(Class of 2014)
Stephanie recently completed her Master of Arts from Ryerson University. Her thesis focused on primary teachers’ perceptions of mindfulness practices with young children. She is currently a Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Education in the Early Years and Child Care Division. Specifically, she is working in the Child Care Quality Assurance and Licensing Branch.
Learning from the Comprehensive School Health Program
Stephanie chose the CSH cohort as she found it the most interesting out of the options available within the BEd program. Specifically, she chose the University of Ottawa, as she felt that the cohorts offered a unique learning experience that she didn’t see available elsewhere. She had viewed the CSH website, and could see that the teacher candidates at the time were actively engaged in sharing their learning through the website.
Stephanie now views everything she does through a health lens. Specifically, looking to ensure that children’s whole health is being acknowledged through Ministry policies and practices. Even though she is no longer working directly with children, but rather in quality assurance, she still had interests in ensuring that the whole child is nurtured along with ensuring that health and safety requirements are met.
After completing the CSH BEd program, Stephanie was trying to secure employment with one of the various school boards across Ontario. However, she was finding it hard to find work, so she took the opportunity to complete her Master’s degree. She knew she wanted to continue her education at some point, so this seemed like the perfect time to do it. She focused her research on mindfulness, specifically exploring teachers’ perceptions of children’s mindfulness practices within the classroom. She has now published from her thesis (Article can be found here). Her choice to explore mindfulness was inspired by Professor. Jess Whitley’s talk on mindfulness within the classroom. Jess’ enthusiasm and passion drew Stephanie in. During her work within the classroom, Stephanie began to understand the importance of mindfulness for both teachers and students. If teachers are not grounded, and mindful of their own emotions and experiences, they may struggle to be in turn with children’s experiences.
After completing her Master’s degree, Stephanie went on to teach at a private school, then went on to work at a local school board. She then applied to the Ontario Internship Program for new graduates. She is so grateful that she was chosen as it is quite a competitive process. Stephanie was placed with the Ontario Ministry of Education, in the Early Years and Child Care Division. Specifically, she works for Childcare Quality Assurance and Licensing Branch. She has been there for over a year.
Stephanie’s advice is to keep an open mind with respect to the learning content and approaches in the CSH cohort program. Stephanie was hesitant about mindfulness initially, but in learning more, she has learned that you need to keep yourself educated, and be sure to learn all you can about a theory or program before deciding it’s not for you. Stephanie says, “Open yourself up to new opportunities, read, research and see where it takes you.”
Additionally, Stephanie encourages teacher candidates to continue their learning journey after the BEd. Although, she admits, she may be biased about this after completing her Master’s degree. She feels that research is important to informing practice. However, continuing education doesn’t have to be a Graduate degree. it could be completing additional qualifications, or professional development courses. If you’re interested, and passionate about something, you’re going to want to share it with your students and will be more engaged. Being an educator is a lifelong learning process.
She recommends checking out mindfulness resources. For her own mindfulness practices, she used the application Headspace. She found that when you’re teaching, running around and dealing with so many different personalities, you need to stay grounded. She found the app helpful, as she could complete quick mindfulness practices throughout the day. She found through her practice and her research, that if teachers are not mindful of their own emotions and experiences, they can struggle to be mindful and assist the children they are teaching. Additionally, there are lots of apps online and books that children can use to learn more about mindfulness.
Stephanie isn’t sure exactly what is next for her. She is open to lots of opportunities and seeing where she can grow. She is interested in eventually, possibly completing her PhD, however she would like more job experience before that. Within the Ministry, she has the opportunity to move around and try different jobs through contract work. She doesn’t have a specific idea of where she would like to end up, but is interested in education broadly across the lifespan, from infants to adults.