Alum Interviews & Profiles

Alum Interviews & Profiles

We love to hear about the exciting activities and achievements of Montcrest alum, and their favourite Montcrest memories.

Update your contact details with our Alum Information Update Form

Share your stories and good news with us at communications@​​

Charlie Finkle '21

Interview with Alum Charlie Finkle ’21

We recently had an opportunity to catch up with Montcrest Alum Charlie Finkle ‘21 who is in Grade 11 at Riverdale Collegiate. Charlie loves the academics and facilities at Riverdale, and he has taken advantage of their co-curricular programs as a member of the rugby teams (rugby 7s and 15s).

Charlie continues to be in contact with some of his Montcrest classmates. In particular, he spends lots of time with Ethan Hanna ‘21 and also remains close with BK Kedairy ‘21 who lives in Jordan.

Charlie is also an avid surfer and loved his surfing experiences in El Salvador and Costa Rica on recent vacations. Although school and other commitments have made it hard to take advantage of spring storms (ideal for lake surfing), Charlie has also been an active surfer on Lake Ontario over the years. Charlie’s passion for surfing has also been a part of his work experience where he has worked at Surf The Greats, a local surf shop, for the past three years.

During a surfing trip to Nova Scotia, Charlie was able to visit Dalhousie University, one of his top prospects. Charlie loves the fact that Dalhousie is a very good school and is also located close to the Atlantic Ocean so he can continue to enjoy surfing too!

In reflecting upon his Montcrest experience, Charlie really appreciates the friendships that he was able to make within a smaller school like Montcrest. He also enjoyed all the time that he and his classmates were able to spend outdoors through their studies, recess time and co-curriculars.

“I loved my teachers at Montcrest, all the way from Ms. Kingstone in SK through to my teachers in Grade 8.” They were really welcoming and supportive. The teachers were happy to be there and were always willing to help out. I felt welcomed and supported and they helped to motivate me.

Beyond the classroom, Charlie really enjoyed the opportunity to explore and try things out through the softball, soccer, basketball, track and field and cross country teams.

Montcrest really helped Charlie to feel comfortable. In turn, this instilled a sense of confidence to be himself and to take risks in his learning and outside the classroom.

For our Middle School students, Charlie offered this advice: ‘Enjoy what you have at Montcrest and don’t be afraid of high school. Have an open mind and anywhere you go will be a great experience.”

Jonah Greenhut '17

Interview with Alum Jonah Greenhut ’17

In late November, we had an opportunity to catch up with Montcrest Alum Jonah Greenhut ‘17. Jonah is completing his Bachelor of Arts and Science at Guelph University (studying statistics, sociology, and public policy).

Jonah and his sister, Sadie ‘17, both attended Montcrest. We were fortunate to have Jonah and Sadie’s parents join us in November as Alum Ambassadors at our Small Class Information Session. Josh Greenhut and Susan Rich shared such meaningful stories about their Montcrest experience and it inspired us to connect with Jonah for a longer conversation. We hope you enjoy the interview and Jonah’s beautifully articulated insights.

Question: How do you think your experience at Montcrest has shaped who you are today?
Jonah: I really think I think there’s two aspects. I think there’s the co-curricular aspect, and then I think there’s the academics.

So I’ll start with the co-curricular. Montcrest offered a bunch of clubs and I would try to do them; like Peacemakers. I had the option to be involved in a plethora of things. As I went through the grades, it kind of changed into leadership. By chance, I was able to listen in on Eco Club as a younger student. Eventually, I worked with Maggie Funnell ‘17 and Clare Rowbotham ‘17 to lead our Eco Club. In Grade 8, we started an outdoor cooking club which was wild. I was a leader with Jackson Shibley ‘17 and we helped kids cook on an open fire in the community garden.

I remember Ms. Stewart introducing leadership concepts to me like the ‘seven thinking caps’. These leadership experiences and training stayed with me in high school where I became the only Grade 11 to become a House Captain at Greenwood College. Then in Grade 12, I was fully running Greenwood’s House System with another Montcrest Alum. It was crazy to think that we had known each other since Grade 2 at Montcrest, and we were now leading Greenwood’s House program together through the pandemic. So, there have been many of these full-circle moments and these leadership things have stuck with me.

Question: That’s amazing. That’s so many good things. You were also involved in the arts, weren’t you?
Jonah: Yes, I did all the possible bands with the tenor sax – concert band, stage band and the smaller band. Also, I was an actor with Montcrest Players and I also helped out with the Junior Players. I would be backstage and I would help with props and sets.

For the academics, it was important to have teachers that truly recognized what I needed and engaged me in learning – it helped me to love school more fully. I can take a very concrete example of English class. We worked on essay writing and we developed that ‘hard skill’ in a way that prepared me and put me way ahead for high school. There was also an interdisciplinary aspect and approach to learning that helped to break down the silos between subjects. You might do French, English, science and math and combine those to present your findings or whatever. I remember working in the science lab with Mr. Bailey & Ms. Boyd, working with microscopes, and running hypothesis. I don’t think that was the typical primary or middle school experience. I think it was really special.

Question: Is there anything that stands out as uniquely Montcrest?
Jonah: I think some things that really stick out with me are the teacher student connections and the strong relationships that help to translate into the customized education approach because the teachers really know the students. I remember Miss John’s class. We got really into the medieval unit during social studies because we were excited about the theme as a group of students. We ended up having a medieval feast and jousting. We really ran with it. I think that is very unique.

The small, tight knit community is a benefit – the relationship building is really amazing.

Question: If you were encouraging someone to consider Montcrest for their family, what things would share with them?
Jonah: I think there’s two approaches.

Montcrest is amazing and phenomenal for kids who need some extra support to overcome some sort of challenge. Maybe it relates to learning or it could be about feeling more comfortable socially. The smaller size and wide range of activities really helps you feel more comfortable and helps you make different communities. I found my people in one place, and then I found my people again on the ultimate team. And it’s like you have all these different opportunities.

To take that one step further; I think the thing that is unique to Montcrest specifically, the real thing, is the teacher student connection. It is genuinely true. I am still close with some of my teachers; I still reach out to Jen Vincent or Dani Klein for advice. These are people who are still a part of my life today. They don’t just care about you to put on a show, they care about you, to see you succeed and they invest in the students. If you’re looking for your kids to have meaningful relationships and have the ability to try new things and grow, Montcrest is for you.

In the beginning, early years, starting with a strong foundation will ensure that your child moves into the academic journey in a very positive way. I’ve always loved school.

Question: What advice would you give students who are here now?
Jonah: Oh, that’s a good one. I think for the older students, like the Grade 7 & 8s, it’s about setting good habits and trying to find what works best for them. And it’s like you also have the time to focus. So play around with things and try new things. Find out what interests you and what works best for you.

And then for younger students: looking back, I would say to try everything! If you don’t think you’re sporty or you don’t think you can act… you are only in Grade 3 or 5 and no one is an expert yet. Take a chance and try new things.

Question: If Montcrest was a person, what personality or character traits would they have?
Jonah: I think if Montcrest was a person, they would be a very welcoming, bubbly innovator. I think they would be very community oriented and they would always be striving to problem solve. Problem solving I think is a big one. Like they would be this problem solving, open minded, energetic, passionate person.

Montcrest really is an amazing place and it has a special connection for me. Whenever I hear Montcrest, it is heartwarming. I was once on a plane once and I overheard someone talking with their kid who went to Montcrest. I said hi and told them how I went to Montcrest. It is crazy and rare, Montcrest is such an amazing starting place in a relationship.

Andrew Luba '07
Andrew Luba

As Montcrest ‘Start to Finish’ graduates both Andrew ‘07 and his brother Michael ‘04 attended Montcrest from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 8

Andrew graduated from Northern Secondary School and Quest University Canada where he completed a Liberal Arts & Sciences degree on self-designed with a major in “Choice Architecture”. This led him to studies at OCAD University where he is completing a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight & Innovation.

“My career and professional life so far have been about creation. I’ve filled the role of the cliché “start-up kid.” On the business for profit side, I co-founded and crowd-funded two product design companies – Minimal Design Company Inc. and SlowLabs Company.”

On the social side, I co-created and run an online platform to connect Toronto youth facing barriers to accessible sporting opportunities in the city and have worked on The Athletes in Motion (AIM) Camp to bring an inclusive accessible sport, day camp to children who wouldn’t go to camp otherwise (both in Toronto, and in Durban, South Africa).  I’ve also been lucky enough to do some public speaking about my ideas, most recently at The Walrus Talks Innovation.

“Although the product design companies have been more successful and accomplished their intended goals, while the more social-oriented projects have slowly fallen apart – I still want to focus my life on creating social good. I want to live a life that dignifies what it is to be human, which I see as one with empathy, healthy love for myself and others, and engaged, social and politically conscious action to challenge current dominant power structures in our world. Even if what I do in life benefits only a small group of people around me, that’s a life that serves a positive purpose!”“ I’m very satisfied with my personal life. I appreciate most sitting down with friends and family over a collectively cooked dinner to chat and play board games and sing. I’ve moved back in with my mom after returning from my undergrad in British Columbia and love it. Redefining your relationship with your parents as one ages is beautiful, and I am so grateful to learn so much from my mom every day.”

“I think what I remember most from Montcrest really is the feeling that everyone could be themselves without fear. We could express ourselves in any way – whether through our hairstyle, the questions we asked in class, or the way we learned – and everyone would accept us. Everyone – students, teachers, admin alike, genuinely cared about each other.”

“I’ve carried this “be yourself” attitude on in my life, with a brief trying to fit in period in high school that most people probably go through. Montcrest showed me that no matter who I am, I bring something valuable to the table. Some of my closest friends now are people I met at Montcrest. We’ve grown up and changed a lot of course, but the basis of our friendship is still there; we respect each other for who we are, authentically care about each other, and always do our best to encourage each other to grow and learn. ”

“Montcrest was a tiny non-elitist private school where I had a community that cared about me and would do whatever it could (making any changes necessary) to inspire me to learn about school, music, sports, and life in general.”

Penelope Graham ‘07
Penelope Graham

Penny is a journalist and spokesperson specializing in finance and real estate. She remembers when Mrs. Kingstone decorated the Kindergarten room as a genie’s lamp, and took the class to meet one on Toronto Island. “I believed it was real magic!”

Penelope Graham attended Montcrest from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 7 in the Class of 1997.  Her brother Alexander was also a Montcrest student in the 1990’s.

Following Montcrest Penny attended Milne Valley Middle School, Victoria Park Secondary School, and received her diploma in Journalism from Humber College.

Penelope is a journalist and spokesperson specializing in finance and real estate.  As Managing Editor at Zoocasa, a Canadian real estate brokerage and learning resource, she is responsible for directing content strategy, creation, and speaking to the media about current events in real estate. Penny appears regularly on news shows including BNN, CTV, CBC’s The National, and Canada A.M., as well as numerous radio and print outlets.

When she is not working, Penelope is usually dancing –  “I’ve been pursuing ballet for a number of years. I’m also a huge bookworm (I hope that makes Ms. Levere proud). I’m also in the midst of planning my wedding, which will be in June 2017.”

What Penny remembers most about her years at Montcrest was how tightly knit her classmates were, “when you’ve grown up together in a small group from the age of 5, it’s almost as though they’re your brothers and sisters.” Her favourite memories include the amazing student plays staged by Ms. Swarbrick and Betty’s Art class, “my parents still have a cupboard full of my clay creations, and countless kite spools.

As a Montcrest student Penny recalls, “I wore a kilt with ALL the colours of the rainbow.” Her favourite subjects were Art, Drama and English, and favourite extra-curricular activity was hiding out in the library.

Rory Grant ‘07
Rory Grant

Rory’s career in social work is motivated by his goal to create positive, safe, and genuine interactions everywhere he goes.

He facilitates various workshops, leads a singing program, and works at two youth mental health organizations – Skylark & Yorktown Family Services.

“I love celebrating others for being themselves, or stepping outside of their comfort zones. I am a huge fan of all games, and love to play music with friends. I recently joined an a capella choir to do just that!”

Rory attended North Toronto Collegiate Institute followed by studies at Queen’s University in Political Studies. What he remembers most about his time at Montcrest School is his “conversations and banter with the teachers. They were incredibly fun to be around. I remember all the silliness in drama and band class. I remember playing football every single recess. We had fun all the time!”

Rory reflects: “Montcrest people are kind, and I seem to gravitate towards the kindest people because of that.” He is still friends with many Montcrest people, “our year had a pretty strong bond. We’re lucky to still be close and in touch.”

He tells new friends that Montcrest “was the safest, smallest, cutest little school.”

At Montcrest Rory loved music and sports. He played tuba in ‘every single group, every single year”, and also played on the basketball team, soccer team, European handball club, track and field.”

Rory’s siblings Kristin ’04, Tom ’06 & Robbie ’07 also graduated from Montcrest School.

Amy Woroch ‘08
Amy Woroch

Amy is working at her first job, as a Clinical Research Project Assistant for the CALIPER (Canadian Laboratory Initiative on Paediatric Reference Intervals) Project at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Amy attended St. Clement’s School for high school and then Mount Allison University where she studied biochemistry.

The CALIPER project is looking to buildpaediatric reference intervals (normal ranges of results for blood tests) to improve doctorís diagnostic ability. She finds it very rewarding because results are very readily translated to improvements in healthcare, and currently the CALIPER reference intervals are being used world-wide. As a project assistant, Amy is involved in promotion and recruitment for the project as well as organizing and running clinics at schools where children and teens can participate in the project and communicating with the Research Ethics Board at the hospital.

Since graduating from Mount Allison Amy has been appreciating having more free time for hobbies and spending time with friends and family. She has also been volunteering both with the Child Life Department at Sick Kids and with Toronto Distress Centre, a suicide prevention hotline. “I am really enjoying working right now: however, in the future, I hope to complete a Master’s Degree.”

Amy’s favourite subjects in school were always science, math, and music. It was only in high school that science started to pull ahead as the subject she really wanted to study.

“What I remember most about my time at Montcrest School was how genuinely excited I was to come to school and learn. All my Montcrest teachers were so passionate, and that translated to a classroom environment where the students were very engaged and learning was fun. I also remember that because the class sizes were so small, you got to be friends with everyone in your grade.”

“My favourite extra-curricular activity was playing saxophone in the Stage Band. I loved the music program at Montcrest and after graduating continued to play my saxophone in the St. Clement’s Jazz Band, the Montcrest Alumni Jazz Band, and more recently, with friends from school. It is one of my go to “fun facts” about myself in a group icebreaker scenario.”

Amy’s sister, Megan Woroch ’11 is also a Montcrest graduate.

Julian Russell ‘13
Julian Russell

Julian completes his final year at Royal St. George’s College this year and is applying abroad to study agriculture and economics.

The lasting impression that continues to exist from his years at Montcrest was “learning the importance of hard work”.

During his years at Montcrest School Julian remembers his time spent with faculty and staff, “funny that I remember my time with the teachers more then the school or students, but they really are what made my experience special.”  Julian recalls “I was a trouble maker in my early years” and acknowledges hard work and his love of Montcrest School for everything it gave and continues to give him. His favourite subjects at Montcrest were Art and Math class, and favourite extra-curricular activities at school were Prop Club and Field Hockey.  Julian’s hidden talent that most people don’t know is that he can sing.  Perhaps his years in Montcrest Singers have stayed with him.

CIS Ontario