1. You received an Excellence in Teaching Award in Canada, which recognized your creativity and innovation in education. Tell me more about it.
Before teaching internationally, I taught in the province of Alberta, Canada. That’s when I received the award. At the time, I was teaching second grade and developing games and projects to help students learn. Improvisational drama games are also a huge part of my regular program, which helps English language learners practice their speaking skills.
Before Escape Rooms became trendy, I invented a spy game called “Math Impossible” where students have to solve math problems to escape a series of buildings before they explode.
My students practice making change in a “Math Mall” where they sell goods or provide services. I also use Teams Games Tournaments (TGT), a cooperative learning technique that enhances academic achievement in my classroom. Students work in teams of four to compete against others at the same level. Teaching definitely allows me to express my inner TV game show host!
2. What led you to study education and become an elementary school teacher?
As a child, I attended summer camps in northern Canada where I had incredibly positive experiences. Not only was summer camp a lot of fun, but it also built up my self-confidence and taught me resilience. It allowed me to try new things independently. Later on in high school, I became a camp counselor and that was a natural springboard into teaching.
3. Before coming to Brazil in 2013, you taught in Canada, Venezuela, and Macao. What has surprised you the most about Brazil?
I was told that São Paulo was this huge, concrete jungle, but this city definitely has a lot going for it. What makes São Paulo unique is that it has one of the most amazing food scenes I have ever encountered. There are also incredible markets and remarkable street art. My favorite street artist by far is Kobra. I love his use of bright colors and bold lines, which sums up Brazil - colorful and bold! I also love walking and biking throughout the city.
4. You studied history as well as elementary education in college. If you could travel back in time and live there for a week, what time period would you choose? Where would you go? What would you do?
That’s an easy question. I’d love to travel back in time to 776 BC to Olympia, Greece to take in the first Olympic games. Ancient Greek culture has always fascinated me.
5. What song really moves you? Share a line from it.
My favorite song is While You See a Chance by Steve Winwood. I first heard this song in 1980 and it still resonates with me. Life is all about taking chances even when it gets tough.
When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you
While you see a chance take it because it’s all on you
6. Who was your favorite teacher growing up, and what did you like most about him or her?
My first grade teacher, Miss Langois, was an amazing educator who knew all about balanced literacy before it became a research-based best practice. Having a great start in school is important, and she gave me that. I still keep in touch with her!
7. What do you think is the most significant event in the history of the human race?
I'm not sure if it's the most significant event in the history of the human race, but I think the Age of Discovery is quite fascinating because it was the beginning of globalization. Extensive overseas exploration began to take place in the 15th century as European countries searched for new trade opportunities. On a personal level, I love discovering and learning about new places.
8. Where’s your perfect dream vacation spot?
I’m not one to repeat a vacation spot because there are so many places in this world I have yet to see. In June 2018, I spent a couple of weeks traveling throughout Egypt. Traveling back in time to explore ancient ruins, followed by a relaxing afternoon at the pool reading a great book is my idea of the perfect vacation.
9. What is your favorite thing about Graded?
Graded could not exist without a great group of kids, and the diversity of those kids is what makes Graded a wonderful place to work!