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Crofton House School


Crofton House School Alumnae Association

There are almost 4000 Crofton House School alumnae living around the world. From Vancouver to New York, Victoria to the UK, Prince Rupert to Shanghai, our Alumnae are doctors, artists and entrepreneurs, they’re mothers and grandmothers, volunteers and CEO’s.  CHS alumnae are confident, empowered women who can - and do - accomplish extraordinary things. 

Crofton House alumnae form a strong network of women because of the close bonds they share with each other, with teachers and staff, and with the spaces and places at the School.  These bonds have had a lasting effect on their character, their relationships, and their place in the world. 

Explore our website to read their stories.

Aubin Stewart: 40 Years of life at CHS


Most alumnae have vivid memories of their best and worst moments when sewing or cooking - a hem that went wrong or a soufflé that never reached its full potential! Many of those memories happened right here at Crofton House School under the watchful eye of Aubin Stewart.

This summer, Aubin will bid Crofton House farewell after 40 years of service to the school community: 35 years of sharing her passion for cooking and sewing with students and five years as an integral part of the Senior School management team.

We sat down with Aubin to capture a few final thoughts before she walks out through the gates and beyond the ivy walls to her next adventure.

Tell me about your first job at Crofton House. How did this 40-year journey start?

Miss Addison hired me in the last week of August. One minute I was in the interview and the next I was prepping for classes – it was quite the whirlwind! At that time, the Home Economics (Home Ec) classroom was an old science lab so there were small sinks and Bunsen burner outlets across the counters. We had to get very creative with the space. We would cram the sewing machines in for half the year and the pull them out so there was the space to teach foods in the second half of the year.

When I came to Crofton House I only had about two years teaching experience, but as the only Home Ec teacher here, I loved the opportunity to be in charge of the program.

Tell me about your career path at CHS?

I taught cooking and sewing for 35 years. Many things have changed over that period. Now Grade 8 students make a pair of boxer shorts or pajama bottoms for their sewing project. Back then, the girls had to make a fully lined wool skirt and model it (for better or worse) in a fashion show!

After that, I had the opportunity to serve as the department head for the newly formed Creative Arts department for a number of years before I moved to Student Services. I then took the Assistant Director role that I hold today.

What do you value most about CHS?

I value the traditions of the school but I also value the forward thinking vision. We were really given some wonderful foundations at the same time, the School is doing such terrific things as they keep their eye on the future – creating a new strategic plan, always growing in how we engage the girls – it’s energizing.

On a personal side, I am very grateful and appreciative of the job that I have and the professional growth that was afforded me. It has been such a terrific fit for me, and for my family. My daughter is a “lifer”, my husband coaches track and field at the School, one of my sons worked as a Saturday facilities staff for a time and my other son was employed by CHS to move desks - for one day!

What motivated you to stay for 40 years?

It’s the love of the job – every day there is a new challenge. It is the love of the students – being able to see them work on projects, be creative, keep challenging themselves. And I love the people I work with – they are all highly intelligent and motivated people. It has been a real pleasure.

What will you miss most?

I’ll miss being around teenagers. Being part of a school and with young people, you have to know the latest stuff, you have to know what the kids are watching or listening to. You need to know how they are communicating. I’ll miss that because they help keep me current – I’m more tech savvy and culture savvy because I am around young people every day! And of course I will miss my colleagues, that is probably going to be one of the biggest adjustments when I’m retired.


Last questions…most memorable cooking or sewing experience?

I have very fond memories of helping girls make their grad dresses and making costumes for school musicals. I have countless memories of disasters but those will stay with me!

I can say that the recipe I am asked for the most is the world’s best macaroni and cheese. I must have made that recipe over 300 times; I could do it in my sleep!

Home Ec 8 Macaroni and Cheese

As we thank Aubin for her 40 years of service and celebrate her retirement, CHS alumnae will agree that this really is the best mac & cheese – and that they gained so many important skills in the Home Ec Room - or the Textiles Room and Food Lab (as they are known today). Those were life lessons learnt and never forgotten.

Aubin Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

250 mL macaroni (or other pasta)             
30 mL margarine                         
30 mL flour
2 mL salt
250 mL milk
125 mL grated cheddar cheese
15 mL bread crumbs (or other topping) 



  1. Preheat oven to 180 C; grease a small glass casserole dish.

  2. Boil a large pot of water with a pinch of salt.

  3. Add pasta to boiling water, stir and simmer until tender or al dente. ( about 10 minutes)

  4. Drain cooked pasta and rinse in cold water, using colander.

  5. Return drained pasta to the cooking pot.


  • Melt margarine in a small saucepan over low heat.

  • Remove from heat; add flour and salt all at once, and stir until a smooth paste is formed.

  • Return to low heat and gradually add milk, stirring constantly.

  • Cook, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

  • Cook another 5 minutes to remove any starch flavour.

  • Add grated cheese and stir until melted.

  • Pour sauce over cooked pasta and transfer to casserole dish.

  • Top with bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Posted by D. Lee on Monday July 9, 2018 at 11:32AM
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A Message from the Head of School

We would like to share the Head of School's speech made to the newest members of CHS Alumnae Association upon their graduation.

Good afternoon.

Over the next two hours you will hear about the accomplishments of each of these remarkable young women who make up the class known as “Triple 0” – not because of any connection to White Spot’s special triple O sauce - but because they were born in the year 2000 – the very year I had the privilege and honour of becoming head of this great school.

These girls have the good fortune to be educated at a time when many – if not most – girls in our world do not have the privilege of going to school.

I am very proud to live in a country where just this past week, the Canadian government announced at the G7 summit in Quebec that it has raised more than $3.8 B in an effort with other countries to send the world’s poorest girls to school.

To quote our Prime Minister, “Investing in girls’ education is not just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. Given the chance, we know that women and girls will drive positive change, and help build better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and, in turn, the world."

Class of 2018, my hope is that as you go out through our ivy gates as the leaders and change makers we know you to be that you do all that you can to ensure every girl, regardless of how rich or poor, or what country she is born in, will have schools with great teachers that will open its doors to her.

But you will not have to do this work alone. Girls, you join more than 4000 women who have gone out through our gates before you – the alumnae of Crofton House School.

This is a network of women who can literally be found around the world and who will be there for you whenever or wherever you may need them for the rest of your lives.

This past year you heard from a number of them over lunch, at special assemblies and at your graduation mother/daughter tea.

I end my remarks by reminding you of the words of one of them - Ann Mortifee, class of 1965. Ann is this year’s recipient of the CHS Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award.

For those who do not know her, Ann is an internationally recognized performing artist, songwriter, author, compelling storyteller, workshop leader and a member of the Order of Canada – although possibly not the best student while at CHS.

At our birthday assembly in March Ann shared tales of her years at CHS that were quite different than they are today. During Ann’s time the entire class stood as each student’s marks were read out starting with those with the highest marks. With great self-deprecation and humour, Ann shared how she shamelessly prayed that she would not be the last student standing.

This very accomplished woman also shared with us the simple story of the making of a pearl. As expressed in her words:

“An oyster creates a pearl, not out of what is easy. No, it gets a grit of sand in there that kind of bothers it. It secretes its tears around it and that grows until it is the ‘pearl of great price’ – the wisdom usually given to us out of the things we’ve had to struggle for, or that have been difficult. What you gain is compassion for others, strength to endure, patience. They all come out of that grit that makes us aware of others. It all leads us to a place”.

Triple O, may the pearl that is inside each of you continue to grow from the challenges you will no doubt face in your life’s journey to become the beautiful, lustrous compassionate women you know you will be.

Servabo fidem,

Pat Dawson

Posted by D. Lee on Monday July 9, 2018 at 11:32AM
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Ann Mortifee '65: A Life's Journey

2018 Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

On the winding road of life, there are twists and turns, ups and downs, uncertainties and new chapters. With every door that closes, a new opportunity arises — every step leads us that much closer to where we are today, says Ann Mortifee ’65, when asked what advice she would offer CHS girls and alumnae.

“I threw myself to the wind, and said, ‘OK, I’m going to trust there’s a purpose for me being here, and I’m going to put one foot in front of the other, and I’m going to show up every single day to see what life brings me.’ Sometimes it brought me things I didn’t like, other times it brought me things that were just fantastic.”

Ann cites a story from early in her career, an opportunity to star in a Broadway play — a big potential break that required signing a three-year contract. She quickly realized that meant performing eight shows a week for 36 months ... and that she was completely uninspired by the music and lyrics (all these years later, she can still recite those words). Where some would have signed, Ann opted to listen to her gut and returned to Vancouver. Within three days, she received a call from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to write the music for The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, which became a global hit and launched a career in the performing arts that has earned her worldwide acclaim and spanned more than four decades.

“Half my life, I had no idea where I was going. I was completely lost, or so I thought. You learn to trust your instinct, your intuition, the feeling of something other than your logical mind,” says Ann. “Our destiny is like a hook that wants to pull us, and if you can release yourself from needing to understand every step of the way you will get pulled to where you want to go.”

Chapters in a life
On her website www.annmortifee.com, Ann’s biography and long list of accomplishments are neatly summarized in ‘three acts.’

But who is Ann Mortifee?

“I’m two people,” she says. “I have a self that is who I was born to be — completely natural and myself. The other person is the person of my culture, my family, my genetic coding and all that. My job has been to let the person I actually am become real to me, so she infuses my acquired self and I become authentically myself.”

Part of that discovery has involved embracing the ups and downs of life. So, when her much-beloved husband and “kindred spirit,” world-renowned flautist Paul Horn, passed away in 2014, instead of feeling lost, she says, “That really changed me, on a deep level, for the better. I understood people die, and something in me shifted and I became more fully myself. I felt secure in who I was in a way I never had before.” She soon realized that represented one chapter of life closing and a new one beginning.

Through the various chapters of her life, Ann says the friends she made at CHS have supported her every step of the way. Those friendships are also her fondest memory of CHS.

Curious, creative and passionate, Ann Mortifee believes wholeheartedly that each of us is like a pearl. “An oyster creates a pearl, not out of what’s easy. It gets a grit of sand in there that kind of bothers it. It secretes its tears around it, and that grows until it is the ‘pearl of great price’ — the wisdom usually given to us out of the things we’ve had to struggle for, or that have been difficult. What you gain is compassion for others, strength to endure, patience. They all come out of that grit that makes us aware of others. It all leads us to a place.”

Posted by D. Lee on Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 10:11AM
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Isabel Chen '06:Optimistic, Persistent (and Curious) Advocate

2018 Alumnae Junior Achievement Award Winner

If there’s a common theme across the many threads of Isabel Chen’s life and accomplishments, it’s that, “I use my skills and energy for those who need an advocate. Really, it’s using my voice to help people advocate for themselves.”

Today, as a family doctor practicing in Los Angeles, Isabel advocates for her patients — particularly those who don’t have access to health care. Among other community-minded endeavours, it has included working with Iraqi refugees.

Closer to home, as co-founder of the Reading Bear Society, a Vancouver-wide early literacy initiative that brings literacy into the homes of elementary school-age children, Isabel advocates for reading and community.

Isabel says it took some time for her to figure out what her path was in life, a journey still very much in the works.

“Receiving this award has given me great pause, and great opportunity to pause, to take stock of what I’ve done, where I’ve been. Often, as a student and then in your career, you’re looking forward — anticipating. There’s an incredible honour and humility that comes with any recognition. It makes me extremely reflective about all the mentors in my life, and the many wonderful people I work with across many different realms.”

Isabel can clearly recall moments and people who had a profound influence on her during her time at Crofton House. One of the memories that resonated most with Isabel Chen ’06, and still resonates today, happened in her very first days at Crofton House when a new friend invited her, quiet and “super awkward,” to join the debate team.

“For me, joining Crofton House in Grade 7 and being thrown into speech and debate really was life-altering — not only in the process of advocacy and intellect and analytical thought, but one mentor truly changed my life. I really do owe it to him, every subsequent consequence that came after.” That mentor was the CHS debate coach, social studies and history teacher Nick Szymanis.

That invitation to be part of the debating club proved particularly life-changing for Isabel, who has always gravitated to the quiet types — something she attributes to being quiet and shy herself growing up. Becoming more confident in adulthood, finding her own voice, led her to use that voice for others. It was a voice she began finding at CHS, “because it was such a safe and nurturing space.”

What’s next for Isabel? Once she finishes her residency, she’ll be working part-time in LA’s correction facility for women. Beyond that, she says she wants to focus on “building my own community in LA” and spending time reconnecting with family and friends. In Isabel’s words, “Family, be it the one you are born into or the one that you create around you sustains you and empowers you to keep moving forward. I know that the students at Crofton House are part of just that kind of supportive and encouraging school family.”

Posted by D. Lee on Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 10:10AM
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Alumnae in the Making: Citizenship in Action

Kailea Rendle ’18 – Citizenship in Action

Kailea Rendle ’18 is using her interest in design and textiles to help girls in countries around the world continue their education.

Two years ago, Kailea learned about Days for Girls, an organization that aims to create a world with dignity, health, and opportunity for all, through sustainable menstrual care solutions and health education.

As millions of girls around the world miss school every month due to their periods, one of the organization’s major initiatives is creating “Days for Girls Kits”. These kits are distributed to girls in over 110 countries around the world and contain supplies to help girls continue to go to school throughout the month, giving them confidence and removing the still present stigma attached to menstruation.

When Kailea saw how effectively she could help with just some simple supplies and sewing, she started making the kits. Now, having made about 200 of them, she is reaching out to the CHS community to expand the effort and ensure it can continue after she graduates this June. 

“I was motivated to do this when I saw how easy it was to create a kit and how much good it would do. It appealed to my love of sewing and organization, and of course, I was motivated to help other girls keep going to school,” says Kailea.

“At Crofton House, there is a community of girls. We are always seeing how we can work together to get things done,” says Kailea. This inspired her to bring this initiative to CHS. Working with Sue Barzo, as part of the Ivy Compass program, she has arranged for materials to be donated and enlisted 50 girls to help. The group will be gathering weekly in the Textiles Room (previously of the Home Economics program) to produce these life-altering kits.

Kailea is looking forward to what comes next in life; “Crofton House has helped me become an open-minded, confident person and I know that will serve me well as I move on to university in the fall”. At the same time, she is also making sure this program can continue at CHS by educating others about the organization and teaching those in younger grades how to make the kits. This commitment to furthering education for girls in other countries is certainly the CHS value of citizenship in action.

Posted by D. Lee on Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 10:10AM
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Beyond the Ivy Walls: Leigh (Boyle) Schumann '05

Speaker: Leigh (Boyle) Schumann ‘05
Principle, Fawkes & Holly

When did you come to Crofton House? Why?

I am a proud lifer!

What is you most vivid memory of your time at CHS?

I have such vivid memories of the student led assemblies – they were so much fun but also a great way to get all of the girls into some leadership!

What led you to the career you have now – what inspired you?

I have always had an interest and a belief in working on behalf of others – to serve and to use our talents. At Trinity Western University (where I did my undergrad) they would teach you something and then ask the question “Now, what are you going to do with that?”

I truly believe in using my skills for the greater good and I am able to do that everyday in my career.

How did CHS help prepare you for the world outside of the ivy walls?

Crofton gave us all a safe place to learn who you are, to try new things, to stretch (and sometimes fail). The teachers nurtured us to be our best selves if we took hold of the opportunities given to us.

What message would you give the girls as they start looking towards their future?

Lots of things in life are out of your control so take each opportunity and make the most of it. Trust your instincts – so much of life is what you make it.

Posted by D. Lee on Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 10:10AM
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Beyond the Ivy Walls: Celia Dawson '83

Speaker: Celia Dawson ‘83
Senior Vice President, Interior Design, Polygon Homes

When did you come to Crofton House?

I came in Grade 8. We had just moved from Montreal where I was attending The Study. Another family from the school was also moving to Vancouver and was sending their daughter to CHS so my parents did the same!

What is you most vivid memory of your time at CHS?

Most have to do with art – the new photography studio that we were allowed to work in, and all the help with Mrs. Slater-Siskind. Other than art my memories revolve around playing tennis!

What led you to the career you have now – what inspired you?

My family was very much a part of my career choice – I had an aunt who was in interior design, although it was a very different kind of career back then! So much more artistic involvement now and the ability to have an impact.

How did CHS help prepare you for the world outside of the ivy walls?

CHS taught me how to be organized! It may seem a bit simple but it is so important in order to be able to move your life forward. The ability to effectively juggle priorities is essential as life is always full of lots of moving parts

What message would you give the girls as they start looking towards their future?

Be in control of your own life – learn how to pay bills, how to fix things yourself, open an RRSP even if you have to borrow to do it. You have to plan and be the instigator of your own future.

Posted by D. Lee on Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 10:10AM
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Beyond the Ivy Walls: Alison Sinclair Burns ‘83

Speaker: Alison Sinclair Burns ‘83
Vice President, Institutional Communications, Phillips, Hagar, North Investment Management

When did you come to Crofton House?

I came to Crofton House in Grade 9. I had been at Kerrisdale Elementary, then we spent a year in France as a family. At the time there was no French Immersion so to maintain my French my parents sent me to CHS.

What is you most vivid memory of your time at CHS?

I don’t have so much memories as I do feelings about my time here. It was really feelings about being part of a community. Sure there was lots of hanging out with friends, homeroom antics, etc, but it was really about that feeling of being part of something bigger than just yourself. Being known and being cared for and encouraged.

What led you to the career you have now – what inspired you?

My career has really been driven my skill set – foundational skills that were really learnt and honed at Crofton House. My field really is communications, which could have taken me in a variety of directions. When I was at CHS I really did not enjoy grammar but honing that skill allowed me to move past others in my career path. I was opportunistic rather than strategic in where I went and the fields I explored.

How did CHS help prepare you for the world outside of the ivy walls?

It really gets back to those foundational skills – how to write, how to present yourself with a level of poise and professionalism. To have the confidence to not back down and to seize opportunity when it is staring you in the face.

Crofton House gave me skills, experience and friends – all valuable assets in this world.

What message would you give the girls as they start looking towards their future?

Be true to yourself. Listen to yourself, consider others and take action. Collect skills, experiences and friends wherever you go – they will always come in handy!

Posted by D. Lee on Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 10:10AM
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120th Crofton House School Birthday Celebrations

Thank you to all who were able to attend the Crofton House School 120th Birthday celebrations. We hope you all had a wonderful time connecting with new and old friends and being inspired and moved by our two Alumnae Achievement Award winners:

Isabel Chen ’06 – Junior Achievement Award Winner

Ann Mortifee ’65 – Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

We are delighted to be able to share photos from the day so that all of our alumnae can enjoy the celebrations.

Posted by on Tuesday March 6, 2018 at 11:58AM
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Rachel Koffman ’09 – Recognizing the Importance of a Diverse Community

While the words diversity and inclusion are often used to describe the ideal workplace today, it is sometimes difficult to know what they mean or how to achieve them. Rachel Koffman ‘09 is a recognized leader in creating strategies for companies to put actions behind those words to help attract and develop diverse teams, foster an inclusive workplace, and support diverse customers and communities.

When reflecting on what she gained while at Crofton House School, Rachel notes the importance of learning leadership skills and being part of a community where people came from different backgrounds and experiences. “I was the assistant Head Girl in grade 12 and that leadership opportunity – the chance to work collaboratively with other student leaders and staff and to learn from everyone’s unique experience – set me up for success. My confidence also took a big leap forward during my time at Crofton House. My involvement in music and theatre really helped me to connect with people, to step outside of my comfort zone, and to be part of a unique community.”

Those skills were put to use as Rachel left Crofton House. “I went to Montreal for university because I wanted to challenge myself with a new city and a different culture. When I got there, I took the skills I learned at CHS and joined a musical theatre group. It was a great way to connect with people and become part of a community.” Rachel completed a degree in Industrial Relations at McGill University, an inter-disciplinary program with courses in sociology, economics, management with a focus on labour relations and employment law.

Following graduation, Rachel was faced with what do to next. “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise but I took an internship at Brandeis University near Boston, Massachusetts, doing research about gender studies. It was an amazing experience. I was able to take what I learned in my undergrad and applied it to the research, which was trying to understand the differences in non-profit volunteer participation based on gender.”

Realizing research was not what she wanted to do long term, Rachel moved to Toronto and started an HR role at EY. It turned out to be the position that jumpstarted her career. It began with Rachel noticing that “there were some policies that could be made more inclusive - such as parental leave policies that didn’t explicitly specify what same-gender couples could expect. I noticed that small changes or more communications about existing policies could make a real difference to people.” Her team leader recognized her interest and eventually Rachel was able to move to a role in the organization that focused on diversity and inclusion.

When asked how she brings concrete diversity and inclusion to the workplace, Rachel notes that in today’s world people move around during their careers and their driving motivation is not always salary. It is often a sense of the community, knowing you can contribute and be yourself at work. To encourage a diverse and inclusive community where people feel they belong, the focus is on asking whether an organization’s workplace (policies, resources and work environment), workforce (people in leadership roles and throughout an organization), and marketplace (client products and services) all encourage diversity and inclusion.

Focusing on these three areas leads to changes that Rachel finds most rewarding about her work, including shifts in the composition of leadership groups that have looked the same for many years and changes in policies or work environment that people find really valuable. As Rachel says, “merit should be the most important thing in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion isn’t lowering the bar, it’s widening the gate.”

Rachel is currently balancing working on her Masters in Adult Education & Community Development at the University of Toronto with her new position as Senior Consultant, Inclusion and Diversity at CIBC. She sees her continuing education supporting key aspects of her work, including acknowledging people’s unconscious biases in the workplace and increasing community-building skills.

For girls at Crofton House today, Rachel would say that “there are limitless opportunities at the School and you should get involved in whatever brings you joy. Take advantage of amazing students and faculty that you meet, they may become lifelong friends and help form your own unique and supportive community.” Rachel is excited about the new bursary program at the School, knowing it will bring together more diverse perspectives that will enrich the unique sense of community at Crofton House School. 

Posted by D. Lee on Monday February 5, 2018 at 02:33PM
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Choose groups to clone to:

Alumnae Relations

Lydia (McNeill) Vandenberg '85
Assistant Director, Advancement
t: 604 263 3255 Ext. 4205
e: alumnae@croftonhouse.ca

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Class Reunions

Calling all classes ending in 4 and 9 - this is the year for your 5 or 10-year reunion!  For more information on planning your reunion, including class lists, please contact the Alumnae Relations Office at alumnae@croftonhouse.ca.


The Alumnae E-Directory is a great way to stay connected with classmates, other alumnae, and the school.  Register and update your profile, volunteer as a mentor or search for a fellow alumnae by profession, geography or class year. 

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