Heidi Anderson

What do you do at PSS and how long have you been here? I am the principal of Pacific Spirit School. I began the Kindergarten/Grade One program in 1994 and have been principal since 2007.

What initially attracted you to work at PSS and what do you value about working here now? When I was a young adult studying education, I would daydream about talking with parents or public speaking on philosophies of education. As my son was approaching kindergarten age, I wanted to create for him the educational environment I had imagined in those formative years. When I discovered I could have autonomy to create my own program, I began the Kindergarten/Grade One program at Life Song School (now Pacific Spirit School). It’s a great life joy that my daydreams turned into my daily reality and I am grateful that I have been able to practice in this environment, to grow in my own development as an educator and, in the last decade, to support other educators to flourish in their practice.

I value my relationships with children, educators and parents and the sense of life purpose I experience doing the work and play that I have always loved.

What’s something you’ve learned teaching or working here? I have learned the power of daydreams, to treasure each child, to resist interrupting their daydreams, to listen first, and to be comfortable sharing silence. I have experienced the fulfillment of collaborating with the amazing educators who have chosen to hold their practice at PSS and the parents who have chosen to raise their children in our community.

Which educator has influenced you the most in your life, and how? I have had many influential educators in my life.

My father, a gifted storyteller, gave me the gift of guidance through allegory. My mother taught me to come alongside younger children, to guide gently and to truly celebrate the beauty in others. Together they modeled unconditional attachment and created a solid sense of belonging amongst our family; a sense I have endeavoured to mirror in my own parenting and teaching.

My mentor teachers in the Head Start program welcomed me as a novice teacher and tutored me in my first two years of professional practice. They taught me to relax, to be at ease with children, and to pay attention to the most important aspects of Kindergarten/Grade One: to focus on the family, to work in partnership with and to support parents, to have a play-based program, and to share collaborative kinship amongst educators.

Finally, every child I have had the honour to “teach” has educated me in the literacy of childhood and developmental psychology.

What do you look forward to in your role here each year? Being together again with the children, educators and community of families.

What is an example of your approach to nurturing social, emotional learning in your work at PSS? As a Kindergarten/Grade One teacher, I wove social/emotional wellbeing into and throughout the day, and certainly bookended every day with the social/emotional barometric readings of my opening and closing circles. This was born out of experiencing that all aspects of development best thrive when the social/emotional climate is at ease.

As principal, I espouse the “leadership as service” model and prioritize the social/emotional wellbeing of educators, parents and children. I’m often tardy with administrative tasks, nonetheless, the first priority on my desk is not at my desk, but with people here at PSS.

If you could bring anyone back to life and have dinner with them, who would it be? I’d like to bring back to life an everyday person (probably a mother) from pre-history. I’d want to magically be able to communicate in her language and would enjoy the opportunity to understand more about human nature and how civilization has impacted our perceptions and, most interesting, what has remained constant.

What’s one item on your bucket list? I’ve been able to do some of everything on my bucket list. Perhaps that’s a euphemism for being a little bit old!

I would like to contribute and to share what we have developed at PSS within the larger field of education. I am excited to engage with parents and educators to navigate this time of accelerated change and enjoy proceeding together with shared wisdom in the art of education and child-rearing.

I also want to be part of a performing swing trio and to enjoy more of the “brown” food group: coffee, stout beer and chocolate.

What educational background, or ongoing professional development, do you draw upon in your work at PSS?

BA Bilingual/Multicultural Education
Western Oregon State University
Post Graduate Studies in Children’s Literature
The Evergreen State College
30 Years Practice in Education