April 2022

Inside Havergal

Katrina Samson

Principal’s Message

Katrina Samson

If they can see it, they can be it. Representation inspires possibilities. For young girls, seeing women in powerful positions inspires them to lead. At Havergal, we are committed to shaping the leaders of tomorrow and believe that this begins by championing leadership from a young age and within our own community.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education shared the report “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Leadership Bias,” which highlights that one of the biggest barriers to leadership teen girls currently face is gender bias. In a survey of nearly 20,000 people, they found that both teen boys and teen girls have biases against teen girls as leaders. Some parents also carried this same bias. This eye-opening report outlines key findings and offers recommendations. I urge all Havergal parents to give it a read and to share it with your children so we can shift this imbalance and challenge our own biases.

This research helps to underline the importance of what we are doing at Havergal: interrupting this social-ingrained gender bias. Our learners are surrounded by other girls who are leaders and women in leadership positions. What may be an exception in a traditional school is the norm on our campus. An all-girls’ school provides a unique opportunity to interrupt this gender bias before it forms. Throughout their Havergal journey, our students benefit from leadership programming designed to support the development of courageous female leadership and our students are offered myriad pathways to develop their own leadership skills. 

We also emphasize that leadership comes in many shapes and goes beyond student governance. We show students the range of leadership possibilities through the five interconnected domains of student leadership: Community, Intellectual, Formal, Informal and Self. Whether it’s in the classroom or during co-curriculars, there are countless ways Havergal students can choose to lead. From advocacy to athletics, our students are encouraged to step into powerful positions. In every facet of their community, they’re continuously exposed to female leadership from both our faculty and their peers.

Next year, we are introducing a new dedicated position: Director of Student Leadership. This role will focus on student programming from Junior School to Upper School, including the development of an explicit leadership development curriculum. Shaping the leaders of tomorrow begins with the opportunities our girls are given today. At Havergal, we’re committed to fostering the skills needed to help our students become courageous change makers, leading towards a better tomorrow. 


Headshot of Lexi Ensor

Message from the Board of Governors

Lexi Ensor 2013, Chair of the Governance Committee for HOGA

As an ex-officio member of the Havergal College Board of Governors and Chair of the Governance Committee for the Havergal Old Girls Association (HOGA), I am excited to share details about what we’ve been working on at HOGA.

HOGA’s membership consists of Havergal Alums/Old Girls and is led by a directorate, which is responsible for chairing each of our committees. We are proud to have more than 9,500 Alums/Old Girls in over 70 countries within our network. 

We are a volunteer-based organization that connects current and future Alums/Old Girls in meaningful ways that foster engagement within our community: 

  • We host networking and mentoring opportunities so our community can learn from experts who can attribute many of their accomplishments to the skills and confidence they developed at Havergal. 
  • Every fall, we honour two remarkable Alums/Old Girls with the Lifetime Achievement and Young Alumna awards. 
  • Our award-winning Chronicle magazine is distributed annually in order to assist with maintaining strong ties among HOGA members around the world. 

Throughout the pandemic, all of this work was done remotely as we took advantage of our virtual environment to reach and connect HOGA members from around the globe in ways we’ve never done before. 

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, HOGA’s Directorate has been revisiting its strategic plan, which will guide our activities over the next several years. We are excited to formally launch this new direction to our community at our HOGA Annual General Meeting in the fall.

To our upcoming Grads: when you leave Havergal, you will always maintain an association to a network with benefits that will last a lifetime. We look forward to keeping connected beyond the ivy! If you are an Alum/Old Girl interested in volunteering with HOGA, please reach out to the Advancement & Community Relations Office at [email protected] and they will be happy to connect with you to discuss.

We are also encouraging the Havergal community to join our Alum/Old Girl platform Connections. It’s a great way to connect with classmates, expand your professional network and stay connected on all things Havergal-related. We hope to see you there!


This Month

Catherine Steel House cheering on Ratcliffe Field.

Get Ready for House Shout!

We hope that students and parents alike are excited about the return of in-person House Shout this spring! The entire Havergal College student community will gather on the Ratcliffe Field on Tuesday, May 24 at 1:50 pm for an afternoon of House pride and spirit.

More details will be revealed closer to the date in the College Blogs.

Junior School students working together

Developing the Foundations of Leadership at the Junior School

Kate White, Head of Junior School

At Havergal, the development of leadership skills, whether formally or informally, are grounded in our values—courage, compassion, integrity and inquiry. 

Starting in Junior Kindergarten, our youngest students are supported in seeing themselves not only as capable problem-solvers, but also as contributing members of a larger community. These are the foundational skills of leadership. Amongst other things, this can look like taking responsibility for putting away their own belongings, noticing and naming their feelings or making guided choices regarding participation in a learning area.   

As students mature and move through the Junior School, they actively engage with their teachers in establishing classroom norms. In addition, students often rotate jobs within the classroom, helping their community to run smoothly (e.g., watering plants, cleaning tables before lunch, handing out papers). These opportunities assist in developing the ability to identify both individual and group strengths and challenges, as well as setting goals, which are all crucial leadership skills! 

More formal leadership roles are introduced in Grades 5 and 6. Whether assisting kindergarten students as they walk to class, organizing House Activities, supporting a community partnership or identifying a school or wider world issue that needs to be addressed, students are provided with multiple opportunities to develop their skills. This includes working together as a team, active listening, considering multiple perspectives and having the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

By the time our Grade 6 students are ready to make their transition to Grade 7, we are confident they will be prepared to take on new and more challenging leadership opportunities in the Upper School.

Middle School student posing on the first day of school.

Formal and Informal Leadership at the Middle School

JJ Patterson, Head of Middle School

At Havergal College, the Middle School is designed to celebrate, support and nurture students through developmentally appropriate instruction, activities and opportunities in and out of the classroom. In order to be well-prepared for the Senior School, faculty in the Middle School focus on helping students develop their sense of self, identities and independence as they cultivate their personal and academic toolkits. Part of this personal development is through a variety of leadership opportunities recognizing that leadership comes in many forms.

In the spring, Grade 7 students are able to nominate themselves for one of the following formal leadership positions: Arts; Sports; Sustainability Council Representatives; or as Executives on the Middle School Council. After taking the courageous step to nominate themselves, students prepare short speeches to share with their peers prior to an election taking place on April 26 (today!). Grade 8 students will go through their formal leadership nomination and election process in the fall of Grade 9. 

Despite these formal leadership titles, we also teach Middle School students that a title is not necessary in order to make a difference and lead. They are encouraged to get involved with informal opportunities such as organizing, volunteering and supporting the school and student programming. By providing a variety of different opportunities inside and outside the classroom, the aim is to encourage each student to develop agency by having their voice heard as we offer choices in how they can contribute meaningfully to the Havergal community. In doing so, all students are continually developing, practising and refining their emerging leadership skills. 

Grade 12 students cheering outside.

Senior School Student Elections

Mary Ann Krotz, Manager of Student Engagement

It is the time of year when our Upper School community comes together to elect our student leaders for the next academic year and we’re very proud of all of the students who have put themselves forward for 2022-23. Our Boarding School, Clubs, Community Partnerships, Alliance and Affinity groups and Performing Arts ensembles held elections within their memberships in early April, while Grade Representatives, Senior Year Presidents, House Captains, House Executives and Prefects elections took place today, April 26. Students are invited to open house council and executive meetings, as well as “real-talks” with current student leaders. These opportunities help to better understand the various roles and work involved in serving the Havergal community.

Havergal believes strongly in offering a variety of leadership opportunities and we value and promote students who seek to lead beyond the ivy walls as well. Whether it be volunteering in their local communities or in extracurricular pursuits, it takes courage for young people to believe in their abilities and share their skills where they know they can be most impactful.

While elected positions will be announced on Monday, May 2, we are grateful to have a talented and passionate student body who will, in all capacities, serve as thoughtful leaders.

Illustration of a cloud with an identity, document and lock.

Digital Microcredentials

Garth Nichols, Vice Principal Strategic Innovation and Design

HC-X is launching an exciting new program that gives students the opportunity to earn digital microcredentials to deepen and extend their learning. Upon completion of a particular learning outcome, students will receive a blockchain-based digital credential—similar to a certificate of completion—that is cryptographically verifiable, secure and unforgeable. HC-X has partnered with Alums/Old Girls, Havergal parents, Harvard Student Academies and Inspirit AI to offer digital microcredentials in Contemporary Finance, Pre-Med and Artificial Intelligence in the upcoming 2022-23 academic year. The purpose is for students to use microcredentials to build their own experience, demonstrate new learning in their online portfolios and carry these with them beyond Havergal. Microcredentials help to showcase students’ areas of interest, and their developing skills and can be shared on social media channels like LinkedIn.

Havergal is proudly partnering with Toronto-based technology company Convergence.Tech to provide the platform where students’ digital wallets will live.

HCPA logo

A Message from the HCPA

We are thrilled to be getting back to what we do! Our mission of parent engagement is best supported by in-person opportunities for us to gather both in-school and in our community.  

Our volunteers are the backbone of our parent association and we are fortunate to have so many engaged parents who give their time and attention to a variety of important fundraising and community-building roles at the school. Parents are delighted to be back in the school to support Founders’ Day and the New Family Evening. In addition, our amazing team of Performing Arts volunteers are currently supporting the production of the Middle School musical theatre review “We are all in this Together” by sourcing costumes and props as well as assisting with hair and make-up for the shows. We are particularly excited about this collaboration between students, the school and parents.    

HCPA spring events will be held in their traditional formats and we are excited to get back to some of our fundraising initiatives, so please watch for details on the upcoming Used Textbook and Used Uniform drives.

Junior School Amazing Race poster

JS A-Mazing Race

The HCPA’s 2022 JS A-Mazing Race Chairs, John Harlow and Richard Denis, are looking forward to bringing this event back on campus! The race will be held outdoors on Sunday, May 15 from 1 to 4 pm, taking advantage of Havergal’s beautiful campus and the milder spring temperatures. House teams will compete against each other in a series of five friendly challenges—appropriate for participants from JK to Grade 6 and their adult partner—followed by snacks and refreshments.      

Get ready to show your House spirit! 

Moms Night Out poster

Moms’ Night Out

After more than two years of limited opportunities to get together, Havergal moms are not going to want to miss this year’s in-person Moms’ Night Out (MNO)! 

HCPA MNO Co-Chairs Mary Dean and Mekhul Verma have planned an “Aperitivo” evening under the stars and a long-overdue opportunity to reconnect with each other. This always-popular, sold out event will take place on Wednesday, May 18 at Tutto Pronto from 7 to 10 pm, taking advantage of their open air patio as well as their warm and inviting indoor space. 

US Gator Gala

Get ready for the Gator Gala! As voted by you, the HCPA’s traditional Father Daughter Dance has had a name change, but not a change of heart! 

This year, we will be honouring springtime in the City of Light with a “Passport to Paris” themed event to be held at Parkview Manor. Please join us the evening of Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 pm and celebrate the special bond with your Havergal daughter(s) while enjoying an elegant evening of dinner, dancing, time-honoured traditions, games, prizes, a silent auction and more!

After two years of lockdowns, restrictions and limited social gatherings, we hope you will join us to celebrate together and share in this special night.

Get your tickets here—the deadline to purchase is Friday, May 6, so don’t delay! 

HCPA Faculty and Staff Appreciation Event 

It goes without saying that the past two years have given our parent community a heightened sense of gratitude for the role that Havergal faculty and staff play in the lives of our children. The tremendous dedication on display when we consider the stability of the learning environment, along with a continued focus on wellbeing, has not gone unnoticed. We have a great appreciation for the tireless work that has gone on behind the scenes to make this year as close to normal than it has been for quite some time.

On Tuesday, May 24, the HCPA will host a whole school Faculty and Staff Appreciation event, known fondly as the “Ivy Pub” in the Temerty Commons. The Staff Appreciation team of Sherry Zhao, Dee Dogru, Tammy Neal and Blair Wilson are planning a fantastic event to show our cherished staff and faculty just how much they are appreciated!

Inside Focus

Hannah C.

What Student Leadership Means to Me

Hannah C., Admissions Prefect

In September 2021 I was tasked with the most intimidating assignment to date: preparing for the return of school spirit after the pandemic. Sitting at a Harkness table with the other newly-elected Prefects, ideas were zipping through our heads and tumbling out of our mouths. What kind of legacy did we want to leave as student leaders? 

As I reflected on this question, I recalled why I wanted to become a student leader in the first place. Before high school, I believed there was a single cookie-cutter approach to leadership. Over my career at Havergal, I have seen leadership manifest in inspiring and unexpected ways in the student body. Whether it’s watching a student-directed play, listening to a Land Acknowledgement in Prayers or witnessing a challenge to the status quo, I am constantly learning and benefiting from the leadership of others. I am thankful for the contribution of every student whose leadership has made me laugh, think and question the world around me a little more.

Underpinning every act of leadership is the trait of courage. It takes courage to ask for help, to take action for what we believe in and to own up to our missteps. The pillar of courage is one I leaned heavily on last March 2021. As an Asian woman living during a period of global heightened anti-Asian vitriol, I felt suspended in a limbo between my western national identity and eastern cultural roots. Empowered by past acts of leadership I had witnessed in the student body, I rallied a group of peers to organize a virtual Prayers surrounding anti-Asian hate crimes addressed to the Upper School. While equity, diversity and inclusion remain a significant area of work at Havergal, the resilience and tenacity of Havergal students continually exemplify what leadership is to me. 

The words of Maya Angelou capture my sentiments best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Looking back at my time at Havergal as a Grad, the legacy I aspire to leave is to have made people laugh, think and question the world around them a little more.

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Headshot of Shirley Garcia

Shirley Garcia

Executive Director, Human Resources

A strong communicator with broad and deep HR leadership experience, Ms. Garcia has successfully led initiatives that foster people development and growth, high engagement and an inclusive culture. She joins Havergal following her most recent role as National Director, People & Culture at March of Dimes Canada, where she supported large-scale organizational changes and developed high-impact talent management strategies.

Ms. Garcia is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL), a Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP) and earned a BA in Mass Communication and a degree of Master in Management from the Asian Institute of Management. An enthusiastic lifelong learner, she also achieved professional certificates in Strategic HR Leadership from Cornell University and Adult Training and Development from Schulich Executive Education Centre at York University.   

In her spare time, Ms. Garcia gets into the mindset of learning by reading diverse subjects and engaging with presentations such as TED Talks and others. Her other interests are travelling and discovering international and local places and cultures, as well as hiking and being in nature, which she enjoys doing with her family. For her, these interests provide new experiences that create new and meaningful memories, all of which are great for her wellbeing and work/life integration.