January 2024

Inside Havergal

Garth Nichols

Message from the Vice Principal of Experiential Education and Innovation

Garth Nichols

As the Vice Principal of Experiential Education and Innovation, I have a background of living abroad and travelling internationally, as well as starting my own entrepreneurial initiatives and exploring emerging technologies. I have always had a passion for experiential learning. Throughout my eight years at Havergal, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the transformative power of experiential learning and global experiences in our students’ lives. I’ve observed student growth, resilience and newfound perspectives firsthand while accompanying our students on trips abroad, which is truly remarkable. These opportunities not only expand their horizons, but also redefine when and where learning occurs, how it takes place and the depth and personal significance of that learning.

Experiential learning has become an integral part of our academic program, permeating various disciplines from Science to Languages, and it’s a key part of our Global Learning and Leading Diploma program. Our dedicated staff in the Forum for Change—which functions as the global heartbeat of the school—engage with our students both inside and outside the classroom at the local, regional and international levels to create experiences that leave lasting impressions.

One of the highlights that intersects experiential learning and innovations in learning is our HC-X TC-9 course—which stands for “Transdisciplinary Course for Grade 9s” or “The Challenge for Grade 9s.” This course develops students’ skills in transdisciplinary thinking and learning by building knowledge and examining current and predictive events through hands-on experiences. In March of 2024, we will launch the second year of this immersive course designed for Grade 9 students. This program not only equips them with a deeper understanding of global issues and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but also empowers them to take local actions that make a real difference.

Moving from local impact to global, Havergal’s Forum for Change has just concluded an exhilarating year in our Global Experience programming. From Ottawa to Bhutan in 2022–23, to Kananaskis and Nairobi in 2023–24, our students have explored the world, broadening their horizons and embracing diverse cultures.

At Havergal, we follow the well-researched Kolb Cycle, guiding our students through a transformative process. We start by helping them develop their global competencies, preparing them for the experiences that lie ahead. During their travels, they put these skills into action, gaining insights that go far beyond traditional classroom learning.

Upon their return, we engage in what we call a transference session, where students and faculty reflect on their experiences. This is a pivotal moment where they craft the narratives that will shape their self-identities and the stories they share with others. Storytelling, as we believe, is a powerful means of integrating their newfound knowledge into their personal and collective consciousness.

Our halls and classrooms are now filled with stories of adventure, connection, service and cultural immersion, alongside discussions of generative AI, robotics, food and world religions. These global experiences not only enrich our community, but also deepen our collective understanding of Havergal as a global entity.

Experiential learning, at its core, enriches our community by helping us understand who we are as learners. It sparks a passion for exploration, nurtures empathy and instils a sense of responsibility to make a positive impact in the world.

As we look forward to more adventures, connections and learning opportunities, let us continue to embrace experiential learning and global experiences as integral parts of the Havergal experience. Together, we will shape the future of our students and empower them to become compassionate, globally aware leaders.

Here’s to the adventures that await us and the stories yet to be told.


Jill Fraser headshot

Message from the Board of Governors

Jill Fraser, Chair of the Board

New Year’s greetings from the Board of Governors. We extend our warmest wishes for a happy and healthy 2024.

As the winter term begins, we should pause to reflect on the eventful school year to date. We commenced the year with the return of more co-curricular and athletic events, and joined together as a community for another successful Celebration Saturday and Reunion Weekend. Thrive Week returned to promote mental health awareness, and highlighted some of the strategies and skills that students can use to improve their wellbeing. The Upper School had 27 exciting sports options available to them this fall, with a record 407 students participating. We hosted our first Gator Games of the year in October, with our teams supported by fans proudly wearing green and gold! We arranged a hugely successful Music Retreat to Campfire Circle and a Drama Retreat to Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre. Our Health and Physical Education department reinstated the open gym program at lunchtime with high participation—students were excited to get exercise as well as meet like-minded people. The year closed with a series of Christmas concerts. The traditional Upper School Carol Service held at St. Paul’s Bloor Street church was a delightful evening of carols and lessons. The Junior School Christmas Concert was a beautiful event also held at St. Paul’s, and the JK/SK Christmas Concert was held in the Junior School. What a wonderful way to move into the holiday season!

As we look ahead to planning for the next school year, we would like to remind parents/guardians that the opportunity to apply to serve on the Board of Governors or a Board Committee is currently open. The Board of Governors Application Form is located here and I encourage you to become involved. This year the Board is especially interested in identifying potential candidates with one or more of the following: philanthropic board and/or charitable foundation board experience; capital infrastructure project oversight experience; and CPA/CFO/operational finance/public accountancy experience. The application due date is Friday, February 2, 2024. Applications will be reviewed in February/March with interviews taking place in March for those selected. Additional details on the role and responsibilities of Board and Committee members can be found here. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

We have accomplished great things so far this school year and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve throughout the rest of the year. I’m delighted to see our school values of Integrity, Inquiry, Compassion and Courage at work in the school and our community. Thank you all for your efforts and support as we navigate the remainder of the year together.

Thank you,


This Month

Students on safari with binoculars and the Havergal College flag.

Round Square: Opportunities Abound!

In November, five Havergal student Delegates, Havergal’s Principal Dr. Samson and Vice Principal of Experiential Learning and Innovation Garth Nichols travelled to the Round Square International Conference to join over 1200 other students from around the world at the Brookhouse Schools, Nairobi, Kenya. They began with a pre-conference excursion to the Masai Mara, where for four days, they lived and learned about Masai social, economic, environmental and cultural practices at the Masai Educational Research Centre. Then they travelled into the heart of Nairobi to take part in the conference.

This year, the conference focussed on Internationalism, Democracy and Adventure. Participants learned from senior government officials, activists, fashion designers, journalists and more about “The New Africa”—the theme of the conference. Students were billeted and were able to make long-lasting connections with students from Nairobi and from all over the world.

Havergal’s membership as a Global Member with Round Square avails us of these opportunities, and they will continue to grow. In May of 2024, there is an opportunity for Middle School students to participate in the Round Square Regional Conference in Kananaskis, Alberta. More information about this excursion can be found here (applications close Friday, February 2). 

In September of 2024, Senior School students can apply to join the Round Square International Conference in Bogota, Colombia. Applications are now open and selection will be completed before the March Break. More information can be found here (applications close Friday, February 2).

Hockey for Health logo

Hockey 4 Health

Kaitlyn Windover, Paige Edwards and Emerson Southam

Hey Havergal! We are beyond excited for Hockey Day and to announce that Havergal’s Hockey 4 Health initiative is continuing this year! The core of sports is community, the exact thing that makes Hockey Day so special. Along with the thrilling game on the ice, Hockey Day has the unique power to bring us together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared spirit. Highlighting this feeling emphasizes the idea that none of us are alone and how strength truly lies in this community, no matter what day it is. Unity is forged through cheering for a common cause and in the shared moments of triumph; these experiences build bonds that extend far beyond the rink.

Hockey 4 Health is a powerful platform for our Havergal community to come together and address the stigma surrounding mental health. In support of this initiative, Havergal and The Bishop Strachan School are working together to raise funds for Kids Help Phone. This is just one of the ways we can work toward ending the stigma around getting mental health support. By leveraging the strength of our shared experiences and love for our community, we aim to break down barriers, encourage open conversations and create a supportive environment for all.

To support Hockey 4 Health, visit this website:


Graphic that says "Imagination" and has the Havergal torch and ivy behind it.

HC-X Digital Microcredentials

In fall 2022, HC-X launched a new initiative for students in Grades 9 to 12 who may be curious about a potential future career to explore bite-sized learning in emerging fields relevant to their interests and futures. 

Over the 12 to 16 hours of a program, students are empowered to explore their interests in topics such as Pre-Medical Studies, Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking & Entrepreneurship and Contemporary Finance and immerse themselves in the knowledge, content and practice within these fields.

Students work and learn alongside industry leaders and experts from organizations such as The Academies by Harvard Student Agencies and InspiritAI, Stanford and MIT alumni. The Contemporary Finance program also features connections with Havergal alum and current parents on the topics of Women in Capital Markets, ESG investing and Cryptocurrencies.

Upon completion of a Digital Microcredential course, students are issued a digital wallet and a blockchain-based microcredential certificate to recognize their achievement.

Although they are non-credit courses, participating in these digital microcredential opportunities empower students with focused, flexible and recognized learning experiences, enhancing their employability and adaptability in a rapidly changing world. 

To learn more about how to get involved in Havergal’s digital microcredential program, visit: https://microcredentials.havergal.on.ca/.

Blended Learning Conference poster

Blended Learning—What Is It?

Have you heard of “blended learning” but you aren’t really sure what it means or how it affects the students at Havergal College? Read on to learn more!

Blended Learning is an overall course design that includes a mix of face-to-face and online activities, engagements and interactions. This includes popular strategies such as a station rotation, playlist or flipped lesson. 

Take a minute to reflect on the following statements and how they could better support learning:

  • Imagine being able to speed up, pause or rewind your teacher when taking notes during instruction. 
  • Imagine receiving instant feedback on your set of practice questions. 
  • Imagine receiving more time and attention one-on-one with your teacher to focus on a challenging area. 
  • Imagine the confidence that comes from shaping your identity as a learner and when choices in the pace, path, place and time of your learning are up to you. 

Over the past four years, Havergal has increasingly used Blended Learning approaches to promote student agency in their learning, equipping them with self-directed learning skills for their future. 

Havergal faculty have participated in professional learning experiences on Blended Learning. The HC-X led a team of 15 Blended Learning Leads and Coaches from across the Junior and Upper Schools to investigate opportunities to deepen these practices.

Working with author and Christensen Institute researcher Heather Clayton Staker, HC-X is hosting a Blended Learning Conference in May 2024 to continue this pedagogical learning journey with other educators across CIS Ontario schools.

Our Blended Learning Leads and Coaches have been developing their skill sets in this area and will continue to help classroom teachers enhance the learning experience for all students.

Gator Gala 2024 logo

Gator Gala

Ticket Sales Open in Early February!

Get ready to sparkle, shimmer and shine at the 2024 Carnival Gator Gala on Saturday, April 13! Middle and Senior School students and their adult guests are invited to this always-popular annual event. Watch for an email in early February with all the details and a link to purchase tickets. The evening will feature a delicious meal, dancing and a few fun surprises! As in years past, the Gator Gala Silent Auction will also be back. The auction offers something for everyone with all proceeds going to HCPA community engagement initiatives and identified school priorities.

Stay tuned for details and we look forward to seeing you there.

JS A-mazing Race logo

JS A-mazing Race

Save the Date: Sunday, May 5!

The A-mazing Race is always one of the highlights of the year for our Junior School–and this year will be no different! On Sunday, May 5, students and their partners (an adult over the age of 21) will join us on Havergal’s campus (outside, if weather permits) to engage in friendly competition with their House teams. In addition to participating in a series of games and challenges, participants will also enjoy snacks and refreshments, and–most importantly– have fun while connecting with other members of our JS community. 

Details on tickets to come.

Inside Focus

Graphic of different technology icons with locks on them, symbolizing cybersecurity.

Getting Started with Cybersecurity

Sam Chan, Chief Information Officer

Technology is everywhere these days. Every day we hear about new developments, features and upgrades. We also hear about large companies and individuals having their accounts hacked and the unfortunate impacts that occur as a result. All of this change and impact can feel pretty overwhelming when we think about having to protect ourselves from these cyber threats.

Cybersecurity can be a challenging topic—everyone agrees it’s important, but with so much information available, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to start or find information that is free of technical jargon. Keep reading for a three-point plan to help get you and your family on your way to improving your cybersecurity.

1. Educate Yourself

The hardest place to be is: “I don’t know what I don’t know, and I don’t know what questions to ask.” For those of you in that predicament, Consumer Reports’ Security Planner is a great place to start. Simply answer three questions to produce an action plan that you can download. You can do all of this without registering.

Phishing is still one of the most prevalent issues out there. Take this quiz to see if you can spot the phishing attempts!

2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Passphrases Where Possible

We want to use the best means possible to protect access to our online accounts that contain financial and health information, or smart devices that help manage our home.

You should use multi-factor authentication (MFA) where possible as this means that a hacker will need to have more than your username and password to access your account. If MFA isn’t available, then you’ll want passwords that are easy to remember but difficult to guess (this comic explains it well). I’m a big proponent of using passphrases where possible.

Bonus tip—don’t use the same passphrase across all your accounts. I have separate passphrases for each of my online banking accounts.

3. Keep Devices Up-to-Date and Back Up Your Data

Keep your devices up-to-date so that you receive the latest security updates to help protect your device from a constant and ever growing number of threats. This includes deleting apps and data that you no longer use, or safely disposing of devices that you no longer use.

It’s also a good idea to take regular backups of your data just in case something goes wrong with an update or you do get hacked—at least you’ll have a copy of your data to fall back on.

I hope this helps give you a solid start to creating a cybersecurity strategy for protecting you and your family.

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Mr. Adams, HC-X Teacher

Jeff Adams

HC-X Teacher

Mr. Adams has been at Havergal for almost 10 years and has taught students in Science and Math and has led a variety of HC-X programs. He is actively involved as one of our Middle School Form leaders, athletics coach and mentor for the Global Learning and Leading Diploma (GLLD) program. With undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Science, he is currently completing a PhD in curriculum, teaching and learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. He is a coach for Cohort 21, a community of passionate Conference of Independent Schools (CIS) Ontario educators who are interested in refining and redesigning their practice through the exploration of new pedagogies, ideas and tools. 

Since becoming an HC-X Teacher at Havergal, Mr. Adams is very excited to be co-developing with Mr. Nichols our Grade 9 course called TC-9, which stands for “Transdisciplinary Course for Grade 9s” as well as “The Challenge for Grade 9s.” It is a course that requires students to use the skills, knowledge and approaches from several different academic courses simultaneously to address their chosen topics. Through TC-9, students are learning about and engaging with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. HC-X teachers like Mr. Adams work closely with Grade 9 educators to interweave key skills, learnings and activities from other required curricula within the TC-9 course. 

This year, Mr. Adams has been focussing on incorporating inquiry-based learning, experiential education and project-based learning into the classroom, which he lives and breathes outside of Havergal as he pursues his PhD in Transdisciplinary Studies. His curiosity for continuous learning is an inspiration and an asset to his students and the school community.