Mr. David Pontich – Head of School
Dave Pontich was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. He earned a Business degree with Honours before moving to Australia where he completed his teaching qualification and worked at an independent school in Melbourne. Afterward, Dave taught for nearly three years in the UK before returning to Canada to return to his studies where he completed an MA Economics.
After intending to complete his Ph.D., he took a short hiatus from his studies and accepted a two-term teaching contract at a top international school in Egypt. Eight months turned into thirteen years and during this time Dave met and married Nadine, an Egyptian who is also a Teacher. After being a successful member of the Secondary Leadership Team, he was appointed as the Head of Secondary, a position which he held for ten years. The school developed a reputation as being the best school in Cairo due to its outstanding care for students and exceptional examination results in external examinations.
After several happy years in Cairo, Dave and Nadine decided to take a sabbatical for one year and drive across Africa. During their travels, Dave was appointed as the Vice Principal at the Amman Baccalaureate School (ABS) in Jordan where he spent two years. Whilst in Jordan, Dave worked with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) and World Academy of Sport ensuring ABS was one of the first three schools in the world to be granted the unique status of Athlete Friendly
Most recently, Dave has been Head of School at a 3-18 international school in Qatar, which is part of the world’s leading premier family of schools. During his time in Qatar, the school experienced rapid growth whilst reconsidering their vision and curricula. They adopted an inquiry-based approach to learning with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) education across the entire school.
Self-reflection is central to Dave’s educational philosophy and a key aspect for school improvement.He has gained a lot of experience in taking part in accreditation visits and inspections both as Chair of a Steering Committee and as a Visiting Team member.
Dave has always maintained that Vancouver Island is the most beautiful place on earth and is delighted to be returning to Canada. He has already began working with the team that is being formed at St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake. He is looking forward to ensuring a smooth and unforgettable start to the new school year.
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) programme, 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 (21 st century skills) coordinator. He is also an Examiner and Examiner Team Leader
for the IB in the MYP Language and Literature course.
Bradley’s specific interest right now is in developing the requisite skills needed for life in the 21 st century (thinking skills, communication skills, research skills, and self-management skills) within his students rather than merely filling the students with disposable content knowledge. “We want to prepare students for full participation in a fast-paced and rapidly changing labor market by providing a research-based, innovative, and comprehensive educational experience.”
Bradley and his wife, Serena, have been living and thriving in the Cowichan Valley with their two little girls for nearly 5 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 hiking, camping, reading and spending time with his family. In the coming years, he would like to continue on in his academic career through the pursuit of a Ph.D. or Ed.D in educational administration.
Research seems to indicate that almost all content that is taught in schools in preparation for exams disappears in a mere couple months after the writing of those exams. This has caused him to reflect on what skills he wants students to have when they leave his class and school, rather than simply focusing on their ability to memorize information for an exam – an almost obsolete skill in the information age especially with the advent of artificial intelligence. We will
aim to equip students with skills necessary to thrive in the 21 st century, not replicate outdated educational models that were developed over 100 years ago.
As well, Bradley is also excited about the emphasis on a balanced lifestyle, with health and well-being being a central part of the equation. Students will quickly learn the benefits of spending time in nature, undertaking new challenges, and of pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones as they participate in outdoor activities. St. John’s Academy will not only aim to prepare students for a career in this century but will also promote a balanced lifestyle that will help them to achieve personal happiness as well.
Ms. Michelle Andruskievicz – Business Director
With a background of being in schools for over 12 years, Michelle is excited to be working with the Leadership Team at St. John’s Academy. She has been involved with 2 other independent schools, as well as teaching within the local public school district. Her studies began at the University of Western Ontario and transferred to Vancouver Island University when her family moved to Vancouver Island – the west coast.
Michelle knows the importance of creating a safe, stable and caring foundation for children and youth, having made that a commitment for her own family. She loves the location of this school. Being in a rural area by a lake supports her commitment to having great learning spaces for children and youth, where it fosters well-being and opens the mind for learning.