January 2022

Inside Havergal

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.


Debbie Simpson

Message from the Board of Governors

Debbie Simpson, Chair

In this first issue of Inside Havergal for 2022, 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 your 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

This Month

Re-registration 2022-23

The link for registration for the 2022-23 school year will be sent to families in a letter from Debbie Simpson, Havergal’s Board Chair, on Thursday, January 27. Completed re-registration forms are due, along with payment, by Tuesday, February 8.

The Admission Department appreciates your prompt response, as our re-registration numbers help guide us in the number of offers we will make to new families later in February. Please do not hesitate to contact Maggie Houston-White ([email protected]) if you have any questions.

Happy Family Day graphic

Family Day Long Weekend

February 18 to 21

There are no classes on Friday, February 18 and Monday, February 21 for the Family Day Long Weekend. Classes will resume on the morning of Tuesday, February 22.

We hope that families have the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing and safe break.

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. 

Graphic with daisies that says "HCPA Mother Daughter Breakfasts"

Mother Daughter Breakfasts

The Mother Daughter Breakfast events at Havergal have become an annual tradition enjoyed by select grades in both the Junior and Upper Schools. While this year’s events cannot be held in-person as originally planned, the HCPA’s mission of fostering community spirit is the primary objective. Our event Chairs have been hard at work planning a creative version once again this year with the promise of some fun and special memories for both moms and their daughters in Grades 1,5, 7 and 9 on the following dates. 

  • Grade 1:  Saturday, February 5
  • Grade 5: Saturday, February 12
  • Grade 7: Saturday, February 26
  • Grade 9: Sunday, February 27

If your daughter is in one of these grades, you will receive an email invitation in the coming weeks.

shovel in the snow

Inclement Weather Procedures

The Principal or her designate makes the decision to close or cancel school. The safety of students, faculty and staff are a priority. Situations such as extreme weather conditions or the loss of essential services (e.g. water and/or power) may require the school to close. The school consults the Environment Canada website, the Weather Channel (as well as other schools) in making a decision regarding school closure due to inclement weather. In the case that Havergal is closed to inclement weather conditions (i.e. snow day), remote learning will not occur. 

When information warrants the school will be closed the following day while students are at school:

  • students, faculty and staff will be informed while at school;
  • parents will receive an email message. The message will also be posted on our website and the Portal: community.havergal.on.ca;
  • radio stations CityNews 680 (CFTR-AM), Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM), CHUM-FM 104.5, CBC Radio One 99.1 FM, CP24 TV and CityTV (Breakfast Television) will be informed of the planned school closure; and
  • the recorded school telephone greeting will be changed to inform callers of the planned school closure.

When information warrants that the College will be closed prior to the school opening on the same day, the decision shall be made by 6 am:

  • faculty and staff will be informed through SMS text messaging and email;
  • parents will receive an email message. The message will also be posted on the Portal: community.havergal.on.ca;
  • radio stations CityNews 680 (CFTR-AM), Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM), CHUM-FM 104.5, CBC Radio One 99.1 FM, CP24 TV and CityTV (Breakfast Television) will be informed; and
  • the recorded school telephone greeting will be changed to inform callers of closure.

When information warrants the school will close and Day students will be sent home during the school day:

  • students, faculty and staff will be informed;
  • parents will receive an email message. The message will also be posted on the Portal: community.havergal.on.ca;
  • students will be instructed to go to their Homeroom, Form or TA location, where they (or their teacher) will connect with a parent to make arrangements for the student to be picked up from school. Students must sign-out before leaving school premises. Older students may be permitted to walk home if deemed appropriate by the parent;
  • the safety and comfort of students is assured until such time as individual parents are reached and students are either picked up or dismissed with parental consent; and
  • the recorded school telephone greeting will be changed to inform callers of closure.

Learn more about any of Havergal’s policies and procedures on the Family Handbook website: https://sites.google.com/havergal.on.ca/familyhandbook-2021-22/.

Cover of 2020-21 Impact Report

Havergal’s Annual Impact Report

Released before the holiday break, Havergal’s 2020-21 Impact Report features inspiring stories from our donor community—including parents, alumni and former faculty—and also contains colourful infographics, a snapshot of the school’s past fiscal year, stunning photos of our newest learning spaces and donor recognition lists. With the Limitless Campaign coming to a close, we celebrate and thank our generous donors for their ongoing support, which helps ensure that young learners are inspired and encouraged to realize their full potential.  

Explore our Impact Report online in an easy-to-read ebook format or via the giving section of our website.

Inside Focus

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

Headshot of Dora Scharf

Dora Scharf

Junior School French Teacher

Mlle Scharf joined Havergal’s Junior School as a French teacher in September 2020. Prior to arriving at Havergal, she taught French to students across various grade levels from Kindergarten to Grade 8 at the Ottawa Jewish Community School.

Mlle Scharf enjoys helping students develop their language skills in a nurturing and stimulating learning environment. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa and a Masters of Education in Social Justice Education from the University of Toronto (OISE). She has experience coaching soccer and leading Arts programming.

In her spare time, Mlle Scharf loves to cook, read and browse fashion blogs. She enjoys traveling both domestically and internationally and is working towards visiting all 50 states (seven more to go)! Like any native Montrealer, she loves a good bagel.