Torch - Fall 2016

Principal’s Message

Supporting Girls to Stay True to Themselves By Helen-Kay Davy, Principal “ When girls are surrounded by people who listen to them, support them and respect the way they learn, they can grow confidence in their own way.

L ast year, I read an article about a Canadian doctor who was a woman of true integrity and who had the confidence to stick to her values, even in times of adversity. She was Frances Kelsey. Back in 1960, Dr. Kelsey took a job with the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. and during her first month she was asked to approve the drug thalidomide. She knew right away that something was wrong and asked for more evidence of its safety. She was under enormous pressure by the drug company to put it on the market, as it was already being sold in Europe, but she held firm and refused. One year later, medical studies revealed that the drug caused devastating birth defects. Dr. Kelsey ended up saving the United States a medical catastrophe that is still having an impact on Canadians and Europeans. Sadly, we lost Dr. Kelsey in August 2015, but I think of her often when I connect the importance of instilling confidence in the students at Havergal. When people are confident, they can see the efforts of their integrity. We work every day to help our students build confidence, so they make choices they can be proud of even years later. Confidence also helps students overcome hurdles and learn. When a young person is faced with a difficult problem—in school or in life—what often holds her back is the doubt inside herself. Confident girls and women trust that they’ll figure it out, look to their own resources and receive the support they need for a new

approach to figure out a math problem, climb a mountain or tackle a community project. To build confidence in our students, we also turn to another core value: compassion. When girls are surrounded by people who listen to them, support them and respect the way they learn, they can grow confidence in their own way. At Havergal, we make sure girls are supported throughout their journey at the school, including when they might struggle with friends, homework, family challenges or just growing up. And we encourage girls to speak up about what they find hard and get involved in on-campus and community projects that help others. These initiatives help nurture a community where we can speak about difficult personal subjects and seek help, if it’s needed. In the classroom, our teachers work with the idea that education is about learning how to think. Here, girls learn about themselves and their learning style and they can take this self-knowledge with them. #RealGirlThings encourages girls to have conversations about the role confidence plays in their lives. At Havergal, we think the school environment and the way we learn—not just what we learn—matter. Self-exploration in a compassionate, meaningful environment develops the kind of confidence that allows a girl to stay true to herself, no matter what comes her way.


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