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St. Margaret’s School | for girls

Confident girls. Inspiring women. Confident girls. Inspiring women.

Our Graduates Chemistry, 11 & 12 You Choir, 11 & 12 univ Communications, 12 LOCA One hundred percent of SMS graduates receive offers of CAN Comparative Civilizations, 12 of their choice. Each admission from post-secondary institutions USA year, a few students tend to choose to take a year off (a gap Concert Band, 11 & 12 EU year) for travel or work. Of the 39 scholarships offered to our Drama, 11in & 12the largest single award was a full-tuition ASIA graduates 2014, scholarship for rowing Economics, 12 at Boston University, valued at $68,000. A sh insti English, 11 & 12 THE CLASS OF 2014 stud English Literature, 12 UNIVERSITY PLACEMENTS Leadership is a formal curricular element starting in Kindergarten, SMS BY THE NUMBERS 62* graduates Ame Fitness for Life, 11 & 12 withYear extensive experiential programs including mentoring, Bost (School 2013-2014) 221 offers of admission You will find our peer graduates at Calif Food andin scholarships Nutrition,and 11awards & 12 public speaking, the Duke of universities Edinburghallprogram, outdoor $370k over the world. Carn *the largest graduating class in SMS history Total students: 374 Foundations of Mathematics, education, and community service. In 2014, more than twice as Carle LOCATION ALL OFFERS FINAL CHOICE Hong 11 & Count 12 of Fields of Study (Simplified) ent of SMS Total graduates receive offers of Dogwood Awards for Leadership at many girls wereFields awarded Count of 142 of Study (Simplified) CANADA boarding: FIELDS OF STUDY Te 42% 80% t-secondary institutions of their choice. Each French, 11 & 12 SMS than at any other independent school (per capita). These Horiz (38% of school population) Total OF STUDENTS) FieldsDISCIPLINE of Study(NUMBER (Simplified) USA 40% 15% McG s tend to choose to cash take ascholarships year off (a gap Geography, 12 are awarded by the Ministry Total of Education Humanities Social Sciences Humanities &&Social Sciences (13) McM EU 13% 2% work. Of the 39 scholarships Countries ofoffered Origin: Graduation Transitions, 12 for achievement into12 aour variety of non-academic subject areas Business &Commerce Commerce Business & (9) Mou ASIA 5% 3% the largest single award was a full-tuition New Science Science12 (7) History, including the arts, applied skills, and leadership. Quee Psychology Psychology (5) ng at Boston University, valued at $68,000. Independent Project, 11 & 12 Rutg A shortlist of the 62 prestigious Visual Art&&Design Design Visual Art (4) Ryer Information / Communications institutions who accepted our Math Math (4) Sava EXAMINATION RESULTS 4 Theatre Drama Theatre &&Drama (3) & 12 Technology 11 students in 2014: Simo Foundation Year Univ Foundation Year (3) PROVINCIAL EXAM ST. MARGARET’S OTHER SCHOOLS Intro to Francophone Culture American Academy of Dramatic Arts Univ Health Sciences(3) Health Sciences SUBJECTS ** 2012 AVG. 2013 AVG. 2014 AVG. INDIE AVG. BC AVG. and Conversation, 11 Univ Boston University Arts & Science Science(2) dmission Arts & Univ Math 10 83.11 85.93 84.29 78.73 East 72.47 Intro to Investing, 11 California State University, Bay Economics Economics (2) hips and awards Univ Biomedical Engineering Biomedical Engineering (1) Carnegie Mellon University Intro to Japanese, 11 10class in SMS history 75.92 80.46 82.53 72.47 68.86 Univ *the largestScience graduating International Studies International Studies (1) Univ Carleton University IntroEngineering to Spanish, 11 Social Studies 11 72.60 78.08 73.85 70.22 69.81 Univ Engineering (1) Hong Kong University of Science and Study (Simplified) Japanese, 11 & 12 Univ Journalism Journalism (1) English 10 70.67 71.90Technology 65.05 68.37 69.83 (Total 61) Three grads took a gap year Univ Architecture Architecture (1) Law, 12 in 2014; while two deferred offers of Fields of62.99 Study (Simplified) Univ Horizonte Language School English 12 69.77 67.26 69.51 66.83 admission (reflected here) the third Communications Communications (1) Total OF ed)STUDENTS) Leadership, 11 & 12 Univ plans to apply at a later date. McGill UniversityHumanities & Social Sciences (blank) Our guidance department provides resources and one-on-one advising Univ Mandarin, 11 & 12 Business & Commerce al Sciences Sciences (13) McMaster University to help students explore career paths, post-secondary programs, Univ Science scholarship opportunities, and their own strengths and interests. Marketing, 12 York erce rce (9) Mount Allison University ATHLETICS AND WELLNESS Psychology New York University Media Arts, 11 & 12 SMS Physical Education emphasizes broad participation in order Visual Art & Design Queen’s University Money Matters, 11 Math to foster enjoyment of sport as aRutgers benchmark for lifelong healthy University Outdoor Recreation, 11 & 12 n (4) Theatretogether & Drama living. The experience of belonging and working as Ryerson University PEBritish / Rec.Columbia Leadership,University 11 & 12 of San Diego Foundation Year A list of the prestigious University of part of a62team is not limited McGill to just a fewCollege elite athletes: 95%University of Savannah of Art and Design St. Margaret’s School | Co Health Sciences Photography / Yearbook, 11 Okanagan institutions who accepted elementary students our and 70% ofSimon secondary students represent Fraser University McMaster University University of San Francisco Arts & Science Physical students University of Calgary Education, 11 & 12 University College of London SMS in on2014: one or multiple school teams. Miami University Economics University of the Arts London Physics, 11 & 12 University of British Columbia Biomedical Engineering University of California - Davis American Academy of Competitive athletic teams Mount include basketball, cross-country, Allison University University of Toronto Pre-Calculus, 12 University of Calgary International Studies Dramatic Arts field hockey, rowing, soccer,New swimming, tennis, track and field, University of - Irvine St.California Margaret’s School 1080 Lucas Ave, Victoria, BC, V8X 3P7, CANADA 1.2 University of California Psychology, 11 York University University of Toronto Engineering Boston andUniversity volleyball. Students also keep active with extracurricular University of California - LA 11 & 12 Mississauga University of Edinburgh Raquet Sports, Journalism Northeastern University eering ring (1) sportsState likeUniversity intramurals, house challenges, ballet, CrossFit University of Guelph California Architecture Social Studies, 11 University of Toronto University of California State University sies (1) Easttraining, Bay University of Hong Kong cycling, Jazzercise, Ohio sailing, triathlon, and yoga. Communications Merced Scarborough Spanish, 11 & 12 University of Manchester (blank) Pennsylvania State University Camosun College Studio Art, AP University of California University of Victoria University of San Fransisco Queen’sPlacement University(AP) exams. AP is Riverside Textiles and Design, 11 *Students may elect to take Advanced Carleton University University of Washington University of Toronto a standardized curriculum developed byUniversity an American company, theUniversity of Visual Arts,- 11 & 12 Quest California Carnegie Mellon University University of Victoria University of Waterloo College Board, and may be referenced by post-secondary institutions. San Diego Visual Arts 3-D, 11 & 12 University of Washington Rutgers, The State University Chinese University of University of Western Ontario ment provides resources and one-on-one advising only **SAT testing is undertaken students applying to AmericanUniversity of University Waterloo Writing, 12ofby New Jerseyof California Hong Kong


entrance standards. Our curriculum is STEM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Accelerated learning and Advanced Placement (AP) exam preparation* are options available to challenge our students and help them prepare for the next phase in their education. Students are also supported in pursuing self-initiated projects for credit to help them develop as independent learners.

Where will the RED BLAZER take her?


ANYWHERE she wants to go.

plore career paths, post-secondary programs, In 2014,University post-secondary institutions. 100% of of students who wrote Santa Barbara Western Ontario Ryerson Polytechnic University Citystrengths University London ies, and their own interests. SAT testsand were accepted to American schools of their choice. York University

Durham University

Fashion Institute of Technology Fraser International College Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

Savannah College of Art & Design

University of Connecticut University of Edinburgh

Seattle Central College

University of Guelph

Simon Fraser University

University of Hong Kong

Thompson Rivers University

University of Illinois at Urbana

Horizonte Language School . Margaret’s School |

University of Western Ontario - IVEY University of Westminster Vancouver Island University York University

University of Alberta University of Leeds Confident girls. Inspiring women.

Humber College

University of British Columbia

University of Manchester

ON THE COVER: Colette Reimer (Grade 8) demonstrates that passion drives innovation. Pictured here with herVictoria, award-winning Fair invention, Cycle Clear, featuring adaptive lenses and miniature 1080 Lucas Ave, BC, V8XScience 3P7, CANADA 1.250.479.7171 windshield wipers powered by solar panels. The young triathlete is currently preparing for high-profile races later this year and lives the school motto “Service with Love” in her individual pursuits (Colette was the top fundraiser for the Triathlon of Compassion this year).

message from the head and chair Welcome to this issue of the Spirit magazine—something we’ve been calling “the innovators issue” around the office here. We believe that academic rigour is not very useful in and of itself if it is not accompanied by a person’s Cathy Thornicroft ability to apply knowledge Head of School in new situations or to new problems. The “three Cs” of collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking are the 21st century’s version of the earlier “three Rs.” From the introduction of STEM in Early Learning, to Explorations in the Foundation Years, and to Innovation in the Middle and Senior Years, SMS is trying to create opportunities for our girls to discover, explore, and experiment. Our focus on multidisciplinary inquiry is the starting point for connecting ideas, developing an appreciation for multiple perspectives, and integrating knowledge from a variety of disciplines and contexts. At SMS, we believe that the foundation for innovation is based on three elements: play, passion, and purpose. Our goal is to nurture creativity and spark imagination while helping our girls learn resiliency. Realizing that risk-taking and the possibility of failure while trying something new is just a step in the learning process, our girls will develop a mindset that values perseverance and hard work as much as the actual achievement. Threaded through these stories in this fall issue is a belief that the future belongs to those individuals who will be seen as knowledge creators, not knowledge keepers. From our unique approach in JK to opportunities for self-directed study, the importance of the arts to the achievements of our alumnae, these stories reveal our methods for helping students discover their own passions and to build their capacity to become our future innovators.

How appropriate it is that this issue focuses on achievement and innovation: after all, it was only a few short months ago that we were celebrating the achievements of so many girls at the annual closing Jeremy Mannall-Fretwell ceremony. And as we send Chair, Board of Governors so many out into the world as new graduates, I can’t help but wonder how many of them will become innovators and leaders in their fields, pushed along as they have been by the benefit of a St. Margaret’s education. Of course, everyone knows that the spark of innovation needs to be kindled with the tinder of funding. This is why so many major corporations and educational institutions provide seed money through innovation grants. They recognize that to push boundaries and move organizations and our society forward, they need to provide financial support. Similarly, SMS looks to its community for funding to help it push forward, whether it be money for bursaries to bring deserving girls to our school, capital for equipment and technology to help them learn and push the envelope of their world, or seed donations that allow the school to plan for future expansion so that it can stay on the cutting edge of girls’ education. SMS relies on the generosity of its donors who recognize that achievement and innovation need money to feed the spark. So, as the school moves to launch its annual fundraising initiative, I ask you to keep that spark in the back of your mind. Who knows which piece of kindling will turn a spark to a blaze. What we do know is that the more who get involved, the greater the opportunity to fan the flames! Please join me in feeding the fires of innovation and achievement with your generous donation to the SMS Annual Campaign. Jeremy Mannall-Fretwell, Chair, Board of Governors

Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School

KEEP IN TOUCH | | /saintmargarets |


Letters to the Editor: SMS SPIRIT, c/o 1080 Lucas Avenue, Victoria, BC, V8X 3P7 SMS SPIRIT | 01

iNNOVAtion Responding to the changing needs of today’s students and the demand for independent thinking required of future leaders, SMS has created space within its established curriculum for out-of-the-box thinking. The practice of innovation found an official home in the 2013-14 timetable with the goal of harnessing students’ personal interests to generate higher levels of engagement and discovery. This approach to innovation lists among its touchstones Google’s “20% Time” and the Montessori-inspired “Genius Hour.”

Innovation challenges our girls to take on more and delve deeper by participating in independent study through individual and group projects. It is an opportunity for them to take responsibility for their own learning, which complements the school’s mission to empower girls to set their own course and shape their own dreams. We believe firmly in giving the students the time, space, and support on that path. The thread of innovation is woven through learning at all levels, from outdoor learning with the youngest girls to complex initiatives for the most senior students. Innovation figures prominently in an Explorations program in the early Foundation Years, then is sparked further with “Passion Projects” in Grade 4, then more intensely still in a designated Innovation block in the Middle Years and Senior Years.

Innovation through Exploration: the Foundation Years

Megan Hedderick, Foundation/ Middle Years Principal, continually demonstrates innovation in teaching by devising methods for working across grades and for integrating subject areas. The first Explorations timetable block for Grades 1 through 3 became part of the Foundation Years program three years ago and continues to be a crucial component of the girls’ education. Girls in multi-grade groups explore topics that address the curriculum in several subject areas. They examine context and content together. “We see how the younger girls handle learning, and teachers have noticed a difference,” says Megan. “We observe how the students gain self-confidence in their own ability to learn as well as an appreciation of and respect for the knowledge of others.” In Grade 4, girls have the opportunity to intensively study a topic that sparks their curiosity. Girls devote two hours a week to their Passion Projects, discussing them with Grade 4 teacher Pamela Campbell at the outset and then using acquired and honed timemanagement, project-management, and research skills to develop a detailed class presentation. “The Passion Projects build on the girls’ Explorations experiences and then lead to the Innovation block in Grades 5 through 12,” says Pamela.


“The girls’ passions lead to a greater desire to expand their knowledge, developing ingenuity and confidence. They are much more fluid when collaborating and problem solving; they gained those skills in Explorations.

“I can see how many skills they’re implementing when they can just be free and take their passions where they want to go.” Pamela says she loves “seeing the light in a girl’s eyes when she sits with you and talks about why she has chosen a particular topic. This creates a deeper bond between student and teacher.” Those bonds in the SMS community are strong throughout campus, says Megan. “There are so many connections that can be made at this unique little school. That’s what sets us apart from other schools: we share one campus. Girls can see where they are going and where they are coming from. There are strong connections between the girls.” continued on page 4

Striking professional-quality costumes for the school production of Alice@Wonderland, created by Kaesha Darling and Susan Chen with mentorship both at school and at home from Kaesha’s mother, a talented seamstress.

Innovation figures prominently in an Explorations program in the early Foundation Years, then is sparked further with “Passion Projects” in Grade 4, then more intensely still in a designated Innovation block in the Middle Years and Senior Years.


continued from page 2

Innovation through Teamwork: the Middle Years As girls progress to the Middle Years at SMS, Grades 5 through 8, they work with a team that supports their Innovation projects. Teachers Jennifer Nicholson, Joyce Kim, Maria Hogan, Bev Waterfield, Paula Procyshyn, Jeff Luchka, and Marissa Boyce met in August 2013 to begin working as the Middle Years team for the 2013-14 school year. “We started by trusting each other,” says Bev. With a year under their belt now, the team members met again in June. They discussed the year’s successes while seated at the school’s new Harkness table in the Collaboration Room. The table is an example of innovative design itself, its shape and construction intended to facilitate group discussions as well as to support individual study within a group. The teaching team pointed to the flexibility of the SMS timetable that has made this endeavour possible. The students and teachers started in fall 2013 with an “umbrella plan” to revitalize a courtyard in the Senior School. They broke their tasks down into landscaping, restoring a heritage sundial, operating a Snack Shack, creating murals, and adding seating. Paula says some 12- and 13-year-olds, clad in their red blazers, then pitched

their project proposals to a Dragons’ Den–style panel comprising Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School; Elaine Bell, Director of Finance and Corporate Relations; and other school community members. “The girls presented their ideas well,” says Paula. They included financial breakdowns, timelines, and specific organizational details.

“The girls are thinking a lot about the future; they know that things take time. They take the long view.” These projects are a legacy; a restored bench with names painted on it acknowledges girls’ time at SMS, while a newly planted crabapple tree evokes memories of trees the girls saw at cherished annual Outweek trips to Strathcona.

Some girls worked with Elaine Bell throughout their project. They prepared spreadsheets and visited the Finance Department for information and feedback. “Elaine considered the Snack Shack project as a small business,” says Paula, “treating the girls as owner-operators.” One result of this financial training was a familiarity with business concepts and language. “Hearing a Grade 7 girl discuss equity, dropping it into a sentence and using it correctly, made me really happy,” says Jennifer.

The teaching team is pleased with the outcome of the year’s efforts. “The girls trusted the process,” says Jennifer. Bev says that the girls built on the teamwork skills they acquired in earlier grades. “We give the girls a home base that’s pretty sound,” Maria adds.

When they needed advice, girls turned to SMS staff and other professionals. The landscaping group met with Russell Anderson, Director of Physical and Plant Services. Other students contacted a conservation expert at the Royal B.C. Museum as they explored the sundial’s history and how to refurbish it. All SMS girls, whether they are here for one year or all 13, make a meaningful impact, says Joyce.


It’s clear that the teaching group comprises committed team players who bring myriad strengths and teaching experience to the table. “We were given a lot of trust,” Maria says. And Jeff adds, “This year worked out so well. It was meant to be.” All members of the team are enjoying the newly begun second year of Innovation projects. Innovation in Action: the Senior Years For girls in the Senior Years, the Innovation block is used to achieve a personal, long-standing goal. Rob Ducharme, Senior Years Principal and Director of Instruction, began the 2013-14 school year by seeking submissions from teachers and staff

outlining their diverse—and hitherto unknown—personal interests, skills, and passions. He then distilled a list, omitting any names. The girls each chose an entry and then paired up with the adult who could best mentor them. Rob’s method was successful. Tapping into the wealth of available knowledge allowed girls and teachers to form strong bonds. Ducharme notes that girls were given the opportunity to further pursue and adapt their projects throughout the year. “People are more productive when they are working on projects that excite them. This is true for schools as much as for workplaces,” says Rob. “By creating a dedicated

space in the curriculum where students can explore their personal passions we can encourage great personal growth, as well as new skill development. This will help shape learners who are more engaged overall, and young women who know to direct their own learning.” During the first year of the program, Senior Years students achieved diverse and complex goals. Several girls learned to play extremely challenging musical pieces that required intense practice. Others devised striking, professionalquality steampunk costumes for the school production of Alice@Wonderland. One Grade 12 student completed a 50,000-word novel for National Novel Writing Month and another SMS SPIRIT | 05

organized a class ski trip to Mount Washington—from booking the transportation and hotel rooms, to ensuring the school had all the necessary insurance and liability coverage in place. Says Rob, “I was really proud of the way that students and staff embraced this opportunity for student-driven learning, an integral part of the SMS culture. As the program matures, students will continue to build on the skills needed to shape their own learning, skills that are vital in today’s world.”

planting the seed EARLY SMS’s Centre for Early Childhood Education continues to push the envelope with STEM by Jennifer van Hardenberg

It is staggering to hear fouryear-olds throwing out terms like “rectilinear.” And yet here they are, describing the forms that they can see in a slideshow of contemporary architecture, from arches and domes, to fractals (though I understand we also have Disney’s film Frozen to thank for that last one). Let’s back up. Our community is by now very familiar with the Outside While Learning (OWL) program that uses outdoor exploration and play to deliver a variety of curriculum elements at both the Junior Kindergarten ( JK) and kindergarten levels. But what may be less well-known is that our early educators, led by Susan Middlemiss and Reesa Vermeulen, have been busy this year pushing the boundaries of this program to embrace STEM-based learning goals, and they’ve been creating quite a buzz. There’s everybody’s favourite buzzword again–STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics)–but when given a new

spin for early childhood education (ECE) there is a certain novelty that piques people’s interest. Once you get past the surprise of considering engineering for four-year-olds, you realize the idea is rather timely, considering the release of a study by Mount Saint Vincent University (Halifax) earlier this year concluding that early mentoring in STEM made girls more than twice as likely to consider STEM careers. So, why not start in JK? In fact, the idea has proven so intriguing it has inspired features in the Times Colonist, VicNews, and parenting blogs, and is now the focus of a joint study between Dr. Todd Milford from the University of Victoria and Dr. Christine Tippett from the University of Ottawa. Todd is an adjunct assistant professor in education and Christine is a science educator and assistant professor of science education. At this point, the intention of their collaboration is to investigate if and how STEM principles can be implemented in the ECE classroom. As part of this study, throughout the spring the JK class has been

regularly visited by Todd and research assistant Dr. Norman Dolan to observe and gather data. Norman is a PhD graduate from the University of Victoria who comes from a child and youth care background, and he became interested in learning more about Susan’s experiences delivering OWL. Todd, who also has a daughter in JK, is revelling in this opportunity to get involved in classroom-based research with skilled and committed educational professionals. “What I have begun to observe is that there is real science happening, which is quite exciting,” he says. “I feel very fortunate to be so openly welcomed into the ECE classroom at SMS as well as by the larger school community.” STEM in JK is not necessarily unique but still fairly rare, and when it does appear at the JK level it is far more common for the focus to be purely on science. The standard early education model is founded on harnessing the natural curiosity of this age group to develop skills through child-led discovery and play. Beyond a mere buzzword continued on page 8


Early mentoring in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics)

made girls more than twice as likely to consider STEM careers.

Photo SMS by Reesa Vermeulen SPIRIT | 07




A student explains her architectural drawing to Dr. Todd Milford

continued from page 6

or acronym for the four main disciplines it champions, STEM is perhaps best understood as a framework to approach learning by focusing on key strategies: observation, classification, description, and questioning. For Reesa and Susan, the key to integrating this framework at such a young age is to actively guide exploration: introduce a concept, allow children to explore, ask children questions to lead the line of inquiry, and help model how to ask questions to shape future discovery. Says Norman, “When we began the process, Susan and Reesa were exploring the ideas of how to make this STEM model work. Initially it appeared as if the notion of science was too far beyond the developmental level at this age. ‘Surely they can’t understand mathematics, they couldn’t understand engineering

and technology.’ These were the assumptions.” As it turns out, these assumptions are not correct. “[Susan and Reesa’s] experience was that children were able to engage with these subjects if delivered at a developmentally appropriate level,” explains Norman. “Observation, description, categorization… these are all STEM concepts that the girls were already picking up through OWL.” “We train them to ask questions and compare. It’s a learned skill,” says Susan. “They look at a tree and ask whether it is deciduous or evergreen. At four years old, they can do that. One student told her mom they had more deciduous than evergreens at their home. It’s so impressive to see them demonstrate what they’ve learned.” When framed in this way the two approaches (STEM and nature kindergarten) seem to have obvious parallels, but Todd and Norman SMS SPIRIT | 08

actually expect this approach to be somewhat controversial in the ECE field. “What is the role of educators? Many early learning models focus on allowing the children to develop cognitive structures on their own, without direct teaching from adults,” says Todd. He adds that SMS’s JK model envisions a more active role for the educator to guide inquiry through structured play. This structure builds cumulatively throughout activities and ultimately prepares the child for next steps in their education. Todd presented at the University of British Columbia’s annual STEM conference in July to good response and expressions of interest. Next up, Reesa and Susan will be joining him at an upcoming conference in Portland in January to speak in greater depth about their approach and experiences. A benchmark STEM-learning project for the girls this year was


Early Childhood Educator Susan Middlemiss engages with her student.

an entire unit dedicated to water. “Water is in everything,” says Susan. “When we started talking about water we realized you can deal with almost any subject! You can deal with biology—what kinds of animals live in the water. By observing the weather you are actually talking about the states of matter—how water can be a liquid, a solid, and a gas. Rainbows, puddles, paint— water is in everything!” Other key activities included sink-or-float experiments and using food dyes to demonstrate osmosis. The entire unit of study culminated in a book of the children’s art and words to demonstrate their learning, created in collaboration with local artist Rachel Bolt. “Art is inseparable from STEM with this age group,” explains Reesa. “Art and play and exploring outdoors; it’s just how they learn.” Parent engagement has been another key to the program’s success this

Dr. Norman Dolan observes as a students’ building topples.

year and is truly unique to SMS’s approach. Throughout the year parents have been involved using Moodle (updates on lessons, lines of questions to ask their child, example activities and experiments to try at home, etc). Now the researchers are going one step further and involving parents in data collection: surveys measure their awareness of what’s going on in class, ask about responses they’ve seen at home, and ask about their interest in carrying the program forward based on their experience. Todd and Norman’s hope is that the results of the study will yield tools to move the program forward next year. This study will continue in the JK classroom and will follow the same cohort of children as they move up and into kindergarten, where Rebecca Kaukinen will eagerly be bringing this dedicated STEM approach to her own class.


Speaking as both the dad and the researcher, Todd is already looking forward to what comes next for the program. “I am in awe of what Susan and Reesa do on a day-to-day basis and am convinced that they are setting the emotional and cognitive foundations for all the girls in this class to move forward as confident and knowledgeable individuals,” he says. “If the girls learn even a fraction of what I am learning, then I think we will all come out ahead.” With STEM seeds sown so early, it will be very interesting to watch the development of these girls at SMS in the years ahead.

THANK YOU for your thoughtful and generous gifts to the Annual Fund. You are giving her room to grow! As the spirit of philanthropy is embedded in our motto, Servite in Caritate, it is especially appropriate to take the opportunity to offer our sincere, heartfelt gratitude to our many generous donors who gave to SMS this past year, including several major gifts. Participation at any level of giving is the most important action for all of us. Each gift—big or small— is an investment in giving girls a voice, giving girls confidence, and giving girls opportunities. Annonymous (5)

Simone Lehmann

Diana Abbott

Lily Li

Pamela Allan

Jeff Luchka

Rona Archer

Barry Lund

Sherry Arlt

Dawn MacPherson

Leigh Arsenault

Jeremy MannallFretwell

Lisa Banks Henry Bannister Gail Bateman Cynthia Beil Rick Beil Genevieve Bergevin Julie Bernhardt James Best Pamela Best Sharon Bleuler Lindsay Bowers Gordon Broom Zoe Broom Helena Broom Lynda Brown-Ganzert Patrick Bryant Deanna Chan Kathy Charleson Emil Cheran Floyd Collins Darlene DeMerchant Amy Derencinovic John Derencinovic Julie Dobranski Rob Ducharme Marie Dunn Donna Dupas Deb Dykes

Pat Marsh Owen Matthews Marnie Mayhew George McMeekin Marie McRanor Shauna McRanor Annette Millar Judy Moran Ian Mugridge Wendy Newell Sonya Pardell Nancy Pekter Ross Rampton Stephen Roberts Stephanie Robertson David Robertson Deb Secco Margaret Smith Christopher Spicer Pat Tancock Patricia Tang Lund Davinder Thandi Elizabeth Thompson Cathy Thornicroft Bernard Tonks Ann Van der Linden Jennifer van Hardenberg

Ondine Easson

Richard Vincent

Pat Giommi

Natascha Walton

Christine Godfrey

Stuart Walton

Sally Green

Audrey Williams

Bonita Hallett

Gregg Wiltshire

Morgan Harker Alistair Harrigan Jane Harrigan

All Done in One Construction

Megan Hedderick

CSW Investments

Gregory James

Donald McKnight Law Corporation

Elizabeth Jarvis Kathleen Johnson

Finn & Izzy Ltd.

Doug Kelly

Friends of Independent Schools

Edwina King

Inside Track Consulting

Nancy Lam

Provincial Employees Community Service Fund

Cory Laprade Brent Lee


Only because of you. The advances that St. Margaret’s has enjoyed over the past 100 years have only been possible because of people like you. by Gregg Wiltshire, Director of Advancement

Fulfilling our mission in the years ahead is only possible because of support from people like you. Your generosity and commitment help SMS flourish as a vibrant and unique school that welcomes students from Victoria and around the world. With your support, we have the privilege of making a difference to every individual girl and her experiences here. To achieve our mission and ensure the fullness of the SMS experience for all our students, we rely on the SMS Annual Fund and the generosity of our community of parents, grandparents, alumnae, parents of graduates, students, faculty and staff, volunteers, and friends. Tuition fees and government grants partially fund our educational programs, but it is the opportunities afforded by our Annual Fund that allow SMS to create the very best environment to truly challenge, enrich, and engage our students. Also, and ever so important, a solid Annual Fund allows SMS to meaningfully plan for the future. Many of the academic and cocurricular programs enjoyed by our students, as well as the funds we disburse annually in scholarships and financial assistance, depend on your support – support that enables SMS to welcome a diverse student body and to achieve its mission of empowering girls. That’s why every year SMS asks parents to make a tax-deductible

donation to the Annual Fund that is both meaningful and within their means. Every gift to SMS – no matter how large or small – makes a difference. To all of you who gave to the 2013– 2014 Annual Fund, we offer our sincerest thanks for your thoughtful and generous donations. Just some of the gifts came from SMS Old Girls/Alumnae going back to the Class of ‘41, friends of SMS living in the United States, local businesses, and faculty and staff. These and other gifts have enabled us to make a positive impact in many ways: •T  he generosity of one family refurbished and furnished the Creative Commons in the student lounge and provided for the repurposing of the Learning Zone and the enhancement of the Intermedia Lab. •A  dditional gifts supported needsbased facility and grounds renewal, resurfacing and repainting of the floors of the north and south gyms, and more. •G  ifts-in-kind from caring community members provided new cabinetry for the Junior Building, school signage, strategic plan banners, fruit trees and other plants to complement the campus, and flowers for Closing and Graduation ceremonies.


Head of School Cathy Thornicroft has a compelling vision for the future of SMS: a future that will continue to position and celebrate SMS as a centre for excellence in girls’ education. The belief our community has in that vision is reflected in the generosity of our donors, for which we are grateful. Your participation in this year’s Annual Fund campaign will not only help to fully support our students, it will also strengthen the “culture of giving” here at St. Margaret’s School. One shining example of this culture is the Class of 2014 Endowment, an initiative of this year’s grad class, who have chosen to give back to their school by establishing a fund that will provide support each year to a deserving SMS student. Families from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe choose St. Margaret’s because it is a school where girls thrive and stretch themselves to achieve their fullest potential. It is families like yours, who believe in the value of an all-girls education and who believe that SMS is a very special place for girls to grow up, that allow us to continue to serve our student body. The future looks bright for the confident girls of SMS. Will you join us in this exciting journey? Please help SMS continue to develop inspiring women by completing and submitting the attached donation card. Thank you in advance for your generous support.

leading by: EXPERIENCE SMS alumna is a role model for all by Kyle Slavin

KAREN CLARK COLE is CEO of Blink UX, a Seattle-based user experience research and design company that focuses on digital products. Karen graduated from St. Margaret’s School in 1986 and went on to pursue art at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and the University of Victoria. A lover of art and the outdoors, she’s also the founder of Girls Can Do, an organization that encourages girls to have big dreams and pursue them. Karen will be this month’s guest speaker as part of the Inspiring Women series (formerly Unique Lives). This speaker series, now in its second year, seeks to expose students to the perspectives and experiences of women from the community who have walked unusual paths on their road to success. On October 24, Karen will present to a group of our students joined by prospective families visiting the school as part of our annual fall Open House. Here’s a preview of some of the themes of her talk, and her vision of life and leadership after SMS. Kyle Slavin(KS): What do you remember most about your time at St. Margaret’s? Karen Clark Cole (KCC): The most important thing to happen to me there was having a secret key to the art room, so any spare minute I had at lunch or recess I was in there working. It was my Senior Years art teacher, Mrs. Kathy Miller, who groomed me to go to art school.

KS: Why did you choose to study art in post-secondary? KCC: I do a lot of speaking, and the first thing I tell kids about careers is to study what you love, because that has served me well. Having a school that encouraged me to focus on my passions made it obvious that that’s what I have to do. Without any pressure or discouragement from anyone, you just naturally do what you like. KS: Your career path led you from graphic design to digital interaction design, and you eventually founded Blink UX to focus on that. Does that notion of creating a “positive user experience” translate to other facets of your life? KCC: Of course, it’s everywhere, and it all adds up to the quality of our experiences. Our goal, and the idea behind user experience in the digital world, is that technology is out of the way and computer things are just easy to use and they actually enrich a person’s life. For me, it’s equally as important when I’m talking to somebody that they are also getting a great user experience from me. I make sure I’m fully present in each conversation, and I’m always thinking about things from the other person’s perspective. That’s user experience. KS: That seems like it would allow you, as CEO of Blink, to build personal and positive relationships. Tell me about how you envision and execute leadership. SMS SPIRIT | 12

KCC: Leading is different than managing, and people often think they can replace one another, but they’re very different. Last year at Blink we made a huge organizational change where we got rid of titles and management layers. I believe that leadership isn’t something bestowed on you; when people follow you naturally, you are leading. It’s not about telling people what to do, it’s about encouraging people, helping them grow, sharing their vision and really caring about them. KS: Why did you start Girls Can Do? KCC: Often in newspapers and magazines you’ll see stories about what women are doing that focus on how many women are not doing it; they focus on the imbalance. I tell people, “Look around you. There are a lot of women doing great things out there.” Instead of sending the message, “It’s not possible, no woman is doing it,” let’s say, “Don’t wait. You can do anything you want now; all you have to do is start.” KS: Is that discussion of gender imbalance commonplace in your world? KCC: Because I went to an all-girls school, it never occurred to me that women couldn’t do anything. In an environment like that, differences between men and women don’t come up. I only just realized in the last couple of years that’s not how everybody sees it. What good is talking about what

girls aren’t doing? I want to lead them to what they can do so they can start putting themselves in that picture and start doing.

Karen Clark’s grad photo from the 1986 Cardinal

KS: What professional and personal goals do you still hope to achieve? KCC: Certainly growing Blink into a world-renowned user experience company. I’m planning a book on leadership, so that’s something I want to finish. I want to focus on being a great mom to my daughter Nicola— that’s the No. 1 most important thing to me. I want to be a professional kiteboarder. And I want to see Girls Can Do really grow. KS: What advice do you have for girls as they look ahead to their futures? KCC: Think about what you love doing and where your passion lies and focus on that, because at the end of the day, if something doesn’t work out, at least you had a good time trying. You need to stay healthy. Your health is the engine that drives you. Be a possibility thinker, because life is set up for you to get what you want, if you dare to want it.

“The most important thing to happen to me at SMS was having a secret key to the art room, so any spare minute I had at lunch or recess I was in there working.” Karen Clark Cole

Karen Clark Cole, pictured here at her Seattle-based technology firm. photo: Mark Gsellman, Blink


it isn’t about CARNEGIE HALL by Tristan Clausen

It’s always been obvious to me that music is essential to a child’s education. Right? Of course it is! Just look how great the band kids are! See how well they do in class? See how they’re involved in everything? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t actually articulate why music was so important, besides having some vague notions about the “Mozart effect” and some half-remembered articles I read about in my undergraduate studies. And while it’s always seemed obvious to me—I’m a musician, after all—I’ve learned that it isn’t always so clear to my students or to adults who are not as passionate about music as I am. Music and its relationship to the brain has been the subject of a lot of research over the last 15 years. The research suggests that the study of music has quite a lot to do with the development of executive functions (cognitive flexibility, working memory, processing speed), verbal fluency, memories (connected specifically to literacy, visuospatial processing, mathematics, and IQ), problem solving, multitasking, and focus. I find it remarkable that the study of music can be so universally beneficial in an academic context, from mathematics to language. In one study, researchers studied the effect of music instruction on student math scores. Middle and high school students were randomly placed into three groups, each

receiving different amounts of music instruction, ranging from none to for 50 minutes five times per week. After 20 weeks, the group that received the most instruction showed a significant gain in mathematics compared with the other two groups. Other studies have shown that girls who are looking for a boost in language skills may find that learning to play an instrument will lead to enhanced verbal fluency, literacy, and verbal memory. Perhaps even more important, however, is how music can help develop those skills that aren’t found in any curriculum. Thomas Südhof is a scientist who won the Nobel Prize in 2013. When asked in an interview for The Lancet who his most influential teacher was, Südhof responded, “My bassoon teacher… who taught me that the only way to do something right is to practise and listen and practise and listen, hours, and hours, and hours.” In a later interview, Südhof explained further: “I learned the value of disciplined study, or repetitive learning, for creativity. You cannot be creative on a bassoon if you don’t know it inside out, and you cannot be creative in science if you don’t have a deep knowledge of the details.” Such practice requires learning to constantly adapt to the changes in the music’s tempo, tone, style, and rhythm. Writer and musician Blake Madden puts it this way: “[You are] training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and SMS SPIRIT | 14

conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attention skills, intelligence, and an ability for selfknowledge and expression.” These are things that aren’t measured in school but are very important in a person’s life success. SMS’s band and choir classrooms are the perfect place for academically minded young women. Learning to be a musician—or an artist of any stripe—is a discipline, much like learning to be a successful undergraduate student. And like all disciplines, it’s not always a thrilling endeavour. The life of a musician is mostly practice, practice, practice. Instant gratification is not something you will find anywhere in a music classroom. You need to play the long game if you want to be successful, in music and in life. It isn’t easy. But when the band hits that apex of its crescendo, with the trumpets soaring above and the rolling cymbal finally breaking, or when the choir gets those harmonies just right, it makes all of those hours of practice and rehearsal worthwhile. What your daughter can experience in that moment, a feeling shared by all the performers, is unlike anything else she will experience in life. They won’t even need to talk about it; they’ll see it in each other’s faces. In that moment, they won’t need to know why the study of music is important. They’ll just feel it.

Learning to be a musician—or an artist of any stripe—is a discipline, much like learning to be a successful undergraduate student. Tristan Clausen conducts at a band rehearsal.


Cast and crew of Alice@Wonderland, May 21 and 22

STATE OF The Cheshire Cat’s famous grin would be sorry competition to the smiles worn by the students, staff, and parents during Fine Arts Week in June. With so many SMS students involved in multiple arts ventures, it was necessary to split up the shows into four full nights of drama, dance, choir, and band performances, plus an art show. All the performances played to full houses and stood as tribute to the high density of passion and talent at our small school.

Senior art show “It’s a stART” (May 21 & 22)


Middle Years dance performance, Heroines through Time (May 28)


Concert with performances by all SMS choir and band students (May 29) SMS SPIRIT | 17

beyond COMPETENCY: As the BC Ministry of Education envisions its next curriculum, SMS is already living the dream by Kyle Slavin

If ever St. Margaret’s School needed reaffirmation that its innovative curriculum is an incomparable teaching model, look no further than the BC Ministry of Education. The provincial government is currently developing a new education plan for the province—the design and roll-out of a more flexible curriculum—aimed to better meet the individual learning needs of students. And while a formal curriculum change will have an impact on SMS students and teachers, the Ministry is taking a lot of its cues from what the school is already doing. “It’s not going to be a big jump for us,” says Darlene DeMerchant, SMS’s new Director of Curriculum. “It’s going to be a good fit for us because that is where we have been headed, and it will build on what we have been doing at our school. This new framework really values what we do with students; and really supports it.” Darlene has been a much-beloved learning support teacher cum leader at SMS for over a decade. After a year as Vice Principal to focus on supporting teachers during the implementation of the Middle Years program, she is now stepping into her new role as Director of Curriculum for the whole school.

The Ministry of Education is still in the visioning phase of transforming BC’s curriculum to become more personalized, but staff at SMS have had an opportunity to see the proposed framework and how it aligns with the existing work done in the classrooms. “I would define it as ‘student success through engagement.’ They are looking at curriculum with content being the vehicle, and learning being less about the outcome,” says Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School. “What they’re saying is they’re going to be giving teachers creativity and flexibility to use the curriculum content to develop what they call the core competencies. Every parent loves spelling tests and every parent loves math drills because that is familiar and concrete; it’s something they grew up with. We still want every graduate to be literate and numerate, but the idea is to engage the learners and find their areas of passion to get to demonstrate core skills.” Developing the core competencies— skills such as creative thinking, social responsibility, problem solving, and critical thinking—will better serve students in the future than will prescribing a one-sizefits-all learning outcome. Darlene says this does not mean SMS will be throwing away the teaching of foundational skills in favour of the core competencies. SMS SPIRIT | 18

“It will always come down to numeracy, writing, reading, and verbal communication skills. Parents need to know that we’re not going to lose sight of those foundational skills. They’re still there, but we’re doing this in a deeper way,” she says. “There is less emphasis on superficial facts, and greater focus on deeper learning.” Cathy points to the Innovation and Exploration blocks introduced to SMS students during the 2013-14 school year as a perfect example of how we are already focused on creating this type of learning environment. These classes provide girls with a model where they have a say in their education and their experiences. “It’s hard when there is no specified end point for parents. The kids were in control of their own learning; they chose their projects and used their teachers as mentors,” she says. “Some parents and students struggled at the beginning to understand why we were doing this, until they saw the outcomes and just what these girls could do.” She admits that because students’ needs and learning change all the time, this will never be a be-all, endall curriculum—it will perpetually evolve. But knowing the Ministry of Education supports this type of education is a ringing endorsement

With an eye on preparing girls for that future, SMS knows no better way to do that than through empowerment.

for what SMS has already done. “It’s a little bit scary for some people who are more accustomed to working toward specific benchmarks,” Cathy says. “Now it’s more about the ability to figure out what you need to know, and how to find it, as opposed to storing it in your brain for possible use later on.” There is no specific timeline for implementing the province’s curriculum changes, but Darlene says St. Margaret’s won’t wait on the Ministry’s direction to ensure students are getting the best education possible. “We’re going to be having these discussions within our community around what the core competencies mean to us and how it makes sense for our school,” she says. “Because we don’t expect to have to make any big changes, this just gives us permission

to do what we love to do—to build on the opportunities we’re currently giving our girls.” Cathy says this is an exciting time in education: to be part of such a worthwhile transformation, and one that she expects will pay off for students in years to come. “I expect that when we go to chase down our grads and see where they are 15 years out and what they learned from the way we provided their education here, they will say we opened up possibilities,” she says. “We focused on creativity and critical thinking, being able to take risks and learn from mistakes. They will say the school gave them the confidence to choose their own path and do what they want to do.” And with an eye on preparing girls for that future, SMS knows no


better way to do that than through empowerment. Fortunately, the Ministry of Education acknowledges that this is what 21st-century learning is all about. “Students need to be engaged in their own learning. You need to have a framework for them and you need to guide them, but it doesn’t have to be as prescriptive as what they’ve done in the past,” Cathy says. “It does take a leap of faith from everyone that if you trust that you give students the right parameters, they’ll take the initiative and get to the place they need to. But that is how they develop the skills that prepare them to be the women we want them all to be.”

House sports Day

Iron Chef Challenge in Culinary Arts

HAPPENINGSMS Diane Chartrand retires

Fashion Show Fundraiser Regional Science Fair winners

Service Day

Young members of the Triathlon Club

Soccer win

Student activism

Grandparents picnic

Grandparents Day


United Nations Club

Class of 2014

BEHIND THE CURTAIN It is safe to say that Louise Huneck is one of the biggest personalities at our little school. In fact, she’s a bit of a legend. Not only has she been honing the skills of young artists at SMS for over 22 years, but her name tends to come up a lot when you interview grads about what stands out about their experiences at the school. Louise tends to find opportunities for invention in everything she touches, both inside and out of her classroom. The variety of materials and projects on the go at any one time in the art room boggles the mind—pop your head in sometime! Outside of curriculum demands, Louise finds creative outlets in everything from getting involved in school plays to creating elaborate costumes for Halloween and Spirit days to delivering off-beat tributes at staff parties. So what drives this queen of out-of-the-box thinking? This veritable creative tour de force? The Proust Interview shall reveal all… What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being in good health surrounded by people you love. I’m with the Dali Lama on this one. People often confuse pleasure with happiness. Pleasure is short term, a moment, like savouring a great piece of chocolate. Happiness is long term. Which living person do you most admire? I admire gutsy and tenacious women like Louise Arbour and Aung San Suu Kyi. aredo deeply to justice. WeThey can’t it all committed without you. Help

her own course shape her usWhat achieve ourgreatest Annualand Fund goal of own is your extravagance? Windsurfing dreams.” support benefits your hold onto a $100,000. equipment. It’sYour ridiculous. Stand on a board, daughter herand schoolmates this sailing rig and and go back forth across a lake, terrified Gifts to this year’s SMS Annualthe season is so short! half year the time. is that? and What benefits the And world for years Fund will help that as many But Ito can’t waitensure to get out there! come. girls as possible will receive all the Which words phrases do you most overuse? Please to St. Margaret’s benefits of a give St.orMargaret’s School “Amazing.” As I get older, everything is becoming more Annual Fund and... educational experience. magical. I feel that instead of becoming wiser,

know andour less and wonder • are H  less onour legacyof IfIyou happy thatfounders’ yourthe daughter isofreality is beyond my comprehension. bold and innovative initiatives able to attend St. Margaret’s School, on behalf of girls. if Ifyou hearing her about youlove could change onetalk thing abouther new friends and favourite teachers, yourself, what would it be? I wish • Empower the next generation of were more patient, likepassion my turtle, if Iyou are proud of her for and bold thinkers, creative doers, Leroy. That guy knows how to a class,global experience, sport, or club, citizens. stare consider down a strawberry. please making a gift to the •D dorive next as we translate SMS Annual Fund in steps her What youthe consider yourhonour. St. achievement Margaret’s vision into practice. greatest in teaching? Each generation of SMS girls – Assisting and supporting students • Ensure our students leave here as starting with the first anddocontinuing who don’t think they can Confident Girls on theirand way to through all our own daughters something and helping them do it. becoming Inspiring Women. on into the future – carries forward If you were to die and come back a special mission, one begun long as a person or a thing, what ago by the Fenwick sisters, further would it be? Some type of solarhoned by our current, student-led powered swimming or flying thing. Strategic Plan.

What is your most treasured possession? Memories, happy and sad. Stuff is just stuff. What makes a thing treasured are the memories attached to it. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Loneliness. Oh, and watching people cry when they eat. That just kills me. It so horrible to see someone not enjoying their food because their heart is breaking.

What do you most value in your friends? Genuine kindness and integrity. Manners are important, but useless without kindness. Who are your favourite writers? Douglas Coupland, Christopher Moore, Suzanne Collins, Jonas Jonasson.

What is your greatest regret? Not taking music lessons when I was younger.

How would you describe your classroom style? Organized chaos.

How do you think your students would describe you? Energetic, fierce, funny, tough. Sometimes I can go off on a rant that I hope inspires them to think.

Where would you most like to live?

Every giftlucky you that giveI to I am so liveSt. in aMargaret’s beautiful place like Vancouver Island,tobut I do miss “empowers your daughter chart San Diego—the way it was in 1965. I close my eyes and can smell the heady aroma of sage and orange blossoms, or the eucalyptus in Balboa Park.


Who on staff would you like to hear from next? Write to the editor and we’ll put your request in the queue.

CONTRIBUTORS: SPIRIT TEAM: Gregg Wiltshire (Advancement), Jennifer van Hardenberg (Communications), Cathy Thornicroft (Head of School) THANKS TO: Christine Godfrey (SMS Archives), Laurie Darrah (Refinemark Print Design Ltd.), Ruth Wilson (West Coast Editorial Associates) PRIMARY PHOTOGRAPHERS: Jeanine Stannard, Maria Hogan, Jennifer van Hardenberg, John Yanyshyn (Visions West). ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY provided by the talented shutterbugs of the SMS community.


St. Margaret’s School | for girls

FALL 2014

St. Margaret’s School 1080 Lucas Avenue Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8X 3P7 T 250.479.7171

Indicia here The Spirit Magazine is a publication for the entire SMS community: our students, parents, staff, alumnae, and friends.

Spirit - Fall 2014  

The St. Margaret's School semi-annual magazine for our community and alumnae.

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