When Abbie Simpson started Junior Kindergarten at Havergal, she was not quite four years old. And, as her mother Debbie recalls, it was the first day of school and she was wearing a uniform that looked like it would fit her in Middle School. “We’d always admired Havergal,” says the mother of two and CFO of Maple Leaf Foods, “but what really attracted us to it back then was the combination of this wonderful school with great character and resources right in the middle of the city, surrounded by beautiful, expansive outdoor space.”
Abbie, who is now in Grade 5, loves to access the outdoors, where she and her classmates have a variety of space for sports, hanging out and free play. Abbie particularly likes how her teachers use their outdoor space as a natural extension of the classroom and their studies. In fact, when the Simpson family made a contribution to Havergal’s Limitless Campaign earlier this year, Abbie selected the Quilted Garden, the stunning natural space outside the Upper School, to be named in her family’s honour.
The Simpsons were among the first families to contribute to the capital campaign, which aims to raise $21 million—the school’s largest fundraising effort in more than a decade—to support major enhancements to the facilities in the Junior and Upper Schools, including both the renovation of existing spaces and the construction of new ones.
“We are delighted that these enhancements—which are expected to be completed in time for the school’s 125th anniversary in 2019—will contribute to a more inspiring learning environment for the girls by enhancing connectivity between the various subjects, the indoor and outdoor spaces and the technology that brings it all to life,” says Debbie.
As Tony diCosmo, Havergal’s Executive Director of Advancement & Community Relations, explains: “These enhancements will help continue to develop our students’ abilities to think critically and encourage cross-disciplinary thinking.” The idea is that the new spaces will support our key areas of development to fulfill our vision in the areas of art, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), music and health and well-being.
For example, in the Upper School, a new building will feature innovative classroom spaces for technology, media, art, design, filmmaking and robotics. These spaces will be designed to support Havergal’s belief that thinking critically and asking big questions leads to limitless possibilities for learning.
“The one thing that continues to stand out for me is Havergal’s focus on building a love and passion for learning in the girls. Too often today there is pressure on our kids at an early stage to narrow their education to areas specific to vocations or jobs. Building a love of learning gives them time and space to experiment and find their passion,” Debbie explains. “While the building enhancements are going to be fabulous, to me the genius is in the developments to the program that they will enable.”
As Havergal parents for almost seven years, Debbie and her husband Colin were thrilled to hear about and support the Limitless Campaign. Being parents at two different schools, they understand the need to invest and continually enhance programs that support the well-being of students in the pressures of today’s competitive landscape.
“We see our relationship with our schools as a partnership and it is important to us that we prioritize those partnerships in making our philanthropic decisions,” says Colin. “Supporting our daughter and other young women so that they can go into the world as capable and educated thinkers who believe in themselves as leaders is extremely important to us.”
Debbie recognizes that a donation to the Limitless Campaign will not only support Abbie and her peers as they move up through high school, but also support future generations of girls.
“Past families have supported our capital campaigns, which have helped make the school what it is today,” says diCosmo. “Our current families are benefiting from past support and have the opportunity to continue to build a legacy—to pay it forward—for generations to come.”