Message from Deryn Lavell, Head of School: December 2022

Dear York House Community,

We’ve come to the conclusion of a very busy fall season and are looking forward to a well-deserved holiday break. Teachers, students, staff and families have all been running at full steam and I can only imagine how much you are looking forward to some renewal time.

As your new Head, it’s been busy for me too— but the really good kind of busy. The kind that is full of energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to get down to business. The welcome I’ve received from this community has been overwhelming and inspiring. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate the support and encouragement you’ve given me.

While we anticipate with excitement all of the fun, celebration and family time we’ll be able to enjoy, I also hope that you take some time to relax and restore.  

One of my favourite things to do over the holidays is to catch up on reading. It might seem odd that as a lifelong educator, reading is a luxury. But indeed, the pace of professional life for everyone leaves little time to relax with a good book, just for the pleasure of it. So, for this holiday, I’m anticipating spending some hours with two books I’ve been wanting to get to:

Under Pressure:  Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls, by Lisa Damour, PhD; and Potlatch as Pedagogy:  Learning Through Ceremony, by Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson.

In the first, Dr. Damour brings her expertise to bear in this insightful book about the increasing demands on the time, minds and hearts of young girls, causing unprecedented rises in unhealthy anxiety. I call this the ‘era of intensity’, where everything from academics to social pressures is ratcheted up to a level ten at all times. It concerns me to think about how all this might be affecting our students and their well-being. I’m anxious to learn from Dr. Damour who shares practical and thoughtful advice for parents and educators about how we can work together to help our students ease up on pressure and find more joy in their lives. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you decide to read her book.

The second book has been on my shelf since September and I’m excited to dive into it. Early in my career, I was honoured to be invited to attend some Potlatch ceremonies in Alert Bay, BC. To be a young teacher and given the chance to join our Indigenous students and their families in such a deeply personal and meaningful tradition, was a gift of learning and friendship that has impacted my beliefs and values as an educator in so many ways. 

Our York House community is deeply committed to learning and taking action through our work in Truth and Reconciliation, and this book is a thought-provoking window into how we move forward with respect and deepening our understanding of the First People’s Principles.

So, when we’re done with the celebratory family time with my daughters and their partners, my husband Steve and I will be keeping a low profile and curling up with some great reading. He’s working on The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnansky, a 10,000 page tome about great legends of baseball.  Even if I had the time, I wouldn’t have the attention span for that!

Let me know what you’re reading and I hope everyone has a healthy, happy, and relaxing holiday break. I look forward to seeing you in 2023 for the start of another action-packed term at York House.

Best wishes,