Friends, Family and Colleagues,
My name is Elizabeth Oliva and this is my second year in the Champions Program. First of all, let me say what a joy it is to be back on this island that holds such a special place in my heart!
My role as a second year champion was to be one of the curriculum coordinators along with Brianna Mackenzie. As the Canadian lead, I was specifically responsible for editing and helping develop all the Physical Education and Health lesson plans that would be used throughout the program at all our schools. Even before I had arrived on this island for a second time, I had already learned so much not only about myself on a personal and professional manner, but it was always a great opportunity to begin to connect with all the first year champions and begin the collaborative process of which this program thrives on.
This year I was lucky enough to be placed in the same school as last year, T.N Kirnon Primary School. Of all the reasons in coming back for round two, TNK was definitely at the top of the list. The connections that were developed at this school reignited my passion for teaching and reassured me of the career path I want to pursue. I am able to further grow alongside my two teaching partners, Cassandra Furey-Cameron and Justin Dhaliwal. They have made my experience thus far at TNK so memorable and I have enjoyed watching them become the teachers they are today.
We have already been teaching for a few weeks now and while I felt comfortable at the beginning the program, I couldn’t help but feel nervous for the first day of school. Everyone at home knows that I refer to the students at T.N Kirnon as ‘my kids’. I remember driving to school on the first day and feeling my heart explode with emotions of nostalgia and excitement as I was finally about to see my kids again. We arrived at school and we were greeted by so many familiar faces, as my eyes teared up I could hear students saying Teacher O! This is a moment I will never forget. TNK is a place that continuously cultivates my growth, passion and joy.
Today was our annual Cantiguan Teacher BBQ, which is an event we hold to show our appreciation for all the teachers we collaborate with on island. The BBQ helps make those connections that are created in schools so much stronger and just further adds to our Canadian and Antiguan collaboration. As we all ate our delicious dinner, sang our hearts out and danced the night away, I looked around and saw smiles on our guests faces. While we are here to work with Antiguan students, this would not be possible without the collaboration of all the Antiguan teachers, principals and staff members, so this is just another big thank you to all of you. In addition to all our Antiguan colleagues we were also honoured to have Dr. James Mandigo from Brock University join us today in our celebration.
This program really pushes you out of your comfort zone to become the best version of yourself. I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity not only once but twice. I have grown so much in the past year from this program alone and I am excited to see how my experience this year will keep pushing my passion for teaching. Throughout my experiences I have always had two words in my head to further motivate and push me to be better and those are to ‘live boldly’.
T.N Kirnon Primary School