Hawthorn Difference

The Hawthorn Difference

Hawthorn is a smaller school that will make a big difference in a girl’s life, one student at a time. It is a unique place that explores each girl’s potential in a smaller learning environment that knows them individually and recognizes and responds to their needs alone.

Hawthorn’s all girls environment, small class sizes, and one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios in the country, provides a unique kind of student-by-student learning that is proven to differentially prepare students for reaching and succeeding in the next phase of their learning-and beyond.

We respect the shared goals of our students and their families. We pride ourselves not only on preparing the girls for a postsecondary education, with a 100% university acceptance rate, but also on helping them to succeed in their life’s path – no matter what it may be. Our Classical Liberal Arts Education provides cultural literacy, critical reasoning skills, and aid in the growth of virtue, in a smaller school environment that allows teachers and mentors to know every girl, their personal interests and abilities. This fosters a truly individualized education and allows every girl to leave her mark in her own way.

Our goal is to make a difference in each girl’s life and we take that to heart. Although what the Hawthorn Difference will mean for each girl will depend on their individual needs and goals, the way it is delivered is set upon a common foundation of five key pillars: Pursuit of Excellence in Education, Personal Mentorship, Partnership with Parents, Leadership through Service, and All Girls Advantage.

One of the ways that we keep making a difference is by listening and changing, but not only the requirements of an increasing competitive and complex world – but by listening to and working together with parents. Hawthorn was founded upon the principal belief that parents are the primary educators of their children, an our commitment to educate together in partnership with them, is part of what continues to make Hawthorn different.

Pursuit of Excellence in Education


The commitment to academic excellence results in a program for acquiring knowledge, honing skills and analyzing the connections of different disciplines and fields of study. In keeping with the tradition of a Classical Liberal Arts curriculum including the Sciences, a Hawthorn education is not limited to the basics of who, what, when and where. Rather, this know-how acts as a catalyst for determining the fundamental truths of life and our human existence, our place in history and what changes we can affect in the world. Moreover, because Hawthorn’s founding principles are inspired by the Catholic faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church, the human drive towards excellence is directed to the service of others, for the glory and love of God.

Hawthorn strives to build well-rounded young women through a classical liberal arts curriculum that is university preparatory. The three main aims of the academic program are:  to build cultural literacy, develop critical reasoning skills, and aid in the growth of virtue. A strong foundation of language arts and mathematics is emphasized in Lower School. In the Upper School, mandatory courses in Philosophy, Latin, Ethics and World History round out the Language, Math, Science, and Arts programs.

Classical Liberal Arts Education

Recognizing the existence of fundamental truths, the understanding of which are necessary for a meaningful life, Hawthorn School adopted a core curriculum based on the classical liberal arts tradition.

At Hawthorn we emphasize respect for the dignity of each individual and enable students to realize their full potential. The curriculum aims at excellence, not an excellence which is marked by good grades, but one which is reflected in each student’s ability to think critically, reason logically and intelligently, and express herself clearly and persuasively.

The pursuit of academic excellence is very much in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Students learn, through theory and practice, to exercise the virtues in their lives – at home, in school, at work and in the greater community.

Personal Mentorship

The Mentor Program serves as the cornerstone of Hawthorn’s Character Education Program. Students are assigned a mentor from grade 2 to 12. The mentor is a well-trained, experienced, female role model who meets with the student throughout the school year to provide personal guidance.

Mentoring affords each student the opportunity to work with a trusted and experienced mentor on the different things in which she can improve, as she relates to her family at home, teachers and classmates in school, does her work and deals with the challenges life may present her.  Each student is unique, with her own set of strengths and weaknesses.  Mentors recognize this and, through mentoring, help each student to determine what they need to do in order to work well, identify things to be improved on, and develop a stronger character in the course of doing ordinary and everyday things.

Virtues are good habits. As habits, they need constant practice and application in all aspects of one’s daily life.

Open and regular communication between mentors and parents allow for better understanding of both sides as they work towards the common goal of helping the student become a better person as a whole.

In both the Lower and Upper Schools, each student (grades 1 – 12) is assigned a mentor from among the Hawthorn staff at the beginning of the academic year, with whom she meets regularly. Mentors make every reasonable effort to be available to their mentees when they need assistance or to discuss particular concerns they may have. Parent-Mentor meetings are officially scheduled twice a year, as well as at the parents’ request or as necessary.

In the Junior School, each family (PS, JK & SK) is assigned a mentor from among the Hawthorn staff at the beginning of the academic year. Meetings between Junior School parents and their mentors are also officially scheduled twice a year, as well as at the parents’ request or as necessary.

Mentoring sessions will include determining personal goals for each mentee, depending on what their particular situation or circumstances may be.

Partnership with Parents

Parents come first in the life of the school because they will always be the most direct, powerful and consistent educators in their child’s life. Children learn first from their parents: from their example, their attitudes, their words, and their actions. Mentors and teachers follow parents in our educational priority of persons because it is they to whom parents entrust an important part of their child’s education. Teachers impart knowledge and guide students in acquiring and using intellectual, manual and moral tools to assimilate and make new connections. With parents and teachers working together, the goal of making a difference in each girl’s life is realized in a very natural and complete way.

Founded by parents in 1989, Hawthorn has been providing a unique academic, character-based education of the whole person and the comprehensive teaching of a child’s set of ‘first’ and ‘second’ decisions that will confidently serve them for a lifetime. Hawthorn recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children and practices an approach that stresses collaboration in order to provide a consistent effort that will contribute to a girl’s academic and personal success.

Hawthorn, in its mission, believes in the importance of not only preparing students academically, but in providing a complete education of the whole-person that is consistent with the shared values of the families that have carefully chosen the school.

Hawthorn is the only independent all-girls school in Toronto offering a Catholic- inspired education and offers unique one-on-one mentorship and individualized education that helps guide each girl through the important decision that will help them flourish as they become the best women they can be.

Leadership through Service

Leadership Through Service

With the objective of helping our girls become confident women of integrity and faith, committed to the betterment of society, we believe it is essential for our students to see the connection between leadership, service and social responsibility.

The practice of good moral habits or virtues complements the building of this foundational body of essential knowledge and skills. Together, these inspire the minds of our students to heights of big dreams, grand ideas and the pursuit of excellence. Hawthorn students are helped to understand that this privileged position bears with it the blessed opportunity and responsibility of helping those around them. It is both a duty and a gift to be of service to others, and to be a leader in this way is to be so, not for the sake of prestige, but for the good of all.

Service projects and other similar initiatives provide opportunities for the students to extend themselves to others by giving of their time and talent generously throughout the school year. Service projects may involve an organized visit to a charitable community organization to help with their work, such as Canadian Food for Children, Good Shepherd Ministries and St. Francis Table. They may also involve smaller opportunities to help out in school with various activities and events, affording Upper School students with the chance to earn service hours, if they wish.

Hawthorn girls are courageous and confident. Emphasis is placed on being generous with one’s time and talents.

Inspired by teachings of the Catholic Church, leadership roles are recognized as opportunities to be of service to those around us – those who need help the most.

Service Projects

Service projects and other similar initiatives provide opportunities for the students to extend themselves to others by giving of their time and talent generously throughout the school year. Service projects may involve an organized visit to a charitable community organization to help with their work, such as Canadian Food for Children, Good Shepherd Ministries and St. Francis Table. They may also involve smaller opportunities to help out in school with various activities and events, affording Upper School students with the chance to earn service hours, if they wish.

Hawthorn School is proud to provide our senior students with the opportunity to take part in the International Service Project in Peru or Trinidad and Tobago.

The Condoray Project in Peru was started in 1963, in the poverty-stricken region of Canete Valley, as a women’s training center with the goal to stimulate the socio-economic development of the region.  To achieve this aim, Condoray runs many different courses such as basic literacy, child-rearing, basic employment training, and nutrition to name a few.

“During our trip to Trinidad and Tobago we also cleaned and painted a school library.  This took us four afternoons, and involved killing hornets and spiders, painting the whole upper half of the walls using one broken ladder, and sorting through hundreds of dusty, damaged books.  Even though it had its interesting challenges, we had many spectators, comprised of the school’s students and teachers.  It was a lot of fun, and the end result was very satisfying.

Another part of the service project was the opportunity to visit an old age home, as well as a centre for mentally and physically disabled children.  These visits gave us a greater appreciation for our own health, and the family and friends we have at home, as well as allowed us to see examples of people living fully in spite of their difficulties. At the centre for disabled children for example, there was one little boy named Malachi who was particularly friendly.  He had no legs, so he was sitting in a wheelchair, wheeling himself around.  From the moment we walked in, he asked us if we wanted high-fives, saying, “You want a five, too?”  He continued this request until the moment we left, and it was a great example of living joyfully in the face of adversity.” by D. De Martin, Gr. 12

Hawthorn’s goal of sending students overseas is to develop and foster in them a sense of awareness of the needs of the developing world, to experience firsthand the effects of poverty, and to learn about the Church’s role in social justice and global solidarity.

Generosity Projects

Several “Generosity Projects” are organized each year to foster a spirit of service and generosity in the students. Students are encouraged and given the opportunity to share with those less fortunate.


There are four Generosity Projects throughout the year:



  • Christmas Generosity Project– We organize ourselves to put together Christmas gift bags for each person that the Missionaries of Charity in Toronto have identified as disadvantaged due to their personal circumstances, and who may be experiencing difficulties during the Christmas season. Each Hawthorn student is assigned a gift recipient. (Campaign period: two weeks leading up to the second or third week of December)


  • Footprints in the Snow(Winter Clothing Drive) – This generosity project benefits those who may be struggling to find warmth and protect themselves from the elements during winter, with collected items going to persons or families in need in the Greater Toronto Area, such as the Good Shepherd Ministries as well as newly-arrived refugees.


  • Mothers and Babies Generosity Project – We collect items for new or expectant moms at risk, as well as babies (infants and toddlers). These items are donated to the Sisters of Life Toronto, whose apostolate involves working with and supporting expectant and new mothers and their babies.

Catholic-inspired Education

The teachings of the Catholic Church are at the heart of a Hawthorn education.

Hawthorn School provides an education directed to achieving the harmonious development of the whole person: mind, will, heart and body.  Through the school’s classical liberal arts curriculum and the interdisciplinary character of our programs, students are led to search, know and love the truth about who they are, the meaning of life, the dignity and respect of every human being as children of God.

Altogether, parents, mentors and teachers, guide and challenge the students to exercise human and Christian virtues, integrating their faith into all areas of their life, so that they might live according to their beliefs and dignity, becoming confident women of integrity and faith.

Students are encouraged to use their reason and ask questions, explore the reasons for their faith and learn to distinguish between essential matters of faith and questions of culture and history.  The study of moral theology enables them to discern the morality of human acts and facilitates their search for goodness, truth, love and respect for other human beings.


We at Hawthorn respect and offer a friendly culture that respects students of all religions and backgrounds.  Catholics, non-Catholics and non-Christians are welcome, coming together as one respectful and cohesive community. Everyone -parents, teachers and students – is welcome and free to participate in the spiritual activities.

Since 1989, the parents who founded Hawthorn School, inspired by the spirit of St. Josemaría, founder of Opus Dei, entrusted the school’s chaplaincy and spiritual activities to the Prelature of Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church: www.opusdei.ca.

All Girls Advantage

As an all-girls school, we are able to focus on the needs of our students, in all aspects of their personhood, helping them to realize the gifts of being truly feminine and the impact they can make in the world as they become responsible and loving women.

Girls’ schools help girls achieve their full potential. Here’s why:

  • Teaching methods and educational practices are tailored to the way girls learn to ensure academic success.
  • Girls develop the confidence and leadership abilities they need to get involved in curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.
  • Girls can focus on finding and expressing their true self without the distractions of a co-ed environment.
  • Girls’ school graduates are more likely to pursue the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in university.

An all-girl school helps students to understand their value and capabilities without worrying on how she looks or whom she dates. Girls feel free to experiment and explore, to try out new things and getting involved in different roles. Successfully they follow their dreams and goals without hesitation on how her male counterparts might perceive her.

According to the NCGS (National Coalition of Girls’ Schools), girls who graduate from all girls’ schools have significant advantages over their peers from coed schools, such as:

  • 10% higher confidence in mathematics and computer skills than their coed counterparts.
  • 80% consider their academic performance highly succesful
  • They spend more time studying or doing homework, talking with teachers, tutoring peers and studying with others.

“At a girl’s school, a girl occupies every role: every part in the play, every seat on the student government, every position on every team…” by NCGS


Video by NCGS (National Coalition of Girls’ Schools)