The advancement of women’s equality has been a big part of Dr. Samson’s work even before joining Havergal. She is a volunteer board member for Armagh, a transitional housing and support program for women who have experienced domestic abuse, and is a co-teacher of the “Women in Leadership” module for the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools Leadership Institute.
Dr. Samson has always had a passion for education. “I used to always say that being at a school was essentially being young forever because you’re surrounded by this great energy. They just bring this incredible optimism and hope for the future. It’s near impossible to be grumpy or a curmudgeon about life when you are surrounded on a daily basis with that sense of optimism and joy and fun that they just inject into everyday life.”
Although she spent the first part of her career in coed schools, being the principal of an all-girls school has shown her the important role that a school that centers on girls can play both in the advancement of girls and women across the globe, but also in broader inclusion initiatives. “As women and as a girl-centered institution, we have been doing this work for a long time and we’ve been working diligently on issues of equity and inclusion. It gives us this incredible opportunity to draw the circle wide and share our own experience of that work with other equity-deserving groups as well.”
Dr. Samson was excited to join an all-girls school whose mission was one that had the potential to be broader than what it was originally intended for. As the largest girls’ school in Toronto and in an institution that’s over 120 years old, women’s empowerment is at the core of the school’s mission. “When I first joined the school I was really excited to learn how the history translated into the experience of students today.”
Havergal’s mission is “to prepare young women to make a difference and take on an ever-changing role with confidence and resilience.” Dr. Samson says that a single-gender school allows students and faculty to expand that mission. It can also enable them to share their learning and understanding with other groups who may benefit from their wealth of experience. This includes not only women’s empowerment groups but other marginalized communities as well.