Starting with a Smile by Taylor Kettles

Dear Friends, Family and Followers of the Champions,

Hey everyone for those of you who do not know me my name is Taylor Kettles and I am currently a fourth year Kinesiology student at the University of the Fraser Valley. I am currently multi-tasking while on our Champions for Health Promoting schools trip as I am taking the final 2 classes that will complete my undergraduate degree. I am looking very forward to the day that I can call myself a UFV graduate, as this exciting day is now within reach. This is currently my first time in Antigua working alongside Dr. Joanna Sheppard and the rest of the Champs team, which I have been placed at Piggott’s Primary School for the remainder of our practicum experience. I have been fortunate enough to work alongside 3 team members at this particular primary school, Sara Erickson who is my first-year teaching partner, Kirsten Lee who is a fourth-year alumni champion, and Shelby Koop who will be finishing her Bachelor of Education certification within the next few months at UFV. It has been a pleasure to work alongside my teaching partners, together we have complimented each other through the collaboration of our different teaching styles.  I will forever build upon these collaborative skills within my own upcoming teaching career, as I just recently received some exciting news that I got accepted into the Masters of Teaching Primary program, at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

It has been amazing to see the continuous growth within the first week of this experience, my confidence with the classroom setting during health-based lesson plans has improved as well as my presence within our physical education classes. The students have play a huge role in my personal growth as a professional through their constant positive energy and genuine interest in the lesson plans which we have all worked so hard to create for them. As a first year during the preparation phases of this program we were given small pieces of information that would soon come together creating a picture that would be formed through our own personal experiences. This picture, which I am continuing to create while I am on this journey has been like nothing else I have ever experienced. Hearing multiple stories from past champions of how excited the students are to welcome you into their school and lives was defiantly emphasized. That being said in my position I slightly brushed those comments to the side not knowing what to expect, but when they said excited… they truly meant excited! I have never had the pleasure to be surrounded by a group of students that have shared so many smiles, hugs, high fives, stories, laughs and hand shake games with me in all of my experiences working with children. Their positive spirits bring constant reassurance that every day can be a good day, regardless of the hurdles that you may have to overcome. Simple reinforcements such as a smile, caring eyes, welcoming body language and a positive tone of voice is what allows these students connect with us on a deeper and meaningful level. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today but because of this experience and mentors such as Dr. Joanna Sheppard I am able to confidently say that teaching is what I am meant to be doing with my life.

On a side note we have been preparing this afternoon for the upcoming talent show taking place at the American University of Antigua tomorrow night for their annual school fundraiser for the Victory centre. We have been working hard to ensure that the crowd is entertained, and that the kids are able to have a good laugh at all of our embarrassing dance moves. We look forward to sharing our adventures to come with all of you family, friends, and blog followers. If you are fortunate enough to be living on this beautiful Island we hope to see you all at this special event.

Thanks again,
-Taylor, Piggott’s Primary School


5 thoughts on “Starting with a Smile by Taylor Kettles

  1. Taylor, congratulations on being accepted into the Masters of Teaching Primary Program in Australia, hard work really does pay off. I am happy to read that you are enjoying your time teaching on the Island. The champions program which I was a part of last year also gave me the confidence to say that teaching is what I should be doing with my life. Enjoy the rest of your time, it goes by fast. Looking forward to hearing all your stories when you return to Canada.

  2. Hi Taylor, yes congratulations on being accepted to the Master of Teaching Primary Program in Australia! That’s very exciting.
    I’m writing because I was at Pigott’s Primary for the past two years with the Champions, and dear Kirsten Lee was my first teaching partner. Kirsten, Jenelle Atkinson, and all the other Champions I met on my journey are the reason I am a teacher today! I am so happy to hear that you are excited to be a teacher.
    You have nailed one of the essential lessons of teaching, connecting with your students. Starting the morning with a smile, giving eye contact, and high-fives, will build the foundation for making connections with your students. This will only benefit their learning!

    All the best Champs! Thinking of you all – Wishing you the best ❤

  3. You’ve been such a great teaching partner, Taylor! Thanks for welcoming me to your team this week. Your gentle spirit and excitement for each lesson has been evident and the students love you for it! Keep up the great work. I’m excited for you to continue your education in Australia.


  4. I am so happy to read your blog post Taylor! First of all, congratulations on your Master’s program acceptance. You have a very exciting journey ahead of you! Second, I can feel the infectious excitement and positivity of the Pigott’s students through your words. As my friend and colleague Arden mentioned, I was at Pigott’s as well. Pigott’s will always have a special place in my heart. I am the teacher and person that I am today because of Dr. Sheppard, the Champions, all of my previous teaching partners, and Pigott’s. It is amazing to hear you share the same experience of being at Pigott’s that us alumni have. The students and staff there are truly shining lights with the biggest hearts. I can only imagine how strong your teaching team is, especially with my past teaching partner Kirsten, “Miss Lee,” being back again! I look forward to seeing your successes at Pigott’s over the coming weeks.

  5. Taylor congratulations on your acceptance for post graduate school, wonderful news! I am glad to read you are having a great time and taking to heart the experience as a whole. It sounds like you have been a great teaching partner! All the best 🙂

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