Head Lines: Fall 2020

As I write my first Head Lines of the year, I can’t help but notice, outside my window, the vibrant fall foliage tinged with red, gold, and orange hues announcing the start of autumn. It’s hard to believe that September is already behind us. 

Our students have now settled into their classes and have expressed to me how happy they are to be back at school. Between classes at recess and lunch, it is heartwarming to hear and see our students interacting, laughing as they circulate in the hallways to their classes. As I write this, I hear our youngest Yorkies interacting and playing together on Lindsay Field. Some of my best interactions with students happen during these unscripted moments when Senior School students share with me the highlight of their day or take a moment to share some interesting news with me.

I also cherish the daily spontaneous moments that occur during supervision at recess and lunch. Recently, a very creative group of Junior School students convinced me to be a “judge” for a very impromptu fashion show on the Lindsay field outside at lunchtime. I am always so impressed with our students’ creativity. They had designated the runway with cones and the fashion show was hosted by a very confident master of ceremonies who narrated the different looks created by our very eco-friendly designers. It was such good fun. 

As in-class instruction has resumed it certainly is so rewarding to see and feel the energy and pure joy the girls experience as they socialize and interact with one another. Resuming school after a long period of COVID-related self-isolation has certainly highlighted the importance of socialization on the emotional well-being of our girls. 

Despite the return to in-class instruction, we still have a closed campus which means that many events that we have come to cherish are being reimagined in a virtual environment. The need to minimize the risk of exposures calls on us to rethink events and consider new ways to engage our community. Already we have held very successful events such as our Curriculum Information Night and school assemblies. 

We have received very positive feedback from our community on events that were reimagined in a virtual format such as our Alumnae Day (October 3rd) and our recent New Parents’ Dinner (October 6th). As the year progresses, I am confident that we will find new formulas for some of our traditional events. In some cases, events might look very different, but like Dr. Henry says, “This is for now; not forever”. As the year unfolds, the health and safety of our community will remain a top priority. 

On another note, I am truly excited to share the completion of our new STEAM Lab at the Senior School. Due to our closed campus, we are unable to formally introduce our new Senior School STEAM Lab to the entire community. We had imagined a grand opening event with our community members coming to visit this exciting new learning space located at the front of the Senior School. Undaunted by our current circumstances due to COVID, we still wish to share this video of our exciting new STEAM lab with you.

Recently, Manpreet Deol, a graduate of 2015, and our school’s first Rhodes Scholar visited the STEAM lab before she headed off to Oxford University. We are incredibly proud of Manpreet and I encourage you to hear what she had to say about this new learning space for our school. I also want to thank all our generous donors who contributed to the creation of this innovative new learning space for our school. 

As well, I had the tremendous privilege to interview Dr. Roberta Bondar on the topic of STEAM and exploration. It was such an honour to engage in a conversation with Canada’s first female astronaut and neurologist in space. As a scientist, passionate environmentalist, accomplished photographer and author, Dr. Bondar shares her perspectives about the importance of STEAM education for women. We look forward to sharing this interview with our students in assembly. If you have 20 minutes to spare, I strongly encourage you to view this interview to hear Dr. Bondar’s inspiring message. 

As we head into our Thanksgiving weekend, let us take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for. I certainly am thankful for our dedicated employees and energetic Yorkies who make coming to work such a pleasure each and every day. Finally, I offer my heartfelt gratitude to you for your continued support and for our important partnership with you during these unprecedented times. I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.


Julie Rousseau
Head of School

Head Lines: Spring 2020

I am always amazed to look at nature’s transformation as spring approaches. Spring is no doubt the season of new beginnings where fresh buds bloom, where mother nature awakens and where the earth comes to life again. 

Speaking of new beginnings, we are excited for construction to begin on our new STEAM lab in the Senior School at the very beginning of March break. As I shared with our families in the fall, we wish to provide increasing opportunities for our girls to engage in learning experiences that merge Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. It is interesting to note that girls are the most underrepresented in the T (Technology) and E (Engineering) parts of STEAM. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women receive approximately 60% of all undergraduate degrees (associate and bachelor’s), however, they remain underrepresented in many STEM professions. While women receive 60% of biology and biomedical science degrees and 45% of mathematics degrees, less than 20% of engineering and computer science (and information science and support services) degrees are awarded to women. 

This is important for us to consider especially when technology and engineering are the sectors that represent a significant number of jobs in the future. Looking forward to the next generation of skills needed in society it is important for our girls to know how to apply design thinking principles when designing prototypes, solve problems through mathematical equations, or use scientific reasoning to deconstruct complex problems and develop solutions to address real-world issues.

I came across a quote from Marie Wilson, a women’s activist who states, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” That is why we are so focused on increasing STEAM-related learning experiences at York House School and creating increasing networks and learning experiences with community partners. Building on the success of our Junior School STEAM program we know that our girls are enthusiastic about STEAM and it is time to expand these opportunities at the Senior School. Yorkies love to get involved in projects that are social and involve collaboration and they especially care about the planet and making a social impact. We certainly are excited for construction to begin and look forward to having our new STEAM lab ready for the 2020-21 school year.

In the meantime, I want to wish all our YHS families a wonderful March break. With the globally evolving outbreak of COVID-19, we ask that you carefully consider your travel plans and hope that you have a healthy, restorative, and joyful time off with your family.