Personalizing the Student Experience
In this issue of Torch magazine, we’re examining the concept of progress at Havergal and the myriad ways we seek to give students the skills and experiences that will prepare them to thrive in our ever-changing world. Naturally, as a school, we are often focused on academic progress, but when we consider the dynamic nature of the landscape into which our graduates will enter, we must also emphasize personal progress and enable students to reflect on the ways they have progressed as thinkers, changemakers, friends and community members. At Havergal, our goal is to prepare young women to make a difference, and the ways in which we challenge them in this preparation have changed to reflect the needs of our students and of our society.
The pursuit of personal excellence and progress at Havergal is modelled by our relentless drive to improve our programs, facilities and teaching methods. Through our school focus on innovation, collaboration and a commitment to excellence, we aim to inspire students to continually challenge themselves and consider new ideas, new ways of thinking and new perspectives. As a school, we regularly assess student learning and incorporate feedback from students, parents and teachers to make informed decisions and improvements to our diverse range of academic and co-curricular programs. We emphasize experiences for our students that foster leadership and personal growth as we provide opportunities for students to engage in community service and global perspectives. All of these efforts reflect the school’s commitment to promoting progress and providing a well-rounded education that prepares young women for success in the future, regardless of what that future holds.
In recognizing the interplay between academic and social-emotional growth, educators have come to recognize the important role we have in nurturing personal development for our students. Ensuring all of our girls have the opportunity to experience age-appropriate challenges and opportunities to reflect on how they have grown and what they have learned is essential to our mission. Students learn to appreciate their academic and personal growth journeys through intentionally integrated periods of reflection, from primary students learning to name and understand their emotions, to our Upper School students emerging into young adulthood and being guided to ask questions such as: “What motivates me? What do I value? How can I utilize my strengths? How do I use this self-knowledge to craft a life of purpose and passion?” Without the intentional focus on personal progress, young women lack the environment to consciously take steps to building a life of meaning and purpose. The truly special thing about school is that students get to experience their personal and academic progress as part of a cohort, where they share in the joys and struggles of self-discovery. No one at Havergal needs to be on this journey alone, and our girls-centred learning environment fosters growth and development with empathy, understanding and community. It’s no wonder the bonds that form between students are so strong and last for decades beyond the ivy!
As individuals, whether students arrive at Havergal at the age of three years or 16 years, there’s a keen understanding that part of what they’re here to do is change. They’re aiming for growth and development, finding new passions and gaining an understanding of themselves. While we have a full program and common curriculum, more than ever, we’re committed to personalizing the experience, helping students gain new perspectives and reflecting on how their view of the world is shaped by their experiences. Growth is a big part of why we embrace elements such as global excursions, exchanges and community partnerships. Academics are at our core, but we consciously build our timetable to integrate these experiential opportunities, because they are such a crucial part of learning. Our commitment to a life of learning—inside and outside the classroom—is a reflection of how a Havergal education has progressed.
Ask our Grads at the moment of convocation or even 10 years out and most have a ready answer to the question of how they changed during their time at Havergal. That to us is a sign of real progress and success.
Published April 2023