Head Lines: March 2019

On International Women’s Day, a dear friend and mentor of mine texted me, Michelle Obama’s quote, “The future of our girls is only as bright as the future of our world.” What an inspiring and truly meaningful statement for the work that we do at York House and for the hope that we have for all girls throughout the world.

I often ask myself, “What does the future hold for our girls?”, “What knowledge, employability skills, and global competencies will our girls need to succeed and address problems and tackle important issues?” and of course, “What are we doing to prepare our Yorkies to be the leaders that tackle these challenges and issues?” Of course, strong foundational literacies such as reading, writing, numeracy, and physical literacy as well as the arts in its many forms continue to be a focus. However, it is increasingly important that we develop what some call, 21st century skills or what Dr. Tony Wagner calls, the 7 Survival Skills. The development of these skills will foster continuous learning, active and informed citizenship, and will lead to ongoing success in our Yorkies’ chosen careers.

The empowerment of these skills is a key focus for us as we develop learning experiences both in and outside the classroom. Our successful STEAM program at the Junior School truly allows for a synergistic merge of subjects and an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, but by adding Art and Design to the equation we provide our girls the opportunity to enhance their critical thinking skills and understand the learning intersections of STEM + ART= STEAM. Early photographer, Charles Nègre (1820-1880) wrote, “Where science ends, art begins.” A talented artist and inquisitive scientist, he was a classic example of the combination of art and science in one creative personality.

With the success of the Junior School STEAM program, we look forward to expanding these types of learning experiences into the Senior School. With this in mind, we are creating a new STEAM coordinator position at the Senior School and will be working on revising our ADST (Applied Skills Design & Technology) Grade 8 and 9  courses for 2019-2020. The STEAM coordinator will collaborate with teachers in the Senior School to continue to expand opportunities for interdisciplinary and hands-on learning. I look forward to sharing more about the expansion of STEAM to the Senior School in the coming months.

With STEAM in mind and In light of  Women’s International Day, I invite you to view “The Unlikely Scientist”, a TEDX talk by an inspiring Canadian woman, Dr. Eugenia Duodu, who shares how she successfully managed to pursue her passion for science and community advocacy through her involvement in STEAM education.

Finally, I want to wish all our York House families a restful and soul-nourishing vacation during the March break. We look forward to seeing you in April and embarking on our last push for our final few months of the year.

Warmly,

Julie

Head Lines: December 2018

As we head into the holidays, I can’t help but reflect on the importance of family. Although I grew up in Granby Quebec, after graduating from university, I moved out to BC in 1990 when I first became a French Immersion teacher. I told my parents I would only be away for a couple of years, long enough to pay off my student loans. Well, twenty-eight years later, I’m still here in BC, a beautiful place I call home. Having no extended family in BC, I have often found the holidays challenging as I longed for the warmth and familiarity of the family traditions I grew up with. With my spouse and children, there were many trips back and forth to visit Grandmaman and Grandpapa and thankfully Facetime made it a little easier for us to stay connected over the years.

As I longed for the traditions that I grew up with, year over year, without realizing it, we slowly created new traditions for our very own children and family. I am reminded of this when they ask for their favourite holiday dishes, when we giggle as we look at the eclectic craft projects they made when they were little and when we still take time to watch our favourite Muppet movie classic together as a family.

I recently came across this interesting article that outlines the importance of spending quality time as a family. Having had a very busy but rewarding first year as Head of School, I look forward to putting my laptop away, turning my cell-phone off, and spending some quality time with my family. I often get caught up with the “busy-ness” of the holidays but this year I intend to turn the self-imposed dial of expectations down and I invite you to do the same. I’ve come to realize that my children don’t remember the gifts they received 10 years ago, but they certainly remember the fun movie night we had, the baking we did together and the long-lasting vacation memories we created as a family.

There are so many fun things you can do as a family, but here are my 10 suggestions to get you going:

  1. Plan a “tech-free” day together and create a list of activities that you post on the fridge.
  2. Have a “DIY” day. This “Do It Yourself” day is a day where as a family, you make or fix something in the house. You can fix, modify, or repurpose something old into something new! Or maybe you can make some blue glitter slime (always a hit!).
  3. Have a read-a-thon. Turn off TVs and all that is “tech”, put on some soft music, get cozy in the living room with some lovely hot cocoa and read together! Maybe even read about various cultural celebrations that exist around the world.
  4. Go for an “I-spy”  walk. Before you head out, identify 5 things to look out for and see who spots these first.
  5. Cooking time! It can be as simple as baking together or make it more elaborate and have family members set the menu, shop for items, decorate the table, and room to create an atmosphere.
  6. Go for an outdoor excursion together. It can be skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, or walking near the beach.
  7. Plan a family home spa day including facials, hand and foot massages, and maybe even aromatherapy. Someone is bound to look funny with cucumber slices resting on their eyelids!
  8. As a family, create a gratitude list and post it on the fridge, then think of how your family can give back to others in need.
  9. Movie night! This is a classic and one of my favourite things to do. Pick your family’s favourite movie (no arguing on which movie to pick!) and get your snacks and snuggle up together on the couch.
  10. Pyjama day. Plan a fun day around the house where all members of the family relax in their pyjamas all day. Maybe even your family pet has a cute little PJ outfit. Make it fun!

Of course, these are just a few ideas, but ones that I have always enjoyed with my family. As we head into the holidays, my wish for you is that you create memories that will last a lifetime and I’d love for you to share some of these with us. As you spend time together, I’d like to invite you to send us a photo that depicts the theme of “York House Family Time”. Following the holidays, we will create a compilation montage of photos to be shared with our community. Send your one photo to info@yorkhouse.ca and include the following info in your email.

  1. Family Name: 
  2. Description of the Family Memory You are Creating:

We would love to capture some of your great family moments, so please do share with us. Finally, to all York House families, may the closeness of friends, the love of family and the comfort of home be with you throughout this holiday season.

Warmly,

Julie