Student Culture

All of the Above: An Introduction to Ms. Rosen

All of the Above: An Introduction to Ms. Rosen

By: Avrel Festinger

You may have seen her strolling down the hall fashioning her signature Birkenstocks, or you’re in one of her classes, either in the English or French department. Maybe she just gave you a warm smile as you rushed down the stairs, or she quietly visited one of your classrooms. No matter, it is hard not to notice one of the newest additions to our WPGA community: Ms. Rosen.

Over the span of a 35 minute interview, Ms. Rosen  manages to weave together heart-wrenching stories, her teaching philosophies and how much she bench presses, while still only giving us a glimpse of who she is as an individual.

Before arriving in Vancouver, learning three languages fluently, volunteering around the world, and teaching at the University of Western, Ms. Rosen simply was a, “snobby” young girl when it came to English class. She explained to me that even at a young age, she knew that the calibre of what she was being taught, needed to be greater.

“I was a little bit snotty I have to say,” she lets out a laugh then continues, “I remember in grade 12 not doing any of my chapter questions and hoping the teacher would catch me on purpose. When he did I said, I’m not doing these.” Through her gift of storytelling, Ms. Rosen transports me to her  high school English classroom. She paints a picture of her traditional English teacher who did something out of the ordinary by allowing her to teach her very own class to her peers. Flash-forward to today, and Ms. Rosen teaches English as a profession. She uses her passion for the subject to fuel her classes and energize her students. Her motto is, “It’s your learning curve not mine,” which encourages students to take responsibility for their learning. She tells me that she will do her very best to help all of her students, but at the end of the day they have to be, “active learners.” Ms. Rosen has used this innovative approach to teaching not just in Vancouver, but also around the world. 

First to Mexico.

“My husband and I were looking to go somewhere overseas for a year and we couldn’t find anywhere that would take us just for one,” she tells me, “I remember my mother said, ‘why not go somewhere for two years and work and volunteer while you’re there’ and that was that.” In Mexico, Ms. Rosen taught at an international school while immersing herself in the Spanish language. Soon she had mastered it. After three years in Mexico, Ms. Rosen returned to Toronto then took off again. This time to China.

When asked about what she is known for, Ms. Rosen tells me, “Everybody who knows me from Shanghai and Peru know the work that I do with orphans and with animals.” She goes on to describe the 75 rescue animals and 5 orphans that  lived with her and her family in China. She opens up about the last little boy she cared for in China, and how he, “broke my heart.” Despite the fact that I barely knew Ms. Rosen at the time of this interview, she allowed me into this heartbreaking part of her life willingly. Now she wants to let the rest of the WPGA community in on it as well.

After twelve years in China, Ms. Rosen and her family moved to Peru. This is where she met eighteen wonderful girls who live in  Hogar de Gina. Hogar de Gina is run like a home, and all of the girls who live there call each other sisters. They span the ages of 2 to 18.  Ms. Rosen begins to show me pictures of these girls, and animatedly tells me about them. Kiera is graduating from middle school at the end of December. When Dulce was young, she would grab your face in the hopes of communicating with you. The girls love to have dance parties, talk about the latest gossip, and listen to music. They are looking for friendship, not pity. Ms. Rosen explains that it was extremely difficult to leave these wonderful girls and come to Vancouver but, she is hoping to start a group here to communicate with the Hogar de Gina girls, and maybe even visit them one day. Reach out to Ms. Rosen if you are interested in being a part of this.

Now, Ms. Rosen is in Vancouver and it is the first day of school. Bits and pieces of conversation float around the caf. One of these bits is seriously important to address. The student-body deserves to know: how much does Ms. Rosen bench, deadlift and squat?

Ms. Rosen lets out a laugh and starts to explain using gym terminology that is beyond me.

“I teach a program called pump which is associated with a program called “Les Mills” and in that program the idea is lower weights higher repetition. For squats, I do 50 pounds, which is not a huge amount, but I might do 300 of them instead of 3 sets of 8 that you do with higher weights. It is the same with chest – 50. With deadlift, I was doing higher until I hurt my shoulder, but again, the idea is lots and lots of reps.” Ms. Rosen  loves when very fit and muscular men come to her class and leave, “whimpering.” Not to sound too much like a 2018 teenager, but Ms. Rosen is, simply put, an, “icon.” Not only is she a dedicated volunteer, but she is also a modern day superhero with  an excellent sense of style. When I bring up this last point, she explains that her husband would disagree. Usually he is the one who buys her clothes.

When you first meet her, Ms. Rosen gives off an energetic yet calming air that allows you to feel  instantly comfortable. Her willingness to discuss hard topics adds to this. She has all of the qualities of a great teacher, and  she is an extremely interesting person. Having a conversation with her is a privilege. Next time you see her strolling down the hall, fashioning her signature Birkenstocks, or before one of her classes, go ahead and talk to her. She is a beautiful storyteller with great stories to tell.

Hopefully you payed attention while reading and treated this article like a classic English Class reading comprehension. Below is a multiple choice question.

Circle which of the following answers applies to Ms. Rosen:

  • Lifts weights
  • Lived in Peru, China, Mexico and Canada
  • Speaks French, English, Spanish and Mandarin fluently
  • All of the above

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