Summer is rolling along – so fast that I’m literally chasing it while I struggle with back-to-school shopping bags and my feather-light wallet in hand. Good news is, the P&H ladies have been delivering content so fresh lately, I can almost pretend that the computer’s glow as I edit is actually a relaxing, beach sunset – Pinot Grigio in hand of course.
Bree and I are extra thrilled that we have a new contributor to introduce you to: Stina Morisette. She and Bree have been friends since diaper-times, so I’m going to hand it over to Bree for the proper, sappy introductions.
I first met Stina back in the summer of ’81 when I emerged from my mother’s womb. She was 6 months old. Our friendship over the past 36 years has seen us navigating elementary school, high school, pimples, boys, men, babies, pre-teens, wrinkles, breasts, break-ups, wine and new loves, and has remained the sort of friendship where it doesn’t matter if a day or a year has passed, we can pick-up exactly where we left off. She truly is a gift.
In addition to being an amazing human, Stina is also an educator. She had two goals growing up: one, to have twin daughters, and the other, to be a teacher. I think she is more than happy with her two lovely boys, but the teacher-thing stuck. She is currently on maternity-leave from her job as a French-Immersion International Baccalaureate teacher, and we are delighted she accepted our request for her to share her teach-talk, Danish culture, and general life-musings with us.
P&H: What were you doing before your current job?
SM: I have been an Elementary School Teacher for 10 years now. I am currently on maternity leave from my position as an Early French Immersion Primary Teacher at an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program School. Prior to my current position I have taught at different levels across all grades from K-8 and worked in an administrative role as a Head Teacher.
I became a mom for the first time 6 years ago and gave birth to my second baby this past April. Being a mom to my two boys is by far the most important, challenging, and rewarding job I have.
P&H: How did you come to follow this career path?
SM: Education has been a common thread throughout the majority of my work and life experience. I have always wanted to be a teacher and to work with children. My first job working as a lifeguard at the Granville Island Waterpark led to many summers at False Creek Community Centre teaching day camps, canoeing and kayaking lessons, dance lessons, running youth groups and kids’ birthday parties. In my early 20s, I worked for lululemon as an “Educator” (lulu’s word for sales associate) and Community Educator (planning events to bring the community together and educate about yoga and wellness). This fostered my love of Yoga and later when I was pregnant with my first son, my decision to complete my 200hrs Yoga Teacher Training.
Community is another constant theme in my life. Having grown up in a community-run co-op, worked at a community centre for 10 years, and now as a school and yoga teacher, I have been part of many wonderful communities. I am passionate about community development and creating connections. In my role as a teacher, I am able to build community in my classroom, school and district. I have worked with the Vancouver Biennale’s BIG IDEAS educational grant program for the last 4 years, and had the opportunity to build connections through education and the arts across different school districts.
P&H: Where do you get your inspiration/drive from?
SM: I am continually inspired by my two sons, and by my students, to do everything I can to contribute to a healthy, sustainable, and beautiful world. I am driven by a belief in the importance of lifelong learning and accessible education. I love sharing my passion for yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices with the students that I teach and the teachers I teach with.
Part of my job as a teacher at an inquiry-based school involves a great deal of collaboration with my colleagues. The dedication, commitment, and love of teaching and learning that I see from my colleagues daily inspires my practice greatly.
P&H: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
SM: Changing the way you think about teaching and learning for teachers, parents, and students can be extremely challenging. We have all had our own personal experiences within school systems and with our own education journey. Shifting from a textbook, worksheet, and grade-driven classroom to a classroom that invites wonder and joy, encourages students to ask questions and take risks, and focuses on personalized learning, has been both an exciting and challenging journey for me.
P&H: How do you maintain a work/life/family balance?
SM: I’m not so sure I do maintain a work/life/family balance. I attempt to find some sort of balance whenever possible. My community of family, friends, and colleagues plays a huge part in my balance act by keeping me sane on long days at home raising my babies, and on busy days when I’m teaching while trying to be the best mom I can be. My husband is an amazing support to me and our children. He is my biggest cheerleader whenever I have a new goal or idea, and he always find ways to help me get to a yoga class or go for a quick run. I am fortunate to have my mom close by and she is always there for me and my boys (writing this interview wouldn’t have been possible without her taking the kiddos while I write!).
While at home on Maternity Leave, I have started a morning routine of exercising with my boys. The baby gets in some tummy time or kicking on his back, and my older son follows along with my yoga flow or exercise video. This allows me to spend time with my boys and get a workout in (even if it usually only lasts about 10 minutes!).
P&H: What does success look like to you? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
SM: When I see my boys happy and healthy and thriving, I feel successful. When students I have taught come back years later and share with me what they are up to, and how their year in school with me impacted them, I feel incredibly successful. When students and parents of my students write me cards expressing their gratitude and appreciation, it is the best feeling in the world.
I am sharing my life with my high school sweetheart and best friend. We are raising two amazing boys and living in the most beautiful city in the world, close to our family and friends. That feels pretty successful!
P&H: What advice would you have liked to know 5 to 10 years ago?
SM: 10 years ago, I would tell myself to take more time to be quiet. To think about my life and make good choices for myself. To take care of myself first so I can be my best self for the people who are dear to me. To stand up for myself and only accept to be treated with kindness and respect in all areas of my life.
P&H: What’s your favourite way to take time for yourself and recharge?
SM: Yoga, breathing ocean air, swimming outdoors, going for a run, sipping coffee or wine on a patio with family or friends, and long bubble baths.
Thanks Stina! We can’t wait to hear more from you on P&H!