As 2017 draws to a close, I want to wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and a wonderful new year.
This has been an extraordinary year at Linden. We celebrated the start of the academic year by welcoming 35 new students and families who have greatly enriched our community. Thanks to the unprecedented interest in Linden's fall Open House and Social Justice Data Fair, which was attended by over 100 guests, we expect a higher number of applications for the coming year. Our robust enrollment is a strong testament to the quality of Linden's offerings, and it serves as a huge benefit to current Linden students.
As you have discovered, Linden is a special, vibrant place where girls can truly maximize their growth and learning. I want to thank our faculty and staff for their devotion to students, and for working tirelessly throughout the year to deliver our innovative and engaging curriculum. The new CERES lab is just one such example. Kudos to our faculty and staff for taking our program to new heights each year!
It's no surprise that our collective hard work has also resulted in fantastic press coverage this fall. We were delighted to be featured in a National Post story about the choices made by Linden parent Roseanne Carrara, and it was such a joy to hear CBC News's coverage of Ivy Brooks's assignment!
You will also be pleased to hear that this year we have continued our focus on professional development, networking, and collaboration:
- Gender Diversity: This August, we held an informative and impactful awareness-raising workshop on this important topic.
- Indigenous Education: We are hiring two Indigenous educators who will help teachers integrate Indigenous education into the curriculum. They will also co-facilitate lessons and provide ongoing professional development to staff and faculty. To further support our work in this area, Linden lead teacher Soteira Briginshaw has also taken a twelve-week course entitled "Indigenous Canada." Offered by the University of Alberta, this course explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues within Canada. Curriculum lead teacher Beth Alexander, English and Drama teacher Kristy Smith, and French teacher Melody Barclay have also completed a similar course offered by the University of British Columbia.
- Developing Girl-Centred Athletic Programs: Athletics Director Deidre Macpherson has been taking an interactive online course with the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS), which has allowed her to connect with colleagues throughout North America.
- Council of Drama and Dance Educators (CODE): English and Drama teacher Kristy Smith attended a highly useful 3-day conference in Huntsville, which provided tons of educational resources and ideas.
- Facing History and Ourselves (FHO): Humanities teachers Tulay Yalcin and Jazmin Walters have been expanding their repertoire by taking numerous social science courses with FHO, a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization. They particularly enjoyed taking online sessions on gender, identity, and race, as well as fostering civil discourse in the classroom. Tulay also attended a 3-day seminar entitled "Stolen Lives: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future."
- Technical PD: As our lead STEM teacher, Beth Alexander has been busy taking numerous online and in-person courses on 3D-Printing and coding, including Python, HTML, and CSS.
- Independent and Private School Forum (IPSF): Our networking with IPSF gives access to resources related to independent and private schools across Ontario, including Ministry of Education requirements, pedagogy, legal issues, and more.
- The Mabin School: We continue to connect with Mabin staff and faculty to share best practices and PD opportunities, host events, and encourage student referrals to Linden's middle and high school.
- Royal St. George’s College (RSGC): We have strengthened our collaboration with RSGC by working on joint drama productions, as well as sharing best practices in technology, social justice, mathematics, and more.
- Inspiring Talk by Gloria Steinem: I had the opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak this fall—what a breathtaking experience! I don't think I have ever listened to anyone speak so powerfully in such a lighthearted, humorous style. Some of her words still resonate with me: "Yes, slavery was abolished, but we haven’t erased the racism that justified it," and "If a man compliments a woman he has assumed the power to define. If you return a compliment, it surprises them because you have taken the power to define."
- Canadian Women's Foundation (CWF) Event: Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Tina Tchen, who served as Assistant to President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. "It’s important to keep talking about gender equality in our families and our communities. We want to dispel that notion that this is an old issue, that it’s over, and make it clear that it’s not. We also have to make sure we keep talking to our young women about finding their voices, and supporting them as they find those voices," she shared with us. We had a great conversation about Linden, and she encouraged me to connect with her and learn more about U.S. charter schools for young women.
- Klingenstein Institute Heads of Schools Program, January 21–February 2, 2018: I am delighted to have been selected to attend the Klingenstein Institute's leadership program. This fully-funded, two-week fellowship is only offered to 20 independent and international school heads by the Teachers College at Columbia University. I look forward to collaborating with other school leaders and hope to return with new ideas to advance our school in its 25th year.
Nasrin Matini will serve as Acting Principal while I am away from January 21–February 2, 2018. Nasrin has been teaching at Linden for 18 years and has also been serving as our Principal Designate since 2005–present. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also want to thank our parent and alumnae volunteers who have shared their time and expertise with us in so many wonderful ways this year. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to work with each of you. My special thanks to our Board of Trustees and Advancement Committee for your commitment to Linden. We are so lucky to have your support on a daily basis.
Last but not least, my gratitude to everyone who responded to our annual giving appeal. I am delighted to announce that at this very moment, we have achieved 70% of our goal to raise $40,000! If you haven't yet donated, please consider making a gift before this tax year ends and help us reach our goal. No gift is too small. You can choose to give online, or send a cheque made payable to "The Linden School."
I hope you find time to relax, have fun, and renew yourselves for the new year. We have much to celebrate as we begin our official 25th anniversary in 2018. I look forward to working with you to make it our best year yet.