Written by: Jenna Lam (Grade 11) and Tiffany Cheung (Grade 11)
The best way to start the school year is getting to know the new people in our community. Therefore, it’s time to get to know the new teachers of WPGA!
With the start of the upcoming school year, you may have noticed a couple of new faces strolling through the hallways. We decided to gain more insight into some of our newest teachers at West Point Grey Academy: Mr. Harding, Ms. Jellema, Ms. Loasby and Mr. Macintosh.
Although Mr. Harding used to teach science at Rockridge Secondary School in West Van, he has lived in the West Point Grey community for many years. “This school has a very positive reputation… I thought it would be really exciting to make a contribution close to home.” Similarly, Ms. Loasby nostalgically remembers friends who went to WPGA when she was younger. When asking what brought her to our school, she explained, “I grew up going to a private school, and I taught in a private school”. In fact, Ms. Loasby previously taught in Hong Kong. Thousands of kilometres away, Ms. Jellema was living in Sweden at the time when she came across our school. Excited by the new community and education, she decided to make a move all the way to Vancouver.
Mr. Macintosh previously knew a couple of students and faculty from WPGA. He noted that he and Ms. Calvert took a class together last year at UBC. He added that he had previously also worked with a couple of students from WPGA when he was teaching speech, drama, and public speaking at an after-school program. He mentioned Crystal Lin ’19, Cindy Zhu ’19 and Vivian Zhang ’19. Mr. Macintosh exclaimed, “They were, without exaggeration, some of my favourite students, and they happened to be from this school!” One day, Mr. Macintosh received a job posting forwarded by Ms. Calvert (due to her maternity leave). “I forwarded my job application, and things went well!”
First impressions are important and the new teachers of WPGA have nothing but kind things to say about their first impressions of the school. Ms. Loasby recounts her first impression of WPGA: “I just remember coming for an interview… it was first thing in the morning, and I saw students coming, and all the adults in the school were just greeting everyone. I was so impressed, people were so friendly and so respectful.” When we asked Ms. Jellema about her first impression, she immediately exclaimed, “The teachers are amazing. They are so thankful, kind and supportive. The students are nice, generous people. They hold the door for you, and they ask how you are”.
We have a variety of new courses being taught by our teachers, from Critical Thinking to Communications to STEM! Mr. Harding, who teaches Natural Sciences, explained that the subject is “so deep in [his] bones that it is not possible [for him] to be doing anything else”. When asked for inside tips into his marking style, he responded with “thoroughness, clarity and commitment to the finished, polished task.”. An English and Social Studies teacher for Grades 8, 9 and 10, Ms. Loasby interpreted the subjects she teaches as ways to “connect the idea of [events] seen in the world”. As for her marking style, Ms. Loasby explained that she “acknowledges the effort students put into their work. Depending on the task, [she] may focus on one particular skill and students will know that when the homework is assigned.” Teaching English, Drama and Critical Thinking and Communications, Mr. Macintosh viewed the latter as a “debater farm”, which “plants the seeds of junior debaters”. In addition, Mr. Macintosh has been an actor since he was a young boy, in fact, there is an IMDB chronology of his childhood (we looked it up!), showing all of his previous work. To Ms. Jellema, teaching science seemed like a “natural fit”, incorporating her work with exposure to science outreach throughout their schooling with her teaching. “It would be a nice way to make a positive impact to the world.” she expressed happily.
It is generally understood that seeing teachers out of school is awkward for most students. Fortunately, the dear writers of this article have been spared of this slight discomfort! But what are these encounters like from a teacher’s point of view? Mr. Harding said his past experiences of bumping into students have been “Friendly, pleasant and comfortable, even though they are seeing me in different attire, and I’m seeing them [in casual clothes] without uniform attire.” Mr. Macintosh narrated an experience of running into a past student working at Earl’s, where both of them were equally surprised to see each other out of school. “I didn’t want to interrupt her flow… so I just said hi!”. Ms. Jellema said she would “just say ‘hi’ and ask what they are up to, noting that she “doesn’t put [her] head down and dodge them… it’s so cool to see what kids are up to!”. Ms. Loasby exlaimed that she might buy a drink if one of her students were to run into her at Starbucks. “So come say hi!”, she said.
When teachers aren’t hard at work, how do they spend their free time? Mr. Harding is learning how to play and sing the jazz piano, as well he loves riding his bike, playing badminton, and tennis. Ms. Loasby’s weekends are filled with time with her daughter, marking homework, and watching Netflix. The latest show she is watching is The Spy, featuring Sasha Cohen. She also enjoys exploring new trails, painting and drawing (she hosts Urban Sketching club on Wednesdays after school!). Mr. Macintosh said he enjoys weightlifting, even though he’s “not exactly jacked”. “I’m also an avid video gamer”, explaining that he loves story-focused games with emphasis on character, plot, theme and great music, specifically the fantasy genre. “It’s very much like the literature I enjoy reading… if I had more time, I would be doing more of that!” He loves fantasy fiction books such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and The Magician. Ms. Jellema shared that she loves adventuring, “Anytime I’m outside, canoeing, camping, travelling, meeting and seeing people…”. This summer, she climbing everywhere from Italy to Norway. One of her favourite climbs took 24 hours – 16 hours to climb, and 8 hours to hike! “It was quite exhausting, but it was really neat!” she exclaimed.
Mr. Harding chuckled and said the album that describes his life is The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles, then proceeded to sing the song. In contrast, Mr. Macintosh informed us that he liked the album Night of the Opera by Queen. “You should listen to it, it’s really good… it’s the one with Bohemian Rhapsody!” exclaimed Mr. Macintosh. Furthermore, Mrs. Loasby told us that The Four Seasons by Vivaldiin is the album that she most relates to, because each of their four concerts she’s been to has described a specific time in her life.
The positive and fun-filled energy these new teachers bring to WPGA really make us feel glad to have them as a part of our tight-knit community. To the teachers who took time out of their busy schedules to speak with us, thank you! We hope you enjoyed talking to us as much as we did.