Torch - Fall 2015

Being a leader takes commitment and reliability, especially when people are depending on you.

—Stephanie Fung, member of the Grade 12 Senior Year Presidents

Council,” says Patterson. “I think when the students generate the ideas, there’s a tremendous amount of empowerment and buy-in.” She says the Student Council loved the idea, launched it last year and is already talking about making it an annual event. Other roles that combine the formal and informal include team captains on sports teams, the Welcome Committee (in both the Junior and Upper Schools) and the Havergal Big Sisters Club. And there are more than 80 clubs at Havergal, ranging in topic and formality from model United Nations to debating to the DECA business club, to more light-hearted fare like film, cooking, origami, Spanish or Mandarin. There are student newspapers and magazines. There’s even a Quiddich club. “The goal, of course, is we don’t want girls to sign up for everything and go nuts, but we do want them, particularly in Grades 9 and 10, to just try a lot of different flavours and see what clicks. Many times you’ll see a girl who tries a club in Grade 9 or 10 and then by Grade 12 she’s leading it or co-leading it. I love it when that happens because that’s a neat progression to see,” says Martin.

It’s often the person who is quietly on the side simply doing the right thing when nobody is watching,” says White. Besides having conversations around leadership, Havergal also fosters informal opportunities by encouraging students when they come up with their own initiatives. Jennifer Patterson, Assistant Head, Middle School (Grades 7 to 8), recalls a recent example of a Grade 8 student who wanted to learn more about the situation in Syria and took the initiative to research and run an information session. “There were over 40 students who went to the room and they couldn’t fit any more in. This is just a 12- or 13-year-old student who said, ‘I want to know more about this. I think people will be interested to learn and see what we can do,’” says Patterson. As another example of where an idea sprouted informally but may become formalized, Patterson points to a Grade 8 student executive member’s initiative to create a week to celebrate kindness. “I helped her through the process of creating a proposal and bringing it to the Student

Talking about leadership directly helps broaden the definition for the students and encourages them to see themselves as leaders. “We talk a lot with our girls about the fact that sometimes girls themselves are quite hesitant to call themselves leaders,” says Martin. “It’s almost as if they feel like it’s bragging or being too sure of themselves or it will separate them from their peers in a way they don’t want. We talk about that tension.” “It’s a conversation that starts as early as Junior School,” says White. “We try as much as possible to have the kids talk about what it means to be a leader. We make it very explicit in the teaching. Instead of just saying, ‘Okay. You’re in Grade 6 now; you need to be a leader.’ We actually talk about what that means and we elicit answers from the children,” says White. She says one description that comes up is that a leader is someone who tells others what to do. “We try and unpack that with them and we talk about the idea that being a leader is not always the one standing up on the chair and screaming and yelling.


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