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Dr. Mohamed Elhaddad and Ms. Alaa Matar celebrate the opening of the Elhaddad Family Classroom in the Junior School.
October 12, 2017
Elhaddad Family Classroom Unveiled
The Circle Reception was a very special evening — with a difference — where Principal Karen Jurjevich not only thanked guests for their leadership contributions and committed support of the girls; she also took guests on a virtual tour of our new model classrooms.

Starting in the Middle School, Mira Gambhir, Director of the Chandaria Research Centre, and Janet Pehlivanyan, Director of Facilities, toured a "classroom of the future" via live stream. These classrooms are free of the traditional teacher's desk and the walls are lined with whiteboards so students can use vertical space to express their learning. "At the same time as the new classrooms are in use, we are conducting research into their impact on learning and how best to shape the spaces in the future," noted Mira.

Click here to watch a video.

Streaming from the Junior School, Interim Head of Junior School, Amanda Kennedy, colourfully described some of the different learning options as "caves, campfires and watering holes." Students are able to move on rolling chairs and sit at adjustable tables to suit their learning styles. "It's a learning environment that promotes entrepreneurial and collaborative thinking," she said.

Guests also heard from a recent graduate who had been a beneficiary of our Student Financial Aid program. She recounted how her Branksome experience, supported by generous donors, enabled her to truly express who she was, and to follow her passion for art.

Ms Jurjevich was proud to announce the results of the Annual Appeal, which raised over $1 million - a first in Branksome history - making possible the creation of the three model classrooms.

"According to expert members of the non-profit Institute for the Future, an estimated 85% of jobs that will exist in the year 2030 have yet to be invented," said Ms Jurjevich. Our flexible furniture inspires girls to own their learning, which can help them develop the resilience and problem solving ability they will need in the world of work.

"The reception was the most interactive we've ever organized," said Associate Director of Advancement, Jason Balaban. Guests were invited to try out the latest virtual reality equipment that will soon be introduced into History and Geography lessons, making Branksome one of the first schools in the country to offer VR learning at the middle school level. Guided by IT director Michael Ianni-Palarchio, guests immersed themselves in exploring the ocean floor and the Pyramids of Egypt.

Ms Jurjevich also took the opportunity to thank Branksome parents Dr. Mohamed Elhaddad and Ms. Alaa Matar for their generous leadership gift, which made possible an additional model classroom in the Junior School. A toast was raised to these remarkable philanthropists, while gratitude flowed in both directions. Deputy Principal Karrie Weinstock observed that, "The girls who will be learning in this classroom will be on the cutting edge of education. This would not be possible without such partnerships." Dr. Elhaddad, for his part, thanked "the many people over the years who have contributed to what Branksome has become."

Guests heard from Chair of the Board of Governors Wayne Barwise, who thanked those present for their generosity to the school and for volunteering and attending school activities throughout the year. "This is how we build our community, evident in the warmth that our daughters experience each day."

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