I Can See Clearly Now
Please welcome Ms. Ally! Oh, we are super excited to have Ms. Ally join us for teaching in the fall! After doing a student teaching term with us, it was love at first sight! We knew she would be a fantastic addition to our team as she fit in immediately - with our staff, students, and parents, and philosophy of learning. How lucky are we that she chose us!? Take a read to learn more about VVA's new teacher, Ms. Ally Vansnick!
For me, the perspective of having a unique family didn’t click until I hit about grade 10.
My mom lost her eyesight to a still unknown cause when I was in grade primary. She woke up one morning with blurry vision in her right eye and within the next few months it spread to her left eye. By the time I was in grade 5 she lost her sight completely.
I know this might sounds kind of bleak but I assure you it’s not.
Thinking back on it now, the most definitive memory I have of my mom losing her eyesight was when I had a “groovy" themed birthday party. Didn't we all? I was 7 years old and I wanted coloured peace signs and smiley faces everywhere. I had told my mom to colour a peace sign purple and she got half way through before I looked over and she had coloured in grey. She laughs about this now but I can only imagine how terrifying it was for her at the time. I cannot imagine gradually losing the ability to see things I have my whole life, Not seeing colours, not telling light or dark, not seeing the faces of loved ones.
People see my mom and circumstance and don’t understand how she cooks, cleans and does everything anyone with sight can do. I often find myself explaining that she hasn’t always been blind, that it happened later on. I can imagine some people who might experience this kind of loss might become dependent on others, but not my mom. She still walked us to and from school. She still took my brother and I out to do things. She taught us how to help her while being independent problem solvers from a young age.
It’s interesting to me, how you can manage to find strength and positivity in the hardest moments life has to offer you. My mom is the most positive person I have ever met, and has been dealt a great deal of difficulty. I don’t know how she does it, but she does. And she is my inspiration for just about everything. Her zest for life gives me so much to strive for every day.
I know not everyone has a mom or someone in their life that they can they look up to and I recognize that despite the challenges my mom faces, that I still get to have such an inspiring mom. It is because of this that I teach. I aspire to be that person for the many children and youth I get to teach. I am grateful to my mom for all she has done and continues to do and hope to pass on to my students that kind of inspiration, dedication, and determination she puts forth on a daily basis.
I often realize every day how much we can take for granted if we aren’t looking closely. I am thankful that I will get the opportunity to spend my days teaching and helping young children grow into great leaders of tomorrow. I am thankful to be able to do this at Via Vita, an environment that I feel aligns with the kind of inspiration my mom had on me. A place where kids get to learn to be independent, understand how the world around them works, to problem solve, and see the positive side of any situation.
The Building Blocks to Ourselves
Please welcome Ms. Tori Portman - another fantastic new teacher joining Via Vita this fall! We are eager to get the year started with this enthusiastic, kind, and talented team player. Enjoy getting to know Tori with her recent blog post as she prepares for her first year, of many, with us at VVA!
Hi everyone! My name is Tori Portman, and I’m one of the new teachers joining the Via Vita Academy family! In my many years of adulting, and trying to stay a life long learner, it has come to my attention to pass on my recently acquired knowledge:
We are all continuous works in progress.
Isn’t that amazing? How has it taken me so long to realize this and yet we teach our students constantly to persevere, and know that another day, another year, or another change is right around the corner? So I think if there is any advice I could not only pass on to my fellow students or staff, but to myself, it is that we all deserve a chance to take a breath when it comes to growth.
I have always struggled with not being “immediately” perfect at a skill, or lesson, which has run over into my teaching ability as well. Why didn’t that lesson go perfectly? Is it obviously my fault? Why couldn’t I get it on the first try? Realistically, when do we ever get something the first try? Those odd opportunities when we have already mastered a skill, or find out we’ve been lucky to figure it out right away, but these are unrealistic expectations to meet on a daily basis.
So for this year, I have reminded myself to breathe, reflect, and realizing I am still building up the teacher I hope to be one day.
And that’s ok! Really!
I tell my students constantly that one day does not define their abilities. So why should we put the pressure on ourselves as adults, as educators, as parents to think the same rule does not apply? We are constantly rearranging the building blocks of our life and I hope take time for myself to do the same this year. This school seems to provide it’s staff and students exactly that space. Lesson didn’t go well? Try again tomorrow! Try it differently! Have someone there to tell you it’ll be ok and provide you with whatever support you need in that instance. What more could you look for when trying to find your “forever home” as an educator. Already from my few weeks of working at Via Vita, I can see the relationships and constant building up that staff and students focus on rather than breaking people down and reminding them of the faults they are usually self-aware of from the start. I can not contain my excitement at the success not only my students find, but that I hope to find within myself. Self-positivity is something I constantly preach in my teaching values, but not always something I practice actively. If I had primary goal for this year, it would be that. Someone remind me I said such coherent ideas when it’s December and I’m looking for somewhere to hibernate and de-frazzle my brain.
As a teacher I am ready to promote this theory. As a fellow learner with my students I am looking forward to practice building myself up every day.
Look out 2018-2019 school year, Tori Portman is coming atcha!
*insert power pose with ultimately clumsy results here*
A Work in Progress
Please welcome one our newest members to the teaching team at Via Vita - Ms. Rhiannon MacDonald! We are so proud to have found such a kind, generous, and inspiring soul - she is truly an amazing individual who has brought so much heart to the school. We are beyond excited to see her in the classroom in September and pumped for the kiddos to get to know this awesome individual!
When I was growing up, I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to experience sports in many ways. My dad was a coach, my grandpa a physical educator, and my mother a runner. I was able to try what I was interested in, without being obligated to enjoy or commit fully to sports (which was important). I tried a lot of sports that just weren’t for me - hockey for one day, gymnastics for 10 minutes, and so on. It wasn’t until I was 14 and found rugby that I knew I had found a sport I truly loved.
Growing up with open minded conversations all around me, I was independent and wanted to learn the game all on my own. It wasn’t until a week into try outs that I asked for advice from my dad (a rugby player for 30 years). I will never forget what he said, “be versatile, be the ball if you have to”.
I remember being confused at the time but wanting time to think about what he said on my own before asking him what he meant. So, I ventured off to tryouts, and games, and classes, and life and that bit of advice never rang more true as I grew older. Now, years have gone by and I think of that quote often.
At the time, I didn't realize the value in his words and how true they would eventually become to so many aspects of just being me. I have used his advice to get me through many areas of my life - areas that have nothing to with sport. School, friends, relationships, jobs, and yes, sport - basic human interaction was key to it all, working together and being what was needed in the moment.
I have learned that versatility is one of my many gifts. I love having the ability to explore various areas of life, trying new things, accepting new challenges, and bravely facing all the ups and downs of life - whether that's physical such as sport, or creative, academic, and even emotional. What I've taken from that moment, trying out for rugby those years ago and how it has added to all of the experiences life has offered me thus far, is that there is so much possibility out there. There is so much to grasp, to experience, to be, and to overcome. I don’t believe anything is just one thing. And for this reason, teaching became a journey I wanted to take. Inspiring others to be more, to try more, to see potential in themselves and in others. And that, in itself, is it. That's the thing, that nothing, ever, is just one thing. It can be so many things.
Yes, sports are a way to exercise and keep healthy, but also they bring about new friends, new learnings of valuable life long skills, a way to have fun, and a way to build self-love and confidence.
A laptop can be a way to communicate, a way we can store photos and memories, a calculator, a way to create, an entertainment set, a way to learn new information.
A meal out can nourish your body, spark new interests in food and cooking, create memories with friends, support local entrepreneurs and feed our local economy.
A pet can be a furry friend, a way to teach responsibility, or a companion who undoubtedly supports and loves you unconditionally through good times and bad.
And a school can be a way to make and grow connections, a home away from home, a place to create a family, a place that fosters a love of learning, and a safe place to gain new skills. A school can also be a place to learn who you are and who you want to be, a place to find your people and grow to seek your best, and a place that catches you when you fall and supports you back on your own again. A school can be where you discover who you can really be.
A teacher can be a fascinating facilitator, a meaningful motivator, an active listener, a role model, a resilient leader, a friend, a parent, and often, a learner, along with their students.
A student can be anything and all those things, of course. But that, depends heavily on the environment created by the teacher.
And, this, is why I teach.
It takes a teacher to inspire us and believe in us. To hear us and encourage us. To be the ball, really. In all of life's events, I think teaching is where I use the 'be the ball' lesson in versatility the most. I dream to inspire, encourage, and engage my students to be anything but just one thing.
So, be the ball, if you need to be. Don't settle to be just one thing.
Welcome to Our Blog
Each post is written by a supportive member of Via Vita Academy, be it a teacher, parent, student, community member, who is invested in the topic of education. Take a read and comment below!