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.
Today, January 1st, 2018, marks 2 years since the day we announced the opening of Via Vita Academy.
2 years! Wow!
Via Vita has grown from just an idea, well, suggestion really, from some very special people, to now an operating school filled with families, students, and teachers - even more special people! The parents who have came through our doors, the students who have participated in our programs, the children whose faces we've painted, those who've chatted on the phone with us, met us at events, donated supplies, shared our information, shook our hands, liked our posts, recommended us to a friend, checked out our website, or even asked us how we're doing - we are forever grateful. It all supported us through the birth of Via Vita and continues to support us as we find our place in the community, Where we've come from and what we are today has shaped so much of who we are, our values and goals.
Even through the busy times of school assignments, report cards, field trips, lunch duties, meetings, enrolment, and growing lists of administration tasks can leave us feeling swamped and stressed, we honestly, really, truly, it might sound crazy, but we really mean it - we wouldn't trade it for a thing! Opening this school took much planning, and with that, much anticipation for these busy times. The work is, and continues to be, a labour of love. The day we signed the dotted line, marking the beginning of Via Vita Academy Ltd. as a real, functioning "thing", we made a conscious decision to change our lives, and with that, hopefully, the lives of many families to come.
It has been nothing short of amazing. Copious amounts of work, but amazing and extraordinarily rewarding. 2 years ago and onward, we knew there was nowhere to look but forward, As educators, employers, colleagues, business partners, parents, and friends - we set our focus forward, with the support of so many wonderful individuals.
Somehow, magically, along the way, we also found teachers who agree and put in 110% every day. Their dedication is unmatched and truly enables our school to stand strong. Even on their holiday break, they stepped up, offering us this tidbit to post today. When asked to help us write a New Year's Day post, they produced something truly heartwarming and inspiring, setting us up right for 2018.
So, we give you this, from our current staff of 6 Via Vita Teachers, looking forward to 2018 with goals and learnings for ourselves and our students. Education is our passion; learning is our life. Here's to a year of kindness, joy, more learning, and mutual support!
Can you guess who wrote each one?
In 2018, my wish for my students...
To continue fostering relationships with each other, spreading kindness, developing their love of learning, and discovering who they are.
To expand upon the approaches to learning that we have explored together--through questioning, and a shared willingness to understand more about our world.
To find excitement in new activities and persevere when things become challenging.
To learn more about the world and themselves.
To continue discovering just how unique and amazing they are, and that they are each so, so important.
To continue to develop their sense of wonder and to never stop questioning.
In 2018, my wish for my teaching...
To grow and adapt as I learn with my students.
To inspire both my students and myself to build upon--or perhaps add to--our individual skill-sets.
To inspire my students to create their own path and take risks along the way.
To be informative, engaging, and fun!
To be reflective of my growing appreciation for each of my students. I wish for my teaching to be ever more patient, engaging, and inspiring, for my students and my colleagues.
To continue to grow and develop with the students we have at our school.
In 2018, I plan...
To learn even more about my students, so that I can best serve them both academically and emotionally.
To read more than I have for many years before; gotta practice what I teach!
To find the fun in ordinary tasks
To organize my desk so I don’t drive Ms. Yolanda crazy!
To roll with it! Well, try to at least!
To set realistic goals, and to not procrastinate so much, so I should get on setting those goals… since it is now 2018!
In 2017, I learned...
That once in a while the plan needs to be scrapped in order to meet the needs of the students in the moment. Sometimes what students learn from those “teachable moments” is much more important that what you had originally planned for the class.
That I can teach as much by listening as I can by speaking.
To be flexible and let my students lead the way.
To appreciate more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.
To take it day by day, enjoying the little things!
That I am not a spring chicken, and I need to get more sleep!
Happy New Year, Everyone! Welcome to 2018!
Many things happen in a day. There’s so much we want to say, but so little time to say it.
The moments that go into the school day - they are more than just time slots, childcare, and subjects of study. They are, honestly, our world.
We reflect on them, we draw meaning out of them, and we strive to constantly build better ones. We continuously replay them in our minds, and use them to fuel us further.
Being right there, on the front lines, while your child overcomes challenges, strives to do better, takes ownership over their choices, discovers something new, or shines in a way that naturally complements their uniqueness and personal qualities - these moments are what we live for, what we work hard for, and what we believe in. They are us.
So, to better get to know ‘us’, your teachers, the team you trust to teach your child, wrote out our thoughts about teaching. First, we wrote them separately, and then brought them together to create this post. Here’s how it turned out.
Your Via Vita Teachers
Adele, Alicia, Meghan, Ryan, Yolanda, & Zoe
I choose to teach your child because I choose to keep learning, and since they want to keep learning too, we make a great team. I want them to realize how fun learning can be. I love to be curious with them, explore with them, investigate with them, and create with them. I choose to teach because I want guide your child in discovering who they are, and to help them to see their worth both as a learner and as people.
The reward I get from my job as your child's teacher is a daily surprise--sometimes the reward is laughter, sometimes it's a shared eureka, sometimes it's a double high-five out in the backyard. It is getting to continue learning right along with them everyday! It is getting to watch as they transform and overcome obstacles that they never thought possible.
When I see your child smile… it warms my heart that they are building a positive relationship with school and learning. When I see your child smile, it sparks an already familiar feeling: being in the right school, for the right reasons. When I see your child smile, it helps to remind me why I chose this profession.
When I see your child struggle, I step into the role of co-pilot; I'm not there to fly them around of their struggle like an avoidable detour, but rather, to help them through their struggle, mostly by reminding them that they're not alone. I work with them to build their own understanding and help them create meaning in the challenges they face. When I see your child struggle I know that I must work extra hard to help them to see their own value and to believe in their ability to overcome any obstacle.
What gives me joy every day is to be part of a school that feels ever more like a big family that's addicted to learning. It is to see students come back each and every day excited to learn and do more than they did yesterday. It is watching students help each other, spread kindness, and form lasting bonds.
What pushes me to keep going when the going gets hard is a penchant for perseverance, which I aim to inspire in my students every day. What keeps me going is knowing that we are teaching students to love learning so that they want to continue it throughout their lives. It is knowing that I have the unique opportunity to influence the life of a child in a positive way, and that in return they may influence others in a positive way.
What I love seeing every day happen at Via Vita is our Morning Meetings: a daily gathering, co-hosted by students, where we table discussions about how we're doing as a community, and how we can do even better. What I love seeing everyday happen at Via Vita is, honestly, the learning! It is fluid, looks different each day, and happens differently for each student. I love seeing the wonderful mentorship fostered between older and younger students and the multi-age bonds that are created. The students really are like one big family.
The difference I already notice in one month is the amount of support I get from our students, regardless of the task at hand. They are ready and willing to help, and I am constantly encouraged by their will to build a culture of cooperation in our school. In just one month, I notice is the significant increase in confidence and leadership skills for so many of the students. I notice how supportive and accepting everyone is of each other. Some of us have only known each other for a short time but it already feels like family.
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!