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Branksome Hall:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)


Interview with Branksome Hall Alum, Nora Hodgson

  • Name
    Nora Hodgson
  • Grades (year)
    Gr. 7 - Gr. 12

Nora Hodgson is a Branksome Hall alumna who attended the school from Grades 7 to 12. The experience, she says, left her with ‘friends for life’. The IB program taught her strong study skills. Branksome's many activities and opportunities helped her find new passions. But the common thread of those experiences is the friendships she made along the way. She currently attends Dalhousie University, in Halifax, N.S., where she lives with friends from Branksome.

Video Contents

Highlights from the interview

  • I think the lessons and things that I’ve learned at Branksome have really laid the foundation for me going forward into university. If I could give an analogy, it reminds me of the starting blocks in track and field. That’s what Branksome has become for me now — a great way for me to push off into the rest of life.

  • The Number One thing that I appreciate about my experience at Branksome Hall is the education. The IB program really helped me get ahead and on-track for university, so I’m really appreciative for that, both in content and the study habits that I developed through the IB.

  • The opportunities to see speakers and experience things that I don’t think I would have anywhere else, that’s something I appreciated about my experience at Branksome Hall. We had some incredible speakers in my six years at Branksome. Being able to interact with those leaders—especially leaders who are women—was really impactful and something I’m very appreciative of.

  • I think every teacher, especially as you progress through Branksome, is really wanting to create a bond with their students. The small class sizes help. Being able to choose your own subjects, or have more choice in the IB program, really allows you to work with teachers and learn from teachers that are passionate about the same things that you’re passionate about. I think that makes a huge difference. Having a great rapport with teachers really makes you excited to go to school every day and makes you want to learn from them.

  • The IB program is one thing that differentiates Branksome Hall from other private schools. I know that very few independent schools in Toronto offer it. Especially the support to do the IB is a unique thing that Branksome provides. I don’t want to say it’s expected, but it’s a natural streamline from Grades 9 and 10 at Branksome to go into the IB program. Having them scaffold the curriculum in Grades 7, 8, 9, and 10 to go into the IB, I think that’s really unique. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have studied in the IB program because I think it prepared me for university.

  • If I had to pick a couple traits that describe Branksome, I would say ‘hardworking’, ‘enthusiastic’, and ‘effervescent’.  It was always such a delight, especially as I got into the older grades, to see my friends at school every day. When you’re in those crunch periods, and you’re working really hard, having friends that are going through that with you is important for bonding. And also ‘surprising’—there would be so many times when I would sit down in an assembly and someone would get up to present, or play a song or an instrument, and I would never have expected that person to do that, or that they had that talent or quality.

  • Being hard-working is a common thread among Branksome students. I think all of my friends, and all of my peers, were just very driven. And that drive wasn’t always with the same thing. Sometimes, the idea of ‘hard-working’ is perceived as only about academics, but everyone had very unique passions, and seeing people pursue those passions was great. I think a lot of students were really excited to try different things that Branksome had to offer, and get involved in whatever ways that they enjoyed. As we progressed from Grade 7 to Grade 12, it was great to see people forge their own paths and be passionate about different things.

  • I think you’ve definitely got to try new things as a Branksome student. There are so many things in the creative realm, the sports realm, the community service realm, and the academic realm that Branksome offers. To get the most out of your experience and to feel your best when you graduate, in my view, you need to try a lot of different things, and find a passion that you want to commit more time to. Being successful isn’t necessarily a one-lane street. There are a lot of different ways to be successful, and I think trying different things at Branksome, just to try different things, is the way to get there.

  • There was definitely an appreciation for the uniqueness of each student at Branksome Hall. Sometimes we would have spotlight assemblies for different grades, where the grade reps would highlight some people in their grade that they felt were doing exceptional things in all aspects of life. That appreciation for uniqueness is really great to see. I think that ties into one of the values  ‘sense of community’. I think that physical manifestation within the school day, having the spotlight assemblies, is a really great way to demonstrate that Branksome Hall really does value their sense of community.

  • I was kind of intimidated when I first started at Branksome Hall. I was like, ‘Wow, these are all really great top performers. If I’m not on my A-game every day, I’m not going to be able to fit in here or succeed,’ but that definitely was not the case. People are extremely hard-working and driven at Branksome, but there’s also the acknowledgement that everyone is just a person, and you can have a day where you just need to be more mellow and take your time.  So that definitely surprised me going into Branksome. The understanding that teachers and administrators have was great to see: ensuring that you make that connection and say, ‘Hey, here’s how I’m doing,’ and check in. People are really willing to support you at Branksome, because it’s your education.

  • One thing I found surprising was the connections between alumni from Branksome. I didn’t really expect ‘Alum Life’ to be as big as it is. I kind of thought that once you graduate, that chapter is closed. I’ve had different Branksome Hall alumni reach out to me and say, ‘Oh, here’s someone in Halifax that I think you could meet up and grab coffee with. They were my friend in high school, and I think they’d be a great mentor.’ Or having different alumni reach out with initiatives and events and things like that: that has been something that really surprised me about Branksome

  • Branksome Hall shaped my hard skills, like my study habits. Branksome definitely shaped that. And that has really given me a great foundation to go into university. The level that people are practicing subjects at—for example, ‘Theory of Knowledge’ in the IB program, being able to think in a way that is more theoretical and higher level—that has helped me as well in the university setting.

  • Another layer that Branksome Hall shaped me, beyond study habits, would be my character. I’m definitely more confident. I was more confident coming out of Branksome than I was going in. It gave me an understanding that my voice does matter, and people do want to hear from me in classrooms. I have the confidence to put my hand up if I know the answer or have an idea.

  • The education is so great at Branksome, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the IB program. As challenging as it was at times, I’m definitely reaping the rewards.

  • The extracurricular opportunities are incredibly abundant at Branksome—through exchanges, different creativity clubs, service opportunities, athletic opportunities. My best memories from Branksome are being involved in co-curricular activities.

  • With the challenge of the IB program, that you’re going through with friends, and the co-curriculars that you’re going through with friends, the friendships that come from those two areas are another reason to choose Branksome. I formed many friendships from those two areas, both curricular and co-curricular. I’m still in touch with so many of the girls from my graduating class, and I live with friends from high school here at university. Being able to still have that connection is so, so valuable because you get to see people grow and change, and that is nice and rewarding to see. You also have friends for life.

  • There are so many great things to try, so much joy and fun to be had, friends to be made, and amazing things to learn at Branksome Hall. I recommend that future Branksome Hall students be appreciative and present every day to enjoy those things. They should also understand that there will be days when you aren’t feeling it, or it’s a slower day, or there’s a barrier to you having the most successful day, that that’s okay, because maybe the next day will be the best. Understanding that being present and enjoying your experience is how you’re going to get the most out of Branksome Hall.


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Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of Branksome Hall is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • Home to the Chandaria Research Centre (CRC), Branksome Hall became one of the rare few school-based research centres of its kind in North America, something that supports and strengthens the academic offering.
  • Branksome Hall sets high standards, and the ideal student is one who shares its core vision and is able to function in a very diverse, challenging, expansive environment.
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Alum, Deniz Mutlu (2024)

Gr. 3 to Gr. 12 — I had a wonderful experience at Branksome. I joined Branksome in the 3rd grade and continued until my graduating year. I truly feel like I grew up at Branksome and had the pleasure of being a part of ...


Alum, Sara Akbari (2024)

JK to Gr. 12 — My experience at Branksome Hall overall was wonderful. I had many supportive teachers throughout the 14 years I attended, many of who I model my own current teaching practice after. From my Kindergart...


Parent, Shelly Huang (2023)

Gr. 2 to Gr. 6 (current) — My daughter loves Branksome Hall so much, I remember clearly she told me Branksome Hall and the teachers are the best school in the "universe" at her 1st day of school when she just moved from another...


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