Our Team Members

The team members at The Bridge Educational Society work throughout several departments including the Okanagan Waldorf School Faculty, the Early Years Centre early childhood educators, the Administration offices, support staff, and the Board.

Faculty

Q

Jillian Martin
Class 2/3 Teacher

Ms. Martin was born in Calgary, Alberta, then lived in the Lower Mainland until the summer of 2015. She worked in the Natural Health Food Industry for 13 years, where she spent considerable time working in and managing the Vitamin Departments of several stores in both Calgary and Vancouver.

Ms. Martin lives with her husband and two daughters. She began her teaching career by homeschooling her eldest daughter for Kindergarten and Grade One. Her family decided to make the move to the Okanagan to enroll their children at Cedar Bridge School (now Okanagan Waldorf School). Jillian then decided to continue her educational journey to become a Waldorf Teacher because of her dedication and commitment to Waldorf Education.
Ms. Martin first joined the BES faculty in the spring of 2016 as a class assistant and then continued on as Kindergarten Assistant for several years. The 2019/2020 school year was the first year that she took on the role as lead teacher, where she taught the Grade Three and Four class. She is currently the grade one and two lead teacher at OWS.

Jillian has completed her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and her Waldorf Grades Certificate through West Coast Institute. She is currently working to be a Waldorf Learning Support Teacher, through Waldorf Learning Support.

In her free time, Jillian loves hiking, snowboarding, paddle boarding, gardening and caring for her family’s chickens.

Jillian Martin

Class 2/3 Teacher

Q

Barbara Articus
Class 1-3 Handwork Teacher
Grade 8 Main Lesson Support

Ms. Barbara has worn many hats over the years at our little school, and has been a beloved member of our organization since 2005 when Cedar Bridge School (Okanagan Waldorf School) was only an inspired idea. She found her way to us when her daughter saw a notice looking for people who may be interested in supporting a Waldorf initiative in the Lumby area, and she replied. She has been part of the community ever since. Ms. Barbara shares that she was drawn to being a part of this initiative because of her love for the Waldorf world with it’s wonderful curriculum, as well as Anthroposophy. She developed a deep connection to both while she still resided in Europe, and it lives in her to this day. Ms. Barbara enjoys the way the faculty work together here and the way the children and human beings are seen and held within the light of Anthroposophy.

Barbara grew up in a village in the Southern part of Germany, near the Black Forest region. She and her family moved to the Lumby area in 1991. While still living in Germany, she completed a degree in Art Therapy with an Anthroposophical/Waldorf background (B.A. equivalent in Canada) which she has since studied continually. Upon graduation she worked with individuals and groups as an Art Therapist. She and her family moved to Canada when her oldest child was a toddler, where she and her husband bought an acreage outside of Lumby and began farming. She raised and homeschooled both her children with Waldorf curriculum.

Barbara and her husband continue to live on the farm with their family which now includes her daughter who is in university, her son with his wife and three daughters as well as a cat, dogs, chickens, alpacas and sheep.

In her free time Barbara enjoys working with fibres of all sorts, particularly spinning, weaving, toy making, felting, dyeing, knitting and more. She offers some of her toys, ornaments, and garments in our school store. She enjoys working in her garden, walks with friends in nature, reading, baking and playing with her grandchildren.

Barbara Articus

Class 1-3 Handwork Teacher & Class 8 Lesson Support

Q

Kate Olthof
Class 6-8 Teacher

Ms. Olthof was born in Terrace, and raised in Abbotsford, BC. She lived in Victoria and Vancouver, then settled in Vernon in 2005. Her husband Max’s family is from the area. He grew up minutes from OWS on the property where they now live. Her husband was keen to move back after finishing university.

Ms. Olthof has a B.A. and a B.Ed. from UBC. After completing her teaching degree in 2003, Kate worked for eight years as a teacher in Mission and Vernon. She taught French, English and Social Studies. Kate had also worked as a substitute teacher.

Currently, Kate is taking the Explorations in Anthroposophy course through Antioch University. It is a certificate program that runs September to June.

After her second son was born, she stayed home to care for their children. She first engaged with our organization when she joined the Okanagan Waldorf School Community Garden in Spring of 2018. Through this endeavour she met members of the OWS community. She had been home for eight years caring for her children, and was looking for new challenges as her children had started school. She originally became employed as an EA at our school in the fall of 2019.

She loved the beautiful location of the school and the focus on learning in a natural environment. After the craziness of having young children had subsided, she realized how much she missed helping students.

Kate is a self-proclaimed tinkerer who enjoys many hobbies. She loves vegetable gardening, reading, painting and drawing, knitting, hiking, air hockey, jigsaw puzzles, swimming in lakes, geocaching, card games, snowshoeing, exploring, paddle boarding, biking and camping. She
lives with her husband Max and their two sons, Alex (12) and Owen (9); their dog Riggs, three cats and eight chickens.

Kate Olthof

Class 6-8 Teacher

Q

Alex Hedden
Class 2/3 Assistant

Alex was born in Victoria. Since then she has lived all over B.C; including Mackenzie, Prince George, Nanaimo, and Quesnel. She even spent a year living in Prince Edward Island, where much of her extended family is located. Along with her spouse Stuart, two children Feryn and Avery and their blue heeler, she moved to Lumby from Quesnel in late August, 2019.
Before working at the BES, she had the opportunity to stay home with her children for 6 years. Prior to starting a family she worked in a sawmill and a Forestry Nursery.

After attending the job fair hosted by the EYC, (where she met some staff members and saw the campus for the first time), she knew this would be a beautiful place to work every day. She was excited by the idea of growing her experience and educational scope through a Waldorf Pedagogical lens; something that was completely new to her at the time.

In late February, 2020, she started in the EYC as an ECE Assistant as she worked toward her Education Assistant Certificate through the College of the Rockies. After working in the EYC for roughly 6 months, she accepted a great opportunity to work as a Classroom Assistant at OWS. She began her current role as an EA in Ms. Shindy’s Kindergarten classroom where she supports the teacher and students. She is happy to be working in her field as she continues with her EA program.

Alex and her family are lovers of the outdoors and enjoy camping, hiking, snowboarding and exploring. She also enjoys art, and learning to garden in her backyard with her daughters.

Alex Hedden

Class 2/3 Assistant

Q

Shindy Pletzer
Kindergarten Co - Teacher

Ms. Shindy was born in Vernon and raised in Lavington with her family. After high school she attended UBC in Vancouver where she received her Teaching Degree. She lived on campus in family housing for several years.

Before returning to the area she lived and worked in different locations over the years. She was employed by the Point Grey Academy as a summer camp teacher, The Sikh Academy in Surrey as a Kindergarten teacher, SD 27 in Bridge Lake School as the K-4 class teacher, SD 73 Sundre as Primary Teacher and also in Red Deer Public School as a grade 5 teacher.

It seemed serendipitous to her when she returned to the Vernon area and discovered that Cedar Bridge School was looking for a Kindergarten teacher. The more she learned about the school, the more the vision and philosophies resonated with her. It seemed like the right place for her to be.

Shindy has three grown children, Tyler, Emily and Jane who are all in their mid-twenties. From time to time one or another moves back in with her for a while. In her spare time Miss Shindy loves to cautiously ski the blue runs at Silver Star in the winter, and kayak and hike in the summer. She is very happy to be back in the Okanagan where the winters are wonderful, and the summers are even better.

Ms. Shindy is so pleased to have found this little gem of a school. She finds working with the BES community to be such a joy.

Shindy Pletzer

Kindergarten Co-Teacher

Q

MTanika Solbrandt
Class 4/5 Teacher and Grades Faculty Chair

Ms. Solbrandt is originally from Newcastle, Australia where she grew up with her family. Prior to beginning university, Tanika spent a year living and working in London, England.

Before becoming a teacher, Tanika worked various positions in hospitality and retail. She also volunteered for a number of years with a children’s program run by a Tibetan Buddhist group.

Tanika has her Bachelor of Teaching(Primary) /Early Childhood Studies from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She completed her Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy from the Rudolf Steiner College, Toronto. She completed her Waldorf Grades Teacher Training through the West Coast Institute and she is currently training to be a Waldorf Learning Support Teacher, through Waldorf Learning Support.

 

After completing University in 2015, Tanika moved to Canada and began teaching at the Okanagan Waldorf School that same year. Tanika has taught various grades at the Okanagan Waldorf School, and spent the 2019/2020 school year teaching at the Shambhala School, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

 

What first attracted her to OWS was that it was a Waldorf School, however, she notes that the community, the setting, (and the cats) are what she loves most about the school.

Tanika loves to cook dishes inspired by cuisines from all over the world. In her free time she enjoys tap dancing, travelling, volunteering at the Monashee Community Co-op, and spending time with friends, family, and her cat, Rumi.

Tanika Solbrandt

Class 4/5 Teacher & Grades Faculty Chair

Q

Jenn Carson
Class 1 Teacher

Ms. Carson is originally from Temagami, Ontario and moved around during her childhood before settling down in Kenora, Ontario. She lived there until she was 18 years of age, when she moved to Halifax for University. She lived there the longest and as a result, Halifax feels like home to her.

She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Halifax) and studied and practiced the Foundations of Enki Education. Enki is similar to Waldorf, but focuses on Shambhala Buddhism as the philosophical base to the education. Currently, Ms. Carson is enrolled in the West Coast Institute’s Waldorf Teacher training program.

After graduating from University, she worked as a freelance music journalist, assisted in several art studios and taught art at various schools throughout Halifax. She was a Primary Class (Kindergarten) Assistant at the Shambhala School of Halifax, Junior Primary Assistant at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax, as well as their after-school program and extracurricular coordinator. Prior to working in education she was a coffee roaster/barista for a time.

While living in Nova Scotia, Ms. Carson worked with Soil Mates Farm (formerly Abundance Cooperative). She pioneered the NSCAD mural project, hosted art shows and music performances. Currently, she is working with Little & Sage to create educational activities based on play and art for children and their parents at home.

After moving to BC from the East Coast, she knew that she wanted to stay in B.C. as there are more opportunities to practice Waldorf Education. She saw the opening at OWS and started to look into the background of the school and noticed that it originated as a farm school. Having worked on a farm in Nova Scotia for four years, this was the biggest draw for her; combining mindful education in a beautiful setting created with intention, and fostering a strong community. Her parents now live in B.C. as well and she notes that it is wonderful to be in the same province with them again.

Since moving to Vernon, she has been exploring the area through hiking and biking. In the summer she enjoys paddle boarding, creating art installations for festivals using the landscape/setting to inspire what is created, and loves yoga. Ms. Carson does a lot of music collaborations with friends, enjoys reading for both pleasure and learning, being active, studying herbs and plant medicines and making salves, soaps and lotions for varying health and body needs.

Jenn Carson

Class 1 Teacher

Q

Mitsuyo Kaneda
Class 1-5 Japanese Teacher
Kindergarten Class Assistant

Ms. Kaneda grew up in a rural area of the Niigata prefecture in Japan, located between the ocean and the mountains. She comes from a family of Shinto priests who are entrusted to maintain the relationship between humans and nature. She has been fascinated with finding out that many views and principles are shared between Shintoism and Waldorf Education principles and would like to introduce many cultural activities to students that serve artistic, social, benevolent, and integrated environmental purposes.

Ms. Kaneda shares that Okanagan Waldorf School reminds her of the fond memories she has of the rural school she attended as a child. She enjoys teaching at our school and is very excited to be able to share her culture and her language with people who appreciate learning something new and different.

Ms. Kaneda has been involved in the Vernon Japanese Cultural Society where she has taught Japanese language and culture to children at the Vernon Heritage School and to high school students and adults in recent years.

Ms. Kaneda has a BA major in Woodcut Print and Art Education from Musashino Art University in Tokyo. She has completed Educational courses in Assessment for learning in the Secondary Classroom as well as Culture of the School at UBC. In Japan she taught Fine Art and English in junior and high school. In Canada she has taught the Japanese language course at Okanagan College, University of British Columbia and Thompson Rivers University.

When she is not at work, Ms. Kaneda really enjoys caring for her two year old granddaughter twice a week, and admits that her dog and two cats are the best babysitters. She enjoys being outdoors – hiking, running, biking, lake swimming and cross country and backcountry skiing. Her goal in 2021 is to participate in a 50 km trail running race in September and a Honolulu full marathon in December. She also loves to sing, and is a member of the Aura Chamber Choir and Ancora Women’s Ensemble.

Mitsuyo Kaneda

Class 1-5 Japanese Teacher & Kindergarten Class Assistant

Q

Kim Seymour
Class 1-8 PE Teacher
Class 4-8 Handwork Teacher

Mrs. Seymour grew up in Vernon and has lived in Lumby with her husband Lenard for the last nine years. They have two children Anthony 10yrs., and Ella 7 yrs., as well as two dogs Louie and Lucy and one loveable cat named Mittens. They enjoy caring for their 20+ chickens and will soon be adding a few ducks to their hobby farm.

In highschool, Kim developed a passion for Visual Arts, Woodworking and Earth and Environmental Science. As a teen and young adult she would often volunteer in highschool and elementary classrooms. She worked in child care, the restaurant industry, retail and grocery stores. When she was a University student she worked for the City of Vernon planting and caring for the gardens in Polsen Park for a time, as well as other outdoor jobs.

Mrs. Seymour attended UBCO. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Geography (Earth and Environmental Sciences) and has a Minor in English Literature. She completed her Bachelor of Elementary Education in 2011. Kim was a Kindergarten classroom assistant, then the grades 4&5 teacher at the Okanagan Indian Band Cultural Immersion School from 2011-2015 collectively. She has worked as a substitute teacher for School District #22.

She found her way to our organization when her son began preschool at OWS in 2014 where she immediately loved the forest and farm environment, as well as the homelike warmth of the campus. She began her journey learning about Waldorf Education and the work of Rudolf Steiner. Soon, she was offered an opportunity to teach here. She began her Waldorf Teacher Training in 2015 and felt a connection to the pedagogy and approach that Waldorf education offers. As a teacher at Okanagan Waldorf School she loves being able to share both her scientific and artistic passions for the arts, the forest, the land, native vegetation and gardening with the children, inspiring creativity, curiosity and wonder.

Kim is an active member of the Grounds and Garden Committee on our campus. In her free time she enjoys knitting, hobby farming, hiking, adventuring, camping, fishing, gardening, reading, supporting local markets/events and sometimes she and her mom enter markets with their arts and crafts.

Kim Seymour

Class 1-8 PE Teacher & Class 4-8 Handwork Teacher

Q

Jana Palmer
Kindergarten - Class 8 Music Teacher

Ms. Palmer was born and raised in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Her father is a professor of Music Composition at the University, and her mother was a Chinese language teacher and translator. She has a sister who is in Early Childhood Education. Jana shares that Zagreb is an amazing city with a thousand year history. The country itself was heavily influenced by the Austro-Hungarian empire in the North, the Ottoman empire in the East and the Venetian Republic on the coast. Each region of Croatia tells the story of that influence, both in the culture and the language which varied greatly from region to region to the point that communication between regions can be challenging and bring a lot of funny situations.

Ms. Palmer was a teenager when Croatia went through a horrible 4 year long war for independence. Her family lived from one air raid/emergency siren to another, hiding in emergency shelters each day and listening to distant airplane bullets every night. Zagreb wasn’t as destroyed as other parts of Croatia, but the city and its outskirts did get bombed and war was a very real and present fear when she was 14. She shares that it feels like she is telling someone else’s story now, all these years later. Aside from the war, she shares that she had a very happy childhood, and grew up on the mountain above Zagreb in nature, surrounded by a very loving family, full of music and art which influenced the direction of her life.

In 2004 Jana received her masters degree in Musicology and Ethnomusicology, in 2006 she received her Croatian Teaching Certificate and in 2021 she received her BC Independent School Teaching Certificate. At University in Croatia she also pursued a strong interest of hers and received a certificate for Music Therapy. Jana has also been a PADI Scuba diving instructor and Emergency First Response instructor since 2007.

She has been teaching music for over 20 years, since she herself was a student. She began as a piano teacher in a private studio, then as a high school teacher. At the high school she taught Music Appreciation classes, Music Therapy classes, led a school choir and rock band, and produced a few major fundraising musicals with children. She also worked for the Croatian National Radio and had a monthly 90 minute show about film music and composers for a couple of years.

After some time, she decided to take a short break from teaching music and relocated to the British Virgin Island to teach scuba diving. She worked for a small diving company and enjoyed daily dive trips, drove boats, soaked in the sun, fought a couple of category 5 hurricanes and when she finally lost a battle with mosquitoes she decided to put her pirate hat down and went back to music. She worked as a K-6 music teacher in the Caribbean for 5 years. During this time she met her husband, and in 2019 they moved to Lumby which is his hometown.

She was drawn to our school because of its location, nature and because of the Waldorf curriculum and philosophy. Currently Ms. Palmer is the Grades Choir teacher, Kindergarten assistant and flexibly works where she is needed on our campus. She owns a private music studio through which she teaches piano and music theory in Lumby.

She lives in Lumby with her husband and 7 year old daughter, her in-laws, 3 dogs and a cat. In her free time Jana enjoys camping, reading, playing instruments, swimming and diving.

Jana Palmer

Kindergarten-Class 8 Music Teacher

Q

LiShan Chu
Class 6-8 Assistant

Please visit again soon…

LiShan Chu

Class 6-8 Assistant

Q

Danielle Westlake
Kindergarten Classroom Assistant

Please visit again soon…

Danielle Westlake

Kindergarten Classroom Assistant

Q

Geoff Akins
Kindergarten Classroom Support

Please visit again soon…

Geoff Akins

Kindergarten Classroom Assistant

Q

Megan McMillan
Class 4/5 Assistant and School Age Summer Camp Lead

Please visit again soon…

 

Megan McMillan

Class 4/5 Assistant & School Age Summer Camp Lead

Q

Isabel Hladych
OWS Classroom Support

Please visit again soon…

Isabel Hladych

OWS Classroom Support

Q

Erin Barry
Kindergarten Co Teacher
EC Faculty Chair

Please visit again soon…

Erin Barry

Kindergarten Co-Teacher & EC Faculty Chair

Early Childhood Educators

Q

Johanna Lebo
Marigold Preschool Room Co - Lead

Hana Lebo

Q

Dana Hughes
Sweet Pea Toddler Room Lead

Dana Hughes

Q

Kim Leach
Honeysuckle Infant Room

Kim Leach

Q

Kristin Foord
Sweet Pea Toddler Room

Kristin Foord

Q

Shae Webber
EC Child Care Program Support

Shae Webber

Q

Vanessa Riddick
Marigold Preschool Room Co - Lead

Vanessa Riddick

Q

Lyndsey Byers
Honeysuckle Infant Room Lead

Lyndsey Byers

Q

Naomi Strutridge
Marigold Preschool Room

Naomi Strutridge

Q

Brittany Bouchard
EC Child Care Program Support

Brittany Bouchard

Q

Kristin Remple
Sweet Pea Toddler Room

Kristin Remple

Q

Abbey Magnus
Lavender School Age Room

Abbey Magnus

Q

Lisa Abe

Lisa Abe

Administration

Q

Andrea Thiessen
Head of School

Ms. Thiessen, originally from Seattle, made the move to Vancouver BC in 2006. After a few more moves over the years, including seven years in Grand Prairie AB, she most recently landed in the Okanagan in 2013. She originally came to The BES as a parent where she and her daughter Xyla participated in Ms. Barbara’s Parent Preschool program. She immediately felt at home and In 2015 she became the first paid office staff in our organization. She soon added holding handwork classes for grades 1-5.

Through her years of working with children in early childhood and community family support programs, she grew more aware that children cannot be educated as islands separate from their family culture and structure. She found that Waldorf schools work with dedicated principles to bridge that gap between school and home, taking the ‘whole’ child into context and she felt compelled to focus solely on this way of ‘seeing’ children. She was first introduced to Waldorf Education when she attended a parent and child program with her oldest child in Port Townsend Washington in 1999. Through her continued involvement with multiple Waldorf Schools since that time, her love and connection for the foundations that sit at the base of Waldorf Education have only continued to grow. She shares that she loves the organization and all that it stands for, and feels honoured to support the children and families that we serve. She thrives on working someplace that she can not only find herself immersed in policy and paperwork in the administration office but also can then head out for recess supervision, step into the Early Years Centre, or teach/assist in one of the grades classrooms, all in the same day! Each and every interaction with the children on campus brings her great joy.

She holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education, dual B.A. in Human Development and Psychology, and an M.Sc. in Child and Family Studies. Andrea has also completed a Certificate in Waldorf Leadership and Administration, a Certificate in Management of Canadian Non-Profits, and a Certificate in Anthroposophic Psychology. She also holds a BC Independent Schools Teaching Certificate.

Before working at The BES, she had been involved with children and family support/education since 1992; working in various organizations including coaching recreation and competitive gymnastics, preschool, daycare, family support agencies, and schools. Her most recent employment prior to the BES was teaching early childhood education at the post-secondary level.

Currently she lives with her two children, two dogs and two cats. Andrea is also an active foster parent. When she prioritizes free time in her busy schedule, she enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, cooking, knitting, woodwork, board games with her children, growing food, outdoor music festivals, reading, and remaining open to learning new things.

Andrea Thiessen

Head of School

Q

Jen de Bourcier
Family Engagement Coordinator

Jen grew up on a family farm in the Nicola Valley, just outside of Merritt, BC. She moved to the Lower Mainland to attend University, then to Victoria where she lived for 10 years. When their oldest child was three, she and her husband Bob moved to their current home near the school. They have three children, Hayden, Grace and Patrick.

Jen’s family first came to Cedar Bridge School (recently renamed Okanagan Waldorf School) in 2006, when her oldest child began attending preschool. The Waldorf approach resonated with her, and she was drawn to working alongside the other families involved, to create a school with a unique vision. She and her husband were involved in many aspects of developing and building the school in the early years. Jen became a board member a couple years in.
Currently, Jen is the Family Engagement Coordinator in the Administration office, a Board member and the Parent Association chair. In her role in the office she puts together the newsletter, coordinates volunteers, organizes certain events including some fundraisers, and more. She is dedicated to offering parents avenues to engage in meaningful ways, which develops and enriches both the organization itself, and ultimately the families it serves. She is excited about the developing Parent Association and looks forward to connecting parents to unique learning opportunities that are in line with The Bridge Educational Society’s Founding Principles and Mission.

In the summers, Jen has a large garden where she loves to grow dahlias and cut flowers, fruit and vegetables. Her garden is a source of joy. She also enjoys reading, fiber art, swimming, harp, painting, caring for animals, and raising her family. She is on a lifelong journey to discover how to create a balanced life which includes physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, social and creative wellness.

Jen de Bourcier

Family Engagement Coordinator

Q

Trish Folland
Admissions Coordinator

Originally from Prince George, BC, Trish was living in Vernon when she learned about Waldorf Education. Her daughter Sarah was three in 2006 when she heard of a family on an organic farm near Lumby that was starting a Waldorf School. Trish attended the first public meeting and joined the board at that time.

Trish was a parent, board member, and volunteer during the years that her daughter attended Cedar Bridge School (now Okanagan Waldorf School) from preschool through grade 6. Her daugher is currently in grade 12 at Charles Bloom Secondary. Both her and her husband Ray volunteered extensively during the school’s pioneer stage. After resigning as a board member, she continued to volunteer with BES as a member of the Tuition Adjustment Committee.

Trish completed a diploma in Graphic Design and was on the Kamloops Art Council for 3 years. She owned and operated an Art Gallery and Picture Framing Store in Kamloops. When she moved to Vernon she was a store manager, then corporate director for The Good Feet Stores. Following that Trish worked in sales, shipping, and receiving for Vale Farms Grassroots Ltd.

In her current position at The BES she is the person you see taking attendance at drop off in the morning and usually the voice at the end of the phone when you call the school. She’s that persistent person that is asking you to fill in necessary documents and sign forms in order to keep the student files in good standing and in compliance with the BC Ministry Education – Independent Schools Branch.

Trish’s history with the school and experience with Waldorf education helps to inform her position at the front desk of our Administration office for our parent body, and in representation of The Bridge Educational Society.

Trish Folland

Admissions Coordinator

Q

Sarah McMahon
Accounts Manager

Sarah McMahon

Accounts Manager

Q

Nikki Wallace
Business Finance Administrator

Nikki Wallace

Business Finance Administrator

Q

Michelle Mervyn
Development Coordinator

Michelle is originally from Saskatchewan and moved to BC in 1991 with her parents and siblings. She and her husband Ric decided to move to Lumby when they found a lovely property on the edge of town in March 2020. They have two of four children still at home with them, Abigayle, 15 and Richard 10. They currently have a mama cat and three of her adult kittens, a puppy and a 4-year-old bearded dragon.

Before taking employment with the BES in September 2020, she was the General Manager of a not-for-profit Christian thrift store in Kelowna. Through may years of employment, she came to recognize the desire for ‘intentional’ employment. She has had wonderful positions in her employment years, yet upon leaving her most recent position she felt it important to actively search out an organization that would align with her values-based goals and decisions. Although her current position with the BES is not directly involved in the day-to-day decisions and activities, she is satisfied knowing that her contribution will help support and build on an environmentally aware, community-based organization.

Michelle has a Business Management and E- Commerce diploma, and various bookkeeping and Income Tax training certificates which serve her well in her role as the Administrative Assistant in the Business Department at the BES. Her role includes handling the accounts receivable, onboarding operations of EYC registrants and flexibly taking up a variety of administrative projects as they arise in the office.

Free time is a new term in her household since moving to Lumby. Together she and her family enjoy fishing/boating and spending time on the water. They like being outdoors and often have a bonfire. They are a family of readers and music lovers. Michelle has always been keen on vegetable gardening and canning, and she really enjoys cooking (everything).

Michelle Mervyn

Development Coordinator

Q

Christie Bachelder
Child Care Operations Manager

Christie Bachelder

Child Care Operations Manager

Q

Maude Ash
EYC Enrolment Coordinator

Maude Ash

EYC Enrolment Coordinator

Q

Paul McArdle
Facilities & Grounds Manager

Paul McArdle

Facilities & Grounds Manager

Q

Joe Piercey
Facilities and Grounds Maintenance

Joe Piercey

Facilities & Grounds Maintenance

Board

Q

Lorna Church
Board Treasurer

Lorna Church

Q

Roxanne Brierly
Board Vice Chair

Roxanne Brierly

Q

Vanessa Colleran
Board Chair

Vanessa Colleran

Q

Andrea Thiessen
Ex-Oficio Administration Representative

Ms. Thiessen, originally from Seattle, made the move to Vancouver BC in 2006. After a few more moves over the years, including seven years in Grand Prairie AB, she most recently landed in the Okanagan in 2013. She originally came to The BES as a parent where she and her daughter Xyla participated in Ms. Barbara’s Parent Preschool program. She immediately felt at home and In 2015 she became the first paid office staff in our organization. She soon added holding handwork classes for grades 1-5.

Through her years of working with children in early childhood and community family support programs, she grew more aware that children cannot be educated as islands separate from their family culture and structure. She found that Waldorf schools work with dedicated principles to bridge that gap between school and home, taking the ‘whole’ child into context and she felt compelled to focus solely on this way of ‘seeing’ children. She was first introduced to Waldorf Education when she attended a parent and child program with her oldest child in Port Townsend Washington in 1999. Through her continued involvement with multiple Waldorf Schools since that time, her love and connection for the foundations that sit at the base of Waldorf Education have only continued to grow. She shares that she loves the organization and all that it stands for, and feels honoured to support the children and families that we serve. She thrives on working someplace that she can not only find herself immersed in policy and paperwork in the administration office but also can then head out for recess supervision, step into the Early Years Centre, or teach/assist in one of the grades classrooms, all in the same day! Each and every interaction with the children on campus brings her great joy.

She holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education, dual B.A. in Human Development and Psychology, and an M.Sc. in Child and Family Studies. Andrea has also completed a Certificate in Waldorf Leadership and Administration, a Certificate in Management of Canadian Non-Profits, and a Certificate in Anthroposophic Psychology. She also holds a BC Independent Schools Teaching Certificate.

Before working at The BES, she had been involved with children and family support/education since 1992; working in various organizations including coaching recreation and competitive gymnastics, preschool, daycare, family support agencies, and schools. Her most recent employment prior to the BES was teaching early childhood education at the post-secondary level.

Currently she lives with her two children, two dogs and two cats. Andrea is also an active foster parent. When she prioritizes free time in her busy schedule, she enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, cooking, knitting, woodwork, board games with her children, growing food, outdoor music festivals, reading, and remaining open to learning new things.

Andrea Thiessen

Q

Erin Barry
Ex-Oficio EC Department Representative

Erin Barry

Q

Tanika Solbrandt
Ex-Oficio Grades Faculty Representative

Ms. Solbrandt is originally from Newcastle, Australia where she grew up with her family. Prior to beginning university, Tanika spent a year living and working in London, England.

Before becoming a teacher, Tanika worked various positions in hospitality and retail. She also volunteered for a number of years with a children’s program run by a Tibetan Buddhist group.

Tanika has her Bachelor of Teaching(Primary) /Early Childhood Studies from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She completed her Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy from the Rudolf Steiner College, Toronto. She completed her Waldorf Grades Teacher Training through the West Coast Institute and she is currently training to be a Waldorf Learning Support Teacher, through Waldorf Learning Support.

 

After completing University in 2015, Tanika moved to Canada and began teaching at the Okanagan Waldorf School that same year. Tanika has taught various grades at the Okanagan Waldorf School, and spent the 2019/2020 school year teaching at the Shambhala School, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

 

What first attracted her to OWS was that it was a Waldorf School, however, she notes that the community, the setting, (and the cats) are what she loves most about the school.

Tanika loves to cook dishes inspired by cuisines from all over the world. In her free time she enjoys tap dancing, travelling, volunteering at the Monashee Community Co-op, and spending time with friends, family, and her cat, Rumi.

Tanika Solbrandt

Q

Jen de Bourcier
Ex-Oficio Parent Association Representative

Jen grew up on a family farm in the Nicola Valley, just outside of Merritt, BC. She moved to the Lower Mainland to attend University, then to Victoria where she lived for 10 years. When their oldest child was three, she and her husband Bob moved to their current home near the school. They have three children, Hayden, Grace and Patrick.

Jen’s family first came to Cedar Bridge School (recently renamed Okanagan Waldorf School) in 2006, when her oldest child began attending preschool. The Waldorf approach resonated with her, and she was drawn to working alongside the other families involved, to create a school with a unique vision. She and her husband were involved in many aspects of developing and building the school in the early years. Jen became a board member a couple years in.
Currently, Jen is the Family Engagement Coordinator in the Administration office, a Board member and the Parent Association chair. In her role in the office she puts together the newsletter, coordinates volunteers, organizes certain events including some fundraisers, and more. She is dedicated to offering parents avenues to engage in meaningful ways, which develops and enriches both the organization itself, and ultimately the families it serves. She is excited about the developing Parent Association and looks forward to connecting parents to unique learning opportunities that are in line with The Bridge Educational Society’s Founding Principles and Mission.

In the summers, Jen has a large garden where she loves to grow dahlias and cut flowers, fruit and vegetables. Her garden is a source of joy. She also enjoys reading, fiber art, swimming, harp, painting, caring for animals, and raising her family. She is on a lifelong journey to discover how to create a balanced life which includes physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, social and creative wellness.

Jen de Bourcier

Q

Pamela Balcaen
Board Secretary

Pamela Balcaen

Q

Max Russman
Trustee

Max Russman

    Book a Tour

    At this virtual tour you will see the classroom space, learn about Waldorf Education, have a chance to ask questions, and find out how to enrol if you think that Bridge Educational Society is the right choice for your child.

    Your Information

    Your Interest(s)

    COVID-19 Response

    Please contact us to learn more about our protocols.