What do you do at PSS and how long have you been here? I came to Pacific Spirit in September 2018. I support the educators and learners in the various classrooms -my role is to help educators better understand and address information processing differences in order to improve social, emotional and academic learning outcomes. I hope to help children better understand their own processing and learning needs so that they can be strong self-advocates.
What initially attracted you to work at PSS and what do you value about working here now? A family from my private practice asked me to accompany them for a visit to the school and I immediately felt that I had found “my people”. I have a great appreciation for the Pacific Spirit School mission and the tenets of student centred, inquiry-based learning that promotes collaboration, curiosity, creativity and rich relationships and I share in the ideal and responsibility of helping children experience joy and contentment in their daily pursuits. I find great fulfillment in performing a supportive role alongside like-minded professionals.
What’s something you’ve learned teaching or working here? Well, grade 5 math, for a start! The last 8 months have been extremely validating for me and have helped to entrench my trust in the wisdom of children and the value of providing them with time and space to generate and flesh out their own ideas, follow their passions and take risks in their creative endeavours.
Which educator has influenced you the most in your life, and how? I have been fortunate to learn from so many different people over the years. My Nana was my first teacher of the natural world. Bears and Samahria Kaufman created an approach called Son-Rise that encourages quiet, attentive presence, meaningfully joining children in their activities and the power of unconditional love and acceptance. Their work informs my interactions with every child I encounter. Randi Gurholt-Seary was my supervisor in an inner city, integrated childcare program and she taught me to trust a child’s process, value the different qualities that each individual brings to the table and that it was possible to give children boundaries and discipline without making them feel inadequate. Bev Bos showed me the critical difference between praise and encouragement.
The experiences and perspectives of educators such as Helen Hughes, Marva Collins, A.S. Neill, John Holt, David Elkind, Alfie Kohn, Brent Cameron and Gordon Neufeld, have also had a great influence on me.
What do you look forward to in your role here each year? I look forward to continuing to learn alongside such phenomenal educators, parents and children in such a supportive and open environment.
What is an example of your approach to nurturing social, emotional, physical and intellectual learning in your work at PSS? I believe strongly in experiential learning and fanning the flames of children’s interests and wonderment through experiential, play- and inquiry-based learning. Scientists play. Engineers play. Artists play. Musicians play. Play and inquiry are what lead to the greatest discoveries. I use the ideas of my students as springboards for lessons and strive to create unique and intentional learning experiences. I always have “my plan” and then I have “what happens”-“what happens” is usually better than my plan!
If you could bring anyone back to life and have dinner with them, who would it be? I would love to spend time with my paternal grandparents again. They died when I was 12 and I never got to know them as “people”. They had their own struggles and I would love to be able to learn from them.
What’s one item on your bucket list? I would like to create a permaculture garden, preferably while learning to paint, play the ukulele by ear and speak Italian, fluently.
What educational background, or ongoing professional development, do you draw upon in your work at PSS? Over the past 27 years I have studied and worked in the field of special education in various learning environments and in private practice.
I am a Reference and Regulate autism therapist, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and NeurOptimal neurofeedback trainer. I provide developmentally founded, relationship based, play based, therapy to children and youth who have learning, mental health and behavioural challenges, in 1:1 and small group settings.
I have studied Art and Play Therapy (Justice Institute and others), HANDLE® neurodevelopmental movement therapy and MNRI (Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration) therapy and attended numerous courses, conferences, study groups and webinars in the areas of child development, experiential learning, holistic health, cranial therapy, attachment parenting, neurodevelopmental movement and special needs education, 1985 to present.