I travelled for a year after graduating from high school, spending time in India and working in Corsica. Then ready to begin my post-secondary studies, I found a unique program in Aberdeen, Scotland, that incorporated University course work with rigorous practical experience in a teacher preparation program in Special Education. After two years, I transferred to Concordia University and completed a B.A. in arts education.
After a road trip to California, I enrolled in a Master’s program in Special Education at San Francisco State University. During this time, I had the privilege of working at several charter schools in the Bay Area. My professional focus was to develop special education programs in which students could be fully integrated into general education classrooms, while most of my instructional focus was on supporting educators. I decided to continue my education and was accepted into a Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley. My research began to focus on the use of technology in instructional settings, with a specific emphasis on designing tools that encourage constructivist-learning experiences.
I now work on the Learning Teaching and Pathway Development team at a non-profit educational company called ConnectEd California. We work with teachers and administrators who are implementing Linked Learning. This approach challenges practitioners to design integrated instructional experiences that prepare students for college and careers.
Looking back at my time at VWS, I recall loving all the stories! How learning the letters of the alphabet involved a story. That our history lessons were told as tales. I loved learning to carve, knit, and crochet. People that I have met are constantly impressed with my crafty skills. I have wonderful memories of all of my teachers; Mr. Adams trying to get me out of a tree, Mr. Timm and his love for nutmeg lattés, and Elaine and her fanny pack on our Stein Valley adventure. In fact, those hiking trips are also some of my fondest memories.
The Waldorf approach to education helped me be curious and always willing to try new things. Being part of such a unique educational experience helped me recognize the importance of not pathologizing and stigmatizing learners. I bring this student-centred approach to the work I do with students and teachers. I have no way of knowing what my life would have been like if I had gone to another school, but I know I did not want to attend another school.
Compiled by Ronaye Ireland for Development, June 2016