where girls who want to
change the world
become women who do.
St. Margaretâ€™s School | for girls
The History of the SMS Houses Ann Isobel Paterson (later Spurgin) was Headmistress and Managing Director of SMS from 1928-34. The school coat of arms was Paterson’s design and she instituted houses like those in British schools. SMS houses were named for people important to St. Margaret. Students were grouped into friendly rival houses for school activities. Each student, teacher and staffer at SMS is still assigned to a house; relatives automatically belong to the same house. Each house has its own colour, all of which appear in the Malcolm tartan of the SMS uniform.
Queen Margaret of Scotland (c1045–1093) was married to King Malcolm Canmore III. Margaret was often referred to as The Pearl of Scotland.
Christian was Margaret’s sister; she later oversaw the care of two of Margaret’s daughters.
King Malcolm Canmore III was also known as Máel Coluim mac Donnchada. His father was killed by Lord Macbeth.
Turgot, Bishop of St. Andrew’s, is known as Margaret’s biographer and noted her commitment to charitable works.
Celebrate! St. Margaret’s School has so much to celebrate. We have a rich tradition of service with love, and historic and community connections have always been important to us as we take bold steps forward. One hundred years ago this Spring, SMS moved from its first buildings on Cook Street to a new purpose-built building at the corner of what are now Fort and Fern Streets. In 1970, students and staff trekked to our current location here on Lucas Avenue. We recently re-enacted that 1970 walk, which gave us all an opportunity to revisit past stories and create new ones. We have exciting projects underway. Half of the residence rooms will be updated this year and the remainder completed the following year. As part of our Creating Special Places initiative, the Library and Alexis Hall were renovated and refurbished. We will open a new Culinary Arts Centre in September. Progressive classroom enterprises abound: SMS girls in all grades are using project-based learning to research and evaluate information in new ways. Susan Middlemiss, our stellar Preschool and Junior Kindergarten Coordinator, is implementing new scheduling options to meet the needs of families. International Girl, Head Girl, Old Girl – meet three young women who embody the excellence and enthusiasm SMS students are known for: Habin Gu, a Korean student making international connections; Alexandra Nelson, 2011-12 Head Girl and dynamo; and Brea Moore (2004-5 Head Girl), whose professional career in the world of elite soccer began here at SMS. We continue to blaze trails together as our girls start their journeys here and tell their stories. Spend some time with us; come visit SMS at any time. We look forward to seeing you. Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School, St. Margaret’s School
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The 1970 Walk to Lucas Avenue
Alexandra Alexis (far right), on the walkathon to Lucas Avenue. Although she did not walk the entire way in 1970, she did during the re-enactment in 2011
“We feel strongly about where we are and about envisioning where we are going in the future.” Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School
Alumna and Borad of Governors member Alexandra Alexis speaks to current students
Recording our steps along the way
Ready to Roll
Walking with Purpose: SMS Celebrates Together The whole SMS community made with the past,” says Thornicroft. told the current students: “For great strides last October when “We feel strongly about where we years, I have been teased about my students, staff, alumnae and are and about envisioning where ‘two block walkathon’ but today families walked all or part of the we are going in the future.” I can report that this ‘Old Girl’ 16 kilometres from the site of the easily walked the whole thing!” Patrick Giommi, Deputy Head of former school building at Fort and School, says: “It was a long walk, continued on page 7 Fern Streets to the present campus but the girls didn’t complain. on Lucas Avenue. Head of School, That speaks to their spirit. They Cathy Thornicroft says the walk was embraced the experience.” an important way to honour the The wider community was school’s progress throughout the enthusiastic as well: “We got years and to connect students with tremendous support from the the school’s history. The walk was traffic that day, from the liaison a re-enactment of the 1970 move police officer, and from the when the school purchased the municipalities,” says Giommi. 22-acre Lucas Avenue property. “The alumnae participation This year marks an important “The walk was a re-engagement was terrific, and the staff kept centenary at SMS: in 1912 the new and fostered a sense of pride,” the kids organized and safe.” building at the school’s second campus opened its doors. Designed says Thornicroft. “The girls Alexandra Alexis is an SMS alumna by Francis Mawson Rattenbury, took it in the spirit we wanted; renowned architect and SMS parent, who participated in both the they wanted to participate the building marked a new beginning 1970 walk and the re-enactment. for the school and new Principal in something historic.” In 1970 she was a Junior School Girls from Kindergarten to Grade 12 were excited to take part and being part of such a large community of people with a connection to SMS had a powerful impact on everyone:“It’s important to have that sense of belonging and of reconnecting
student. Part way through the original walk, complaining of fatigue, she hopped into a Volkswagon Bug to cover part of the distance. Her older sisters, also Alumnae, completed the walk and have teased her about it ever since. At the end of the 2011 walk, Alexis SMS SPIRIT | 05
Margaret Barton after the tragic drowning in 1911 of Edith Fenwick and Isabel Fenwick, the founders of SMS.
SMS’ full architectural history is beautifully described in Deidre Simmons’ book Servite in Caritate: The First 100 Years of St. Margaret’s School 1908-2008.
“We care about women everywhere.” Alex Nelson, Head Girl
Planting a tree at the end of the walk
Walking with water A SeA OF WHITe and cardinal marched purposefully through Victoria streets on October 20, 2011, as the St. Margaret’s School community took part in The Walk. This walk re-enacted the 1970 walk when SMS moved from its Fern Street campus to our current location. However, the October journey was far more than simply a commemorative walk; it stood to define the identity of the contemporary SMS community. As students from every grade, teachers, staff, alumnae and SMS families joined the procession along the way, more people, and more stories, wove their way into the Walk. every step was a reflection of a past or present memory of SMS–memories not unlike the ones forged by a group of History 12 students. Inspired to demonstrate our support of women around the globe who have to fetch water daily, we carried a camping jug full of water right through to the walk’s finish line. The 16 kilometre-walk proved a herculean task; water is as heavy as it is critical for one’s very survival. As we reached the end of the walk, muscles sore and water-weary, we were safe. The same cannot be said for many of the women we advocated for. The route to and from a source of water can often be long and arduous, with many hidden dangers. The water may not even be fresh; it may be polluted
and unsanitary, carrying diseases and dirt. Regardless, any water the women find is water they need. They must make this walk as many times a day as water is needed, though the journey itself is perilous. Instances of rape are common, as solitary females are often ambushed on their way to fetch life-saving water. They must also contend with the threat of dangerous animals that may cross their path. These women often have no voice, no way to alter their situation. The SMS community walked the 16 kilometres because we care about embodying the traditions fostered here so many years ago. Our History 12 group faced blisters, pulled muscles, and bruised shoulders because we also care about women everywhere. This is how another student and I came to create the slogan, “We Carry Because We Care.” Not only did that mantra sit heavy on our shoulders in the waterfilled jug but also in our hearts, the gravity of these womens’ challenges echoing with us immensely. Our goal at the walk’s end was to use our cargo to water an apple tree to be planted on campus. I was fortunate enough to aid in this. As my History 12 class graduates and moves on in life, this particular story will live on, our experiences resonating throughout years and Walks to come. Alexandra Nelson, Grade 12
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In 1970 Beverley Waterfield walked as a student and in 2011 she walked as an SMS teacher. Taking a break on the 1970 walk
Beverley Waterfield, SMS Grade six teacher, wearing her original SMS blazer
continued from page 5
into folded paper “fortuneBeverley Waterfield teaches Grade 6 at SMS and is also an tellers” that they used to share historical facts with others SMS alumna. She participated in the 1970 walk, along with her during the walk.This projectbased learning incorporated sister and her mother, Anthea “history, culture, physical activity, Waterfield, who was the Junior School Coordinator for many group work, community, and technology,” says Waterfield. years. Waterfield recalls the 1970 walk as a fun adventure. Waterfield was pleased with Her memories were useful the girls’ regard for the walk: when girls in the Junior School “There was a tremendous buildprepared for the walk by looking up of enthusiasm two weeks at archival photos. The girls before. The Junior School girls asked Waterfield questions, and were really excited. They got it.” if she did not have the answer Older girls also incorporated she went to her family, to project-based learning into obtain their recollections. The their experience. Some of girls collected data and put it
Sean Holland’s History 12 class decided to raise awareness about dangers faced by some women in the world when fetching daily water supplies (see sidebar at left). All students, and the entire SMS community, finshed the walk together at the school. New stories and connections were cultivated: local and global, old and young, and between the past, present and future.
“Alex has a spirit and nuance that belies her age.” Pat Giommi, Deputy Head of School
Alex credits her success to SMS’ positive, encouraging environment: “Nobody ever says ‘No, you can’t do that.‘“ Winning the Golden Gavel award
Alex accepts her Duke of Edinburgh Award from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governer General of Canada.
SMS Sparks Success Alexandra Nelson loves being Head Girl at SMS. Like all girls in the 2012 graduating class, she is busy with her studies and myriad aspects of SMS life. “Being Head Girl is the best job; I get to talk to everybody,” says Alex. “My favourite thing is alumnae events. My first big outing as Head Girl was to an alumnae gathering. I was nervous; what if I didn’t live up to their expectations? All I had was my perspective – SMS is everything I know; it’s encompassing. What I hear from Old Girls about SMS history fills in the gaps of what I know.” SMS is literally home for Alex; she lives in Residence, taking full advantage of everything the school offers boarding and day students: “There is a lot of opportunity here. In one year I can do something from every aspect of extracurricular life – sports, drama, council. This year I have lots of Head Girl duties, plus all the academics. It’s my last year of rowing, my third year of basketball, and soccer tryouts are coming up.” Alex also works at a Canadian Tire store each Sunday. This year Alex will appear in the SMS production of Twelfth Night. Last year she co-directed Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee, which she recalls as, “the most Head Girl - Alexandra Nelson
amazing thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. We worked from November to June; that’s a big period of time to invest. Seeing it up on stage was my proudest moment. It was hard to let it go when it was over. There were girls involved from different areas of the school and we were a cohesive unit.” Alex recently won first place in a Golden Gavel speech competition. “It’s what I call the ‘Alex Nelson touch,’” says Deputy Head of School, Patrick Giommi. “If you give Alex a script to read, she does more than immerse herself in the character. She has a spirit and nuance that belies her age.” Her spirit and day-to-day embodiment of the SMS motto “Servite In Caritate – Service With Love” is also demonstrated by Alex’s recent Duke of Edinburgh Award in the top ‘Gold Award Achievers’ category. Students must complete goals in community service, personal skill development and physical recreation; they also undertake an adventurous journey and a residential project. Alex and four other SMS students were presented with the award by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.
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Alex is now busy with preparations for June: “I am so excited to give my Head Girl speech at the Closing Ceremony and to have those words be what people remember.” She has submitted university admission forms, with plans to study Business and Anthropology. Alex credits her success to SMS’ positive, encouraging environment: “Nobody ever says ‘No, you can’t do that.’ At any other school there just wouldn’t have been the opportunities I have had here.” As Mary Cameron, Principal of Senior School, explains: “Alex looked for opportunities; she found that she could be involved. No matter what aspect of school life, there was always a space for her to push herself, to challenge herself, and to belong to something bigger than herself.” Giommi says, Alex’s energy and commitment to SMS are always evident:“Alex has a unique spin,” Giommi says, “It’s that spark. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t seen it.”
Brea Moore–professional Regional soccer referee
Brea came back to coach SMS girls
Brea at work on the field
SMS Alumna Changing the Face of Elite Sport Brea Moore is a professional Regional soccer referee. Brea’s love of soccer began when, clad in a miniature jersey, she spent weekends at the soccer field watching her father play. Around age six she took to the field; she started a beginner referee course at 14.
volleyball, basketball, swimming and and her colleagues means younger field hockey.” Brea appreciates the girls see refereeing as a viable and opportunities she had at SMS: “I rewarding career. enjoyed its small-community feel; you When she attains National can be pushed individually. Teachers certification, Brea can start working support you and offer other ways of “…bigger games, with higher-level looking at things.” SMS gave Brea teams. eventually, hopefully, it will the confidence and flexibility to SMS soccer coach, Donna Holmwood, mean working at the Under19 and move forward with her passion. and Pe Dept. Head, Jeanine Stannard, Under21 Women’s World Cup – and noticed Brea’s love of the game and After graduating as Head Girl in 2005, the Women’s World Cup.” supported her desire to become Brea continued to coach at SMS and, SMS is a place where girls who want a referee. They gave her coaching just over two years ago, BC Soccer to change the world become women opportunities and nominated her sent her to a large international who do; Brea’s increasing profile for a BC Olympic Youth Leadership tournament in Texas. She then took shows how she and women like her are Academy program. “SMS gave me the time off to travel, but her enthusiasm changing the world of sport. extra experience I needed.” Brea says. for the sport never faltered. She visited 20 countries, learning to play “Brea’s genuine love of the game rugby, working, playing soccer casually and care for and encouragement of in Germany, and refereeing in the girls has had more of an impact Winnipeg. “Soccer is always part of my on the younger girls than she will life,” she says. Now back in Victoria, ever know,” says Holmwood. “She Brea continues to referee, and plays began a tradition that continues. Division 2 soccer for the Castaways. Brea coached this year’s graduating class when she was in Grade 11 and She recently went to Vancouver to they were in Grade 5. She coached watch Olympic qualifying games. “All Hannah Nawroth, who began assistant the referees were women, which was coaching in Grade 8 and coached good to see,” she says. “It’s not typical this year’s Grade 10 class; and several to see women referees at international of those girls currently coach our games yet. We are trying to get more Grade 4/5 program. This mentoring young girls interested on Vancouver has extended into elementary Island.” The pioneering work of Brea
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“Brea’s genuine love of the game and care for and encouragement of the girls has had more of an impact on the younger girls than she will ever know.” Donna Holmwood, SMS Teacher
SMS athletes continue to benefit from Brea’s legacy
“These exciting initiatives demonstrate what is possible when a community shares a belief that what we have here is special.” A spot to curl up and read
Locally sourced furniture
Special Places within a Special Place VWP_7961.jpg
SMS is an exciting and dynamic school, and this is reflected in the Creating Special Places initiative that Head of School, Cathy Thornicroft, started last year. Renovations and refurbishments to Alexis Hall, the school library and areas of the residences have been transformative. New projects are underway: a Culinary Arts Centre will open next September, half of the Residence rooms will undergo a complete makeover this year, and the other half will be renovated the following year.
kitchen staff and the food preparation area. SMS holds the top gold star rating by health inspectors. Countless meals are taken there, and not just by residence students. Families and community members have dinner before attending events like the early Childhood education speaker series, and welcoming brunches and Alumnae events are held in the Hall.
A Culinary Arts Centre will be the next project. Thornicroft envisions it as a project-based teaching space where girls will learn math, chemistry and presentation skills as they relate to the culinary arts. There will be workstations and a demonstration area. “The possibilities are endless; we can host presentations on nutrition for high-performance athletes; families can learn about gluten-free cooking; and everyone can participate in community meals,” says Thornicroft.
The forthcoming changes to residence rooms are already creating a buzz among students. Habin Gu has seen the prototype room: “It’s Thornicoft and the school kickstarted gorgeous; I love it. The whole There will also be a greenhouse and the SMS Creating Special Places room looks brighter.” Octopus community garden where students initiative in 2011. “We had success last Point Furniture Co, owned by Guy can develop their interests in food year enhancing spaces where all the Shockey and the same company production and sustainability. students benefit,” says Thornicroft. responsible for the tables and chairs “Research has shown that when Locally produced furniture, modern in Alexis Hall, will be manufacturing students prepare food and are colours and finishes, and thoughtful the new beds, cabinets and other aware, they make better nutritional updates abound. Girls spend more furniture for the residence rooms. choices,” says Thornicroft. The time in these Special Places: “I have SMS Parent Auxiliary has provided “These exciting initiatives demonstrate heard from all the girls that the library funds for the greenhouse, and what is possible when a community has become a more comfortable place donations to the Annual Fund shares a belief that what we have here for people to just pop in and start earmarked for environmental projects is special, and a desire to continue reading,” says SMS student, Habin will also support these efforts. to build the school’s capacity,” says Gu. In the dining hall, students Thornicroft. These Special Places Thornicroft’s enthusiasm for the linger for conversation after meals, were made possible through gifts Creating Special Places initiative appreciating their new surroundings. from a growing number of passionate is shared by a group of committed The ambience and energy in Alexis members of the SMS community. supporters. Richard Impett has a Hall match the excellence of the granddaughter in Grade 3 and his continued on page 14 SMS Spirit | 12
Everyone has a role in bringing Special Places to life.
New granite counter tops on the vanities
Style meets substance in SMS residence rooms
The stacks invite exploration
continued from page 12
daughter also attended SMS. He has been driving his granddaughter to school since she was three years old. “I have seen the developing independence and individuality of the girls,” he says. Impett was intrigued by the idea of the Centre: “The Culinary Arts Centre as a teaching room caught my Attention – the girls will learn practical math, science, problem-solving and proper food handling. It’s fun stuff to do and it’s lifelong knowledge.” Supporting the school is crucial, says Impett: “Wonderful women have come out of the school. Donations for a school like this go a long way; you can see where your money goes. everybody appreciates how much money everybody already puts in, but the value you get from supporting initiatives like this is tremendous.” Thornicroft’s emphasis on continuity and connection is apparent in all of these projects. She understands that everyone has a role in bringing special places to life. From scrupulous attention to small yet important details to her encompassing understanding of the big picture, Thornicroft is a catalyst for great changes at SMS – a special place indeed.
A Culinary Arts Centre, greenhouse and community garden will be SMS’ newest Special Places
CreaTing SpeCial plaCeS initiatives continue to succeed only through generous contributions from the SMS community. Please contact the SMS Advancement office if you would like to know more. 250-479-7171 or email: email@example.com
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â€?Habin is a positive and cheerful mentor to both international and Canadian students.â€? Mary Cameron, Principal of Senior School
Habin learning to navigate white water kayaking techiniques
Korean week cultural assembly
Beyond Boarders: Making Global Connections From the moment Habin Gu arrived at SMS in September 2010, she has been actively engaged in school life: she introduced herself to everyone, ran for Council, made the rowing team and joined the band. Habin’s friendliness and genuine interest in people meant she was soon chatting with Head of School, Cathy Thornicroft, as they travelled to a volunteer event. That conversation led to an immediate improvement in the study chairs in the residences. Habin was already making an impact at SMS. Now in her second year at SMS, Habin continues to play an active role. She is a member of the Residence Council; helps organize residence activities, encourages other boarding students to take part in SMS activities, and recently put together a group dance routine for the Outreach Committee talent show. “I like Residence Council because I get to meet all the girls. It’s really nice when you know everybody. This has led to girls in my House joining in for the talent show.”
and English, Mandarin and Spanish. In February she won first place in the Mandarin category at the Asian Language Speech Competition at the University of Victoria. Habin has visited Spain twice in the last year to visit girls from Barcelona who spent time at SMS. In effect, she is a global ambassador for the school. Mary Cameron, Principal of the Senior School, says,“Habin is a positive and cheerful mentor to both international and Canadian students. She moves with ease through any social group and across grade levels, maintaining the philosophy of integrating English into her everyday use.” Habin’s family has made some tough decisions in order for her to attend SMS. Her father works in Ginje, South Korea, where she was born. He stayed in Ginje to work when Habin, her mother and two younger sisters moved to Seoul to attend better schools. Her mother and sisters are now in Vancouver, where Habin lived for three years before coming to SMS.
Habin speaks four languages – Korean, which is her first language,
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“It’s important to know that you will be cared for when you are so far away from your own home,” says Habin. SMS will continue to be Habin’s other home until she graduates in 2013. She works hard at her studies and her post-secondary plans include studying international business. “Habin works hard academically, and she willingly embraces support from peers, teachers and housemoms,” says Cameron. Habin’s parents are supportive of her studies and her life at SMS. “Now that I am more of – although not fully! – a grown-up, I can really appreciate my parents,” says Habin. Her family’s decision to choose SMS has enriched the school; Habin’s enthusiasm and contributions benefit the entire SMS community.
“Teaching has changed. The teacher is a facilitator, mentor and coach, not a deliverer of content.“ Pat Giommi, Deputy Head of School
Cultivating scientific discovery through outdoor learning
Engaged in the up-to-date computer lab
Project-Based Learning: Focus on the Future Project-based learning, also known as research-based learning, inquirybased learning, or experiential learning, is becoming an important part of the SMS learning environment. “The staff are actively exploring ways to further develop meaningful project-based learning across grades and subject areas,” explains Megan Hedderick, Principal of Junior School.
and questions in a variety of subjects, giving students the opportunity to discover Shakespeare’s world through, among other things, elizabethan math games, alchemy, poetry, millinery, food and contemporary slang. “It was a collaborative process among the teachers,” says english teacher Diane Chartrand. “everyone came together and had a focus.”
Deputy Head of School, Pat Giommi, says it’s an exciting way to teach and to learn: “The premise is a driving question; students devise it with the help of the teacher. They experience ‘traditional’ subjects through a project.” Students acquire information, determine its value, generate research paths, connect ideas and communicate their findings.
The newly adopted timetable dedicates time to explorations units. Classes meet to learn together – and from each other. The Grade 3 and 6 classes are collaborating on a salmon project, organizing and developing ideas together. “It’s an incredible learning experience for both sets of girls,” says Grade 6 teacher Beverley Waterfield. “The girls get to utilize their Leader in Me skills to organize, plan and lead activities.”
Sharing discoveries means the whole school can take part in a project. Last Fall everyone participated in Billy Shakespeare Day. “It was a projectbased day of connection between the Junior School and Senior School, bringing literature to life,” says Head of School, Cathy Thornicroft. Senior School teachers incorporated ideas
Multi-age groups allow girls to venture outside their comfort zone, says Waterfield: “When they are comfortable with the girl leading the discussion, they can speak up and integrate their own ideas.” Girls in Grades 1, 3 and 4
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are currently learning about social responsibility together through literature study and other activities. Waterfield enjoys the process: “The girls come up with neat ideas. With project-based learning, you want the students to take ownership.” Other Junior School activities include outdoor learning, taking advantage of the tremendous environment right at the school’s doorstep. “This has been part of Junior School activity for years, and I see it as multi-faceted,” says Hedderick. “It includes a more formal exploration of our surrounding environment. In December, the eCe children discovered ice on their playground and expressed great curiosity. Their teachers then decided to spend much of the week exploring the properties of ice, learning how it is formed, and about the effects of warmth and cold on the environment.” continued on page21
Share the advice betwixt you; If both gain all T he gift doth stretch itself as ’tis receiv’d, And is enough for both. - All's Well That Ends Well
Group research, study and discussion
Learning science and math through hands-on cooking experience at the London Chef
continued from page 18
Curiosity is present in all grades, notes Hedderick: “For many weeks, Grade 5 students were engaged in developing a keynote presentation on an immigrant to Canada. One of the students chose to interview Dan Hayes, who runs The London Chef along with his wife, Micayla. Throughout the project, the students became noticeably engaged in the culinary arts. The classroom teacher decided to broaden the opportunity to include two field trips to the London Chef. By doing this, a component of the Health and Career curriculum were covered in a hands-on way.” Girls learn new approaches to traditional subjects: “Our math teacher, Mr. McAskill, has said we will have a unit project,” says Grade 11 student Habin Gu, “I have never done projects in math; it’s usually quizzes, homework and tests. Our project will involve research. I’m excited.” Lauren Hudson, who teaches science, says, “To me, project-based learning starts with the students’ curiosity in forming a driving question and then uses a simple organizational structure to help them discover.
Learning through play
“To me, project-based learning starts with the students’ curiosity in forming a driving question.“ Lauren Hudson, science teacher One example is the Personalized Science Projects. The girls begin with their own question, then follow the Scientific Method to investigate, analyze and draw conclusions.” Giommi explains that prescribed learning outcomes (the curriculum) are met through the projects. “The girls will still learn math, the periodic table and Shakespeare; they will just experience it differently. They access information and decide if it’s useful and how to leverage that. The essential elements are to ensure critical thinking, communication and collaboration. These are essential skills needed for future careers. We don’t know what the jobs are going to be out there when these girls graduate.”
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Teaching has changed, says Giommi: “The teacher is a facilitator, mentor and coach, not a deliverer of content. It’s not a passive form of instruction; it’s not the traditional ‘Chalk and Talk.’ The classroom is looking different. We are preparing students to be adaptable, life-long learners.”
A captivated audience.
Susan Middlemiss: Empowering Girls Early The SMS Early Childhood Education Centre (ECEC) brims with energy, light and optimism. Girls in Preschool and in Junior Kindergarten (JK) solve puzzles, play games, draw, explore and learn. Parents come in to read at story time. The girls also learn French, Mandarin and music. Many former JK girls, some now preteens, drop in to hug Susan Middlemiss, the ECEC Coordinator, and keep her posted on their latest accomplishments. Middlemiss has an extensive background in curriculum development and three decades of stellar academic and professional experience, including a Masters of Education from the University of British Columbia, certification in Orff-Schulwerk and Kindermusik, and classical voice training. She and
her university-educated staff deliver Megan Hedderick, Principal of a rich curriculum where girls develop Junior School, says Middlemiss’ confidence and skills in readiness personalized approach ensures that for Kindergarten and beyond. “the ECE program takes into account Middlemiss was asked by SMS to design the interests, family background and and develop a Junior Kindergarten needs of each individual child, using curriculum eight years ago–there these as a springboard to pique their were none in BC at that time. She curiosity, explore their world, and started with eight JK girls. After four share in experiences that develop years, she expanded the program to their sense of self and others.” include a Preschool curriculum. The JK and Preschool girls spend Middlemiss says the program is part of each school day together; comprehensive and built on strong when they are integrated, the fourfoundations: “We have an excellent year-olds can mentor the three-yearbudget for materials and how we olds. Later in the day they separate present them. Our facilities are for curriculum activities specific to excellent; there is a 22-acre their stages of development. There campus. Our resources include is an Explorations unit each Friday, specialty teachers and supportive a result of the newly implemented administrators. We interact and school timetable, where JK students support each girl’s learning.” are encouraged to feel comfortable SMS SPIRIT | 22
“The girls learn confidence and competence, which leads to academic achievement.“ Susan Middlemiss, ECEC Coordinator
Engaged with a student
in a Kindergarten setting. Everyone is together – the teachers, the JK class and the Kindergarten girls. “An integral part of Preschool and JK is making friends and social literacy,” says Middlemiss. “Grade 5 students come down on Tuesday afternoons to act as reading buddies. Some of the older girls were once JK students themselves.” Families coming to SMS next Fall will see further enhancements to the ECEC: “We are evolving into a 12-month program,” says Middlemiss. “Parents will have a choice of ten or 12 months. JK girls can go five mornings a week, or full-day. The Preschool girls can come three, four, or five mornings per week. There is sometimes the opportunity for a girl to begin Preschool earlier if there is space available for a two-and-a-half year old.” In 2006 Middlemiss received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. This accolade reflects the high esteem professionals and parents alike feel for Middlemiss’ accomplishments and love of Early Childhood Education. Cathy Mingo’s daughter was in the first JK class at SMS; Mingo nominated Middlemiss for the award after seeing the confidence and skills her daughter gained in the JK program. Six years later, Mingo, Director of Residence,
The ECE learning environment
sees the long-lasting effects of the self-esteem and capability that was fostered in her daughter early on. She also notes the bond Middlemiss has with the girls: “It’s not just the girls in the moment; it’s also the girls who have gone through her classroom. When I go down to the Junior School, I see the connection. The girls still come in to hug Ms. Middlemiss. They give her updates on their lives. She intimately knows them.”
and other parents.“It’s important to articulate the learning that goes on,” says Middlemiss. Parents have commented for years that Middlemiss’ interactions with the Preschool and JK families are superb. She provides parents with meticulous reports and classroom manuals, meets with parents to clarify developmentally appropriate expectations and outcomes, and explains and updates the curriculum.
Middlemiss also shares knowledge with “The ECE classroom is a happy and the wider community. She has inviting place,” says Hedderick, “where instituted a popular speaker series I am often greeted by the children called Building the Foundations for with ‘Can you come and play?’” Healthy Early Learning. “Foundations Middlemiss loves her job. “I am seem to be my thing,”she says. living in the present, the world of Middlemiss has been initiating the imagination. The girls have community discussions for years; in enthusiasm for learning, and wonder Vancouver she ran community at the world. Anything is possible symposia where leading researchers, for them; there is hopefulness. They government ministers, parents and are at the beginning of their lives. teachers met to talk about the There is spontaneity.” That optimism importance of the early years. The and enthusiasm translates into speaker series here, in addition to continued success, as parents and various symposia and other Middlemiss know: “The girls learn presentations, “brings people to SMS confidence and competence, which and offers a service to parents and educators,” says Middlemiss. “There is leads to academic achievement.” a one-hour lecture format, and we provide dinner in Alexis Hall and child-minding. The format works.” These events provide professional development for educators throughout Victoria and valuable insight to SMS
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St. Margaret’s School | for girls
St. Margaret’s School St. Margaret’s School 1080 LucasAvenue Avenue 1080 Lucas Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8X 3P7 V8X 3P7 www.stmarg.ca www.stmarg.ca T 250.479.7171