The Middle School provides an engaging and relevant experience for students that reflects and acknowledges the challenging and ever-changing world in which they live.
To discover interests and passions.
Set the stage for future success.
Exchange Partner Schools
Located throughout the United Kingdom.
Middle School represents an exciting and special period of transition. The program celebrates the emerging independent spirit of students in Grades 7 and 8. Our supportive and encouraging faculty and staff create opportunities for learners to try new things, navigate setbacks and celebrate success.
From the first day of Grade 7, each student sees the possibilities that lie before them. They experience a diverse academic program taught by specialist teachers in classrooms, laboratories, gymnasiums, music, art and drama studios and the outdoors. Dedicated instructional time is woven into the program for the development of learning and organizational skills that research shows is correlated to academic success. At this age, it is important that trusting relationships are developed with caring adults who are committed to knowing and supporting each student as they develop their confidence and sense of self. Each girl is assigned to a form group and experiences the year under the careful guidance of a form teacher.
With the largest girls’ independent school campus in the city, Havergal’s 22-acre campus features a natural protected tree-lined ravine, green playing fields and a combination of heritage and modern architecture. Our innovative new facilities were purpose-built to inspire learning. The spaces feature a multi-purpose area for HC-X programming, an Art Studio and adjacent outdoor gardens. The focal point of the building extension is the light-filled Learning Commons, which houses the lush three-storey Old Girls BioWall.
Meet the Faculty & Staff
Our exceptional Middle School faculty and staff set Havergal apart from other schools. Many teachers exclusively teach Grade 7 and 8 classes, creating spaces for students to push their academic boundaries. Faculty and staff also serve as coaches, advisors and mentors, encouraging students both inside and out of the classroom. Meet some of our team members:
Head of Middle School
Health & Physical Education Teacher
English & Drama Teacher
Middle School Guidance & Learning Support Specialist
Languages & English Teacher
Head of Middle School
Mrs. Patterson joined the Havergal community in September 2011 as the Head of Health and Physical Education department, became the Head of Middle School in 2013 and has enjoyed a teaching career spanning 25 years at both public and independent schools in Toronto. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education at Florida International University and a Master of Science in Teacher Education and Physical Education at West Virginia University. While at FIU, she earned a full athletic scholarship and played on their NCAA Division I soccer team.
Mrs. Patterson truly loves being a student and throughout her career in education has consistently engaged in professional development. She earned her Principal Qualification Part 1 and 2 through the Ontario Principals’ Council, the Leadership Institute Diploma through Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) and the New and Aspiring Leader Certification through Harvard University. She’s also earned many additional qualification courses such as Guidance Part 1 and 2, Junior Education, Intermediate Math, Intermediate Science and an Honours Specialist in Health and Physical Education.
After initially beginning her career at the high school level in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), it was her move to the independent school system in 2001 when she discovered her love of Middle School education. She is passionate about the importance of the Middle School years and loves the change and growth that students at this age experience in their academic abilities and personal maturity.
Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Patterson has enjoyed coaching soccer and volleyball at Havergal and is the mother of two daughters. One who graduated from Havergal in 2021 and another who will be a member of the Class of 2023.
Ms. Clark joined the Upper School Mathematics Department in September 2020. Previously the Curriculum Leader of Mathematics and Computer Science at Greenwood College, she brings proven leadership experience and a broad background, having taught Mathematics courses from Grades 7 through to 12.
Ms. Clark has extensive experience in curriculum planning and implementation of new approaches to teaching. Developing and innovating her own practice, along those of her colleagues, has led her to explore problem-based learning and asynchronous, blended and co-teaching strategies in her classes.
She has demonstrated her passion for research in the domain of math anxiety in girls (which she explored as part of her Masters of Teaching from OISE) and for sharing her learning with her peers through presentations at various conferences (including ISOMA).
Ms. Donnelly is joining Havergal after having most recently taught Mathematics and Computer Science at St. Clement’s School. She has previously taught at Country Day School in King City, Moor House School & College in Surrey, UK, where she also served as Mathematics Coordinator, as well as at Hundred of Hoo Academy in Rochester, UK. She has extensive experience supporting learners with differing abilities and exceptionalities, leverages technology to help students visualize connections between mathematical concepts, and has recently presented her findings at the OAME.
Ms. Donnelly completed her Bachelor of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, her teaching degree at Queen’s University and is qualified in both Mathematics and Computer Science. She is excited to join the Havergal Math team and to continue exploring open-ended and project-based assessments to broaden evaluation in mathematics.
Health & Physical Education Teacher
Ms. Foster joined the Havergal community in 2020 as a Health & Physical Education (HPE) teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters in Teaching degree from OISE. Her professional development has included seminars and workshops for coaching, impactful teaching and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), along with additional qualification courses in Special Education.
Throughout her studies, Ms. Foster completed research where she looked at why students stop taking HPE after their Grade 9 requirement, as well as action research on student motivation and creating positive environments in girls HPE. With her passion and commitment to learning, Ms. Foster strives to aid students in creating and maintaining a positive relationship with health and physical activity and hopes to inspire them to be active for life.
Ms. Foster also enjoys supporting students outside of the classroom whether it is coaching a team or cheering students on from the sideline. She has a wide variety of coaching experiences including soccer, volleyball and rugby. When not at school, Ms. Foster can be found on a soccer field either playing or coaching her U21 women’s soccer team.
Since joining the Languages Department at Havergal in September 2000, Dr. Friesen has taught French to both Middle and Senior School students, with the goal of helping the greatest number of students acquire French they can use. At all levels, this means giving students tools to express themselves and engage with the world around them. Although the nature of the tools has changed over the years, from vocabulary lists, verb charts and flashcards to modeled mini-conversations and popcorn exchanges, the goal remains for students to gain skills and confidence to interact with people in their language.
Dr. Friesen brings a wealth of knowledge to Havergal, including a BA from the University of Winnipeg in French and Music and a PDP from SFU in French and Music Education. She then furthered her education with an MA from UBC in French, and then went on to complete a PhD in Medieval French at the University of Toronto.
In Dr. Friesen’s continuing quest to find the best tools for all her students, she engages with colleagues and the school community in many ways. In the past, she chaired the Languages Department for nine years, held the Havergal Chair for Teaching and Learning, participated in a variety committee work and learning teams and pursued professional enrichment locally, nationally and internationally.
As a child immigrant, Dr. Friesen grew up speaking multiple languages with her family and community. She values real-world language practice and has planned and chaperoned experiential learning for students within Canada and to Europe.
Most importantly, Dr. Friesen believes that learning a language is also learning culture, which lays the groundwork for deeper understanding and connection with those we meet from other contexts. And that is the ultimate goal of language learning: improving the quality of our interconnectedness as humans.
English & Drama Teacher
Ms. Pollack has taught English to students from Grades 7 through 10 at Havergal for the past 16 years. After earning her undergraduate degree at McGill University, she worked at a post-production company in Toronto and then enjoyed a number of years travelling and teaching English as a second language. It was during her travels that she fell in love with teaching, and upon her return to Canada, she earned her Masters of Education and pursued her full time career in teaching.
In her years at Havergal, Ms. Pollack has been involved in a number of capacities at the school such as coaching field hockey, supervising the Grenoble Community Partnership, extending her understanding of how girls learn through the Girls & Learning team, developing school-wide initiatives as a member of the Effective Communication Strategic Planning Committee, singing in the Staff Choir and leading as the Margaret Taylor House Advisor. Her professional growth planning focuses on creating ravenous readers of her students using strategies inspired from Penny Kittle and the New Group Reading test to evaluate reading progress over the middle school years. Currently, she is very much enjoying her new position as a Grade 8 Form Teacher.
Outside of school, she appreciates her time to read (of course), swim, kayak, paddle board, downhill ski, practise yoga and walk her dog. She is a passionate member of her book club, formed with university friends more than 20 years ago. Most of all, she cherishes time with her partner and two daughters.
Mr. Rourke joined Havergal College as a mathematics teacher in 2020. Originally from Vancouver, he moved to Ontario to attend the University of Western Ontario, earning a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Mathematics and Psychology. Following his passion for travel and education, Mr. Rourke completed his Graduate Diploma of Education from the University of Wollongong, Australia. Mr. Rourke brings 10 years of teaching experience to Havergal, including international positions in South Korea, Australia and Oman.
Mr. Rourke likes to incorporate inquiry and problem-based experiential learning strategies into his teaching to show his students the importance of mathematical fluency in their daily lives. His teaching also goes beyond mathematics as he helps guide Middle School students to become respectful, valued and informed members of their communities.
When he’s not in the classroom, Mr. Rourke can be found in the kitchen or on the golf course. He’s also looking forward to expanding his role and helping foster new passions within the Havergal community by supporting students and families in co-curricular activities and sport.
Middle School Guidance & Learning Support Specialist
Since arriving at Havergal College in 2012, Ms. Steele has held a number of positions and has worked in the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools. She began her Havergal career as the first Learning Support Specialist, where she was fortunate to work with teachers and students across the grades and to support students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. In her current position as Middle School Guidance Counselor and Learning Support Specialist, Ms. Steele works to build connections and to inspire and engage students through the development of self-awareness and advocacy skills and by helping them to recognize and acknowledge their strengths and needs. She also works to develop programming focused on assisting students to manage their own learning and to acquire the habits and skills necessary for success both inside and outside of school.
Throughout her extensive career at various private and independent schools, Ms. Steele has taken on the challenge of providing leadership and support in instituting and facilitating strategies and approaches to meet the diverse needs of all students. Ms. Steele partners with teachers and students on a regular basis to determine the best way to implement teaching and learning objectives and to provide balanced opportunities. Differentiation has always been at the core of her instructional practice. It is her belief that targeting individual student’s needs and providing the tools and resources required to achieve success will ultimately yield greater academic achievement within an inclusive classroom environment.
Ms. Steele’s commitment to education has led to her involvement in all aspects of school life. As a lifelong learner, with a passion for cycling and the arts, Ms. Steele works diligently to make a meaningful contribution to the school through her participation in extracurricular activities including the Study Buddies Mentor program, the Middle School play, and as an advisor for various clubs and special events. Her outside activities involve her participation in the Ride to Conquer Cancer and the Barrie 2 Baycrest rides, as well as her active involvement in a community-based theatre group.
Ms. Steele’s educational background includes an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Bachelor of Education from York University as well as additional specialist qualifications in both Guidance and Special Education. Her post-graduate studies include a Master of Education degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, with an interdisciplinary focus on Adaptive Instruction and Special Education.
Languages & English Teacher
Ms. Valani has been a part of the Havergal Community since 2020 as a French and English teacher. She enjoys sharing her love of learning languages with her students and bringing cultural elements into her classroom via modern teaching techniques. Before teaching at Havergal, Ms. Valani had the opportunity to teach in Quebec, British Columbia, France and Sweden. She strives to create a sense of wonder about the various communities that exist around the world, their different perspectives and their cultures in her classroom.
Ms. Valani completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature and French from the University of Waterloo and her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia with International Baccalaureate (IB) Certification. Throughout her career she has focused on professional development in Understanding Traditional Teachings, Histories, Current Issues and Cultures in regards to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. Ms. Valani has completed additional qualification courses with Queen’s University on this subject in addition to her Honours Specialist in English.
Outside the classroom Ms. Valani likes to listen to music from around the world, especially in French. She also likes trying new recipes in the kitchen, attending hot yoga classes and swimming at the Havergal pool.
Built with intention, HC-X–Havergal’s innovation hub–is designed to support students and faculty through new contemporary programs and innovative future-ready learning experiences.
It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The Students will develop their independence, sense of self and personal identity as well as their personal and academic toolkits in order to be well-prepared for the Senior School. Part of this personal development is through a variety of purposefully-created leadership opportunities. Recognizing that leadership comes in many forms, we aim to support students in the five interconnected domains of leadership: formal leadership, informal leadership, community leadership, intellectual leadership and leadership of self.
There are many formal leadership opportunities in the Middle School, such as becoming an Executive Member or Form Representative on the Middle School Council, Sports and Sustainability Council Representatives or Study Buddy Ambassadors.
A formal leadership title is not required to make a difference and lead, and not all Middle School students are interested in holding a formal leadership role. These students are encouraged to get involved with informal and community-based leadership opportunities, such as becoming Spirit Week Grade Representatives, engaging in the Exchange Program, participating in public speaking opportunities and volunteering and supporting other school programming and initiatives.
Student agency is the ability and inclination to take action. Students who believe they have the power to positively influence their lives and the world around them have agency. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) education initiative called Learning Compass 2030, student agency is about: acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others.
We encourage students to share their perspectives and develop self-direction. We want students to say what’s on their mind. As a result, they learn that what they think and say has the potential to shape their world. In the Middle School, students have more freedom before school, during lunch and after school, which means more opportunities to practise good judgment and understand responsible decision making.
Research shows that children who are supported to develop agency are more likely to flourish in their education, build and maintain positive relationships, be effective team members and leaders and respond constructively to challenges. They also tend to have better mental health in their teen and adult lives.
In the Middle School, students have 40 minutes of dedicated wellbeing programming each day. That time may be spent in Prayers, athletics or arts activities, guidance sessions, Form groups, clubs and many other opportunities. The aim is to provide balance, attending equally to cognitive, social, emotional, spiritual and physical health needs of students. In addition, they explore individual wellness topics in depth, such as stress management, conflict resolution and mindfulness.
Practising the skills of wellbeing helps our students to engage in a healthy way with present and future possibilities and be prepared for the unexpected. They gain the ability to be strategic–to assess patterns, shift perspectives, weigh options and calculate outcomes. With a reliable framework for making decisions, they are equipped to be proactive throughout life, rather than reactive, and can respond to life’s challenges with the confidence that comes from preparation.
Middle School students are encouraged to share their perspectives, say what’s on their mind and develop self-direction. They make increasingly independent choices about their co-curricular activities, by deciding what to pursue and how to balance their commitments. As a result, students feel empowered and learn that their thoughts and opinions have the potential to shape the world.
Our ultimate goal is to help students build the connections they need to thrive individually and through their attachment to others–such as friends, teachers, coaches and counsellors. We ensure there are many ways for students to engage with the school community.
Ensuring a sense of belonging starts well before the first day of school. Our Admission team works closely with students and their families to ensure a smooth transition, in addition to hosting touchpoints and events for new and returning students to connect before the school year begins. A special Orientation Day is held for new students to give them exclusive access to campus, allowing them to learn about the year ahead and start forging friendships. Havergal’s emphasis on belonging is maintained throughout the first few months to make sure new students feel welcomed and settled.
All students are part of our House System, which encourages cooperation and school spirit among students, faculty and staff. These smaller units allow students to get to know their peers who are both older and younger, as well as develop qualities of initiative and leadership. Co-curriculars also allow for both cross-grade and faculty and staff interactions, helping students to connect beyond the classroom.