Kristi Rexhepi

2016 was my first year as a champion at Villa Primary and I loved it so much that I went back as a 2nd year Champion to the same school!

I did a lot of programs involving physical activity for youth and kids at home, but I wanted some international experience so Antigua it was! So many great memories but one of my favorite memories is just interacting with my students during break time and lunch time and building connections that way! Just seeing the pure joy, they have playing sometimes out of nothing really makes you appreciate the little things!

Just this September I went back to school to become a registered massage therapist!

Jo, Antigua and the Champs will forever have a place in my heart

Karen Vaughan

I was a first-year champ in 2017. I heard about this program after hearing one of my professors say, “it doesn’t matter what profession you go into, you’re going to be teaching”, and I decided to apply. I taught at Adele the school for children with disabilities and Victory centre. These kids love to dance and every morning at Adele, the teachers would give the students a chance to let go and just do that. Students from both Adele and Victory taught me that if things don’t work out the way you want them to, you just gotta dance it off!

Dan Northgraves

First off – we would like to wish a happy 30th birthday to this champ right here!! 🎂🎈🎉

My name is Dan Northgraves, and I began my journey as a Champion in 2016. My journey continued in 2017 and 2018 as Dr. Jo’s Teaching Assistant, handyman/mechanic, and personal cook. When I left for UBC I wasn’t sure if I would be back again, but fortunately was able to be a part of the team once more in 2019 as a UBC teacher Candidate.

Prior to my time in Antigua I had been struggling with whether or not I should become a teacher. Many of my friends who had gone before me recommended I should try to be a part of the program as it would help me decide what I wanted to do. I now sit here as a high school teacher, loving my job and missing those students too.

My time on the island has changed my life forever with so many memories and experiences I hold close to my heart. One of my my absolute favourite memories on the island was having one of my lessons interrupted by a herd of goats being led across the community field. If you think it’s hard to hold the attention of 25 students in a classroom normally just imagine that multiplied by about 1000. Absolute chaos… but also amazing! Jennings Primary will always hold one of the larger pieces of my heart that are scattered across the island.

Jennifer Cooper

Hi, my name is Jen! I was a champion in 2018 and 2019. I went to Antigua to help get out of my comfort zone as a future teacher and also challenge myself in a teacher setting. This program has pushed me to grow as a teacher and as a person. My favourite memory would be on my very last day of my second year, when the students wanted to race me and the competitive side in me tried as hard as I could to beat them (they are really fast). Unfortunately, I slipped and fell down hard and Kirsten got it all on camera. Good times! I have just finished my undergrad at UFV and now going to SFU in September into the teaching program! P.S. I still get emotional looking back at photos of my past experiences in the program.

Alison Bricco

I was a champ in 2012 and then again in 2015. I loved my teaching experience in Antigua because I got to work with amazing people and teach unforgettable kids. One of my favourite memories was teaching 2 kindergarten classes when the preschool students showed up and joined in too! Made for lots of laughs and smiles 😄

Kenton O’Donnell

Hello everyone!

I was lucky enough to become a fellow champion last year for the 2019 program. To say I was nervous would be an understatement; but these nerves soon became excitement, and by the end of the month I was addicted to the thrill of teaching these amazing students. This program allows you to be a part of something that is so much bigger than all of us, and I am extremely grateful that I was able to share it with so many amazing people.

One specific memory I have was when a group of fellow champions joined my teaching partner and I on our last day at the Victory Centre, a school for all children. We decided to have one last dance party and I will never forget the smiles on the students faces as they had all of these teachers come out to support their learning. It was a moment of pure happiness where we could all let loose and just dance it out! The photo I chose is of three of these students and I showing our silliest faces before we had to leave. I think it perfectly sums up our time in Antigua and the joy that we were able to experience and bring to students of all needs and capabilities.

Hillary Warner

My name is Hillary Warner! I had the pleasure of going to Antigua with Dr. Jo and the Champs team in 2014! Although it was 6 years ago the memories of my time there have stayed with me and will remain close to my heart forever. I went to Antigua during my time at UFV because I knew I wanted to be a teacher and thought this would be a great way to expand my skill set. I also thought Dr. Jo was pretty awesome 🙂 One of my fondest memories was learning all the different clapping games from the students in the school yard. This was one way I built connections with the kids. This trip truly taught me the power of building positive relationships with my students. I am now a grade 3 teacher in Surrey and strive to build lasting connections with my students each year 😃

Faune Nicholas

My name is Faune Nicholas. I first went to Antigua in 2013, again in 2014 as Unity Game Coordinator and finally in 2016 as a Stamper. I am now an elementary school teacher. I have met some of my favourite people in Antigua. One memory that will always stick with me is meeting a grade 5 class in my first year who didn’t have a teacher. They were bored and always looking for jobs. I used them to help me teach younger classes when they were free. I’ll never forget what it feels like to give kids purpose and to see how they can step up to the plate when given opportunity. Antigua is where my decision to become a teacher was solidified and it will be 2 1/2 months I will never forget. Thanks Jo

Shalene Bowie

I was a champion in 2017; I went because I couldn’t keep my curiosity contained anymore given all the amazing experiences students were coming back with from years prior. I also went to make a difference in young student’s lives & was hugely impacted & inspired by them instead

A memory I love, out of the many that stand out, was becoming part of the Villa Primary School “family” & being honoured with a school t-shirt prior to departing the island.

Christine McGuire

I went in 2015,2016,2017. I had no clue what I wanted to do in 2015. It was a weird time in my life, and I had always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. It changed my life completely. Each year I learned something new about myself, the island, and met new amazing people. That first year, 2 weeks in, I was balling my eyes out to my friend saying, this is what I was meant to do. 5 years later, I am now teaching grade one in the Cayman Islands 🇰🇾. I have made lifelong friendships who only grow stronger and amazing mentors both in Canada and Antigua. I am so thankful I made that leap of faith 5 years ago. 🤗 Thanks mama Jo 💕