The school’s journey over the past 91 years has been incredible. Excellent and accessible all girls’ education has been the hallmark from day one. For the first 75 years, this was solely due to the vision and mission of the Sisters of St. Ann, who committed their resources to making Catholic education for girls both amazing and affordable. Over the past fifteen years, we have successfully transitioned to a community-funded approach to the same mission and vision. Relying on the generous philanthropy of those in our immediate community, we continue to steward the extraordinary educational experience each girl knows at Little Flower Academy.
We believe that the first barrier to entry at any fee-paying school is tuition. That’s why, for more than a decade, tuition increases have been lower than standard inflation every single year. In some years, there was no increase at all.
Yet, over those same ten years, the day-to-day resource investment in the girls’ experience has exploded. We introduced the Advanced Placement program. We have expanded the electives we offer. We have introduced new athletic teams. We have tripled the size of our counselling department. We’ve added programs, resources and subscriptions to the library. We still dissect real frogs and chicken hearts and cows’ eyeballs in science class (rather than just watching videos). We built a new website and continue to incorporate a progressive online Learning Management System into how we deliver teaching and learning. Our sports teams practice and play with good quality, contemporary equipment and enjoy new uniforms when old ones are tired. We put on amazing theatre productions and our Choir has opportunities that most schools could only dream of. We continue to celebrate a vibrant Campus Ministry, that among other things, offers retreats at every grade, which are heavily subsidized through the Annual Fund.
This year we saw continued growth in operating support, allowing us to fund the opportunities listed above through philanthropy. Gifts have an immediate impact, and the sustained philanthropic commitment we’ve known gives us the green light to add two new AP courses next year: AP Psychology and AP European History. We’ve also made changes to further incorporate the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program more widely across the curriculum.
Widespread accessibility is not just made possible through low tuition. Financial Aid plays a key role in ensuring students of all different economic backgrounds can benefit from an LFA education. As we move towards a goal of needs blind entry to LFA, it is to you—our donors—we owe our thanks this year. We met every qualified bursary applicant’s needs this past year.
Our campus, and every single improvement to it, is funding entirely through philanthropy. Because our community is committed to the girls learning in an environment that meets modern needs and fosters their creativity, capital investment in our campus has consistently grown. This investment has been done “in addition to” meeting the operating needs of the school through philanthropy and benefits the girls over many years.
Since moving in to the new wing of the school in 2007, campus improvements on a smaller scale have been remarkable. We have replaced several school vehicles—including our purchase of a 24 seat bus. We transitioned our weight room into a spin-bike classroom, which aligned more closely with our physical education teaching methodology. We upgraded all of the windows in the school, completed seismic upgrading and signed on to an early warning system for earthquakes. We’ve replaced roofs and upgraded HVAC systems. Recognizing our shortcomings in classroom technology five years ago, we now are an educational leader in classroom technology, with course-suitable mobile computing options in every classroom, interactive projectors and document cameras everywhere they’re needed, and screens across the school. Electives, like Film & Television, have blossomed with the introduction of modern technology and resources. Last year, we were among the first schools in the area to introduce a robust and dedicated STEAM Lab for our students, which incorporates the kind of technology that would be more typical of a post-secondary institution than a high school. It also means students have regular access to both PC and Mac computers.
This year, we continue to fill out our STEAM Lab in Phase II of our Technology Campaign. This summer will see another significant investment in the resources and technical equipment we can call upon. This year we changed our course offering to make sure every incoming Grade 8 is exposed to the STEAM Lab and the type of learning that is undertaken in that environment. We also made expansive changes to the Library, which will continue this summer. In response to what made our Library so popular, we vastly improved the reading and collaborative spaces. This summer will see technology in the Library modernized. Not to go unnoticed, we continue to grow the massive fiction section of the Library.
We labeled those gifts to the campus improvement as “visionary” gifts. We asked our supporters to consider these gifts after having helped us enrich the day-to-day experience. To the many parents, alumnae, grandparents, past parents, and staff who gave so generously, we are grateful. Your gifts benefit not only those girls who are here today and this coming year, but will carry on being a blessing to those coming into the school for years to come. The school we offer the girls of tomorrow is better because of the support you’ve given this year.
Saving resources in an endowment (so the principle can generate interest that is revenue for the school) is common among non-profit educational institutions. It is what separates the very best universities from their peers, whether it is Harvard or Yale in the US, Oxford or Cambridge in the UK, or UofT or UBC here at home.
Little Flower Academy has started that process. Early days have given way to a stunning year of investment and this year will be remembered as a transformational year in the development of LFA’s endowment. The Foundation regularly receives annual gifts directed to the endowment and the graduating classes typically give a gift to our financial aid endowment. However, we particularly celebrate those who make a significant gift by setting up a named endowment. We were blessed to have three family endowments established this past year:
Jin Family Endowment
Mowat Family Endowment
Rogers Family in Memory of Lloyd and Mary Rogers Endowment
The Little Flower Academy Foundation will steward these resources, which will begin paying dividends to enrich education at Little Flower almost immediately. The vision of these sorts of gifts, of course, is that those dividends will continue to be disbursed to the school annually, in perpetuity, for the benefit of future generations of Angels.