REVIEW OF Havergal College BY parent, Robyn Spector
- Date of Review
May 29, 2019
Gr. 7 - 12
(5) Student Experience
There is a special atmosphere at Havergal College; a supportive, nurturing and encouraging place where girls feel comfortable trying new things, making mistakes, branching out socially and expressing their views. There is no judgment - girls are celebrated for their thoughts, and diversity of opinions and values. Both of my girls have felt very supported by their teachers who were always willing to go above and beyond. They were honest in their assessments and evaluations and always guided the students on how to improve and were always advocates and cheerleaders for their success. When they struggled with something academically they always knew they could seek out support from their teachers. When they needed advice about college or anything pertaining to their futures, they felt very supported by guidance.
(5) School Leadership
I cannot imagine that there is a school with a better leadership team and a more positive environment than Havergal College. From the Principal, Helen-Kay Davy, to the Senior Leadership Team to the Admin to the Teachers, Learning Support, Guidance, Food Services, Security - you name it - this school is made up of the most incredible individuals who work together to achieve common goals. The communication is great and I have never seen any incidents of issues being handled unfairly.
100%. I have had two daughters at Havergal - both with different interests, strengths, weaknesses and needs; all of which were embraced, recognized and met. The quality of teachers in all areas is extraordinary - bright, passionate teachers who genuinely care about their students and who clearly love to teach. In all the subjects in every grade - the teachers are incredibly gifted educators and role models and mentors to our girls. The marking structure is tough but fair. There are frequent assessments. Teachers champion their students by motivating them, assigning interesting projects and providing extra help when needed. Teachers want their students to succeed and achieve high grades, as long as the students work hard to earn them. There is a lot of support from both teachers and the administration.
With one Havergal "Old Girl" entering her fourth year of University and another graduating Havergal this year, I whole heartedly believe they are well-prepared for their next steps. The workload is heavy at times but manageable. Learning time management has been critical. The school has done a lot of investigation into how to maximize the success of teenage girls and have been very cutting edge on many levels - providing late starts on Wednesdays, encouraging girls to speak up and speak out at Prayers three times a week, structuring House and TA so that girls can connect with smaller groups of teachers and students and feel successful and emotionally safe in a school with rigorous academics. I feel that everything Havergal does is very purposeful; always considering their students needs first.
Yes - between sports and clubs and Day 9 special activities and community partnerships, there is absolutely something for everyone! There is an opportunity for students to participate in one sport per term and there is a large offering of sports to meet all different interests. The Community Partnerships and Clubs not only afford participation opportunities but leadership ones as well.
There is a lot of diversity in the students. Girls from all different races, ethnicities, religions - and yet the most inclusive place for all. The grade sizes in the Middle and Upper School run from about 85 in Grades 7 and 8 to 115 in 9-12. All girls are assigned a house - which is a smaller group of students with whom they meets several times weekly. And houses are then subdivided again into smaller TAs. There is a lot of school spirit. From school spirit week and hockey day to House Shot and various events throughout the year, the girls feel a connection to their houses (similar to sororities) and are able to establish more meaningful connections with girls form all grades. The girls tend to be very encouraging and supportive of each other - they want their classmates to be successful both academically and socially and they champion each other - this is especially apparent at prayers.
(5) School Life
My girls have both loved their Havergal experience on all levels for all the years they attended. They actually loved waking up to go to school on most days. They have learned from the very best teachers, and they have broadened both their academic and social horizons. I know with certainty that they will reflect very positively and fondly on their Havergal days. Personally, I feel that my best decision so far has been to send my children to Havergal College. The girls all seem to be very happy - they seem to feel very safe in a structured yet flexible place that allows them to grow, to learn, to try new things, to make mistakes and to push themselves to become their very best selves.
We have a very inclusive Parent Association that is always working to enhance the parent community. The HCPA hosts parent socials, coffee mornings, various mother daughter and father daughter events for all different grades, and manages an online marketplace that sells Havergal spirit wear, school frames and a variety of other things. In addition, there is a Grade rep program that allows parents from each grade to attend monthly meetings with the school's senior leadership team thereby giving parents an opportunity for further insight into the daily happenings at the school. Many parents feel very involved and the PA is always looking for ways to improve parent engagement. With hundreds of volunteers the parents association's mandate is to maximize parent engagement and to raise some money to further enhance those opportunities.
(5) School Location
The school has a community feel even though many students do not come from the immediate surrounding area. The oldest High School girls may sometimes get snacks or lunch locally but there are so many activities and clubs happening at school daily that girls often prefer to stay and be part of those activities and clubs. They actually prefer to stay in school!
The only stress in the application process surrounded writing the SSATs. These standardizes tests are very difficult for many young children and I believe it to be unnecessarily so. I am not sure if Havergal still requires the SSATs but if so, I would encourage parents to seek tutoring well in advance of the application process to minimize stress on those students applying. Otherwise, it was all very smooth. We came in for a tour which was led by a Senior School student who clearly loved her experience. There were parents who volunteered to meet with new families and called to help familiarize us and answer any questions. Maggie Houston-White who is the head of admissions is really attentive to new families and organizes events and communications to help with the transition.
(5) University placement and counselling
Yes - the Guidance Department was amazing throughout the whole university process. One of our daughters will be attending college in the US and the application process to US schools is much more complicated and detailed than the Canadian application process. Guidance was on top of everything - starting long before the girls even knew where they were applying. They are knowledgeable and help the girls navigate the different websites, standardize tests and application requirements. The Guidance Department ran several meetings with Grade 11 and 12 parents to educate us on the process and met throughout the year with the girls to make sure they were being followed throughout the process so that nothing slipped through the cracks. For both of my girls, this process was seamless.