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.
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 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.
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!