Board of Directors

The Bridge Educational Society Board of Trustees works in collaboration with our educators and administration to ensure that the mission of the organization is carried out in accordance with our bylaws and agreed-upon goals and objectives.

The Board is responsible for overseeing the business aspects of our operations, including all financial, legal, and property matters. The Board is composed of educators, parents, and community members.

Our Board has a set of Bylaws, which are our rules. Within our bylaws, our purpose has been outlined as follows:

1) To promote an educational environment balancing physical education, humanities, sciences, and the arts and designed to answer the needs of children at each stage of their particular development;

2) To promote Waldorf education,

3) To acquire, establish, develop, support, and operate educational institutions in keeping with the above purposes.

Q

Max Ruessman
Board Chair

Max earned a Bachelor of Science degree in genetics and cell biology, with a minor in English literature at the University of British Columbia in 2001. After working at a biopharmaceutical company researching therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease, he went on to complete his Law Degree at the UBC Peter Allard School of Law in 2005. Thereafter, he completed his articles and was called to the bar in 2006. Max has been a practicing litigation lawyer since then, advising and advocating for clients in various areas including personal and commercial liability, insurance, construction and property disputes.

Max is a past president of the Vernon Science and Discovery Society (Okanagan Science Centre), a former director of the North Okanagan Parks and Natural Areas Trust, and a past president of the O’Keefe Ranch and Interior Heritage Society. Presently, he is a director at large of the District Parent Advisory Council – School District 22, advising on policy and other matters. In 2016, Max was recognized as one of Vernon’s “Top 20 Under 40” business people.

Max Ruessmann

Board Chair

Q

Lorna Church
Board Trustee

Ms. Church grew up across the road from The BES campus on Vale Farms.  As a young adult, she left the area for Edmonton where she attended the University of Alberta to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a focus on Sustainable Agriculture Systems.  Upon completion she happily returned to the Okanagan.  In addition, she has completed training in Basic Accounting I, Cultural Safety Awareness, and an Advanced GIS certificate from Okanagan College.

Lorna became a board member at The BES even before she had children of her own.  She notes that at the time she originally joined the board in 2008, she was inspired to help with a budding organization that was striving to bring a certain beauty and specialness to the education of children.  She didn’t know anything about Waldorf education, but there was just a feeling that she got when she entered the kindergarten at the time that spoke to her. The people who were part of founding the school were such great people, and she thought “I want to be part of this. I want to make this happen for our community.”   She shares that these are the same reasons she continues in her role as a Board member for The BES today.

In her spare time, Lorna enjoys a variety of activities including hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, knitting, and reading-  she notes that sadly, none of these hobbies are conducive to being done simultaneously.

Lorna Church

Board Trustee

Q

Andrea Thiessen
Ex-Officio Administration Representative

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

Ex-Officio Administration Representative

Q

Jillian Martin
Ex-Officio Grades Faculty Representative

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

Ex-Officio Grades Department Representative

Q

Roxanne Brierly
Board Vice Chair
Board Treasurer

Roxanne Brierley holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria as well as a CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist) designation. Prior to starting her family and moving to Vernon, Roxanne worked as a Consultant for some of the largest group benefit plans in Canada, where most of her time was spent working on spreadsheets, writing reports, and presenting to clients. 

Roxanne has served on The Bridge Educational Society Board since 2015,  she is currently serving as both the Vice-Chair and Treasurer. Prior to joining the Board, she worked with the Board Finance Committee, consistently applying her expertise in business and finance as well as her passion for the school. Roxanne continues to bring her education and business experience to her role as a Trustee, where she is very active in the grant writing, marketing, and financial aspects of our Society. She led the fundraising efforts to build both the 2016 OWS classroom building and the Early Years Centre.

Roxanne has four children that all attend OWS, the youngest in grade 2 and the eldest in grade 8.  Her biggest hobby at the moment is driving children to school and their various sports – however, she does like to hike, ski, and snowshoe in her spare time as well.  And a fun fact, Roxanne used to teach dog agility lessons and competed at a high level in Canada, even beginning a national champ with her dog Bella.

Roxanne Brierly

Board Vice Chair Board Treasurer
Q

Richard Harding
Board Trustee

Richard has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Post Grad Diploma in Advancing Healthcare Practice, and is in his final year of an MBA program. After a 24-year career in the British Army, Richard retired from Military life and along with his family settled in BC and now resides in Lavington. Richard has worked for Interior Health for the past 8 years and is currently the Executive Director for Clinical Operations in the North Okanagan and is responsible for all aspects of healthcare in the region.

 Richard has been a member of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation Board of Directors for the past 7 years and has supported multiple successful campaigns at the hospital during this time. Richard has extensive experience with both strategic and capital planning having led multiple large-scale initiatives whilst partnering with local and government organizations. Richard is passionate about supporting the future development of the Bridge Education Society as an integral part of our community.

Richard Harding

Board Trustee

Q

Erin Barry
Ex-Officio EC Department Representative

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

Ex-Officio EC Department Representative

Q

Ashley Hockenhull
Board Secretary

In 2021 Ashley enrolled her daughter at the Early Years Centre after moving to the Coldstream area in order to be closer to the centre. She believes that focusing on a more holistic, environmentally aware education is essential in teaching and guiding children who will be the leaders of tomorrow. She reached out to the Board last spring with a desire to get involved in the school community and has been serving on our Finance Committee since then.

Ashley currently works as an independent contractor doing editing and legal work and has an incredibly diverse background and education. Ashley has experience with finance, accounting, grant writing, fundraising, and project management. In addition to her formal roles, she has headed up a number of committees responsible for organizing large group and fundraising events from golf tournaments, to dinners, and wellness retreats. Ashley also has extensive legal experience in trust/estate accounting and administration, research, drafting, and corresponding with government agencies. She is thrilled to be nominated for a Trustee position and looks forward to serving the Society.

Ashley Hockenhull

Board Secretary

Q

Vanessa Colleran
Board Past Chair

Ms. Colleran was born in Vernon but has lived in many places throughout her life. She found herself drawn back to the Okanagan when her children were young, so that they too could enjoy what this area has to offer.  Vanessa lives with her husband, two sons, one a former OWS student who now attends secondary school, and a current OWS student in grade 6. They also have a dog named Rocky, and 4 backyard hens. 

Vanessa has a diploma in Animal Health Technology from Thompson Rivers University, and is an online lecturer for Thompson Rivers University for the Animal Health department. 

She has a certificate in Natural Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

Vanessa and her husband enrolled their sons at OWS in 2016, and over time she discovered how well she aligned with the Mission and Vision of the Society.  Taking up the work of the board was a very natural fit for her, as she wanted to participate and lend a hand not only to support the growth of the campus, but also to help ensure its sustainability for the next generation of children to come. 

Prior to joining the BES Board, Vanessa would volunteer her time in service of several other worthy causes, but since then has dedicated her volunteer time solely to the work of the BES Board of Trustees. 

She is coming to the end of her fourth and final year as Board Chair for The Bridge Educational Society. Vanessa shares “I am very much looking forward to mentoring and supporting the next person who steps into this role, through the creation of a new board position of ‘Past Board Chair’.  Our board is actively recruiting for many roles for the Board and its committees and I would be happy to answer any questions for anyone that might be curious about this very important and rewarding work.”

In her spare time, Vanessa enjoys the bountiful outdoors of this beautiful valley by hiking, skiing and travelling.  She has a new small garden that she is enjoying learning how to nurture as well. 

Vanessa Colleran

Board Past Chair

Q

Jen de Bourcier
Ex-Officio Parent Association Representative

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

Ex-Officio Parent Association Representative

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