A New Collaboration by Kailie van Santen

15 05 2017

Dear family, friends, champions and faithful supporters,

My name is Kailie van Santen and I, along with my UFV teacher education colleagues, have made it to Antigua to join the rest of champions, which means that we are now a team of 30! I am currently a part of UFV’s Teacher Education Program where, just prior to coming to Antigua, I finished my certifying practicum at a school in Chilliwack. I spent 14 weeks in a grade 4/5 classroom learning from fantastic mentors and working with a group of amazing students. During this time I have learned many things about myself and about teaching. My completion of the certifying practicum means that I am on my way to being a certified teacher in BC (I don’t think that the reality of this has completely sunk in yet)! The fact that the portion of my practicum in Canada is over does not, however, mean that I am finished. I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue to develop my teaching practices while in Antigua working with my amazing teaching partners Arden Holmes and Amrit Cheema at Piggotts Primary school. In fact, the rich experience that I know I will have here is the reason that I decided to participate in the first place. As a teacher I am always looking for ways that I can continue to grow and refine my teaching practice and what better way than to remove oneself from what is familiar. I am certainly looking forward to all that the next two weeks holds!

The past 5 days have been a whirlwind for the six of us who just arrived in Antigua! On May 12th we had our last day at our schools in BC, on Friday we packed up and hopped on a plane, arriving safely in Antigua on Saturday afternoon. After a few hours to settle in we jumped right in to host a BBQ for the teachers of the schools we are working with. This was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to connect with teachers and administration from all schools and was a wonderful chance for those of us who have just joined to meet those teachers we will be working with. The company, conversation and food was fabulous and we got to end the night off with a rousing session of karaoke! On Sunday morning we had the distinct privilege of enjoying “Mo Jo’s” tour of Antigua, taking in the beauty and history of the island while enjoying time where we could connect as a group. During this tour we visited Devil’s Bridge, a place tied to the island’s history of slave trade. Spending time here reminded me again of the importance and significance of place, especially as we teach. Taking time to understand all of the things that have contributed to the development of a culture is crucial to providing education that is relevant and respectful. From, here we drove to Half Moon Bay to enjoy a bit of time at the beach and finally, we took in some Cricket, Antigua’s national sport. After a quick dinner we dove straight into preparation for the week ahead.

This morning, I embarked on a new leg of my teaching journey as I taught in Piggotts Primary school. As you’ve probably come to guess, I was immediately greeted with hugs and big smiles. The students were quick to welcome me, the newest teacher, into their school community. Such a warm welcome and the feelings that go along really don’t compare to anything. It was so nice to be back in a classroom where everything just feels “right”. All of the planning and sometimes worry that goes into a lesson pales when you get to work with bright-eyed, eager students. What a gift it is to teach but also to learn from children, there really is nothing like it! Similarly, the opportunity to collaborate with my teaching partners has been a highlight. It is clear that they have dedicated a lot of time, energy and hard work into developing effective lessons that will engage students while teaching important life skills. I am looking forward to continuing this valuable relationship during the rest of my time here!

Of course this whole experience wouldn’t be what it is without Dr. Joanna Shepherd’s dedication to the vision that she has for this program. It is an honour to work with and learn from such a collaborative, dynamic and passionate educator. Thank you for facilitating such an amazing opportunity Dr. Sheppard!


Kailie van Santen

Piggotts Primary



5 responses

15 05 2017
Jenelle Atkinson

It was so great to meet you a couple of weeks ago! I’m glad to hear you and the other Stampers are getting settled on the island. Congratations on completing your practicum! I cannot wait to see your journey at Pigott’s and I know you will love the students and staff there as much as I do. You are so right about the importance of a sense of place in teaching! There was a workshop today in Chilliwack about getting outdoors and learning in your own place. The best teaching practices apply no matter where you are! What a great opportunity to go on MoJo’s Magical Tour to get a sense of place before meeting your students. You are surrounded by passionate people and educators, led by the epitomy of passion: Dr. Sheppard. I think surrounding yourself with inspiring and passionate minds is the key to growing as an educator. Enjoy your time on the island and I look forward to seeing you in the Chilliwack district very soon!

17 05 2017
Barbara Salingre

Thank you for your post Kailie,
It looks like you are “packing” a lot of experiences into this enhanced teaching practicum. It is great to hear that you have such an immediate connection with the students and that you cherish that gift that you have in teaching and learning alongside them. I can’t wait to hear more about all of your experiences. All these blog posts with reflections and pictures are very much appreciated.

24 05 2017
Awneet Sivia

Congrats on such a successful experience so far, Kailie! It is wonderful to know that you are recognizing the importance of ‘place’ as fundamental to becoming a ‘tuned in’ teacher. There is lots to learn from the people (teachers, students, KPE colleagues, Dr. Jo) but the place also teaches us what we can do as teachers – looking forward to hearing more when you return! Safe travels and good luck with unity games!

25 05 2017

Wonderful Kailie. Your post made me smile when I pictured that warm welcome you received. There really isn’t anything like it, is there?! It sounds like you have a very full – and fulfilling- schedule. Enjoy!

25 05 2017

Hi Kailie
Thanks for your post. I was struck by your connecting to place so soon in your STAMP time. Having an array of diverse experiences will certainly make you a stronger and more resilient teacher..

Leave a Reply for the Champions!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s