Joe Spence of Dulwich College
Chantal Gionet with Master Joe Spence of Dulwich College

In spite of such a busy start to the year, I feel fortunate that I was able to make a quick visit to the UK. In London I met with the Master of Dulwich College, Joe Spence, and toured the new Laboratory, a state-of-the-art Science and Technology facility. One of the oldest independent schools in the UK (they will be celebrating their 400th anniversary in 2019), Dulwich College has an outstanding reputation for its exceptional science and math programs. I also had the opportunity to visit another state-of-the-art science facility, just for girls, at the St. Helen and St. Katharine school in Oxfordshire. It was inspiring to see girls striving in biology, physics and chemistry from Grades 5 to their senior years. Of course, I could not miss the opportunity to visit the University of Oxford and meet with an admissions officer to learn more about their requirements for students applying to their varied programs. Simply walking the grounds of this university was inspirational and humbling.

Chantal Gionet (right), with Robin Mansell '69 (center) and Executive Director, Advancement, Laura Edwards (left).
Chantal Gionet (right), with Robin Mansell ’69 (center) and Executive Director, Advancement, Laura Edwards (left).

During this whirlwind trip, our Executive Director of Advancement, Laura Edwards and I also joined Alumnae Reunions in London, Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Oxford where I felt privileged to connect with so many phenomenal Yorkies. There was one alumna that I had the opportunity to sit down with for an in-depth interview while in London. Robin Mansell ’69, in addition to being a Professor of New Media and the Internet with their Department of Media and Communication, is now the first female Provost at the London School of Economics. I hope you enjoy my interview with her featured here.

Once I returned, we were delighted to have renowned author and professor, Irshad Manji who founded the Moral Courage Project at NYU, visit York House and speak to the girls about what it means to develop moral courage. A dynamic speaker, it was impressive to see how easily she engaged with the girls. Whether they were in Junior School or Senior School, she was able to help the girls explore moral courage in a way that was relevant and would resonate with them. In three short days, there were many opportunities for students, staff and parents to engage in discussion with Irshad. We hope that you were able to see some of the video highlights of her talks on Twitter as well as on our YouTube Channel.

With Irshad Manji, at the Parent Information Evening on Tuesday, October, 6.
With Irshad Manji, at the Parent Information Evening on Tuesday, October, 6.

Thank you to everyone who joined Kimberley Harvey and I for the evening conversation with Irshad. It was a great opportunity to explore what it means to empower our girls to have a strong sense of self, their own values and the courage to stand up for what they believe. We were impressed with the enthusiastic dialogue that this sparked and the insightful comments.

We also had the chance to interview Irshad for the school blog. Irshad will continue to work with our community in the coming months.

Our Grade 8 girls have been participating in our exciting new ID8 program with the Academy of Tomorrow where we hope to provide them with the opportunity to explore and develop collaborative leadership skills with other Yorkies. This has been a great opportunity for our new Grade 8 students to become acquainted with current Yorkies.

Thank you to all of you who joined for the BC Curriculum information sessions lead by Julie Rousseau, Director of Learning, Creativity and Innovation. We were impressed with such a great turnout as well as the thoughtful questions asked and the positive feedback we received from those who attended. Julie’s extensive experience in helping to shape curriculum and her understanding of the changes ahead will be a great benefit to our community as we adapt to the new curriculum. There will be more information sessions to follow, and more opportunities to ask questions. We have provided a summary of some of the feedback you shared.

While it is still early in the year and there is still much to do, I do want to thank each of you for all that you bring to our community every day. Whether it is on the field, your involvement with the Parents’ Association or the dialogue you engage in with our teachers, students and our administrators, and other parents, you are deeply valued.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at Bid Night on November 19. If I don’t see you there, I hope that you will join us for the Community Celebration on December 9 at the Chan Centre or simply say hello when you see me in the halls of the school.

Sincerely,

Chantal Gionet
Head of School

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