Social Links via JavaScript

Crofton House News

Each year, the Whole Girl, Whole World speaker series —a collaboration between the School and the CHS Parents’ Auxiliary—is an opportunity for our community to engage with thought-provoking topics and discuss the ways we can all support CHS students to thrive and positively influence the world around them. 

At the 2023-2024 Whole Girl, Whole World event on September 25, we welcome author, educator and public speaker Monique Gray Smith, whose speaking engagements revolve around hope, resilience, education, wellness  and the important teaching that love is medicine. We are pleased to welcome Monique at the start of Truth and Reconciliation week.

Monique is an award-winning Cree, Lakota and Scottish author, whose most recent book, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults, received the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for 2022. Monique’s books resonate with readers of all generations and backgrounds. This adaptation is based on the original book, Braiding Sweetgrass, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, both are about Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants.

We look forward to welcoming Monique. Her presentation will be hosted at Crofton House School in the theatre of the Beedie Fine Arts Centre on the evening of Monday, September 25.

Purchase tickets and books here. 

2023-2024 Whole Girl, Whole World Reading List

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults, adapted by Monique Gray Smith

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults offers a unique and powerful perspective on the interconnectedness of nature and human beings. Through the lens of Indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge, the adaptation by Monique Gray Smith ensures that young readers can easily engage with the profound concepts presented in the original book.

This new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings the lessons of plant life to a new generation. Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer  

Called a book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. 

In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island (North America/Earth) to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces Indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take “us on a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an Indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

Get to Know Monique
Explore Monique’s other resources and insights:

Learning about nature, our connection to the natural world, becoming environmental stewards, and spending time outdoors are all important aspects of a Crofton House education. 


The Woods on campus has always been a magical place for students to learn and play. This year, Junior School students were actively involved in replanting areas of The Woods as part of our restoration project. 

In recent years, the sand boxes outside the Early Childhood Education Centre were transformed into active gardens. This year, Senior Kindergarten students used the space to grow hundreds of tulips and host a flower market. The gardens are also used by the Junior School Ivy Compass program to help students learn about growing conditions and natural life cycles. 

A look back through our archives show that gardening has a long history at CHS. One notable aspect of this was the greenhouse that was constructed on campus in the early 1980s and the ‘Greenhouse Crew’ - a group of students who cared for the greenhouse!    

Biology teacher, Mrs Eileen Mackay, who was at Crofton House from 1976 to 1998, was a driving force behind this addition to campus. Students helped tend the greenhouse alongside Mrs Mackay and it was a great asset when it came to learning about live plant material and experimentation. Beyond the classroom, students nurtured plants in the greenhouse that were sold at the Winter Bazaar, from decorative flowers like geraniums and cacti, to edible vegetation like tomatoes and zucchini. It also assisted in the beautification of school grounds. Campus was covered with many different types of flowers grown by the Greenhouse Crew!


As we enter the month of June, Graduation celebrations appear on the horizon. A look through the school archives reveals an interesting history of tradition and celebration for students in their final year at Crofton House School.

The School’s founder, Jessie Gordon, wasn’t inclined to make much of a fuss around graduation in the early years. Instead, the school year ended with ‘Exhibition Day’, where all final exam papers, marked in red ink, and selected exercise books were laid out in the gym for parents to inspect! For balance, the gym walls were decorated with student art and sewing. The display of final grades continued until the 1940s with exam marks being published in the Croftonian yearbook for all to see. These days students have a voice in the planning of graduation activities, but at the time they were granted the privilege of selecting the morning hymn!

Graduating classes were originally known as ‘matrics’, a nod to matriculating into college or university, as sitting these entrance exams was a part of graduating. This inspired the  ‘Matriculation Tea’, a tradition that started in the 1920s, with Ms. Gordon hosting the event. In 1945, the Alumnae Association took over planning this event. 

Other graduation celebrations also have roots in the early 20th century. The first graduation party in 1927 was a memorable one. It was an evening of music and dancing, and as lighthearted fun, half of the class chose to dress up as ‘gentlemen’. By 1938, there were two celebrations held  around this time of year; the ‘School Dance’ was open to all students and another dance specifically for the graduating class of that year.

The graduation ceremony itself has taken place in multiple locations over the decades. It was often hosted in Farrell Hall (the gymnasium) or on the lawn below the Old Residence when good weather permitted. As the school and attendance grew, the event moved to the Orpheum Theatre and then to Chan Centre in the late 1990s. Now, the event has come full circle, returning to the campus and taking place in Manrell Hall and the Nancy Chan Courtyard.

Graduation at Crofton House School continues to be marked with a number of events on and off campus, celebrating the achievements of the Grade 12 students and closing the final chapter on their time as CHS students. We can’t wait to celebrate with the MVP ‘23, the class of 2023. 



We are excited to announce the incoming Research Chairs of Teaching and Learning, Andrea Page and Chris Mckenzie. 

Their progressive research will contribute to the teaching profession around whole girl education in a meaningful way and we are excited to see their learnings come to life here on campus.

Andrea Page, Teacher, Learning Resources, Junior School. 

Andrea’s research will be based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which guides the development of flexible learning environments and learning spaces that accommodate individual learning differences. Andrea has observed that CHS student learning needs continue to evolve with an increased number of students who are supported with learning resource plans. While the learning resources department works with targeted student populations, Andrea is interested in how to more actively integrate accommodations to enhance learning in the general classroom population.

When we support students who have additional learning needs, often those accommodations can have benefits for the whole class. Her research will focus on how to expand the application of UDL principles in classrooms to further support our inclusive learning environments. This will be done by creating a framework where teachers can leverage a learning resource teacher in more areas of the learning process.

Andrea hopes to contribute to the CHS learning community by supporting her colleagues in developing learning programs, not just in areas of action and expression of student learning, but also to manifest UDL principles in how students engage in and share their learning.

Chris Mckenzie, Coordinator, Educational Technology & Risk Management, Senior School.

Chris will research how to assess students’ retention, transfer, and application of their learning about topics which go beyond any one subject area and are often taught outside of the traditional classroom on special days or designated times. These topics contain a growing number of valuable competencies that include but are not limited to social and emotional learning, executive functioning, technology, leadership, the environment and sustainability, local and global issues, DEI, and service learning.

The goal is not to assess these competencies to provide students with grades but to create a framework that teachers who teach outside of a traditional classroom model can use to inform their practice and improve the student learning experience. Additionally, this assessment framework can be used to learn more about if and why some competencies, whether because of the qualities of the topic or the students, make some lessons better taught outside of the traditional classroom or better taught integrated into it. 

Chris hopes his research will give us the tools to inform and improve how we teach these important skills in order to help students deepen and apply what they learn. He will also be including student voices in his research as they will help guide what successful learning and application in these areas look like for them.

Courage, one of the three core values of CHS, has been embodied by many alumnae throughout the School’s 125-year history. During this milestone year, we are taking the opportunity to introduce some of the CHS alumnae who have shown determination in the face of challenges, pursued their passions, and achieved remarkable accomplishments. 

In this blog post, you will meet three alumnae who attended CHS in the early 1900s: Marian (Bostock)Sherman, Gertrude Nicol, and Violet Reade. These pioneering women faced the obstacles of their time to pursue higher education, excel in their fields, and make a difference in the world.

Following her time at CHS, Marian (Bostock) Sherman travelled to London, England to pursue her education in medicine. In 1915, Marian was one of four women admitted to study for three months at St George’s University of London for clinical skills training. However, shortly after they were admitted, the Board changed their decision and no longer wanted to accept the women to study medicine. The four women fought for their right to education and were successful, continuing their studies and paving the way for a generation of women. Marian went on to become one of first women to join the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons. Her determination and passion for medicine helped her excel, eventually becoming a House Surgeon at St. George's Hospital in London and later practicing medicine in India. 

Images of Marian Bostock’s student card (left) and entry on the student register (right) courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London

Gertrude Nicol, an exceptionally talented linguist who spoke and wrote six languages, travelled to Russia and India to further her education and training. She was travelling at the time WWI was declared but was determined to offer her services to the Russian Red Cross Society, making her way to a hospital in Tiflis where she became a fully qualified Red Cross nurse. She was decorated by the Czar of Russia with the medal of St. Anne.

Violet Reade also pursued a career in medicine after attending CHS. She became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians. In a Croftonian article titled "Medicine as a Profession for Women," Violet highlighted the strong foundation CHS provided for students to enter university. She offered practical advice to aspiring medical professionals and encouraged women to challenge societal expectations by pursuing their ambitions and life purpose.

These women displayed courage, resilience, and a pioneering spirit. They pushed through adversity and societal constraints to pursue their passions, excelling in their fields, making a difference for the women who would follow in their footsteps.