Please join us in officially welcoming Ms. Day to the VVA family! She comes to us with a broad range of skill and passion for working with children and being creative and fun in the classroom. She has this contagious zest for finding the little joys in each day that we absolutely love! Enjoy this lovely blog post she created to introduce herself to you and her teaching. Welcome to the team, Day!
Within all aspects of my life, I look at it like learning a new dance. Each individual learns and works at their own pace. Some pick up the moves quicker than others. There are obstacles that some can twist and turn around. Some will get easily frustrated, others will struggle and not ask for help. As a diverse learner myself, I know this all too well. But these things are perfectly fine. Everyone’s journey is different. Not one is exactly the same, nor should it be. I love the journey that happened for me. It led me to Via Vita Academy, a couple times.
If you would have asked me in my starting years of high school if teaching was a career choice, my answer would have been, “no.” At the time, other passions were more prevalent. I had envisioned becoming a professional dancer, a pastry chef or a jewelry designer. What a variety of passions, right? It never crossed my mind to become a teacher.
I’ve always loved working with children. Whether it was volunteering with the Girl Guides, being a teacher's assistant at dance or just playing with my baby cousins. It always brought joy into my heart being around them. I was always curious about the ways in which children learn. When I was younger, my confidence level was very low and I had put the thought of “I won’t be a good teacher” in my head. Throughout my life I was told that I was too quiet or shy, and I needed to learn how to speak up. Others had tried to plan my journey and I wasn’t okay with that. Telling me what I should and shouldn’t do only encouraged me to do just the opposite. I wanted to prove them wrong and exceed their expectations.
I joined the Child & Youth Studies program at MSVU in Nova Scotia, Canada. Via Vita Academy was my final practicum placement during this undergraduate degree. To see such a small school with small class sizes, I instantly felt like this was an environment I could thrive in. This was a good path to continue walking down. And, so I did.
I started to find my voice, more and more. During this degree, I started thinking about my next step. Should I stay in Halifax or go back home to Bermuda? But by the time I was completing my practicum at VVA, I knew what to do. I stayed and completed a Bachelor of Education degree. This boosted my confidence even more. If I were to become a teacher, I would strive to become a darn good one!
And, I would start my teaching career by working at Via Vita Academy.
Here I am now, a new member of the Via Vita Academy family. I love this journey for me, and I’m glad it led me back to Via Vita Academy. I hope for myself and my students that I bring a fusion of what I know and have learned from all of my experiences. Dance taught me a fair share of life lessons. I bring those lessons with me, in and out of the classroom, every day.
Say Hello to Mr. Devin, our fantastic Physical Education teacher, who has been with us for a couple years now! Covid may have slowed down our blog posts, but we're finding our blogging groove again... slowly! Thanks Mr. Devin for getting us started again, and for this inspirational read. Your teaching, much like yourself, is a gem that we are grateful to experience.
This is very overdue, but that's because I've never known what to say. Over the years I have been at Via Vita, I have sat down many times to try and write this blog post, and have always found myself second guessing every word. When I was first asked to write one, I was given the option to look at the other teacher's posts for inspiration, which left me even more unsure what to write! I have the pleasure of working with amazing individuals who are extremely talented, and seemingly, have a way with words. I had never placed myself in such a category. I didn't think I could find the words to create an elegant explanation of my style and approach to teaching. Every time I tried and read the posts of my fellow teachers, I always thought "I don't think I can do what you're doing here."
But, hold on... isn't that the point?
The beauty of this school of ours is that we celebrate difference. The teachers are all different. We all approach teaching in a different way, because we have vastly different experiences with education. We teach our students to embrace their differences, stand out, and be genuine to themselves. They say variety is the spice of life, and I don't think that could be more true for education.
When I finally had the realization that I was a teacher, and that's what I needed to do, I thought that I wanted to teach Physics. I loved physics, and found it fascinating how we could use math to explain why things happen the way that they do. At the time, I was also teaching Taekwon-do, and found myself bringing those physics lessons into my teaching there. I taught my students how to increase their power and speed through the use of physics. It permeated everything we did, and the more I studied physics, the more I applied it to my Taekwon-do. Balance, coordination, footwork, body movement, it all could be improved through physics. Through these lessons, my students improved immensely, because they were finally understanding the "why" behind the moves and techniques.
Do you need to know the exact physics behind throwing a ball to throw it? No; but understanding why throwing a ball higher will help it go further will certainly help you get it to your target.
I am always looking for why things work, and why they don't, and I believe fostering that questioning will help every student better understand what they are learning. When it comes to physical education, I want people to understand the "why" behind these skills, so that as they get older, they can apply that understanding to everything else they encounter.
Physical Education Teacher
(And many other hats at VVA!)
Please welcome Ms. Tori's reflection after the Student-Run Restaurant we held early March. Much like anything at VVA, our team poured their hearts into the event, engaged every child, provided mentorship and support to allow them reach new heights they never thought possible for themselves. VVA Families came out to support, helping out in any way they could, truly making this a team effort. It was a blast! Ms. Tori captures the essence of the lead up, the night of, and the post-event bliss that comes with reaching any great accomplishment. What an amazing night, students! Thank you, Ms. Tori for giving us this lovely moment to reminisce, during a time when we're all taking care of ourselves and each other from our own homes.
It is the day after our restaurant fundraiser. Eyes are droopy, limbs are limp, and people of all ages drag themselves slowly around to class. This of course includes students, teachers, and parents in the mix. We are however, nothing if not satisfied. We have just finished hosting our most successful restaurant yet, and the feeling in the school is utter bliss. Another portion has been raised towards our fundraising goal, but more importantly we have learned lessons about ourselves we never thought possible. Some take away confidence, others, leadership, and most of us amazement of just how much we can accomplish as a team. Via Vita is nothing if not cohesive… Many times we just refer to ourselves as a family.
But before we reminisce too quickly, let's look at the week leading up.
It’s Monday. Alicia and others have spent most of their free time shopping, pricing, and organizing the menu. The week is dedicated to preparing for our major event: the restaurant. Teens and pre-teens alike are busy building decorations with Hilary, practicing how to serve and host with Meghan and Adele, and making themselves busy by helping Alicia in the kitchen. It is a few very intense days of hard work and we are all feeling it. Even the littles get into the groove by working on the food prep ahead of time, including more science in class, learning about money or addition and subtraction and the whole school feels… electric. We are excited and anticipating any and all scenarios that could play themselves out on the big night.
“Ms. Tori”, Josh asks me the day of, “can you give us any games that practice working on nerves?”
I smile and nod. “Of course Josh. But don’t forget the wise words of Ms. Adele. Nervousness? Just means you care about what you’re doing and you’re excited”.
Ten pairs of eyes light up as they await the roles they will later take on in the evening.
Our day continues “as usual” one might say. Alicia plants herself in the kitchen much like the days leading up to this, and staff trickle in and out making sure to assist where possible, and most importantly making sure Alicia is nourished and cared for. She is our leader in the kitchen through and through, but we’ll touch on that more later.
The younger kids of our school get picked up early so they can prepare themselves for a fabulous dinner out, as the older students start to set up the gym. Hilary and the pandas have worked tirelessly on decorations and as soon as they are set up it clearly shows. We are transformed into a 50's diner almost instantly with the help of some guitars, music notes, and a very stylish 50’s counter and jukebox to boot.
All at once the wheels are in motion, families are coming in, and people are flying all over the kitchen and gym. Kids are working in shifts with one another and communication is absolutely vital. At the beginning of the evening everything feels “hiccupy”. We want a flow but can’t quite get used to each other's dance steps and routines. Hesitation starts to set in and all at once I wonder why I even signed up to be Alicia’s helper in the kitchen because making decisions is still a “new” skill for me.
“We got this team”, shouts Hilary in her beautifully positive way, and all of a sudden I am pulled out of my fear and right back into it. Kids are moving around me reinvigorated and the positivity begins to flow through us. Waiters start communicating with ease (and help from their fearless leaders Ms. Meghan & Mr. Ryan), while our kitchen crew uses loud and bold voices to return the call for food. I only imagine the focus and positivity that Ms. Arlene, Ms. Jenn, and Ms. Zoe bring to our “toppings tables”, and in a blink of an eye I see Ms. Adele & Ms. Kerrie disappear for the rest of the night to their cash station. Ms. Hilary and Mr. Devin move around me in perfect synch anticipating a need before it even happens and all at once you can feel the rhythm of the night. Order, food, dishes, cash. Order, food, dishes, cash. Little by little we pick up the speed (although our grilled cheese just won’t grill as fast as we want them too), and our entire school is alive. I don’t hear much other than laughter and as I look out into the dining room I see nothing but smiling faces and pride beaming from each and every family member that attends. We even have some political faces that join in our evening and stand in awe of the responsibility our students hold on their shoulders so proudly.
And through it all, I can’t help but look at Alicia and quietly smile to myself. I think of everything she brings to these kids on a daily basis and to our families on such special nights as this. Our students are lucky enough to learn skills such as responsibility, cooperation, math, and most importantly the power of a home cooked meal. Families, for a few nights a year, are treated to a smorgasbord of food cooked by the children they love the most. They get to see their kids shine in a light they might not typically find anywhere else.
All of a sudden I see Ms. Adele (for what feels like the first time in hours) and she is smiling and telling us it’s time for teachers to eat. We cheer as the amazing students and parents take over and we begin to sit at our table. It seems daunting that we will ever stand up again. Water is poured and chugged down by each of us, and we begin to draw with our table crayons. Hilary and I engage in a friendly game of tic tac toe that I lose begrudgingly. I stop for a minute to close my eyes and appreciate the people that sit around me before looking at the table and all its features.
Suddenly kids start serving us left, right and centre, and before I know it I have eaten a burger, grilled cheese and somehow a bowl of tomato soup. My coworkers and I dig in as we stack dishes high and kids continue to bring more food and laugh at our pile of food. Suddenly it is time for dessert and we eagerly remember that brownie bites available. Suddenly kids are bringing us toppings and I can’t remember where the food stops and I begin anymore. I feel so full at one point that I don’t know if I’ll ever be hungry again. It is a feeling I’m sure everyone felt tonight. That feeling of fullness: and in more ways than one.
It is no surprise once again that Via Vita makes us feel this way. Full in the physical sense yes, but full of emotions, pride, and comfort that such a school initiates ideas like this and sees them through. Every day with my co-workers is a reminder that what might seem… let’s say improbable, can be done with the belief in its staff and its students.
I mean we created a restaurant!! It’s no wonder the phrase we like to use around work is: small school, big difference.
Once again from the most appreciative and forever thankful,
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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!