Whole Girl, Whole World

By December 9, 2016 Head's Blog


It has been an exciting and action-packed week at Elmwood filled with myriad activities. It struck me, as I observed the girls participate in these many activities, that this is an excellent example of how we aim to educate the “whole girl” at Elmwood. One of the key outcomes we outlined in our strategic plan is: “Elmwood’s dynamic learning environment fosters the development of well-rounded girls.” After a week full of opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, I think it is safe to say that we are making great progress on achieving that outcome. Here are a few highlights:

Our Grade 4s are currently studying a unit focusing on creativity and innovation through a variety of STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Math) activities. The unit is called “Back to the Drawing Board.” As part of their studies, they had the opportunity to discuss The Soular Backpack with the Founder of the company, Salima Visram, via Skype. The girls learned that Salima grew up in Mombasa, Kenya, never having to want for anything. Yet she watched friends and classmates become discouraged from fulfilling their dreams because they had no light to study by when they returned home from school. Two-and-a-half years ago, while still a student at McGill University, Salima decided that she wanted to find a solution for a problem that impacts a large number of people and found herself looking back at her own childhood. Knowing how dangerous and expensive kerosene is, Salima decided that finding a safer way to help children further their studies was the problem she wanted to tackle. The girls were delighted to talk to a true innovator and were inspired by her example.

We also celebrated the “Hour of Code” which challenged every girl from Grade 6 to 12 to spend an hour learning how to code. Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder once said, “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Industry experts are saying that coding is the new “superpower” and yet 90% of the world’s schools don’t teach it. It was wonderful to see the girls so engaged in the activities, and the school was incredibly quiet as they concentrated on the tutorials. Do we have the next Steve Jobs in the making, right here at Elmwood?

We also saw an excellent example of girls developing their creativity and confidence through the Middle School production of A Midsummer Night’s Midterm which was a fun twist on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I laughed until I cried as Pyramus and Thisbe “died” on the steps of the Elmwood stage. One of the things that most impressed me about this production was the number of actresses who are new to the school this year. It was wonderful to see them step into their courage zones and try something new. Congratulations to the incredibly talented cast and crew!

On Wednesday evening, our Junior School choir performed at the annual Rockcliffe Tree Lighting ceremony. Their beautiful voices filled the night air as the lights were lit on the Christmas tree. I was so proud of our girls for bringing such warmth and joy to this community event. While I was there, I also had opportunity to speak with the Executive Director of the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre. As you know, Elmwood supports the Centre and their clients with our annual Warm Clothing and Food Drive and Holiday Hampers initiatives, and Mr. Traoré was very appreciative. I left this wonderful event feeling very festive, and full of community spirit!

Finally, our Grade 10 students returned home from their Duke of Edinburgh Silver Practice Expedition yesterday, full of energy and excitement about what they had done. They are in training for the dog-sledding expedition they will be going on in the new year. This is a wonderful example of girls taking on new challenges and reaching outside their comfort zones, and I know these girls are going to feel a great sense of accomplishment after their trip in January.

Innovation, creativity, critical thinking, confidence, community service and physical activity—just some of the many ways that we ensure every Elmwood girl develops into a well-rounded young woman.

Best regards,


About Cheryl Boughton

Cheryl has been leading Elmwood since August 2008, when she was chosen by the Board of Governors, after a global search, to be the eleventh Headmistress of the School. She has a rich and diverse background in independent education having held progressively senior roles managing independent schools in the United Kingdom.