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Career Education assists Senior School students to define personalized action plans for life after Crofton House. In Grade 10 Career Education, students explore post-secondary pathways through a “Self Awareness Project” that invites self reflection by exploring components of their academic, personal and social identity.

We spoke to Satchel Purcell, Assistant Department Head, Career Education & Post-Secondary Counselling, Senior School, to learn how this project equips students with adaptable and agile decision making skills. Satchel is passionate about inspiring self-determination within students and helping them connect with the kind of opportunities that exist for them after Crofton House. 

Drawing from her experience as an art teacher, she encouraged students to take a creative approach to the Self Awareness Project. Moving away from producing a stack of worksheet-style answers, students interpreted the key learning objectives with inventive freedom. The results are an in-depth, highly personalized self inquiry. Each student was able to create an approach that came from a personally meaningful place meaning that no two projects were alike.


The project addresses three major questions:

  1. Who am I now?
     
  2. Where do I want to go? → What pathway am I considering?
     
  3. Who/what can help support me to get there?
     

STUDENT EXPERIENCE

“Who am I now?”

To answer this question, students defined their personal interests, motivations, skills and strengths. For example, one student who is considering a career as an artist created a 3-D model to represent the pathway she is considering. She created a miniature replica of an art gallery with particular attention to detail, interior design and colour scheme. 

“Prior to this project I was really anxious about pursuing an art career pathway because of how unstable it can be. However, as I was answering the questions for this project, I realized how many resources I have supporting me and how fast the art community has grown in recent years and it helped a lot with the anxiety knowing that it's entirely possible to have a stable career as an artist.”

 

"Where do I want to go and what pathway am I considering?"

For this question, students had to evaluate post-secondary institutions and career options that expanded on the interests and strengths they identified through self-reflection. One student is interested in becoming a graphic novelist. She published an eight page digital spread where her “inner voice” was an omniscient character that told her story. This project helped this student realize that she has a flexible approach to career outcomes; “as long as I get to tell a story, I’m happy. My goals and dreams might change along the way, but that’s all a part of life. [I hope] when I look back in another fifteen years, I’ll be happy with myself.”

"Who or what can help support you [to reach your goals]?"

Students considered the people, organizations, groups, or networks in their community who have already supported them or could support their future pathway planning. A student athlete developed a literal response to represent her areas of support. She built models of her sports backpack, cleats, and hockey stick to memorialize everyday objects as representations of the Crofton House team, coaches and community members that support her athletic endeavours.

 

WHY THIS ASSIGNMENT IS IMPORTANT

Some students already have strong ideas for career pathways while for others this project may be the first time a student asks self-reflective questions relating to their professional skills and interests. Self-reflection is essential to recognize the skills they possess or want to improve.

A skill-based approach to Career Education helps students select post-secondary courses, to plan towards job interests, and to professionally thrive in a future that is not predictable. By framing the identification of suitable professional roles as problem-solving opportunities based on skill-sets, this approach prepares students to successfully find and thrive in future positions which may not exist quite yet. At the same time, defining skill-sets and lessening the focus on job titles helps students expand their ideas about fulfilling work to areas that they may not have otherwise considered. 
 

 

 

Julie Lythcott-Haims, a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and public speaker, was invited to campus as part of the Whole Girl, Whole World speaker event - a collaboration between the School and the CHS Parents’ Auxiliary. On Thursday, October 6, Julie spent the day at Crofton House and filled the campus with laughter, compassion and valuable insights about what it means to be an adult. Her presentation focused on addressing specific topics:

How can we help guide children and young people through transitional periods, and still ensure they have the independence to learn and grow individually? How can parents support their daughters without overparenting?

Julie shared advice from her books, Your Turn: How to Be an Adult and How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. Throughout the day, she gave talks to the whole school community with sessions for the Junior School and Senior School during the day and an evening presentation to parents, staff, and alumnae. 

She offered personal experiences from her time as Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and practical strategies on how to develop the resilience and resourcefulness required to launch a young person into adult life. 

Here are key takeaways from Julie’s talks at Crofton House.

Challenge Ideas about Success and Happiness

When she was Dean of Freshman at Stanford University, Julie increasingly encountered students who experienced burnout and felt unhappy. She recounted a meeting with a student named Faith who told her that she believed fulfilling her family's wishes to become a doctor was the only option she had for a successful future. 

After years dedicated to this goal, Faith approached Julie because she felt deeply unhappy. She said she was torn between her love of working with animals and the pressure from her family to give up this passion in order to take on a medical internship in the summer. Faith continued with her pre-med courses, but not before signaling how she was under tremendous emotional and social pressure connected to a career path she didn’t wholeheartedly choose. 

Julie expressed to students that happiness is difficult to sustain if it is based on fulfilling the external expectations of others and that it is essential to reflect on what activities give them inner fulfillment. For parents, she explained that placing fixed ideas of occupational success can affect a child’s overall happiness. Her recommendation is that parents should explore their child’s interests and ultimately expand the notion of what success looks like for their family. 

Exercise Self Reflection

To encourage students to practice being honest with themselves, Julie shared a simple exercise she used to find a career that combines what she is good at with what she loves. 

Make a list with two columns. In the columns write: 

  1. What are you good at? Record all your answers.
  2. What do you love? Record all your answers.
  3. Combine the answers from the two columns and explore the career possibilities.

For Julie it was ‘helping people’ and ‘Stanford’. Combining what she was good at and what she loved gave her the determination to apply for a job at Stanford University. After three years of applying while working elsewhere, she was hired as the Dean of Freshman.

Julie has developed a four-step method for parents that helps foster a young person’s self-efficacy. 

Step 1: Do the task for them - lead by demonstration.
Step 2: Do the task with them - the opportunity where you teach.
Step 3: Watch them do the task - still being present to supervise.
Step 4: Let them do the task without you - allow them to practice.

She noted, if parents focus on Step 1, and forget Steps 2 and 3, but still expect Step 4 to be accomplished, it will be difficult for students to successfully enact tasks or life skills on their own when they begin to lead more independent lives away from their families.

Apply Open Communication

When navigating sensitive or deeply personal issues or considering future careers, positive communication and affirming language help establish a healthy and constructive dialogue. Developing familial honesty and trust relies on both the child and the parent to practice mutual respect and a shared responsibility towards goals. 

For some students, it can be difficult to share their feelings with a parent. While independent thought is important, Julie encouraged students to share their anxieties and inner conflicts with their parents/guardians to help define and manage expectations around academics, co-curriculars, and careers.

Julie asked parents to build a crucial habit of checking in emotionally with their children, and warned that good grades and excellent performance are not necessarily accurate indicators of well-being. Families are encouraged to empathize and empower children and young people, and to resist a desire to solve problems on their behalf so that they can have the opportunity to develop the agency and confidence to work through obstacles.
 

When saying goodbye to Crofton House, Julie closed with a quote. 

“Tell me, 
what is it you plan to do
with your one 
wild and precious life?”
—Mary Oliver

To learn more about Julie’s books and access links to her website and topical newsletters, read our blog.
 

The Crofton House Senior School welcomes Tricia Cohee in her role as Program Coordinator, Athletics. Tricia will be a familiar face to some families and students as she was the Program Coordinator, Athletics in the Junior School for eleven years. We sat down with Tricia to discuss what she’s looking forward to in her new role. 

Tricia has a clear vision for what areas of growth she wants to focus on. “We want to build confidence, resilience and advocacy. And while we encourage high performance and competition, it’s also about participation. Our mission is to build more opportunities. To grow a larger base of the student population who are engaged and participate around athletics in some way.”

Reflecting on her own journey with athletics and sports, she remarks “understanding the impact athletics had on my development of character during my late teens and 20’s, I appreciate the value I got from all of that. And realizing, wow, physical activity is a great vehicle for women, especially young women, to find their way. Because we find that if [students] have competence in different areas, they feel confident to seek out positive connections with their community as well".

Restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic limited some aspects of sport. With restrictions lifting last year, students were reintroduced to intra-school competition. She observes, “it’s understandable to initially feel intimidated by physical or competitive performance at any time, but definitely after a break [due to COVID-19], which is why, over time, I’m hoping we can have more recreational opportunities and fun activities as a way to build up a student’s confidence and, at the same time, include as many people as possible.”

Tricia understands that the opportunity for connection through athletics is integral to school spirit and is excited about implementing strategies to increase inclusion. “I’m working closely with the Athletic Council, who are students, and we’re looking at how we can develop school spirit. They’re going out, making connections through announcements, hoping to fill supportive game roles by involving other students, and coming up with ideas to ensure people come out to games and events. Including parents and teachers.” She continues, “I’m really hoping the Athletic Council will be a force for encouragement and awareness throughout the Senior School.”

There is an exciting year of sport and competition ahead. Parents are invited to come and cheer our Crofton Falcons on from the sidelines. 
 

Crofton House Junior School welcomes Robyn Pendleton as their new Program Coordinator, Athletics. Her talent in field hockey landed her a spot on the Canadian national women's field hockey team from 2009-2011. But her passion for mental, physical, and social wellbeing through teaching and sport has taken her around the world. 

In her early career, Robyn played field hockey for UBC as a high-performance athlete before moving to France to play for a French club. Her extensive qualifications and experience made Robyn a great fit for educational roles like teacher, coach, and school counselor as she traveled and worked in multiple countries, including Pakistan and Bulgaria. We sat down with Robyn to discuss what she brings to Crofton House and developing skills to enable young girls to stay active for life.

Robyn highlights the guiding principles she applies to the role of supporting the School, students, and coaches. Whether it’s overall management of the programs, coordinating logistics, or when she is directly engaging with the students, “it needs to be fun, it needs to be inclusive so they feel like they belong. It also needs to be developmentally appropriate.”

“Students need to feel they’re in a safe space, both physically and mentally when they come here. The program needs to be purposeful - so the girls see why we’re doing the activities, to see some kind of purpose behind it. We want to give them as much opportunity to move as possible to be active.”

Creating a great experience, she explains, “is being aware that we’re trying to make students feel like they can have the skills to be active for life. Some kids instantly love sports, but it’s important to know not all kids automatically feel that way, so we want to provide the structure and programming to suit this awareness.” She concludes, “It’s more of supporting a type of mindset in all of our learners beyond just competing to win a championship.” 

Beyond the feelings that come with winning, Robyn explains how engaging in sport imparts personal strengths that can stay with the students for life. The experience instills the confidence to manage relationships and the adaptability to handle less than ideal situations. “With around 77% of girls participating in some form of athletics in the Junior School last year, which is huge, the biggest thing for me is to see how we can continue to build and grow. Getting more kids to experience the benefits of what sports can do for their life.”