Meredith Gillespie ’99

PhD, School/Applied Child Psychology, McGill University
MA, Educational Psychology, McGill University
BA Honours, Psychology, Queen’s University

Meredith started at Elmwood in Grade 7, and graduated in the class of 1999. She currently works as a child psychologist in Toronto. In addition to assessing and diagnosing mental health concerns in children and adolescents, she provides consultation to parents, family therapy, and individual therapy for children and adolescents coping with developmental, learning, mood/anxiety and behavioural disorders.

We recently spoke with Meredith about her experiences as an Elmwood girl.

Do you have any particularly fond memories of your time at Elmwood?

I wouldn’t say that I have one singular fondest memory, but I look back very fondly on the bonds I had with both my close friends and my entire grade. It was the “in between” times—indoor recesses, hanging out in common rooms, or class trips—when you could just have fun and be teenage girls together. Those were my favourite moments, and we had that closeness because it was such a small group of girls.

Coming to Elmwood I was really struck by how close and inclusive everyone’s friendships were. We also knew that because we were spending so much time together—and maybe because there weren’t boys there to distract us—we could really focus on those friendships, which came at a really important time for us. There was also this sort of understanding that everyone wanted to do well. If you worked hard, it wasn’t weird; everyone worked hard, and everyone took an interest in different things.

How did Elmwood affect your career path?

Looking back, I think Elmwood sparked my interest in child and adolescent development, particularly the importance of supporting the emotional, social and academic needs of kids. Since graduating from Elmwood, I’ve come to really understand how important it is for girls—and kids in general—to have a positive academic environment. School is about academics, but it’s also about being able to develop your identity; you navigate significant peer relationships at school and you have an opportunity to nurture your strengths. You see yourself through the eyes of other people, with teachers who are real role models and supports for you. Elmwood exemplified this for me.

Do you have any advice for today’s Elmwood students?

I would tell them that when you graduate, you become a part of the Elmwood family, which stays with you wherever you go. There will be good times and not-so-good times, but the things you’ve learned and the people you’ve met at Elmwood will have prepared you for those big challenges that lie ahead.

If you could pick a single word or expression to sum up your feelings about Elmwood, what would it be?

Based on my experience as an Elmwood girl, I would say that Elmwood is where girls thrive.

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