Head Lines: Fall 2019

Nearly two months have passed since returning to school and the excitement of reuniting with friends has subsided, the thrill of new school supplies has worn off, and classroom routines are now well established. No doubt, pencil crayons are getting shorter, new shoes are a little scuffed, and as parents, you likely have been searching for your daughter’s elusive lunch box already! As multicoloured leaves blanket the beautiful streets surrounding the school, your daughters have happily settled in for another fun-filled year of learning.

Recently, at our very first Tiger Talks, I shared our Learning Framework at York House School and our desire to cultivate in our students the global competencies they will need to succeed in life. Yes, we are a university prep school, but more than preparing our girls to succeed in university, we have the great responsibility to develop now, the future skills they will need to navigate successfully in the world, well beyond university. To that end, Alvin Toffler’s quote resonates very strongly, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those that cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Which leads me to a very important question, “How do we cultivate in our students, the desire to be lifelong learners?”

Interestingly enough, I have very vivid memories of important learning milestones in my life. As a young French girl in Grade 1, I remember the feelings of elation I experienced at the precise moment when reading English words began to make sense. I remember the book I was reading, “A Kiss for Little Bear” and I actually remember the exact moment when the ink-filled page transformed from odd-looking letter segments to the unfolding of a beautiful story that allowed me to make clear connections with the world. I’m sure that in that moment, brain imaging would have revealed an explosion of neural activity revealing the wondrous birth of literacy that would set the stage for my lifelong learning. 

Do you have a vivid memory of learning? If so, take a moment to reflect on that memory and try to recall the details. In all likelihood, the learning involved a process of attempts, a scaffolding of skills, clear connections made, a succession of setbacks or failures, feedback on progress, additional attempts and then finally…success! This is the beauty of learning. Recently, in what might appear as an ordinary moment, I witnessed this beautiful process of learning as our Yorkies were asked to put away the blue blocks they had been using in a creative exercise. Notice the joy they felt when they finally succeeded. Their collaboration and tenacity in the process is what led them to succeed all on their own. Like glitter bombs exploding in their hearts, their sense of pride was indeed palpable.

We all play an important role in helping our Yorkies become lifelong learners and that is why learning through inquiry, reflection and hands-on learning is empowered at our school. In developing the skills and mindsets to learn, unlearn and relearn, we empower our students to become nimble and highly adaptable when making sense of the world they live in. Unfortunately, for some students, learning becomes more about achievement, right answers and grades. When that happens, learning stops being joyful and it can become a chore or something one must do rather than an experience of wonder and discovery. 

While grades are important, what about the sparkle in our student’s eyes when they discover a new bug in the yard, develop a code that launches a new program, when they describe a painting that inspires them or when they finally develop the skills and confidence to overcome the fear of public speaking? In the end, we want their love of learning to go beyond school and sustain them throughout their whole lives. 

Let’s make sure our children keep their passion for learning as they grow up. We should aim for them to graduate with the same sense of wonder and fearless curiosity as when they entered school in Kindergarten. As parents, you have an opportunity to influence and build on your child’s natural inclination to remain curious and enjoy learning throughout life. I invite you to read this article which shares ten simple ways you can foster the development of lifelong learning in your children. Your child’s teachers, mentors and coaches indeed play a vital role in your child’s love of learning, but please remember that your child’s most influential and loving teacher is YOU! In an ever-changing world, I encourage you to embark on an important journey of lifelong learning with your children. By doing so, you are providing them with the keys to their future success. 




Head Lines: October 2019

What a great start it has been! It was a pleasure to see so many families come out to our start of year events including the Welcome Back BBQ, Curriculum Information Nights, New Parent’s Dinner, and of course the Celebration of Life that was held in honour of Ms. Dalziel. With the month of September already behind us, we look forward to another great year filled with meaningful learning experiences. Our dedicated faculty are already actively engaging your daughter(s) in dynamic learning experiences both in and out of the classroom.

As we look ahead we are excited to provide curriculum, programs, and learning experiences that align with our mission to empower our students to become active global citizens who have the knowledge, courage, and skills to understand and act on issues that impact us all.

On October 3rd, during our first Tiger Talks of the year, I had the opportunity to share our York House learning framework with our parent community as well as outline key elements of our refreshed strategic priorities. I invite you to review these. I also had an opportunity to share with parents that with the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, advancement in technology and augmented realities, we must carefully consider how well we are preparing students for the future well beyond university. As outlined in this Forbes article we must develop in our students the mindsets, skills, and global competence required to support our girls to do “anything” in their future rather than one “something” or one job.

I also shared with parents that we aim to infuse the development of global competence throughout all JK to Grade 12 curriculum, programs, and learning experiences. At York House, we have made it a priority to support our teachers as they explore, expand, and develop student learning experiences that promote meaningful connections to the real world. We are also committed to empowering students to connect with people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and to understand, and act on issues of social, environmental, and political concerns.

In addition, it was a pleasure to welcome our Tiger Talks keynote speaker Katlyn Grasso, CEO of GenHERation who provided our parents with a dynamic presentation regarding her research into the importance of providing real-world learning and leadership opportunities that help girls turn their ideas into actions.

With this in mind, I am very pleased to share with you our plan to expand the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program at the Senior School. This project, approved by our Board of Governors, will provide an innovative learning space that will promote learning through inquiry, design, and entrepreneurship for our girls at the Senior School. With an interim STEAM lab currently in place, we look forward to the construction of a state of the art STEAM lab at the very front of the Senior School.

For years, this has been an underused space for us at the Senior School. With construction set to commence in March of 2020, we anticipate this project will be completed in July 2020 and will be ready for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Our new Senior School STEAM coordinator, Mr. Reimer has begun working with faculty to create exciting interdisciplinary learning experiences at the Senior School. We also look forward to developing community partnerships that will provide our students with opportunities for skilled volunteer learning experiences. Leveraging the talents of our accomplished parent community, we have already established a connection with SAP Labs Canada and look forward to the outstanding and real-world learning experiences this connection will provide for our students. As we expand, we look forward to creating additional outreach opportunities with more outside agencies and educational institutions.

There is much momentum and excitement about this project and we look forward to parent participation in raising 1.5 million dollars towards the completion of this innovative new learning space. I am pleased to share with you that we have already raised one-third of our goal and invite you to view our website for more information on both the project and how you can participate in helping us reach our fundraising goal. I am also very thankful that our Parents’ Association is fully supportive of this project and will be raising funds to purchase equipment for the STEAM lab at this year’s Bid Night event on Thursday, November 21st.

Finally, we look forward to connecting with you about our exciting programs and initiatives at our parent coffee mornings this year.