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

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Danielle Westlake
Kindergarten Teacher

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Danielle Westlake

Kindergarten Teacher

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Geoff Akins
Kindergarten Classroom Support

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Geoff Akins

Kindergarten Classroom Assistant

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Jillian Martin
Class 1 Teacher
Grades Faculty Chair

Ms. Jillian Martin was born in Calgary, AB 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.

Jillian 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.
Jillian first joined The Bridge Educational Society 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 of lead teacher, where she taught the Grade Three and Four class. She is currently the Grade One lead teacher at Okanagan Waldorf School.

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 1 Teacher & Grades Faculty Chair

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Jenn Carson
Class 2/3 Teacher

Ms. Jenn Carson is originally from Temagami, ON and moved around during her childhood before settling down in Kenora, ON. 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, Jenn 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, Jenn 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 BC as there are more opportunities to practice Waldorf education. She saw the opening at Okanagan Waldorf School 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 BC 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. Jenn does a lot of musical 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 2/3 Teacher

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LiShan Chu
Class 4/5 Teacher

Ms. LiShan Chu was born and raised in the small island country of Taiwan.  She grew up in a harbor city in the South surrounded by coconut trees, palms, huge cargo ships and juicy tropical fruit.  She and her five siblings attended public school from kindergarten through to university. LiShan’s mom loved to travel and she always took LiShan with her.  Her mother didn’t speak English so LiShan got the chance to practice speaking English while on these trips. LiShan wrote numerous travel stories, and many of them were published in the newspaper at that time. 

When Ms. Chu was in university, she volunteered to work with the aboriginal children in the mountains of Taiwan. She loved the place and the children very much and traveled more than 8 hours each week to visit them. She developed a close relationship with the people in the mountains. They gave her a traditional name- Yagu, which means ‘the person is blessed’. Because of the experience with this mountain community and particularly the children, she realized how much she enjoyed working with children and the seed was planted for her future work.

LiShan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ethnology and a Minor in Psychology from Taiwan. She went on to complete her middle/high school teaching license. After two years of teaching in Taiwan, she moved to the United Stated where she first worked in Camphill Copake, NY, then in Camphill School, PA. After five years of study and practicum, she completed the 5 year Curative Education Program certificate from Camphill Academy, PA. In addition, she got her grade school Waldorf teacher certificate from Rudolf Steiner Center, Toronto. This summer she will complete her thesis and get her Master’s degree in the Transdisciplinary Healing Education program from Antioch University, NH. Aside from the studies in Waldorf and Curative Education, she also completed the Anthroposophic Psychology program (3 years) and Rhythmical Einreibungen (level 3). The Rhythmical Einreibungen is a gentle therapeutic massage that follows the principles of Anthroposophy.

While working at the Camphill School, PA, she worked with children with special needs in the home, school, and occupational setting. In the home setting, she supported children with special needs in their everyday lives in an Anthroposophical manner. It included everything from personal hygiene, self care skills, food preparation, recreational activities and festivals.  In the school setting, she worked with children with special needs as an educational assistant (2 years), a handwork teacher (1 year), and as a high school class teacher (2 years). In the occupational setting she assisted the high school wood workshop for a year.

After working for five years in the U.S., LiShan wanted to experience life in Canada and also knew she wanted to continue working in Anthroposophy. There were many schools looking for faculty, but she says destiny brought her here to The Bridge Educational Society. She joined our campus staff in the summer of 2021 and was the grades 6-8 class assistant that school year.  

Currently LiShan also works with an autistic young person in art and personal care. Additionally, this summer she has joined the Vernon Community Art Center as a wool painting art class instructor.

LiShan’s partner Jonas is from Southern France. They moved here to experience life in Canada together. She loves making all kinds of art but mostly works in crochet, embroidery, wool painting, needle felt, paper art, pastel drawing and watercolor. She notes that she always has her yarn and needles in her bag, and she crafts whenever she has time.

LiShan Chu

Class 4/5 Teacher

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Kate Olthof
Class 6/7 Teacher

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

Kate 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 endeavor, she met members of the OkanaganWaldorf School 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 Education Assistant 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 and their two sons; their dog, three cats and eight chickens.

Kate Olthof

Class 6/7 Teacher

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Barbara Articus
Class 8 Teacher
Class 1-3 Handwork Teacher

Ms. Barbara Articus 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. Barbara shares that she was drawn to being a part of this initiative because of her love for the Waldorf world with its 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. 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 fibers 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 8 Teacher & Class 1-3 Handwork Teacher

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

Ms. Kim Seymour grew up in Vernon BC and has lived in Lumby with her husband for the last nine years. They have two children, as well as two dogs 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 has 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.

Kim has completed her Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Geography (Earth and Environmental Sciences) and has a Minor in English Literature from UBCO. 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 Okanagan Waldorf School 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 4-8 Handwork Teacher & Class 1-8 Garden Teacher

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Megan McMillan
Class 1-8 PE Teacher

Ms. Megan McMillan was born and raised in rural Ontario before falling in love with the Okanagan and moving here in 2015. She has two degrees – a Bachelor of Science in Ecology & Environmental Biology, and a Bachelor of Education in Primary/Junior Outdoor & Experiential Education from Queen’s University.

Prior to arriving at The Bridge Educational Society, Megan worked as an outdoor educator, early childhood educator, teacher, and tutor. She was drawn to our organization after having her son, seeking a place of employment whose values and mission aligned with her own, both as an educator and a parent. When she first arrived on campus in 2020, she worked as a grades substitute teacher and an early childhood educator assistant. Megan is currently in the process of completing her early childhood education program. 

In the past Megan has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program with her dog Harvey and run the NatureKids of North Okanagan program.

Megan is happily married with a goofy dog and an energetic toddler. In her spare time, she enjoys playing volleyball, going to the beach, and hosting potlucks.

Megan McMillan

Class 1-8 PE Teacher

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Mitsuyo Kaneda
Class 1-4 Japanese Teacher

Ms. Mitsuyo 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.

Mitsuyo 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.

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

Mitsuyo 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 Arts 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, Mitsuyo really enjoys caring for her granddaughter, 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 1-4 Japanese Teacher

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Jana Palmer
Kindergarten - Class 8 Music Teacher

Ms. Jana 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.

Jana 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 master’s 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 Islands 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, BC which is his hometown.

She was drawn to our school because of its location, nature, and because of the Waldorf curriculum and philosophy. Currently, Jana is the Grades Music teacher 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.

Jana lives with her husband and 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

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Zoe Robinson
Class 5-8 French Teacher

Ms. Zoe Robinson grew up in Coldstream and was very happy to return to the wonderful Okanagan Valley after studying at Dalhousie University and through the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society. She graduated in 2018 with a double major in Anthropology and Sustainability. Currently, she is pursuing a degree in Social Work from the University of Victoria through distance education. 

Zoe loves to travel and has lived in many places across Canada and abroad including Paris and New Zealand. Zoe began working with us in January of 2022 and is currently our grades 5-8 French teacher. Ms. Robinson shares that what attracted her to working at The BES is the inclusive and engaged community and is very happy to be part of The BES.

Zoe enjoys spending time in nature and likes to backcountry camp, canoe, and bike in the summers, and cross-country ski and snowboard in the winters. For the past ten years she has photographed mushrooms on outdoor expeditions and as a result, now has quite a collection of fungi photos. She has a puppy named Watson and a cat named River.   

Zoe Robinson

Class 5-8 French Teacher

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Isabel Hladych
OWS Student Support

Ms. Isabel Hladych grew up in the Lumby area on her family’s farm and attended the Okanagan Waldorf School during her elementary years when it was still called Cedar Bridge School. When she was 15 she moved to Germany for a year to attend school, then returned to the Okanagan where she has been ever since. In her youth, Isabel often worked on her family farm doing various tasks such as tractor work, fieldwork, and clean-up.

When she decided to take a gap year after graduating from high school she wanted to find a job where she felt like she was making a difference as well learning new things. She joined our staff and notes that after a few months she fell in love with the job, the children, and the work environment. Watching the kids grow and learn in such a positive environment makes this a very enjoyable employment experience for her.

Isabel lives with her partner and their two cats close to the school. In her free time, Isabel enjoys barrel racing, riding her horses, and giving riding lessons. In the winter she likes to fill her spare time with snowboarding and skating.

Isabel Hladych

OWS Student Support

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Robyn Robinson
OWS Student Support

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Robyn Robinson

OWS Student Support

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EveLynn Debusschere
Pedagogical & Student Extra Lesson Support

Ms. EveLynn Debusschere was born in Saskatchewan.  Her family moved to Kelowna, BC when she was 16 years of age where she has resided, for the most part, ever since.

EveLynn has a Bachelor of Arts in Waldorf Education and a Diploma in Remedial Education, both from Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA.  She started her teaching career at the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara, CA and has worked at the Nelson Waldorf School, and Lakeside School Kelowna.

EveLynn joined The Bridge Educational Society in September of 2021 and provides pedagogical support for both teachers and students. She shares that working one on one to help learning be easier for students is a passion of hers. She welcomes the opportunity to work here in this capacity, as well as the chance to help teachers strive to be the best teachers they can be.

In her free time, EveLynn enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, knitting, cross-stitching, hiking and walking the dog.

EveLynn Debusschere

Pedagogical & Student Extra Lesson Support

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Francis Chabot
Eurythmy

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Francis Chabot

Eurythmy

Early Childhood Educators

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Lyndsey Byers
Sweet Pea Room Lead

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Lyndsey Byers

Sweet Pea Room Lead

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Johanna Lebo
Marigold Room Lead

Ms. Hana Lebo was born in Pasadena, CA and when she was 10 years old her family moved to Vancouver. They enjoyed city life which was rich in culture, diversity and coastal living. 

Her work history includes several years of study and employment in the hospitality/culinary industry as a private chef on a yacht and barge, movie caterer and remote camp chef. She shares that she loves cooking in unique ever-changing environments. After her culinary years, she dove into a diploma in Business Administration and Human Resources. Hana expresses a passion for lifelong learning, strategic management and organizational efficiency while prioritizing true interpersonal connections.

Hana loves to travel and embrace rich culture and community, she has traveled with her backpack to 27 countries. Upon her return to Canada, she met her partner Patrick and they soon settled in Lake Country. In time they discovered the beautiful Lavington area and knew this was where they wanted to be, and eventually made the move to the area. 

After becoming a parent, she worked with the Family Resource Center as a co-facilitator in parent and child programs. She fell in love with early childhood and connecting with families. In 2017 she became an Early Childhood Educator Assistant (ECEA) and followed with her Montessori 3-6 Diploma. In this role, she ran the Daffodil Cafe, a culinary program at a Montessori preschool, providing fun hands-on culinary activities for her students while embracing her passion for food, farm-to-table and global pallet.

As a young mother Hana discovered The Bridge Land for Learning in 2015 (then named Cedar Bridge School) and she made a conscious effort to remain connected as a community member,  by taking part with her daughter and friends in open festivals until they could move closer and enrol. She would leave these events with a sense of community and awe.

Hana has followed the development of the Early Years Centre and the ambitious beautiful space since construction began. She decided to pursue employment with our organization and was hired in the early summer of 2020. In 2021 Hana completed her full Early Childhood Educator Certification with Honors and she is continuing her Waldorf birth to seven certification with joy and dedication.

She expresses that she looks forward to further opportunities and connections with families in our community, as she engages and explores her love for the rhythm and festivals through the seasons of each year.

In her spare time Hana enjoys time with her family, board games, swimming, hiking, paddleboarding with her daughter, backyard potlucks with friends and snuggling with her pets.

Hana Lebo

Marigold Room Lead

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Lisa Abe
Honeysuckle Room Lead

Ms. Lisa Abe was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. As a young adult, she worked in a doctor’s office and realized she loved interacting with the children who came into the clinic. This led her to enrol in the Early Childhood Educator and Infant and Toddler Educator programs at Langara College, where she graduated in 2004.

She and her husband began spending time in the Westside Road area when her husband began helping friends build their log house. They were drawn to the area and relocated to Killaney Beach. She became employed at the Okanagan Indian Band, working in their daycare. While at the OKIB she found that she loved learning their culture, the language, their crafts and their food. She was asked to take the Parent-Child Mother Goose training. With the help of an elder, they translated words in the children’s songs into the Okanagan Language, and taught it to the children and parents to sing. 

Their rental at Killaney Beach turned out to be short-term, and they relocated to Lumby. Lisa commuted from Lumby to Westside Rd for a few years until she took a position at a Lumby Daycare.

When asked what attracted her to working at the Early Years Centre, she shared that she wanted to learn a different way to work with infants and toddlers. She likes to learn and was interested in learning at a new childcare center. She wanted to further her ECE experience and find out what working at our new centre would look like.

Lisa lives with her husband, their two cats, and one year old dog. She is working on training him to be her running companion. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and being with her dog. She has taken up teaching herself to paint with watercolors through YouTube.

Lisa Abe

Honeysuckle Room Lead

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Kim Leach
Dandelion Room Lead

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Kim Leach

Dandelion Room Lead

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Lindsay Hannah
Dandelion Room

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Lindsay Hannah

Dandelion Room

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Shae Webber
Sweet Pea Room

Ms. Shae Weber was born in Surrey, BC.  Her parents moved the family to West Kelowna in 1998 due to job relocation and in order to be in a safer environment while raising a family. Currently, she lives with her husband and their golden retriever in Coldstream.

Shae graduated in 2013 with a Human Service Work Diploma from Okanagan College. Currently, she has been accepted into the ECEC-WIL program through Northern Lights College. She will graduate with her ECE-IT diploma in April 2023!  

Shae started her career working at the Boys and Girls Club in Leduc, AB.  During her time there, her passion for working with children grew immensely.  After a year she landed a job as an education assistant working with individuals with various diversabilities.  This quickly became her full-time career.  She worked as an education assistant in Alberta for four years, and in Thunder Bay, ON for 2 years.

Shae joined The Bridge Educational Society in September of 2020 and is an ECE Assistant in the Early Years Centre. She had worked in a Waldorf daycare when she was living in Thunder Bay, ON so the Early Years Centre center seemed like a good fit for her.  She had really enjoyed the environment and the quality of the childcare that was offered to the children and families in the community.  

In her spare time, Shae enjoys yoga, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking with Walter, reading, and cooking/baking.

Shae Webber

Sweet Pea Room

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Vanessa Riddick
Sweet Pea Room

Ms. Vanessa Riddick originally hails from England. She moved here over 30 years ago and has lived in various locations throughout the North Okanagan, and arrived in the Lumby area about 8 years ago. She initially trained as an occupational therapist in the United Kingdom and specialized in the mental health field. Prior to working at The Bridge Educational Society, she worked at the Vernon Jubilee and CMHA, while raising three children on a hobby farm in the Lumby/Cherryville area.

Vanessa completed her ECE certificate training at Okanagan College in August 2020.  She has since completed her Infant/Toddler diploma and is currently enrolled in the Waldorf Early Years training through the West Coast Institute. Vanessa first connected with The Bridge Educational Society when she participated as a practicum student on our campus and observed a seasoned Waldorf ECE educator in the preschool setting and felt immediately intrigued by the unique learning environment provided for the children. She has been employed with The Bridge Educational Society since September 2020. 

Outside of her employment at the Early Years Centre, Vanessa is on the Lumby Christian Church Leadership committee and runs the nursery at the church. 

When asked about leisure activities, Vanessa notes that her day is not complete without some fresh air. She does a lot of local walks/hikes, yoga, aquafit, lane swimming, ladies’ bible study, cross stitch, enjoys reading, watercolor, making cards, and pencil drawing. Canoeing is her new aspiring interest since participating in a staff canoe retreat. Her favorite times will always be the precious moments she gets to spend with her children when they visit; this usually involves food, another love of hers.

A future aspiration is to become an advocate for children’s mental health in some capacity. She would also love to travel as a Waldorf Teacher and work in various locations around the world.

Vanessa Riddick

Sweet Pea Room

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Kristin Remple
Dandelion Room

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Kristin Remple

Dandelion Room

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Jenny Rae Wilder
Honeysuckle Room

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Jenny Rae Wilder

Honeysuckle Room

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Brittany Bouchard

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Brittany Bouchard

 

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Athar Ebrahimi

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Athar Ebrahimi

 

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Abbey Magnus

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Abbey Magnus

 

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Keoni Thomson
Honeysuckle Room

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Keoni Thomson

Honeysuckle Room

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N'Leah Jones

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N’Leah Jones

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Sheri Blom

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Sheri Blom

Administration

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Andrea Thiessen
Head of School

Ms. Andrea Thiessen, originally from Seattle WA, made the move to Vancouver BC in 2006. After a few 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 Bridge Educational Society as a parent where she and her daughter 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 WA 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 honored to support the children and families that we serve. She thrives on working someplace where 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, a 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 Bridge Educational Society, 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 Bridge Educational Society was teaching early childhood education at the post-secondary level.

Currently, she lives with her two children, her foster son, and two cats. 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

Ms. Jen de Bourcier 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 moved to their current home near the school. They have three children.

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

Ms. Trish Folland is originally from Prince George, BC. After moving to Vernon, she learned about Waldorf Education. Her daughter 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 daughter recently graduated from Charles Bloom Secondary. Both her and her husband volunteered extensively during the school’s pioneer stage. After resigning as a board member, she continued to volunteer with The Bridge Educational Society 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 Bridge Educational Society, 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

Please visit again soon…

Sarah McMahon

Accounts Manager

Q

Nikki Wallace
Business Finance Administrator

Ms. Nikki Wallace was born in Fort St. John, BC, and grew up mostly in Kenora, ON.  She moved to Lavington three years ago, from Kelowna.  

In 2002 Nikki completed the Accounting Technician Program at the University of the Cariboo. She has gained considerable business and finance administration experience since then. Before becoming employed at The Bridge Educational Society, she worked as the Finance Coordinator for the Kelowna Women’s Shelter for 4.5 years. Nikki joined The Bridge Educational Society in September of 2021 as our Business Financial Administrator. This role includes duties such as preparing and maintaining budgets and forecasts, reconciling accounts, entering invoices/receipts, maintaining the accounts payables, and preparing deposits as well as other various financial reporting for the Society.

Nikki shared that she was attracted to working at The Bridge Educational Society because it was close to home and that she had never worked in a school setting before. She had not experienced Waldorf education, and she welcomed the new and exciting journey.

Nikki lives with her three school-aged children and they share their home with their two dogs. In her spare time, Nikki loves to travel, take photos, play with her children and dogs, walk/hike and experience new adventures.

Nikki Wallace

Business Finance Administrator

Q

Michelle Mervyn
Development Coordinator

Ms. Michelle Mervyn is originally from Saskatchewan and moved to BC in 1991. She and her husband moved to Lumby in early 2020. They have two of four children still at home with them.

Before taking employment with The Bridge Educational Society in September 2020, she was the General Manager of a not-for-profit Christian thrift store in Kelowna. Through her many 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. Through her current position at The Bridge Educational Society, she is satisfied knowing that her contribution will help support an environmentally aware, community-based organization.

Michelle has a Business Management and E-Commerce diploma. Her role has recently expanded into the Development & Communications Department which serves fundraising, marketing, and social media platform needs as well as a variety of projects as they arise in the organization.

Together Michelle and her family enjoy fishing/boating and spending time on the water. They are also a family of readers and music lovers. Michelle has always been keen on vegetable gardening and canning, and she really enjoys cooking.

Michelle Mervyn

Development Coordinator

Q

Christie Bachelder
Child Care Operations Manager

Ms. Christie Bachelder was born and raised in the Okanagan. She was born in Kelowna and raised in Salmon Arm. After completing her early childhood education on Vancouver Island, she and her husband moved to this area and they currently live in Lavington. They have four wonderful children aged 13-23 years.

Christie completed her Infant and Toddler/ Special Needs Diploma from the College of the Rockies in 2020. She originally came to us in 2014 working as a preschool assistant and kindergarten assistant. At that time Christe also took the first year of Waldorf teacher training through West Coast Institute. In 2017 she moved on and taught preschool for the Village of Lumby where she met many wonderful families and coworkers, some of whom she invited and who came with her when she returned to our campus in 2020 as the Early Years Centre Manager. In this role, Christie has helped to facilitate the childcare programs, hire, train, and support the amazing staff in the Early Years Centre, and strives to support the children and their families in our community. 

Christie shares that what attracted her to working for The Bridge Educational Society is the Waldorf pedagogy and the wonder of children learning about themselves and all the amazing things they are capable of. She notes that this location is close to her home which makes for a nice easy commute.

Christie has been and continues to be, a volunteer in many capacities. She has volunteered for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in many leadership and service capacities. She has volunteered for Girl Guides/Boy Scouts of Canada, as well as been active in the Lavington Community Association. Over the years she has participated frequently in School District 22 PAC events and groups.

When asked about her hobbies and interests she shares that her children would say her favorite pastime is sleeping, but she really does enjoy spending her spare time gardening, building, constructing, reading, and hiking.

Christie Bachelder

Child Care Operations Manager

Q

Paul McArdle
Facilities & Grounds Manager

Mr. Paul McArdle was born and raised in Liverpool, United Kingdom. He began his working career as a Gamekeeper’s Assistant on Lord Derby’s estate in Liverpool. He always had a working dog, ferrets, and polecats in his life from the age of 10. He shares that animals are what kept him outside, in the woods.  

When he was 16 he moved from England to Wales to join the family business of butchering.  After three months, he was running the butcher shop in a little Welsh village called Llanymynech.

He left the butcher shop at 18 and started life in the building trade. He got his Finishing Carpentry Certification from Uk College. His first reno job was working on Powis Castle in Welshpool. He has worked with wood and other building materials ever since. In June 2012 Paul, his wife, and their two children relocated to Canada from Shropshire. They believed they would all have more opportunities here. Paul has been a self-employed carpenter for the last 13 years. 

Paul shares that he became employed at our campus by accident when a friend gave his name to Ms. Thiessen as a good candidate for our Facilities Manager position. If you know Paul, you will be able to hear his wit and humor shining through there. He became employed here in September 2019. Paul shares that what attracted him to our campus is the location, the Waldorf school, and that he wishes he had gone to a school like this when he was a boy.

Paul’s role on our Campus covers a broad range of responsibilities. He is a member of the Campus Development Committee and is a point person for the different infrastructure and physical systems on campus including water, septic, HVAC, electrical, alarm system, buildings, roadways, physical development, and much more. He oversees their maintenance, safety, and operational standards. He also repairs all manner of items from chairs, signs, latches, fences, and beyond. 

Paul is a keen Footballer (Soccer) player and supporter of his birthplace team, the Everton Football Club, which was founded in 1878. He and his wife live in Coldstream where he is finishing up an extensive renovation of their home. They have a whippet and a few chickens. In his spare time, Paul loves to enjoy the outdoors, wildlife, fishing, and spending time with his family and friends.

Paul McArdle

Facilities & Grounds Manager

Q

Joe Piercey
Facilities and Grounds Maintenance

‘Mr. Joe’ (as he is known on campus) Piercy is originally from Victoria, BC. He and his wife made their way to Lumby about 5 years ago and purchased an old church that they have been renovating and fixing it up as their home ever since.

 Joe completed his apprenticeship training at the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre and is a red seal chef. Before coming to The Bridge Educational Society, he was self-employed as a handyman which included lots of painting, landscaping, and catering. It was in this capacity that Joe began working at our campus when the EYC was being completed. He notes that the more he walked around and noticed the children playing outside in all the different campus environments he thought “Wow, what a cool place to learn and go to school!”. Joe came on staff full-time during the summer of 2021 as part of the Facility & Grounds Maintenance Team.

 Joe and his wife have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Kamloops. Their daughter is a kindergarten teacher. When asked about what he likes to do in his spare time Joe laughed as if to say, “spare time?”. By all accounts, he seems to keep as busy in his spare time as he does at work. He spends his free hours collecting and chopping firewood, exploring the area, mowing his massive lawn, and watching the swallows in the springtime. He enjoys creating a toboggan run in the winter and listening to the joyful screams of friends and family as they rush down on their sleds.

Joe Piercey

Facilities & Grounds Maintenance

Q

Erin Barry
EC Faculty Chair
Pedagogical Lead

Ms. Erin Barry originally hails from Edmonton, AB. After some time on the west coast of British Columbia, she relocated to the Vernon/Lumby area in 2006.  Her previous work experience is broad and includes working in the sailboat industry, food service, coffee service, viticulture and silviculture.

Erin did her undergraduate studies at UBC, Vancouver from 1998-2003 and is a Certified Yoga teacher.  She began her Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training in 2015 and completed it in 2017.  In 2020 she completed the Waldorf Post Graduate Birth to Three Certificate.

Erin first came to Cedar Bridge School (now Okanagan Waldorf School) in 2007 when her daughter was one year old.  Shortly after accessing these initial programs for her daughter, Erin became a Board member, then a teacher and eventually she organically grew into her role as the Early Childhood Pedagogical Leader in our Early Years Center.  She is also a member of the Campus Development Committee as well as the Grounds Committee Chair.  When asked what attracted her to begin working at The Bridge Educational Society, Erin’s response was inspired and heartfelt:

“I first arrived as a parent, and was attracted by the beauty of the place and the courage and vision of the founders. I was inspired by what was happening here; adults working and learning together to support an intentional environment for children’s learning and health. This is what I experienced on the first day I visited the campus with my first child, and is what still inspires me today.  The more years I spent participating as a parent and board member, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn about Anthroposophy and human development, child development and the Waldorf movement. This led me to Waldorf teacher training and eventually full-time work with The Bridge Educational Society. I love living in Lumby, and I feel very fortunate to be working with young children and families here. There are so many aspects of my work that bring me joy, and so much for me still to learn.”

Erin lives with her husband, their children, and their very cool cat. In her free time Erin delights in all things food such as gardening, cooking, foraging for wild foods, canning, preserving and eating!  She enjoys spending time outdoors camping, swimming, canoeing, exploring trails and visiting different hot springs throughout BC with her family.  

Erin Barry

EC Faculty Chair & Pedagogical Lead

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