What do you do at PSS and how long have you been here? I have been at Pacific Spirit School for nine years. I am the Kindergarten/Grade One teacher and the Associate Principal.
What initially attracted you to work at PSS and what do you value about working here now? PSS found me and I’m so grateful they did. After hearing about my creative work with kids they reached out to me. After I read the school’s philosophy and watched their link to Ken Robinson’s TED talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, my heart lept at the possibility that a school like this actually existed. I felt inspired to step back into the classroom, and I am so glad I did.
I deeply value and resonate with the educational philosophies of this school.
I value the community of educators and families, and the commitment to open, honest and caring communication.
I value the way we respect and nurture children, and support their whole growth by meeting them where they’re at. I value that we focus on helping children navigate the emotional, social, physical and intellectual complexities of their inner and outer worlds while celebrating their strengths and uniqueness.
I value that PSS is more than just a school; it’s a community where families, staff and students work together to care for each other and create a safe and compassionate environment to grow and learn as individuals and as a whole.
What’s something you’ve learned teaching or working here? I have learned that children need to feel safe to take risks. I have learned that the richest and deepest learning comes from supporting children to find and follow their interests; it is from this place that we can scaffold them to step into their personal challenges and help expand their learning.
I am continually amazed by children’s unique ways of thinking and learning, and inspired by their creativity, ingenuity and curiosity. I have learned to trust that play is a rich opportunity for all sorts of learning. Play is the work of children but adults would also do well to bring play back into their lives.
Which educator has influenced you the most in your life, and how? My Kindergarten/Grade One teacher, Mr. Robert Heidbreder. He created a caring, playful and supportive classroom that was alive with stories and explorative learning. This foundational experience was worth its weight in gold and helped me feel like school was a place for me, learning could be fun and that I could learn. This foundation was essential during the darker days of school when I struggled with learning disabilities and social challenges. Mr. Heidbreder inspired me to want to build this strong foundation for others as a way to buffer them from the sometimes squishing effects of school. Heidi Anderson, the Principal and long-time K/1 teacher at Pacific Spirit School, supported me in the ways we support the kids, to shine and grow as an educator and whole person.
What do you look forward to in your role here each year? I look forward to the people, big and little.
What is an example of your approach to nurturing social, emotional, physical and intellectual learning in your work at PSS? I welcome you to come see our classroom in action!
If you could bring anyone back to life and have dinner with them, who would it be? I would love the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents and a few dearly missed loved ones.
What’s one item on your bucket list? Narrowing the gap of inequality and building a more just and compassionate society. I would also like to see the volcanic landscapes of Iceland.
What educational background, or ongoing professional development, do you draw upon in your work at PSS? I was raised in cooperative housing and went to inner city schools and alternative high schools. I have a B.A. in Geography with a focus on the geography of childhood. I did my teacher training at SFU and ran after-school programs and summer camps in East Vancouver. I have designed curriculums and taught programs for Community Mapping, Storytelling projects and ArtStart Vancouver. I have a vast knowledge of children’s literature from my decades of bookstore work and a ridiculously large collection of children’s books.