There is no doubt that it is the quality of teaching and learning that makes students’ success at school. At St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake, we make sure that teachers address each student’s unique learning needs and guide them toward personal success in each subject and interest area. We invest measurably in building responsible and experienced teaching staff, whose primary objective is academic excellence.
Mr. Joseph Adams
English, Socials and Drama Instructor
As a teacher who has worked in Europe and North America, Joseph is looking forward to the exciting challenge of teaching at St John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake. Having come to teaching after a career in the Arts, he has always relished the creativity and growth mindset that teaching can present. “We have an opportunity at St. John’s Academy to provide a creative curriculum guided by the needs and interests of the students.” Joseph, his Canadian wife, four children, and Labrador dog moved from Oxford, England, to the island in 2016 (after twenty years in Europe) and fell in love with the Shawnigan-Mill Bay area. Joseph enjoys messing about in boats, the arts, and hiking, so this area was an instant fit with its breath-taking natural beauty and easy water access. He continues the transition of becoming a Vancouver Islander, enjoying a sense of new belonging in this spectacular West Coast setting.
Ashlee is an enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated educator who is excited to be joining the caring community at St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake. After earning her Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph, Ontario and her Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, she sought opportunities to teach English language learners in China and South Korea, igniting her passion for delivering culturally responsive pedagogy. For the past ten years, she has been delivering the math, science, biology and chemistry curricula at public and private schools in Ontario and internationally, in Egypt and Trinidad. Most recently, she has completed an additional specialist qualification in the area of teaching English language learners from York University. St. John’s Academy embraces the engaged learner experience and she is thrilled to continue to grow as a practitioner delivering the IB program alongside the staff and students in this caring community.
Dan, her spouse, and their dog Habiba decided to make the 5000 km move from the shores of Lake Erie to shores of Shawnigan Lake to seek the active lifestyle that speaks to our souls. As avid scuba divers, open water swimmers, paddlers and hikers, the Cowichan Valley presents a playground of awaiting adventure. When the weather turns rainy, you will find her inside crafting, painting, or woodworking on any one of the many projects she always has on the go. Through all endeavours, she looks forward to establishing and maintaining connections with people and groups within the local community.
Ms. Burkie Burgess
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.
Ms. Julie Carere
Julie earned her Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours) as well as Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology degrees both from the University of Waterloo. She is a certified teacher for Independent schools in the areas of Math and Business at all grade levels. For the past twelve years, she has been tutoring students at Elementary, High School, Undergraduate, and Graduate levels. Julie tutors in the areas of math, economics, stats, accounting, and finance. She has been working one-on-one with students for many years and is thrilled to have the opportunity to help a large number of students in a classroom setting. She enjoys working with youth and loves to hear things from her students like “I get it now” or “Hey, I’m smart.” Julie believes in the IB curriculum at St. John’s and its goal to create innovative thinkers and leaders which will be vital to our future. Julie was in a pi contest in University where she recited 154 digits which was part of a documentary film.
Mr. Tristan Clausen
A passionate music educator, Tristan has worked in public and independent schools with students from K-12 in concert band, string orchestra, choir, jazz band, musical theatre, and general music. He believes that the making of music is inherently joyful and made all the more rewarding through reflective practice and perseverance with a goal to create experiences that move both the performer and listener. His ensembles are frequently recognized with superior ratings and invitations to national festivals. As a musician, Tristan has performed for several seasons with both the Vancouver Island Chamber Choir and Vox Humana Chamber Choir and as a freelance trumpeter in local musical theatre productions. He was first drawn to teaching as an adolescent in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in his hometown of Comox on Vancouver Island, and combining that with his love of music seemed a natural fit.
Outside of the classroom, Tristan enjoys spending time with his daughter, striving towards personal fitness goals, cooking new recipes, and the occasional movie or hike. He is also proud of his association with Canada’s Cadet program, where he works with youth part-time as a reserve officer of the Canadian Forces teaching music, leadership, and citizenship.
Ms. Ciara Corbett
Ciara Corbett earned her Bachelor of Education in Secondary Science and Technology at McGill University with a specialization in physics and chemistry. In Montreal, she taught at a variety of schools including one for gifted students with a focus on math and science, one with the IB program, and one with a focus on inclusion of diverse learners and international students. For the past three years, she has worked with remote Cree and Inuit communities in Northern Canada to run a summer literacy camp to help promote a love of reading and prevent summer learning loss through community and culturally based programming. Ciara has also been a Tour Director for youth travel groups; which allowed her to combine her love of travel, education, and working with youth.
Ciara loves keeping an active lifestyle and is always looking to try new things and have new adventures! She loves anything that gets her outside; camping, swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing you name it! She has been a part of Girl Guides of Canada for a total of 13 years, which helped her develop her love of the outdoors. Meeting new people and having the opportunity to build community is one of her favourite things. She is so excited to be moving to Vancouver Island and for the opportunity for new adventures in such a beautiful place!
Ciara has always been drawn to teaching because she loves working with people and creating opportunities for students to learn and grow; both academically and as individuals. She wants to be at St. John’s Academy because she loves the holistic, caring, and inquiry-based approach to education.
Ms. Martha George,
Art and French Instructor
Originally from Nova Scotia, Martha spent time living abroad in Switzerland, Australia, and South Africa before beginning University. Her travels broadened her knowledge of languages, cultures and the art world. After graduating from Memorial University, Martha worked as a sculpture technician in the wood, welding and clay studio at Grenfell Campus and grew her interest in ceramics. Continuing to build her knowledge in ceramics, she attended the Kootenay School of the Arts before making her way to Vancouver Island. The creative process, working together in a community, sharing ideas and different perspectives emphasizes what she brings to her classes and her own art practice. Her artistic interests include drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics. She also enjoys fishing and foraging.
Mr. Joshua Hart
Grade 4/5 Instructor
Joshua Hart graduated from the University of Calgary with Bachelor of Kinesiology and Bachelor of Education degrees, with a specialization in Elementary education. He has also completed his Masters of Education with an Educational Technology major at the University of Calgary.
Most of his experiences have been in Calgary as a Vice Principal and a Grade 4-6 teacher. He has also worked for three years in Bermuda at an Alberta accredited school teaching Physical Education, Health and Outdoor Education to all ages from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12.
He is looking forward to exploring the outdoor opportunities at St. John’s Academy and the surrounding Shawnigan Lake area to enhance the learning experience with his students. He is excited to be a part of a small school community and to help develop an innovative and engaging elementary program.
Shawnigan Lake and the whole Vancouver Island will be new to him, having lived most of his life in Calgary. He is looking forward to joining a supportive and close-knit community at St. John’s Academy. Josh enjoys starting new programs and experimenting with creative ideas, so the prospect of developing an elementary program from scratch is definitely a reason that he feels fortunate to join SJASL.
Ms. Sandrine Leopold
Grade 6-10 French Instructor
Sandrine has worked as a French teacher for almost two decades. She has always wanted to become a teacher primarily because of her love for children. What she finds the most rewarding about teaching is that it allows her to be in a true helping profession. She sees it as an opportunity to positively affect the lives of others and she wants to achieve good results with each student, according to their potential. Being a versatile educator, Sandrine has taken the opportunity to instruct a wide variety of students from various backgrounds in many different countries namely England, China, Canada and India. She has also taught a variety of curriculum including the IB curriculum. To develop her expertise in delivering the MYP Language Acquisition Curriculum, she has attended a Category 2 workshop and conducted a departmental workshop. Working at St. John’s Academy is a perfect opportunity for her. In addition to the reputation of excellence of the school, she shares and wants to promote the same vision and values focusing on a holistic approach to education. She is returning to Vancouver Island and she believes there is no better place to be in the world. Her job is her hobby. Sandrine is driven by a passion to teach that helps her to deliver her best in her job.
Mr. Steve Sparling,
Steve has a BSc in mathematics, a Masters in Distance Education as well as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, and is a teacher member of the Royal Statistical Society. He has taught both struggling students and gifted students from grade 8 to grade 12 including Advanced Placement calculus and statistics as well as the International Baccalaureate at both standard level and higher level. Steve was an exchange teacher at Malvern College in the UK for one year and taught International Baccalaureate mathematics at a boarding school in Wales for three years. He has twice been on the curriculum revision committee for the province of British Columbia and marked Government Examinations many times for both mathematics 12 and physics 12.
Mr. Jeff Trapp,
ELL Coordinator and Humanities Instructor
As an English language specialist, Jeff began his career in Japan. For his final two years in Japan, Jeff worked as a teacher-trainer, instructing new teachers on ESL methodologies and curriculum planning. This experience pushed him forward to take his Master’s in Second Language Acquisition at the School for International Training. This new knowledge led Jeff to teach at the UWC located in Victoria, BC where he became familiar with the IB program, an educational system designed to bring out the best in motivation and engagement. Working with highly motivated students in the IB program spurned him on to eventually take a sabbatical to start his own International Student Consulting business, providing tutoring, activities, and other support services for students. He also made a personal goal to sponsor the creation of a Rotary Interact Club, whereby youth can participate in the Rotary movement and gain valuable leadership experience in the Cowichan Valley.
Mr. Travis Visscher,
Head of Physical & Outdoor Education
As a teacher, Travis has enjoyed a wonderful career working in different schools in Calgary and on Vancouver Island. After completing degrees from Trinity Western University and the University of Calgary, he proceeded to teach Physical Education and Outdoor Education in Calgary for the next 17 years. As a physical and outdoor education teacher, Travis has worked hard to build strong physical education, outdoor education, and athletics programs. He is an educator who is driven to promote positive school culture by assisting students to become well-balanced individuals with the desire to live life with integrity, compassion and a desire to find ways to make the lives of others around them better. Travis is very excited about the unique opportunity of being a part of the team opening St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake.