Happy New Year!
Three years ago, today, we announced to the world that we would open a school.
The echo of those words still, every time, sounds so strange in our ears, "Open a school"?! I think we still follow that up with, “who does that?” Because honestly, who does that? Did we really actually do that? I guess we did! And really, it turned out to be everything we dreamed it could be, plus some. Which really was a gamble, don’t you think?
We recognized that opening a school would be the riskiest, scariest, bravest, most unheard-of thing we could do at the time for our teaching careers and lives. It would change everything in our lives, from personal to professional, and everything in between. But, with a special blend of trust in each other and our skills, a strong dose of perseverance, and great amounts of passion for what we believed education could be, we took that big leap of faith and announced to the world January 1st, 2016 that we would open a school. (We didn’t realize that that would be first of many great leaps of faith we’d be making along the journey of entrepreneurship, but that’s besides the point)
So, looking back, has it been scary? Was it really a big deal? Yes, 100%. Managing people, money, time, resources, clients, families, our own beliefs and values, goals, ideas, and our own families is no easy feat. The toughest part is reminding ourselves that it’s okay, it’s not easy, and there’s no perfect way of doing it. We’ve made it through, with smiles on at the end of each day. And what’s even better, we’re still going strong with that same recipe for motivation that we started with.
So, yes, all of that was big and scary. But what’s bigger to us, what really gets us saying, “Wow”, is when we’re standing in the back lobby right after snack time when the kids are hanging their coats and rushing off to their next class. You see 58 pairs of boots lined up on the shelf, older ones stopping to tie a little one’s shoe, a younger one stopping to say hello, and they all bustle past and then suddenly, it becomes quiet as classes get started – that moment of quiet, when we both look at each other and know exactly what the other one is thinking. Wow. What is it, you ask? What is it about that moment that gives us goose bumps, wide eyes and is immediately followed up by a deep breath? It's when we both realize that all of this just wouldn’t be without that that great leap of bravery 3 years ago and the continued leaps every day since. It makes every once of effort worth it. These students wouldn’t have made new friendships, wouldn’t be aware of how different a class of 10 can be. They wouldn’t be bouncing to math class with the skip in their step, lining their boots along the shelf with care. They may not be confident in their ability to speak up, or even acknowledge the needs of someone else to tie a shoe. This all happens, day in and day out, which we think is quite amazing and awesome, because of a big decision we made, and truthfully continue to make every day, to push through barriers, go against the grain, and open Via Vita.
We, now, get to be apart of each of these students’ lives and play a role in shaping their future. They inspire us daily to be better and try harder, and we are forever grateful for that. We have met and continue to learn from the most amazing educators, parents, and community members who teach us everyday the value of working as a team.
To all of the wonderful teams of people who we’ve come to meet along this journey, and those we will get to meet in 2019, thank you, thank you, and happy New Year! Thank you for supporting us, challenging us, motivating us, inspiring us, and most importantly, reminding us stay true to who we are. It truly takes a village, and we are beyond proud of the village VVA has become.
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!