Inspiring Girl: Head Girl, Grace Goldberg '19

Grace Goldberg will be the first to tell you she was not always the confident and outgoing young woman she is today. She arrived at Elmwood in the fourth grade feeling shy and timid, afraid to raise her hand in class, or speak up in front of a crowd. But as she settled into her new school, things quickly began to change. When the time came to present her final Exhibition project just one year later, Grace was pleasantly surprised by how excited she was to share her ideas with the school. That was when she realized just how transformative her time at Elmwood would be.

It has been eight years since Grace’s first day in the Junior School. Now, she is gearing up for her most exciting change yet, as she transitions into the role of Head Girl. It is something she has aspired to for years, and a job she feels uniquely qualified to do. “I’ve been here for so long,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been brought up by Elmwood to represent Elmwood.”

Grace says she spent years looking up to the prefect team, but it wasn’t until she joined her current Student Leadership Group in Grade 9 that she began to give running any serious thought. She describes her tight-knit SLG as being “like a family,” and says it was the support of this caring group of girls that gave her the confidence to run. She also praises her SLG teacher, Ms. Fraser, as being one of her “biggest cheerleaders.”

“She has been such a huge part of my time at Elmwood,” she says. “From the ninth grade she told me I could do anything. She said, ‘You can do this; you just have to put yourself out there.’”

While Grace credits Elmwood’s nurturing environment with helping to prepare her for this role, there is someone else in her life who has always inspired her to reach her full potential: her mother, Whitney Fox, who has served on Elmwood’s Gala Committee for several years. Grace plans to model her leadership style after her mother’s as she guides the prefect team this year. “She’s an incredibly selfless person,” says Grace. “She always tries to make everyone around her extremely happy and comfortable with themselves.” Grace also admires her mother’s thorough, methodical approach to work and life. “She doesn’t do anything without some serious consideration,” she says. “She always does her research.”

But if there is one person who deserves the most credit for Grace’s success, it is Grace herself. Since her early days in the Junior School, she has remained a kind, enthusiastic and engaged member of our school community. Whether she is showing new students around as a tour guide, keeping her peers informed as a Did You Hear? Girl, representing Elmwood at major events like the CAIS Student Leadership Conference, or writing hard-hitting reviews as a member of the Cappies Critics team, she has become an increasingly familiar face around campus. This past spring, she also played an integral role in the Round Square application process. As one of two student representatives, Grace was responsible for sharing information about Round Square with the school community. On the day of our site visit, she also helped lead the official school tour, an essential component of the trip that helped secure our status as a Candidate School (see pg. 16 for more information).

This can-do attitude has made its way into Grace’s life outside of school, too. In addition to being a competitive horseback rider (she has competed at the national level for several years), she also displays an incredible knack for community service, racking up volunteer hours at an impressive rate, while still applying her signature degree of passion and enthusiasm. In 2016, Grace took part in a Me to We trip, where she assisted in the building of a new medical centre in Ecuador. Today, she regularly volunteers with the Therapeutic Riding Association of Ottawa-Carleton (TROtt). Grace says both experiences have been incredibly eye-opening, and she hopes to inspire more girls to get involved in volunteerism. “It has allowed me to interact with people who may see the world a little bit differently from how I see it,” she says. “It’s taught me to step into someone else’s shoes, and to see the world from their perspective.”

These are skills that will no doubt serve Grace well as she begins her new role as Head Girl—but that’s not all she brings to the table. Throughout her time at Elmwood, Grace has become known for her friendly and approachable demeanor; she is someone who always has a smile on her face and never has a bad word to say about anyone. As well, her extensive leadership experience has taught her the value of compromise, and the importance of working together towards a common goal. “I’ve learned how to lead a team and ensure everyone is happy with how things are going,” she says.

Grace will apply this same mindset to the role of Head Girl, as she strives to make this Elmwood’s best year yet. “I love this school, and I know this school so well,” she says. “Head Girl was something I really wanted because I felt I could make the biggest difference.” Her top priorities for this year are to create more leadership opportunities for younger students, and to build stronger connections between the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools. Some ideas she has for improving these areas are to offer more school-wide spirit activities; to develop a new student mentorship program; and to encourage greater collaboration between the various House Councils.

Although the year ahead is sure to require a great deal of hard work, Grace does not feel daunted by the task. Her past eight years as a girl in green have prepared her for this moment, and she feels ready to meet the challenge head on. “I’ve had the opportunity to grow into the person I really am,” she says, “and grow into the role of Head Girl. Elmwood has given me all the tools I need to do that.”

By Erica Eades