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.
Please welcome our newest teacher, Zoe Scott. Her kind spirit and compassion for teaching are felt immediately once you see her in the classroom, and are truly wonderful to work alongside. Her first blog post below illustrates not only her beautiful way with words, but also the journey that many of our students can relate to. Her journey is inspiring and heartfelt. It shines a light on a challenge so many of us carry with us, and often, a reason why many of us later decide to become teachers, to make a positive change in the world of our students. We are lucky to have found someone who will have such a positive influence on our students. Welcome aboard, Ms. Zoe!
I can still feel the ice shooting from my fingertips as the knot in my stomach tightens. Yet another morning that I wake in a cold sweat, as the queasy feeling takes over. The symptoms may be all in my head, but to my 12-year old body, they are very real. I’m not sure when the thought of school first began to fill me with such anxiety. I had once loved to learn, and had looked forward to each school day with great anticipation. How did such a change occur?
The school system can be a difficult place for anyone, but it is extremely bumpy terrain for those who are different. I was the girl that never quite fit in, despite my desperate attempts. I never felt as though I was enough. Like a lot of others, I spent my adolescence afraid to raise my hand in class, though inquisitive fires burned inside my mind. I spent my days hiding my opinions, and cloaking my true essence in a thinly veiled disguise. This constant state of fear and inauthenticity slowly began to gnaw at my heart. I lost confidence… I lost opportunity…I lost myself.
My journey began a few simple online yoga tutorials. Yoga came to me like small droplets of rain that eventually grew into a stream. This practice gave me a sense of inner connectedness that I had never known. It pushed me to honour myself where I was, instead of in comparison to other people. Instead of turning down the volume on my thoughts in fear, it forced me to acknowledge them, to explore their roots, and to then release them. In doing so, I soon began to strive for growth rather than perfection. Moreover, I finally began a path of self-discovery and inquiry.
What I love about Via Vita Academy is that they see the value in this sense of questioning and soul-searching. They encourage uniqueness and push students to become lifetime students of the world, and explorers of the body, mind, and spirit. Inquiry can lead to strength and self-discovery, during a time that often feels so unstable. Adolescents in particular often find themselves feeling out of control. They are desperately trying to navigate the parameters of their new position between childhood and adulthood. Suddenly they are overwhelmed with responsibility, pressure, opportunity and choice. Moreover, with the increase in social media, they are constantly bombarded by external forces, telling them what to think and who then should be. This is why I am so excited to be able to help facilitate these aspects of yoga for the students of Via Vita, both on the mat and in the classroom.
Sometimes the noise of the world can become so loud, that it can muffle the sound of our hearts. For me, teaching is about helping students to listen to themselves, so that they can discover what they need, and how they might impact others. If students are ever to grow or make sense of the world, they must first have an understanding of who they are, and where they are in their journey. Next, they must learn to honour their inner light by learning to drown out negative self-talk. As we begin to respect ourselves, we ultimately begin to generate kindness toward others. It is in the tradition of yoga to end each class with the phrase “Namaste”, which loosely translates to “the light in me sees the light in you”. Each time I teach yoga to my students I like to end the class by saying “the light in me sees the light in you, and may you always see the light in yourself and the light in others”. For me, this is the ultimate goal of education-- to create students that strive to see the beauty and possibility in the world, that have the means to explore and question it, and the hearts to try to improve upon it.
No holding back here! Our Bobcats (grade 5/6 class) were eager to share the straight up truth of what a student at Via Vita is all about. As they put it, #nofilterneeded. Here you go - right from the mouths of our most candid ones in the bunch, here is an honest recap of what they’re loving (and what they’re not lovin’) at Via Vita.
LOVE/NOT LOVE @ VIA VITA
By The Bobcats
LOVE: It’s like a TV show, you go to school, learn a lesson, come home, and it’s a happy ending at the end of the day.
LOVE: We all feel like a family because it’s like a home here... Except there’s no beds and stuff to lay down and sleep, but there is a couch.
NOT LOVE: We get a lot of homework. There’s so much I feel like can’t do it but when you get it done, you feel so good. Then your parents are like, “See, doesn’t it feel good?” And you really look at them like, “uuuuuuh!”.
LOVE: Everybody’s friends and everybody just hangs out, different grades and all. No pressure to be anybody you’re not. Just be.
LOVE: It’s so easy to be friends in a smaller school than a big school because in a big school you don’t know everyone, but here you know everyone.
NOT LOVE: Teachers are always around you. They notice everything!
LOVE: The classes are smaller and you get a better chance to get help when you’re stuck. I used to think Math was so hard. I, like, really know what I'm doing here.
LOVE: Gym is everyday. It’s awesome because you get to run around. And be loud!
NOT LOVE: They really push you to do the work yourself. It’s hard!
LOVE: You have a lot of say in how you do your projects and what you do them on. You have so much control over your learning.
LOVE: You can get here early and play in the gym or you can just sleep in and be late. It’s cool. But seriously, you still gotta get your work done on time. Trust me.
NOT LOVE: They always find a way to talk to your parents. Like everyday. They know everything.
LOVE: You can play together and not yell and punch, you can actually help each other be the best of yourself.
LOVE: You get to play outside a lot. You gotta wear a coat though. It’s freezing out.
NOT LOVE: No excuses on late work. You just have to do it. Like, if you don't do it, you're gonna have to eventually.
LOVE: You don’t have to wear shoes inside.
LOVE: At my old school I didn’t really do any fun activities, It was like math, math, math.
Here we do fun stuff like hikes, go to the park, play mantracker inside the building on the last day, and create plays and stuff.
NOT LOVE: They really force you to speak up. Once you do, it all makes sense and stuff, but oh man, it's like, I just don't know what to say! But then you do know.
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!