February 2022

Havergal Highlights

headshot of Maggie Houston-White

Message from Admissions

Maggie Houston-White, Executive Director of Strategic Enrolment Management

As we mark the first day of February, we are looking forward to all the ways our community will connect this month. From watching our students perform in their recorded music nights, the upcoming One Act Plays and, of course, our famous Havergal Spirit Week, the students are thrilled to be back and finding creative and safe ways to participate in these fun traditions.  

The Admission team is focused on ensuring our applicant families are feeling well informed and connected to Havergal as well in the lead up to Offer Day on February 25, 2022. We have had some great questions from families who are keen to know more about our innovation hub, HC-X. Our Vice Principal of Strategic Innovation & Design, Garth Nichols, has written this letter for you. He would love to connect with any families who have follow up questions, so please reach out. 

Our motto is Vitai Lampada Tradens (which appears in our logo) and translates from Latin to “passing on the torch of life.” On Wednesday, February 16, members of the Class of 2022 and their parents are keen to pass on the Havergal torch to you, our applicant families. As our final event, I hope you will join us for an evening of conversations, stories and opportunities for you to ask questions as they share how their experiences at Havergal have prepared them for their next challenges and inspired them to make a difference. Watch your email for your invitation later this week. 


Headshot of principal Katrina Samson

Principal’s Message

Katrina Samson

With the start of 2022 well on its way, we’re pleased to welcome all of our students back on campus for in-person learning. Like many of you, we were also disappointed to shift to another period of remote learning; however, we forge ahead as we work, learn and play together at Havergal. The last two years have been challenging for all of us in many ways and we’re committed to our students’ wellbeing and supporting them during this unpredictable period.

As we are learning about and seeing the effects the pandemic has had on learning and development, we are paying special attention to how difficult this has been for our youngest learners. With this in mind, we are focused on supporting students in the development of key social skills, such as naming emotions and identifying what’s at the root of our feelings. These skills help ensure that our younger students are able to express emotions and share with the teachers, parents and caregivers how they are being impacted, enabling us to better respond to their needs.

Equipping our students with these necessary skills has been made possible with our great Social-Emotional and Learning Support Team, including the specialized skills of a Child and Youth Worker and a Social Worker. To provide additional social and emotional support, our teachers have spent a lot of time throughout the fall adapting their lessons in consideration of our students’ needs, and to meeting our students where they are at.

While this has been a challenging time for children, we’re aware that this has also been taxing on parents. As partners in your child’s education, we want to reassure you that—while your child’s learning journey may look different than you expected—we will continue to adapt and evolve to ensure our students have both the support and skills they need. We’ll also continue to support Havergal parents in this ever-changing landscape. With that goal in mind, we are organizing a speaking engagement with Dr. Alex Russell (child psychologist and author of Drop the Worry Ball). Once confirmed, more details on this event will follow.

We’ve learned that we can’t predict the changes to come, but Havergal’s faculty and staff are committed to being a constant support and resource for students and parents alike. With wellbeing and future-readiness at the core of our curriculum, we’re confident we will equip and empower Havergal learners for whatever the future holds.


Headshot of Debbie Simpson

Message from the Board of Governors

Debbie Simpson, Chair

It is my pleasure to offer New Year’s greetings to the Havergal community from the Board of Governors. I wish you all happiness and good health in the coming year.

As we approach the end of the first semester, I’d like to note the commitment of our faculty and staff in delivering the best experience possible for all students has been unwavering. I would also like to thank our parent community for their confidence in trusting the College to safeguard their daughters’ learning and wellbeing, their belief in the value of a Havergal education and their support of the school community. Our students have demonstrated remarkable resilience in adapting to this new and demanding environment with their support. 

At this time, I would like to remind everyone of the invitation from the Board of Governors to apply to serve on the Board or on a Board Committee, as mentioned last month. I encourage you to become involved. This year the committee is especially interested in identifying potential candidates with senior level experience in finance (CPA, CFO) and strategic change management as well as those with philanthropy/fundraising expertise. We are also very interested to hear from parents with students in the Junior School. The due date for applications has been extended to Friday, February 4, and all applications will be reviewed in February. Interviews will take place in March for those selected. More information can be found at https://www.havergal.on.ca/leadership-governance/board-governor-roles-responsibilities/. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

As I look back on what we have accomplished so far this school year, I see our values at work. Thank you all for your efforts and support as we navigate through these trying times together.

Debbie Simpson

Inside Havergal

teacher playing guitar with students singing along

Supporting Student Wellbeing at the Junior School

Megan Robar and Sarah Szolopiak, JS Health & Physical Education Teachers

This year in the Junior School we have been continuing to grow our Wellbeing Program to meet the needs of the students at each age and stage. From connecting with emotions, creating inclusive classrooms, developing growth mindsets and embracing mistakes, the students have developed strong tool kits to support their own personal wellbeing. 

The Wellbeing Program is linked to our Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which has helped students dive deep into who they are and develop an understanding of the people in their community. In mid-November, we had the opportunity to implement Thrive Week, which provided students with different ways to foster and maintain positive mental health. The Five Thrive components that we focused on at the Junior School include: 

  • moving more;
  • sleeping soundly;
  • eating well;
  • connecting to others (saying “hi”); and 
  • giving back. 

By the end of the week, the students had developed strategies to support all five components to flourish and build an understanding of who to rely on when their Five Thrive might not be enough. 

The concept of Thrive is something we will circle back to throughout the year as a way to enrich connection and build continued wellbeing support.

Students work on a windmill.

Learning and Growing in the New Junior School STEM Lab

Darryl Reiter, STEM Coordinator

The re-opening of the Junior School STEM Lab last fall was a welcome and long-awaited occasion. The former lab was closed in 2016 to accommodate the renovation of the Junior School and was relocated to the new wing in 2021. This modern space embodies the notion that the learning environment is the third teacher and comprises different zones for different instructional purposes.

At 1,400 sq. ft., the new space is double the previous lab and features a demonstration amphitheatre, mobile work desks, a whiteboard wall and a large outdoor learning area. A wall of windows overlooks the Burke Brook woodlands.

Students use the space for 60-minute STEM explorations, when they perform science investigations and design challenges.

Recent projects include:

  • Grade 1 students constructed 3D geometric models with K’NEX.
  • Grade 2 students visited an augmented reality zoo using iPads.
  • Grade 3 students built and tested safety restraints for their automobile crash test dummy investigation.
  • Grade 5 students experimented with states of matter by testing sodium bicarbonate solid booster rockets.
  • Grade 6 students designed and built shoebox homes with LED lighting powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

The Junior School community is grateful for the generosity of our donors, who helped to make these new and inspiring spaces a reality.

teacher leading Junior School students in a Digital Wisdom lesson

Digital Wisdom

A Junior School Program Foundation for Thriving in the Digital Era

Adam Caplan, Director of HC-X

Kids growing up in the digital era face unique challenges and opportunities that require a new kind of approach. Enter HC-X–Havergal’s Innovation Hub–and our innovative course, Digital Wisdom. Informed by research from the World Economic Forum and the OECD, this program is part of the school’s Strategic Direction, Havergal 2020+: Future Proofing the Next Generation

At Havergal, Digital Wisdom is a course that runs over four years–from Grades 5 to 8–with the goal of building students’ knowledge, skills and mindsets with increasing complexity and sophistication as they grow. Students learn to navigate various opportunities and reflect on the challenges of digital culture and the impacts on their online and in-person lives. 

Through Digital Wisdom, students in Grades 5 and 6 get to know their rights and responsibilities as Digital Citizens. They build an understanding of personal information and privacy and they begin to actively steward their digital footprint. By investigating the impacts of disruptive technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, students become equipped with the tools to adapt and thrive no matter what the future brings.

Now in its second year, Digital Wisdom weaves together to build a foundation for thriving in the digital era. 


Junior School students working in a classroom.

What Does It Mean to Thrive? 

Kate White, Head of the Junior School

This is a question that we have asked our students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 to get curious about this year during our first ever Thrive Week. Originating in 2009 at the University of British Columbia, the concept for Thrive Week is a time to come together as a community to learn about, talk about and explore ways to support our mental health. We are deeply aware that the last two years have brought about unprecedented challenges, particularly as we have shifted between being on campus and learning remotely. The impact on our mental health cannot be underestimated. 

By starting these conversations with our youngest students in Junior Kindergarten, it normalizes the subject, supports them in developing a greater understanding of their own mental health and helps them to build toolkits of skills and strategies to build resilience. 

Research has shown us that there are five consistent ways to help promote a positive mind. Referred to as the “Thrive Five,” these are: Moving More, Sleeping Soundly, Eating Well, Giving Back and Connecting/Saying Hi. We know, however, that fostering and maintaining mental health cannot be isolated to one week, so we continue to focus on thriving year-round. 

For this reason, as we returned to campus after another round of remote learning, one of our goals for the remainder of the year is to continue to challenge students to “get curious” about the things that make them thrive. From curling up with a good book, meditating, spending time with family and friends, laughing, connecting with animals and expressing ourselves through art, there are so many ways to boost our mental wellness so we can continue to flourish no matter what challenges the future may hold.

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Cissy Goodridge

Cissy Goodridge 

Director of Performing Arts

Cissy is passionate about the Performing Arts. She has taught instrumental (band) and vocal music for 30 years in both single-sex and co-ed independent schools in Toronto, Oakville and Australia. In her Director of Performing Arts role at Havergal, she works with the Arts faculty to create dynamic programs for the entire school. 

Cissy holds a Bachelor of Musical Arts Mus. Ed from Western University and a Masters in Education from the University of Victoria. She has worked with students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 and finds joy in helping students find their musical voices. She has a passion for the middle years, and strives to create lessons and programs that inspire and ignite a love of music.

In addition to leading the school’s Performing Arts Program, Cissy is also supporting the Admissions team this year. “Working with the Admissions team gives me a front row seat to the newest members of our community,” she says. “I enjoy the opportunity to meet with students from all around the world with varied interests and a curiosity for learning. I feel privileged to be involved in this process.” 

She looks forward to making connections with many of our applicant families during the Admissions process and inspiring future Havergalians to discover their talents through the Performing Arts.