Our Leadership Team
Our leadership team has served in multiple capacities at leading international and private schools around the globe. They bring a wealth of experience and a desire to create a school that provides an immersive Canadian learning experience for all our students so that whether it be our Canadian students or our international boarding students, all would be supported to reach their goals.
Dr. John D’Arcy – Head of School
Dr. John D’Arcy, his wife Ida, and their daughter Jade are thrilled to be joining the St. John’s Academy community and making Shawnigan Lake their home. John was last on Vancouver Island during the summer of 2019, when he, his daughter Jade, and her cousin explored the island in a camper van. Although Ida was unable to join the camping trip, she too has very fond memories of her trip to British Columbia, where she learned to ski and loved the seafood.
John returns to Canada after 17 years of international school leadership in Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Beijing. Before embarking on his international adventure, John held teaching and leadership positions at public schools in Toronto. Now in his 35th year of education, John holds advanced academic degrees in education; his areas of research have focused on learner-centred teaching and learning. In addition to significant provincial education experience, John has been a school leader at four International Baccalaureate World Schools, all used the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Diploma Programme (DP). He is a school accreditation team leader for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and accreditation team member for the Council of International Schools (CIS).
As an educator, John knows learning is most successful when it is meaningful and relevant to learners, regardless of age. As a school leader, his work is informed by Learning Sciences research, inclusive of developmental psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and education theory. Discoveries about how brains acquire, retain, retrieve, and use new and mature skills and knowledge have informed John’s thinking and practice – as a parent and educator. His work is also inspired by what motivates (and de-motivates) engagement and learning amongst children and adults. Beyond and inclusive of the how and what of learning, John believes the most interesting schools are grappling with the why, when, where, and who of learning.
St. John’s Academy’s next Head of School is recognised for his expertise in transformational leadership and learner-centred education. He has taught in and developed educational ecosystems optimising the learning of each student and the instructional practice of teachers. John has participated in and led the design and development of new school buildings as well as major campus renovations. The common thread across all projects has been prioritising the educational experience of students, teachers, school leaders, and parents.
John is an avid reader, he draws and paints, and is eager to explore the Island’s parks and enjoy the lake. John rides motorcycles and has ridden around Hong Kong, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (and bungee-jumped at Victoria Falls). He thinks he has convinced Ida that the island would be a great place to ride.
John says, being a husband and father are the most meaningful experiences of his life; both roles inspire constant learning, personal growth, and love. The kind of school community he and Ida want for themselves and Jade has a learner and family-centred culture and lives its values. They believe St. John’s Academy is the community they are looking for, and to which they can add value.
Mrs. Burkie Burgess – Director of Student
Burkie Burgess graduated from the University of Regina, SK in 2004 with a Bachelors of Arts and a Bachelors of Education, receiving the Saskatchewan Teachers of English Language Arts Award (2003) and the Joe Duffy Memorial Prize for “Most Outstanding Student in Secondary Teaching” (2004). She has taught at four different schools over the last 16 years: Ecole Ross School & Prince Arthur School in Moose Jaw; St. Paul’s Academy/The Centre for Learning@HOME in Okotoks; and Shawnigan Lake School in Shawnigan Lake. All of her teaching experiences have been memorable and have helped to shape her into the teacher she is today.
She decided to become an English teacher because she loves working with and inspiring youth to become the best versions of themselves, so that they can enrich their lives and the lives of others, making our world a better place. Additionally, she is passionate about literature and creative writing as forms of self-expression and connection. Through reading and writing, we come to better understand ourselves and the experiences of others, allowing us to become more empathetic, inclusive, globally conscious human beings. There is nothing more rewarding for her as an educator than seeing her students become enthusiastic about the books they are reading or watching their confidence grow in their own writing abilities.
Recently, Burkie has become enamored with stand up paddle boarding and kayaking, so she hopes to continue to explore these new passions in the future. Some of the qualities she values and strives to embody as an educator are empathy, honesty, resiliency, flexibility, strong work ethic, and a good sense of humor. She looks forward to having the opportunity to contribute to the school’s community in a positive way.
Mr. Bradley Myrholm – Director of Academics
After graduating from university with a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts, Bradley began his teaching career in Alberta, Canada. He then went on to teach within the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, beginning in Kuwait, then moving onto an IB pioneer school in Jordan, and eventually moving to Vancouver Island. Bradley also has a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Victoria which specializes in education development. While working on his MPA he had the opportunity to work with the Government of Canada and the Government of Tanzania in aiming to improve the quality of education and the effectiveness of education spending within the Tanzanian education sector. This background in administration has also influenced how Bradley approaches stakeholder engagement, program evaluation, and data analysis.
While teaching with the IB, Bradley has taught the Diploma Programme (DP) Language and Literature and Literature courses and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) Language and Literature course from grades 7-10. He has also coordinated the MYP as an MYP co-coordinator, Global Contexts coordinator, Personal Project coordinator and Approaches to Learning (21st-century skills) coordinator. Working directly for the IB, Bradley is also a Workshop Leader, School Visit Team Member, Examiner and Examiner Team Leader.
Bradley and his wife, Serena, have been living and thriving in the Cowichan Valley with their two little girls for nearly 6 years. Previously, they lived and taught overseas while traveling the world. In fact, together they have visited over 60 countries and have continued traveling with their children. Aside from traveling, Bradley enjoys learning, hiking, camping, reading and spending time with his family.
Mr. Matt Jonah – Director of Admission
Over 20 years ago Matt Jonah began his life-long commitment to international student education while recruiting for Canada’s top-ranked Liberal Arts University, Mount Allison University (MTA).
His initial focus was on recruiting students from prestigious boarding schools in New England, B.C. and Ontario. Loving the opportunity to work with international students and their families, he soon expanded to international markets and travelled to +25 countries over the following 10 years. After the Associate Registrar for Admissions and Recruitment role at Mount Allison, Matt then moved into admissions at the Independent boarding school level as the Executive Director, Admissions for Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario.
After 8 years of additional admissions leadership, Matt then moved into fundraising as Appleby’s Director of Development and followed that to work at Glenlyon Norfolk School in Victoria, BC. This move allowed Matt to develop expertise at the University, Boarding school, K-12 (IB+AP) levels.
Having reviewed thousands of Canadian and international applications for both University and Independent school applicants, conducted over 1,000 student interviews and raised over $3 million (CAD) in donations, Matt is now combining all of these diverse professional experiences, with his entrepreneurial mindset, to help grow and enhance St. John’s Academy on the beautiful campus of Shawnigan Lake. As the Director of Admissions and Marketing, Matt looks forward to working with you further and assisting your families.