What do you do at PSS and how long have you been here? I began teaching at PSS in 2008, working mainly with the intermediate grades, although at PSS we do a lot of mixing of ages, which I love.
What initially attracted you to work at PSS and what do you value about working here now? My own children went to Lifesong, the predecessor to PSS, and Heidi was their K/1 teacher. I loved the warmth and creativity of the school and later returned to it (after it became PSS) when I became a teacher and my own children were off to high school.
What’s something you’ve learned teaching or working here? I suppose that the biggest thing I have learned at my job is that it’s really ok to just be myself, that I can trust in my way of being with children and be fully supported in that by the staff here. This in turn has helped me to grow in how I see children and treasure their unique ways of being in the world.
Which educator has influenced you the most in your life, and how? When I was in grade seven, my teacher gave me a piece of poetry that she had written as a teenager, because she knew that I loved poetry. I remember feeling so happy that someone really saw me. I think that’s the best thing anyone can do for anyone else.
What do you look forward to in your role here each year? I look forward to those moments when a child says or does something that comes straight from whatever they are thinking or wondering in the moment – like the time a kindergarten student asked my age and I said “what would you guess?” and they replied “eighty?”
What is an example of your approach to nurturing social, emotional, physical and intellectual learning in your work at PSS? Know that when a child says “this doesn’t make sense,” they are really saying “I’m confused/tired/frustrated/afraid.” This is the time to work with them to puzzle out whatever the difficulty is and to skillfully balance helping out directly and respectfully standing aside. The clearest example of this has been in teaching math, that universal stumper of young and old! When a student gets stuck, I begin by reassuring them that they are not alone in their struggle, and then together we begin to “parse out” the problem. Usually the child discovers for themselves the point at which the difficulty arose, and then we begin again from there.
Take the time to observe each child as they work and play independently and with others.
Question my own assumptions every day.
If you could bring anyone back to life and have dinner with them, who would it be? Frances Hodgson-Burnett, Cicely Mary Barker, and my grandparents.
What’s one item on your bucket list? To speak and write another language fluently.
What educational background, or ongoing professional development, do you draw upon in your work at PSS? I have a Bachelor of fine arts (honors), a Bachelor of Education from UBC, Orton-Gillingham training and have trained with Mindful Schools.