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The Writer-in-Residence program is an inspiring three-day event for all students in the Junior School. After a three year hiatus from having in-person guests, we were pleased to welcome Stacy McAnulty, renowned children’s author, as this year’s Writer-in-Residence. 

Sophia Hunter, Teacher Librarian, Junior School, highlights why the program is a special experience for Junior School students. “The purpose of Writer-in-Residence is for an author to come spend time with the students, to talk about the writing process, the creative process, and simply be inspiring to the children.”

Catering to each age group, Stacy hosted exciting behind-the-scenes talks about her work and the publishing process, held book readings and facilitated writing workshops for the older grades. We had the opportunity to speak to Stacy about the inspiration behind her books and how her personal experiences and background has shaped her unique works about STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning and references for young audiences.



“I always enjoyed reading and writing stories, I just wasn’t naturally good at it. As a kid, you get encouraged to do more of what you’re good at, while I focused on maths and engineering, writing took a backseat. As I got older I realized I was passionate about both and wanted to pursue both. One was just more natural while one took more work.” Ms Hunter adds, “To have students meet someone who became an engineer, but can still also be a writer, I think that the hybrid is very interesting and is a really important message about one’s dynamic capabilities.”

Out of the 32 books Stacy has written so far, she brought with her a collection that ranged from fact-based picture books about the universe and planets to chapter books that had mathematical rigour embedded into the story’s narrative. Students had a full author experience which included a book signing at the end of their sessions.

When asked about facing challenges in order to pursue one’s passion, Stacy spoke with young children and their families in mind, “I want to really emphasize that you don't have to be good at things right away. And kids need to know this because they can think they see an adult doing something, that it must have always been easy for them, it must have been natural for them. As a parent I see a focus on encouraging children to pursue things they’re instantly good at, but if they’re passionate about something else that perhaps they’re not great at right away, don’t give up on it.”



Her message did not go unnoticed by students, “I learned a lot about writing, like you actually have to go through a long, long process to publish a book. It takes time, and there's a high chance that you will get rejected multiple times. But you shouldn't let that stop you. Stacy showed us that it's not easy to write a book but if you put enough effort into it, it'll come out really well” said Violet, Grade 6.

While Stacy continued, “It comes back to my own reading struggles where I had to work harder, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth pursuing. A lot of people give up because they’re like ‘oh, I’m not good at it’, but if there’s joy in it, you will improve. Passion is so important because when we find things we love to do, we’re going to have to work hard anyway. But if it’s something you love doing, it’s going to feel less like work. That’s why I think passion is one of the most important things for achieving a dream.”

Ellie, Grade 6, shared, “Stacy taught us about all the steps she went through and I like how she told us that writing is rewriting because when I write a book, I initially feel like it's not good enough, so hearing that from Stacy was really encouraging.”




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?


“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.



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,  plan towards job interests, and 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 to areas that they may not have otherwise considered as sources of fulfilling work. 


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.