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CIS Ontario Women’s Network launch at UCC a huge success

Upper Canada College faculty members Allison Macrae, Deirdre Timusk and Tina Jagdeo — along with Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS) executive director Sarah Craig — have created the CIS Ontario Women’s Network. The initial event on Feb. 27 was a huge success, with more than 200 attendees coming out, triple the forecast.

“It was created as we saw a need for women to have a place to find mentors and network,” says Macrae, an Upper School math teacher.

“You don’t have to be in a formal position of leadership to make a difference. It is valuable to lead from the middle.”

The idea was hatched at a UCC female staff and faculty book club meeting last fall where participants read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

The inaugural CIS Ontario Women’s Network kicked off in UCC’s student centre on Feb. 27. UCC chief administrative officer Patti MacNicol, St. Clement’s School principal Martha Perry and University of Toronto Schools principal Rosemary Evans spoke about the role that mentors and networking played in their careers and offered advice on how women can create their own mentoring and support network.

The panel was followed by a wine and cheese mixer where women had the opportunity to meet new people and have meaningful conversations about their career.

The CIS Ontario Women’s Network launch event, titled “Finding Your People: Creating Your Own Network Of Support In Your Leadership Journey,” was held in conjunction with Cohort 21. Cohort 21 is a professional development initiative to build a community of CIS Ontario educators who are interested in refining and redesigning their practice through the exploration of new pedagogies, ideas and learning tools.

CIS Ontario is an association of independent schools that maintains a strong voice for quality independent school education and emerging issues in pedagogy. It also acts as a catalyst for collaborative efforts among member schools.

“We hope to have many events, conversations and opportunities for networking and mentoring in the future,” Macrae says of what’s next for the CIS Ontario Women’s Network.

“We are excited for the many possibilities that are to come, especially given the overwhelming interest in our first event.”

Macrae added that UCC Principal Sam McKinney “has been incredibly supportive and excited about this initiative, and we are grateful for his support and guidance.”

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