Tell us a bit about yourself. Where were you born and raised? Can you tell us a bit how the region has evolved over the years?
I was born in Winchester, Ontario and raised on a family dairy farm south east of Kemptville, in North Grenville. The farm is still operated by the fourth and fifth generation of our family. Our community in the 60’s was very close knit with much of the focus revolving around church and long established family farms. Over the last 40 years the farm focus has remained but a greater number of residents in the area are commuters to jobs in larger centres.
As a retired elementary and secondary teacher, Vice Principal and Principal, with over 30 years’ experience with the Upper Canada District School Board, can you give us some examples of how newcomer children and their families bring both positive experiences as well as challenges to classrooms and schools?
While attending school in the 60’s and 70’s most schools in our rural region were usually 100% from white European lineage. At that time, urban schools would see more immigrants from non-European countries. While working in the school system for 30 years, till 2012, as well as today, more newcomers from all around the world, arrived in our communities. They were the face of more religions and customs that were new to our area. As our communities grew and valued our global reality, schools and staff supported, valued and celebrated what newcomers could share, creating a more global understanding in classrooms. As educators and parents, our biggest challenge was to try and not make assumptions in our schools about newcomers needs. We learned we must ask for leadership from newcomers and be inclusive in our school communities.
In 2014, you joined the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau as the manager. What advice can you give to a newcomer wanting to volunteer in Leeds Grenville?
Newcomers must feel confident in stepping up and sharing their skills to our non-profits and business community. They can start to do this by volunteering. They must understand it is ok to ask for support and see that reaching out as a volunteer is a great way to network. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and feel included.
How to you like to spend your free time?
I enjoy volunteering and meeting people. I enjoy the arts and am involved in community theatre where I love to see youth and newcomers welcomed to our community events. I love to see their leadership skills and confidence while they are making community contributions. I value the opportunity to volunteer with the local YMCA and Children’s Mental Health and other organizations that value inclusion as an operational mandate.
What do you love about living in Leeds Grenville?
It is a wonderful blend of rural and urban communities who all show a community pride. A great place to live and grow with family and friends.