MESSAGES FROM THE BOARD CHAIR AND THE PRINCIPAL
A Message from Board Chair Mona Malone
On behalf of the Board of Governors, which oversees the strategic direction of the school, I am pleased to share our Branksome Hall's Strategy Refresh 2022 – 25.
Building on the strengths of Branksome Hall as a leading, internationally minded school for girls, the six strategic priorities position us to innovate and evolve as we prepare students to thrive in a changing world.
Our community of employees, students, parents, alums and supporters is critical to our strategic priorities, and central to our success. In fact, each member of our community has a role to play in bringing the strategy to life.
It is an exciting time in Branksome’s journey and I look forward to seeing what we build together.Mona Malone Chair, Board of Governors
A Message from Principal Karen Jurjevich
With today’s exponential pace of change and the complexities of our current global context, tomorrow’s leaders will need to think differently and navigate uncertainty. Supported by our school’s mission, vision and values, and guided by our six strategic priorities, Branksome Hall is preparing leaders who will not only meet this need, but are already shaping that future.
We are proud to share this refresh of Branksome Hall’s current strategy, which was first released in 2014. While the contents may be familiar, you will see an emphasis on specific priorities we have evolved over the last few years. Approved by the Board of Governors, our updated school strategy builds on the strengths we have honed over our 120-year history, and advances our core values and unique offerings, positioning us to thrive in today’s exciting and complex context.
Our strategy begins with our 2022 winning aspiration: to empower and inspire curious minds to think differently, challenge the status quo and change the world.
Setting a strategy means making choices. Branksome Hall makes bold choices to deliver a best-in-class education, supported by inspiring employees who prepare students for a world that is changing rapidly—even as I write this message.
Our six key priorities, which will enable us to deliver on our winning aspiration, are deeply interconnected and integral to everything we do. Together, they will guide and inform our decisions and actions, inspiring the very best in each one of us.
The success of our strategy depends on the strength of our community. Each one of us has an important role to play in contributing to the spirit and direction of our path forward, by sharing your unique perspectives and passion in service to our students, our community and our shared future.
As we begin the implementation of our refreshed strategy, we look forward to reporting back to you on our initiatives and success. We're excited to be moving into this next phase in developing new generations of changemakers who will help to shape a better world.Karen L. Jurjevich Principal
BRANKSOME HALL’ S STRATEGY REFRESH
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.
• Equip students with the skills to unlock their potential by building on our strong IB academic program
• Invest in the growth, development and retention of our employees
• Deepen well-being and university counselling support
• Challenge the status quo with an innovation mindset
• Develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive community
• Build connection through local, national and global partnerships
At Branksome Hall we empower and inspire curious minds to think differently, challenge the status quo and change the world. Just as we value creativity and innovation throughout our classrooms and co-curricular spaces, we are continually evolving as a school community.
Our strategic approach encourages this growth. Instead of specific goals set in stone, our strategic priorities are an active pursuit of impact. Intersecting and overlapping, they build on one another as we continue to engage, listen, learn and evolve.
Grounded in our core values—sense of community, inclusiveness, creativity and making a difference—we are dedicated to developing a new generation of student and employee leaders with the skills, insight and commitment to shape a better future in an uncertain world.
We empower and inspire curious minds to think differently, challenge the status quo and change the world.
will build on our tradition of IB academic excellence and leadership in innovation, the arts and STEM, by taking an integrated approach to well-being; diversity, equity and inclusion; world-class learning and working opportunities; and the creation of local, national and global connections.
Our IB Advantage
Our Employees Student Support
Invest in the growth, development and retention of our employees Equip students with the skills to unlock their potential
Build connection through local, national and global partnerships
Challenge the status quo with an innovation mindset
Develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive community
Deepen well-being and university counselling support
Equip learners with the skills to unlock their potential
THE IB ADVANTAGE: APPROACHES TO LEARNING (ATL)
As Toronto’s leading independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for girls, Branksome is uniquely positioned to equip learners from JK to Grade 12 with the skills to unlock their potential and change the world.
Underlying everything we do at Branksome Hall is the belief that we can develop the skills we need to thrive—skills that enable us to become lifelong learners; successfully tackle any challenge or pursuit; improve our relationships with others; develop an equity mindset; and much more.
Instead of one-size-fits-all, the IB Approaches to Learning offer diverse strategies and a personalized approach that ladder up to a set of essential skills, preparing our students for university and beyond. Our strength as a school lies in our ability to promote a holistic mindset that nurtures students' social-emotional learning and critical global citizenship education within the IB program.
While some learners might lean toward a collaborative brainstorm to get ideas flowing, others would start with solitary mind mapping. The key is understanding ourselves and others, as well as experimenting with the many approaches available to us.
At Branksome, we are intentional about equipping learners with these ATL skills, and the varied approaches to developing them—enabling students to take ownership of their own learning and skills across five core areas: thinking, communication, research, social collaboration and self-management.
Branksome’s Business Accelerator Noodle:
Students are launching socially conscious start-ups
Having noticed that many wellness services for teens seemed to be “taking a spoon and trying to empty out a lake of sadness,” Branksome grade 12 students Ore, Parker and Miranda created a start-up to build a “boat of happiness” instead. Made by teens for teens and young adults, their Happiness Battery app, podcast and online shop sets out to boost daily production of feel-good chemicals through daily challenges, inspiring stories and more.
It recently got its own boost, winning the Branksome Hall Noodle accelerator program’s annual grand prize – $10,000
in seed funding to bring their venture to the next level, made possible by alum and donor Mary LESSLIE Hallwardʼ74.
First of its kind in a Canadian secondary school, the 38-week Noodle business accelerator program challenges students to shape their bright ideas into “profits with a purpose.” From a movement mobilizing students worldwide to plant enough trees to meet international sustainability goals (TreesCO2) to a specialized planner for students (Pedestal) and a necklace that helps seniors amplify their voice (Speech Necklace), the results are inspiring.
Invest in the growth, development and retention of our employees
BUILDING CAPACITY TO ENERGIZE AND INSPIRE OUR WORK AND COMMUNITY
At Branksome, we create opportunities for employees to not only succeed and grow, but also to thrive.
By uplifting employees through robust professional and leadership development opportunities, we equip and inspire them to deliver on each of our strategic priorities and to create ideal learning environments for our students.
Committed to attracting and retaining top talent, we aspire to be a learning and working environment where diverse educators, innovators and leaders across multiple fields and backgrounds come to expand their skills, continue to grow, and harness their expertise and experience to make a difference.
A key driver of this work is our unique Centre for Strategic Leadership (CSL). With its values-driven approach and commitment to enhancing leadership skills among Branksome employees school-wide, the CSL partners with our talent management team to actively build an engaged, collaborative and committed employee culture one that promotes intentional succession planning.
Employees gain the knowledge and skills they need to uplift each other and our students. These include values-driven practices to listen deeply, acknowledge strengths, give better feedback, increase team alignment and create a more inclusive environment. In addition to targeted growth opportunities in areas core to Branksome, such as the IB Approaches to Learning (ATL), SEL, DEI, and design thinking and innovation, employees may enhance their personal and professional development through a variety of ongoing formal and informal opportunities. For example, they might bring a new idea to Branksome’s internal incubator, The Garage, for support in brainstorming ways to develop and pilot it as a new initiative.
Through investing in our employees’ personal and professional development and well-being, Branksome fuels ongoing innovation and growth across the school.
Three game-changing centres inform and advance our teaching, innovation and leadership
While common in a post-secondary setting, Branksome’s ecosystem of data-driven research and innovation centres is unique in the primary and secondary education landscape. And they are key to our ongoing innovation and advanced leadership development.
The Chandaria Research Centre (CRC) is involved with many new programs, initiatives and innovations—providing data-driven direction and analysis, and supporting our efforts constantly to improve our educational programming and offerings. For example, CRC analyzed the student journey and impact through the launch of our Noodle accelerator program, supports partnerships studies in teacher’s perspectives of international mindedness, and is currently collaborating on new peer-to-peer SEL training models, our DEI action planning, and much more.
Branksome’s Centre for Strategic Leadership (CSL) provides employees with personal development and leadership training through mentorship, coaching and a range of workshops. Its strength-based, solution-focused approach promotes a healthy, connected and inclusive community— ensuring employees are supported and well equipped to create the best learning environments for our students.
Another gem in our innovative ecosystem is The Garage – an incubator that invites teachers and other employees to ideate, experiment and prototype new ideas and initiatives, helping to spark new cross-functional and school-wide innovation.
Together, these centres are hubs of thought and data-driven innovation— supporting new ideas, generating transformative initiatives, investing in talent and energizing our work and community.
Deepen well-being and university counselling support
A CROSS-FUNCTIONAL APPROACH FOR EVERY AGE AND STAGE
The social and emotional skills that have become a key component of Branksome’s IB curriculum provide a solid foundation for university and for life.
While Branksome has long been a caring community, we have deepened our commitment to well-being by integrating socialemotional learning (SEL) across the school. We continue to expand on this work, including restructuring our counselling support model to ensure all members of our community have access to the support they need.
Just as we are intentional about teaching thinking and research skills, SEL is a core area of focus within Branksome Hall’s classrooms and culture. By building skills across five key areas of competence— self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making—learners are empowered to better understand and manage themselves, relate to others, develop supportive relationships and make responsible decisions.
We are also harnessing the SEL framework as we set out to develop a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community. With its focus on an authentic understanding of oneself as well as a thoughtful and empathetic exploration of the experiences and point of view of others, SEL offers a helpful starting point in creating more equitable and inclusive spaces for all.
Expanding student support and university counselling
Branksome’s new student support model ensures more students have access to the level of support they need to thrive.
Featuring three specialized teams—a learning strategies and health centre team, a combined social work and school counselling team, and a university counselling team—the new model deepens and expands our offerings within these distinct areas.
The teams continue to work together closely and cross-functionally, leveraging regular meetings to identify areas of student need and collaborating closely to ensure our students are connected with the best resources at the right time.
Students now have increased access to various levels of support, including physical and mental health support and accommodation, counselling and social work, study skills and university counselling.
In addition to ensuring students are supported in all situations and times of need, the re-imagined structure also emphasizes the importance of engaging early in conversations around university pathways and future direction. For students, it can be incredibly empowering to gain a greater understanding of the opportunities available to them and to have the opportunity to reflect on their ambitions for the future.
Branksome Hall graduates go on to attend some of the leading postsecondary institutions around the world, including the University of Toronto, Stanford University, Harvard University, University College London, Imperial College London and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2022, our graduates garnered entrance scholarships totaling more than $4.4 million, and 100 per cent of our graduates were Ontario Scholars.
In this way, our new approach expands the scope of well-being support— addressing not only mental and physical health challenges and learning needs, but also investing in academic success, resilience and life-long social and emotional skills.
Challenge the status quo with an innovation mindset
LEADERS IN INNOVATION, STEM AND THE ARTS
More than a buzzword or game-changing tech solution, innovation is a mindset—a way of engaging with the world. And it’s core to everything we do at Branksome Hall.
Just as social and emotional skills can be learned, so too can creativity and an innovator’s mindset. At Branksome, we immerse our learners in the design-thinking cycle through an integrated approach across the curriculum, where they develop their ideas through an iterative process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. They learn to take risks and resist the pressure to be perfect. They are empowered to bring their ideas to life, to solve complex problems and to make a difference—from re-designing board games to meet accessibility needs and developing products that can be upcycled, to launching their own start-up through the Noodle business accelerator program. Ultimately, Branksome students are developing the skills, mindset and tools to challenge the status quo and change the world.
The culture of innovation at Branksome runs deep. Educators experiment and prototype new ideas for programs and course work at our internal innovation incubator, The Garage; the Chandaria Research Centre engages in data-driven research to help continuously advance our programming through new initiatives; the Centre for Strategic Leadership builds capacity in employees and school leaders; and our transformational community partnerships and facilities catalyze opportunities for innovation.
Space to grow: Our state-of-the-art facilities catalyze innovation and learning
Building on Branksome’s central location and world-class facilities—including the stunning Athletics and Wellness Centre, which has catapulted school and community athletics and well-being to new heights—the upcoming Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre (iCAST) will ignite creativity and innovation, inspiring learners to explore new ideas and perspectives, challenge their thinking and take risks.
A collision of the arts and innovation, iCAST features machine, wood and robotics workshops, digital labs focused on artificial intelligence and augmented reality, a pitch space and a reconfigurable black-box studio theatre. With its design based on data-driven findings on the ideal space for learning and collaboration, our enhanced facilities will serve as a “third teacher”—expanding the already exceptional educational experience we create for our learners.
Serving as a catalyst for Branksome learners as well as for the broader community, iCAST will bring together innovators, industry experts, scientists and artists—providing space for educators and mentors such as scientists-inresidence, experimental and traditional performance in dance and film, as well as inspiring speakers, panel discussions and community events.
Develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive community
One important way we live our values as a diverse learning community is through our Boarding program, which strives to connect Boarding students with the broader school community and combines creativity and experiential learning, designed to align with the values of Branksome Hall and the IB Learner Profile. This program presents a unique opportunity for both Boarding and Day students to form friendships as they learn from one another and explore their interests.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF INITIAL ACTION PLAN
At Branksome Hall, we are determined to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) permeate our culture, guide our actions and are reflected in our lived experiences.
Far from an isolated priority, our commitment to DEI is integral to our purpose as a community, and is intrinsically linked to each of the other priorities. In particular, our grounding in social-emotional learning provides a helpful framework for exploring equity issues and empowering each of us to take action and challenge biases, racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and other forms of oppression.
Currently at the beginning of a multi-year action planning process, we have completed a comprehensive DEI audit in collaboration with Anima Leadership and the Chandaria Research Centre. The information from the audit will be used by internal teams for action planning and offers the school insights on our practices and recommendations for how to deepen our work over the next five to ten years. As school-wide leaders, we are committed to working within departments and across constituent groups to engage in conversations and an action planning process that enables us to prioritize the best practices. Meanwhile, we are working to identify and integrate DEI-specific skills within our curriculum, increasing representation in hiring, supporting student leadership in combatting anti-Black racism, engaging in diverse community and educational partnerships, and making systemic changes such as adopting a new inclusive days of significance calendar and updating our transgender policy.
This work serves to benefit everyone in the community, building a strong sense of belonging and equipping students with the skills and awareness to recognize their role as advocates and allies as they move forward in their personal and professional lives.
Student voice driving change
At Branksome, student voice is central to everything we do. Not only do we encourage diverse opportunities for public dialogue and debate, we also invest in unique and immersive experiences for learners to develop and strengthen their voice.
For example, earlier this fall Branksome brought three students to attend the symposium “Words on Fire: Writing, Freedom, and the Future” in New York, which marked the 100th anniversary of PEN America. After being inspired by world-renowned thought leaders, these students will be leading an initiative on building new ground rules for respectful engagement and celebration of expression in our school community.
In fact, student voice played an important role in shaping this strategy refresh itself.
In June 2020, our students made their voices heard—calling for Branksome to make crucial changes related to diversity, equity and inclusion. In an open letter and equity proposal, more than 400 students, alums and employees put forth a series of recommended actions, including enhancing representation and training within faculty, increasing diversity within the student body, integrating more learning and discussion about race and inequality within (and outside) the curriculum, strengthening the Diversity Council, partnering with and supporting initiatives led by Black, Indigenous and people of colour, and taking a thoughtful and collaborative approach toward decolonization and Truth and Reconciliation. Branksome listened and we are actively following through on many of the recommendations, while committing to a multi-year process to develop a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive community.
We know we have a lot to learn—and we’ll be listening.
Build connection through local, national and global partnerships
COLLABORATING WITH OUR COMMUNITIES
To be inspired to make a difference, we need to be engaged with the world around us—to be exposed to diverse perspectives and experiences. Branksome fosters a culture of international mindedness by providing extensive opportunities for students and employees to collaborate with innovators, experts and community leaders across a variety of contexts and causes.
Our Branksome community extends far beyond our downtown Toronto campus. Longstanding educational partnerships, including with our Branksome Hall Asia sister school in South Korea and our “Triangle of Hope” partner schools in Toronto and South Africa, Rose Avenue Junior Public School, Sunny View Public School, Wandering Spirits and Let’s Grow Learning and Living Hub, continue to provide valuable learning and leadership experiences, while new collaborations such as Indigenous education initiatives, deepen our relationships and understanding of the world. In addition, our incredible community of students, alums, parents, employees and supporters consistently spark new informal partnerships and opportunities—including unique initiatives such as our Noodle business accelerator program.
Whether delivering math and literacy programming to our local partner public school, piloting a global debate competition in partnership with Munk Debates or participating in an internship or international exchange, Branksome learners are deeply engaged in the community. As they build awareness, they are in turn empowered to contribute their own ideas and skills, helping to solve real-world problems.
Looking ahead, we are actively pursuing new ways to build connection for our learners—including pairing students with alums in innovative industries such as Toronto’s thriving tech and artificial intelligence space, hosting leading scientists-inresidence in our new Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre, and much more.
Going global in partnership with Munk Debates
At a time of increasing polarization, be it resolved that Branksome is playing a leading role in expanding the power of public speaking and debate.
In partnership with the renowned Munk Debates, Branksome Hall will be hosting a 2023 global debate competition for youth, called Re:Solved. This global competition aims to help democratize the field of public debating, encouraging youth from around the world to share their perspectives and give voice to their opinions.
Branksome is uniquely positioned to bring the field to a new level. With over 50 years developing debate skills, our robust public speaking and debate program offers students from Grades 7 to 12 the opportunity to voice their opinions in international competitions. Branksome students consistently place in the top tier, and we are the only Canadian school invited year after year to the prestigious Hague International Model United Nations.
Not only did students from Branksome and our partner school in South Africa kickstart the Re:Solved debate project by leading a pilot debate in May 2022, but the db8 digital debate platform that will be used to host the competition was created at Branksome and honed at our in-house innovation incubator, The Garage.