Teacher and Staff Directory

Our teachers are the best in their field.

Many of our teachers have come to teaching as a second, or even third career. They bring varied experience into the classroom. They were drawn to teaching because they can’t imagine doing anything else. At the core of every great teacher is a life-long thirst for knowledge. At River Valley School we foster continuous improvement in our teaching just as we do in our students’ learning. We are preparing children for professions that don’t yet exist.

Teaching has never been more divergent. More exciting. More demanding, More fulfilling.

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Staff photo Jyoti Basarke

Ms. B

Montessori Teacher - Upper Elementary

Staff photo Jyoti Basarke

Ms. B

Montessori Teacher - Upper Elementary

Jyoti Basarke started at RVS in 2008


What brought you to RVS?

I started working here in 2008, after relocating from Montreal. I was looking for just the right Montessori environment and found it here at RVS. I enjoy working with our school families and the staff – we love working here and treat each other like family.

My inspiration for becoming a teacher was to ensure that children, no matter what their learning style, would be able to learn in an environment where they will thrive. River Valley School is exactly that place.


More about Ms. B

I grew up in Montreal and before coming to Calgary, I worked at a Montessori school in Morin Heights, Quebec.

I like to spend time outdoors, running or hiking and – like many other educators, enjoy a good book! Travelling and painting are also things I enjoy.

Staff photo Mardi Francis

Miss Mardi

Teacher - Junior Kindergarten

Staff photo Mardi Francis

Miss Mardi

Teacher - Junior Kindergarten

Mardi Francis

I enjoy being a Teacher at River Valley School,  in the Junior Kindergarten classroom. Working in a creative environment with a group of diverse students is an opportunity unlike any other. My previous experience focused on early intervention with special needs students, which strengthened my ability as an educator in any classroom. The community atmosphere in our school provides benefits, not only to the students, but to the entire River Valley staff. When not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my partner traveling, skiing fresh snow, and raising an energetic blood hound.

Staff photo Michelle Berry

Mrs. Berry

Teacher - 4B

Staff photo Michelle Berry

Mrs. Berry

Teacher - 4B

Michelle Berry started at RVS 2012

In adition to being a Grade 4 teacher, Mrs. Berry is also Instructional Leader, Inquiry and Project Based Learning


What brought you to RVS?

An old colleague of mine, Lynda Hawes, introduced me to the school. I loved the dedication to children and learning, the purposeful energy and collaborative atmosphere.


What were you doing before coming to RVS?

I was a stay-at-home parent for ten years, and then taught most elementary grades within private and public schools in Medicine Hat and area and Calgary before joining River Valley School.


More about Mrs. Berry

In my downtime I love to sew and just be with my family. In the summer I love to travel, especially to go on road trips with my husband.


Fvourite Books - Anything with a map; historical fiction

Favourite TV Shows - People and stories

Favourite Food - Quality food and real food

Favourite Country - Canada, of course!


WEBSITES I LIKE:

GOOD READS
BOOK DEPOSITORY
CALGARY LIBRARY
GLENBOW
STEVE SPANGLER SCIENCE
GALILEO

Staff photo Lennon Kelly

Miss Lennon

Art Specialist

Staff photo Lennon Kelly

Miss Lennon

Art Specialist

Lennon Kelly started at RVS January 2013


What brought to RVS?
When I walked into RVS for the first time I knew I was home. I started working here as an Instructional Aide within multiple classrooms. Immediately I was welcomed as part of the staff. The sense of community and commitment to students was evident and it was exactly what I was looking for in a school.


What did you do before coming to RVS?
My passion for art and teaching started when I worked at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia during their summer camp programs. This experience changed my life and I knew teaching was the only career path for me. After I finished my BFA at NSCAD University I enrolled in the teaching program at Mount Saint Vincent University. Before I came to RVS I worked in England as a substitute teacher.


What do love most about your job?
I am living my dream. Combining my passion for art and teaching is something I have always wanted to do in my life. I love how I get to teach my favourite subject every day and I enjoy watching the students get inspired by art and art history. I love teaching the different grades because I get to see them all grow up. I have developed personal relationships with each of these students and I think it’s important to know them as individuals. I love those moments when a student tries a new medium for the first time, a skill, a technique, and pushes themselves to keep going. It’s very exciting to watch students succeed.


How do you describe River Valley to people?
We are a family consisting of diverse philosophies in Progressive, Montessori, and Arrowsmith education. We value academic excellence and social development equally. We cater to all learning styles and meet the needs of all students.


More About Miss Lennon

I am always up for an adventure and love travelling.
I love to read all types of books but my favourite series is Harry Potter.

My favourite book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
My favourite artists are: Leonardo Da Vinci, Audrey Flack, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Paul Riopelle, Banksy, Yousuf Karsh, Ansel Adams, and Chuck Close.

I love Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.
One of my favourite movies is Roman Holiday.

One of my favourite songs is Imagine by John Lennon
When I need to relax I listen to Elton John. My favourite song is Your Song.

My husband and I love to cook anything Mexican and enjoy our cottage in Ontario every summer! I enjoy photography, printmaking, Gothic and Victorian architecture, museums, art galleries, long walks, swimming, exploring new places, Earl Grey tea, eating all kinds of delicious food, leggings and dresses, laughing with friends, watching movies, listening to my record collection, classic rock, and anything related to the 1950s/1960s (music, clothes, art, and movie stars).

Staff photo Lana Skauge

Ms. Lana

Drama Specialist

Staff photo Lana Skauge

Ms. Lana

Drama Specialist

Lana Skauge started at RVS in the fall of 2013


What brought you to RVS?

The vision of Erin Corbett attracted me to RVS. She is on the cutting edge of new insights re: how arts can benefit a child’s learning capacity.


What were you doing before coming to RVS?
I have been a professional performing artist for over 30 years. I have written 24 one woman shows, 11 plays, have three books published, am a recording artist and have toured extensively throughout Canada and the UK. I have taught Theatre for Young Audiences core courses at the university level and have sat on juries for students earning their masters in this field of study. My unique position at RVS has allowed me to continue my dual stream career. I have recently created a performance for Pulse, a hip hop company and am in collaboration with a composer for a Moon story performance. A fourth book has begun!


What is your teaching approach?
I celebrate the unique voice of the individual through dramatic exploration in full body creation and encourage commitment to descriptive words in original collective story creation with direct curriculum ties.


Do you have special areas of expertise or interests within teaching/education?

As a professional actor/singer/practitioner/playwright and director, I bring an original approach to drama where each student is honoured with challenging concepts and ideas where they risk and celebrate their achievements in dramatic summations.


 

More about Ms. Lana
I love to garden and get great pleasure out of learning from other cultures.
I am deeply moved by the natural landscapes I encounter. Nature has a profound effect on me. Thanks to a BP grant, our outdoor theatre garden melds both of my passions together.

Staff photo Chelsey Lewis

Mrs. Lewis

Teacher - Grade 1 Progressive

Staff photo Chelsey Lewis

Mrs. Lewis

Teacher - Grade 1 Progressive

Chelsey Lewis started at RVS September of 2015


What brought to RVS?

Before joining RVS I was substitute teaching. After spending time on the RVS website reading about their mission and values I knew this was a school I wanted to work at! I loved their focus on community and embracing student differences. I was hoping to join the substitute list, but was pleasantly surprised when I was offered a Grade One teaching position! 


What did you do before coming to RVS?

 I was covering a Grade One maternity leave at Webber Academy. 


More about Mrs. Lewis

One of my all time favourite book series is the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. 

My favourite TV shows include Game of Thrones, True Detective, Master Chef and The Mindy Project

My favourite place in the world is Maui, Hawaii. 

I love animals! I have a dog named Chester and a cat named Carlos : ) 

Staff photo Jenn Elsayde

Ms E

Teacher - Grade 2

Staff photo Jenn Elsayde

Ms E

Teacher - Grade 2

Jennifer Elsayed started at RVS in 2011


Why did you become a teacher?

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I want to be a different kind of educator than the one I knew as a child, moving away from worksheets and providing authentic learning experiences for my students. Being a parent brings a lot to my teaching as I want to do the best that I can for my students, as I would for my own child. I truly believe that every child has the potential to learn and succeed.

I love watching children learn and prosper in a caring, community-oriented environment. My teaching philosophy is best stated as,

“Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand”. My focus is always on the learner, and I believe that students who are engaged in their learning experience truly learn how to learn.

I think of our classroom as not just a classroom but as a community that includes students, families, teachers and administrators. In our community we learn to care about each other and work together. Our community celebrates every member of the group so that we can learn and succeed together.


More about Ms E

During university I spent two months back-packing across western Europe, during which had to sleep out on the street, ate out of a can and didn’t shower for days. When I returned I was a different person in that I have an idea what it is like to go without.

When I wake up each morning I never think if I will have a place to sleep by the end of the day, or if I can eat a warm meal or have a shower; and for that I am truly grateful.

Staff photo Lindsey Bingley

Mrs. Bingley

Teacher - Grade 5 Progressive

Staff photo Lindsey Bingley

Mrs. Bingley

Teacher - Grade 5 Progressive

Lindsey Bingley started at RVS September 2011


What brought you to RVS? 

I was looking for a flexible, inclusive, inquiry-based school that would allow me to follow my passions in teaching and give me room to be creative, try out new things, and work with amazing kids.  RVS is that place. 

I graduated with an MA in Canadian History in 2006, and just as I was about to enter a PhD program, I realized that I was taking that path because I wanted to teach, not because I wanted to be a professor.

So, I took deferred my acceptance and became an environmental educator, to try out teaching with children instead of adults.  At that point, I was based in Nanaimo, BC, and spent two years doing in-school programs on everything from water conservation to vermicomposting, and in a variety of schools ranging from Cowichan Bay to Qualicum Beach. 

After a few months, I knew that I really wanted to teach elementary school, so here I am!


More about Mrs. Bingley

I love history, and I love to read light hearted novels.  I've been known to enjoy a good Nora Roberts or a Georgette Heyer novel in my down time.  

I enjoy baking and gardening, and I delight in making my own pastries, breads, and jams. 

I love to crochet and knit, and you'll often find me teaching a child how to make a scarf, a hat, or something else creative and fun out of yarn. 

I love to hike and get outside with my family, and every summer I'm out at the family cottage.  

Staff photo Bill McPhail

Mr. Bill

Transportation Coordinator

Staff photo Bill McPhail

Mr. Bill

Transportation Coordinator

Bill McPhail

What brought you to RVS?

After leaving my “career job” I was looking for a “retirement job”. I love children and also enjoy helping to facilitate in the background what happens in the foreground. The position I fill at RVS is a perfect fit! I really enjoy being part of the supportive community and environment here.


What did you do before you came to RVS?

After completing my apprenticeship as an electrician I moved into the office equipment industry, initially working as a technician and eventually operations manager for Alberta. I also worked for five years as operation manager in the vended and commercial laundry industry. In 2004 I completed a Certificate in Management at the U of C through the continuing education department.


More about Mr. Bill

Kim and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary this year. We have three children (Mike, Matt & Marlee) as well as two foster daughters (Anna & Annie). They are all adults now and on their own (mostly!). Kim and I had been foster parents for many years and I continue to be involved as a part-time support worker for a local agency. My hobbies are (back yard) auto mechanics, collecting and repairing antique technology as well as dabbling in photography.

Staff photo Dawn Anne MacIntyre

Madame McIntyre

French Specialist - Grades 1-6

Staff photo Dawn Anne MacIntyre

Madame McIntyre

French Specialist - Grades 1-6

Dawn Anne McIntyre subbed for two years then started full-time at RVS in 2013


What were you doing before you came to RVS?

I taught French immersion a number of years ago then owned my own businesses, including Once Upon A Child.


What brought you to RVS, how did you end up here?

We were done with owning a businesses and I wanted to get back to what I love – teaching kids En Francais.


What do you love most about your job?

When kids begin to believe in themselves and take the risks to speak their own words. They learn that they can do it.  It’s so rewarding to be a part of that and to witness them do what they thought they couldn’t. Very cool.


How do you describe RVS to people?

Awesome place to work – great supportive staff, & a strong, caring leader.


More About Madame McIntyre

Favourite Book – Flowers for Algernon – Grade 7 teacher read it to us and I recently reread it.  Such a great story.

Favourite Movie – On Golden Pond – such a feel good movie about family, love and respect.

Favourite Food – anything with salt & crunch.

Pastimes - Curling, reading, hiking, singing, playing games, personal growth, camping & I want Mrs. Bingley to teach me how to crochet.

Pets – Sammy the chat and Tibbers le chien

Staff photo Jamie Popowich

Miss Jamie

Music and French - Early Learning Campus

Staff photo Jamie Popowich

Miss Jamie

Music and French - Early Learning Campus

Jamie Popowich started at RVS September 2014


What brought you to RVS?

Jan Taylor - Belinki, music specialist at the Elementary Campus


What were you doing before coming to RVS?

Before I came to RVS, I taught music for 12 years at a Montessori school in Calgary as well as conducted various children's choirs in Calgary.


More about Miss Jamie

I am the proud mom of 3 boys, ages 12, 10 & 7. I love making and enjoying music of all kinds, especially folk and classical music. I love to read and to craft, but mostly to spend time with my friends & family. I also teach with the Junior Program at Calgary Girls Choir.

Photo of Coach Wilson

Coach Wilson

Physical Education Specialist

Photo of Coach Wilson

Coach Wilson

Physical Education Specialist

Angel Wilson started at RVS in the Fall of 2001


What brought you to RVS?

Passion. I really enjoy working with kids. 


More about Coach Wilson

Before coming to River Valley School I did many things including Boys and Girls Club Director, Life Skills Coach, and Marketing Coordinator for a Grain Company, to name just a few.

My interests are sports–yoga, the outdoors, reading and spending time with my family and friends. I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan.... Go Riders Go!!!!!

Photo of Coach Hall

Coach Hall

Physical Education Specialist

Photo of Coach Hall

Coach Hall

Physical Education Specialist

Coach Leah Hall started at River Valley School in 2003


What did you do before coming to RVS?

Before coming to RVS I ran a Children's recreation program at Kerrisdale community centre in Vancouver. Then worked at a Montessori preschool in Calgary for six years.


More about Coach Hall

I love to be active - anything outdoors. 

My favourite outdoor activities are hiking, x-country skiing, and kayaking.

I have a little dog named Ferb, and a 17-year-old son who is my best buddy!  

Staff photo Sharon Turnbull

Miss Sharon

Resource Teacher

Staff photo Sharon Turnbull

Miss Sharon

Resource Teacher

Sharon Turnbull started at RVS September 2013


What brought you to RVS?

 I had not heard of RVS prior to my interview but am so thankful that I was hired.  RVS is such a unique community.  Aides are included in the learning team and feel very welcomed and appreciated.  The staff is great and such a wealth of knowledge and experience.  It really is a special place and I think that shows not only in the staff and their attitude towards teaching and learning, but in the students and their families as well.


What were you doing before you came to RVS?

Before I came to RVS I worked as an administrator for 10 years.  Realizing that I was not getting any personal fulfillment from that I went back to school in 2009 and switched careers.  Last year I also completed my Behavioural Strategies certificate from Mount Royal University and plan to continue on with some Psychology and Inclusive Education courses.  I love working with elementary aged students and my combined experiences/practicums have allowed me to work with almost all elementary grades. 


More about Miss Sharon

I love to read and always have a stack of books on my nightstand. 

Favourites include To Kill A Mockingbird and The World According to Garp.

Staff photo Kim Forgay

Miss Kim

Teacher - Grade 3

Staff photo Kim Forgay

Miss Kim

Teacher - Grade 3

Kimberly Forgay started at RVS August 2013

She taught JK for 1 year, K for 2 years, and now is in Grade 3!


What were you doing before coming to RVS?

Prior to RVS I was in school at the University of Calgary and I also worked seasonally at Calaway Park in every role from running the rides and games, to groundskeeping, and making candy apples in the candy shoppe!


More about Miss Kim

I have a cat which I adore named Jet, I am an avid Muay Thai kick boxer and overall gym fanatic! I love to snowboard as well! I am currently working towards my Masters degree in Learning and Technology!

Staff Gael James

Ms. James

Teacher - Grade 4

Staff Gael James

Ms. James

Teacher - Grade 4

Gael James

What brought you to RVS? 

Before I settled into a career in teaching I went down a number of different paths. I got a commerce degree, travelled the world and worked all over for almost two decades before returning to Canada.

I decided I wanted to be a teacher and once I completed my final practicum at River Valley School I knew I wanted to teach here. I was so impressed with everything the school had to offer – the values, the support, staff and community.


More about Ms. James

I love to travel and meet people with different points of view. Living overseas in England, Australia and Taiwan gave me experiences that have delighted, challenged and sometimes frustrated me, forcing me to examine my beliefs and grow as a person. I’ve been an active volunteer for most of my life, and that gives me great joy.

Staff photo Kate Harris

Mrs. Harris

Teacher - Grade 4

Staff photo Kate Harris

Mrs. Harris

Teacher - Grade 4

Kate Harris started at RVS November 2014


What brought you to RVS?

I love working with young people and enjoy discovering how my students learn best. I try to encourage children to individualize their learning and take it in a direction that interests them personally. I help my students to identify their own learning targets and I feel very happy when they recognize they have made progress.


More about Mrs. Harris

We came to Canada from the U.K. and are really enjoying life here in Calgary. During the winter my husband and I ski with the kids, our daughter is 11 and our son is 8. We love to ski at Lake Louise (as long as it is above -15!) and are looking forward to exploring as much of Canada as we can.

Last year we adopted a cat from the Calgary Humane Society. She is called Purdy and has a VERY loud purr! 

Staff photo Jeff Karran

Mr. Karran

Teacher - Grade 6 Progressive

Staff photo Jeff Karran

Mr. Karran

Teacher - Grade 6 Progressive

Jeff Karran started at RVS October 2014


What brought you to RVS? 

The dual stream, inclusive program creates a unique learning environment that values student individuality, and really allows students and teachers to develop strong relationships. The collegiality and positive workplace attitude make coming to work everyday rewarding and enjoyable.


What were you doing before you came to RVS?

I was a general manager in the food and beverage industry.

I have a Bachelor of Arts from University of Alberta, then I was in the food and hospitality industry, then I went back in 2013 to get my Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University.


What drew you to teaching?

I wanted to make a positive difference in the world. I've worked in the oil and gas sector, I've worked in construction, and I spent 15 years in the food and hospitality industry. I achieved my major goal, which was to successfully navigate the role of GM, and I found myself ready for a change. I packed up the car, drove 3600 km across Canada while my wife worked two jobs here in Calgary to pay our mortgage, and lived in the basement of a family friends house for a year while I earned my BEd. When I met Erin, and interviewed at RVS, I knew I'd found something special, and after being an Aide for the first half of the year, and finding myself in this Grade 5 teaching role, I feel like I've found my calling.


More about Mr. Karran

I am a world traveller, love all foods, have two rescue cats, and love a good read. Favourite Canadian authors include Michael Ondatje, Thomas King, and Joseph Boyden. I am an avid camper, skier and mountain biker.

Staff photo Kris Koloff

Mr. K

Teacher - Arrowsmith Program

Staff photo Kris Koloff

Mr. K

Teacher - Arrowsmith Program

Kris Koloff started at RVS in 2013


What did you do before coming to RVS?

I was educated in my hometown of Windsor, Ontario.

I have an honors degree in History with a minor in Philosophy.

I also received my BEd at the University of Windsor.

Prior to teaching Arrowsmith, I worked as a one-to-one and a classroom aide. 


More about Mr. K

I like asking the big questions, digging deeper to inspire a love of learning in all my students. Life experience is the best teacher and I use mine to encourage the children to challenge themselves every day. My battle with cancer in 2008 was victorious and from that experience I found a deeper insight and appreciation that I hope is contagious:  “Life is short and each stage of life is special, so let’s make the most of it.”  

I love watching the students learn and grow, come into their own. I do my best to help them along the way. I teach with a smile and laugh as often as I can!

I’m a father of two, a husband and a brother. Family is the cornerstone of my life and when I’m not with the children at RVS, I’m with my own. I’m an avid chess player, movie watcher and gym goer. 

Staff photo Jenna Mazzei

Miss Jenna

Teacher - Montessori CASA

Staff photo Jenna Mazzei

Miss Jenna

Teacher - Montessori CASA

Jenna Mazzei started at RVS September 2014


What brought you to RVS ? 

I’ve always had my eye on River Valley School!

Children I once nannied went to River Valley School for a year and every time I picked them up from school, you could sense what a wonderful environment it was! I always knew I wanted to be a part of the River Valley Team and was thrilled when I learned that they were opening another CASA Classroom.


What were you doing before coming to RVS?

I completed a Bachelor of Art Degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland, with a Major in English. I then went on to complete my Montessori Teacher Training at the New England Montessori Teacher Education Center in Massachusetts. Once finishing my teaching degree, I completed a year-long internship here in Calgary and have been working as a Montessori teacher ever since.


More about Miss Jenna

I am originally from a small town in Newfoundland.

In my spare time, I enjoy living an active life, hiking, biking, rock climbing and snowboarding. I love to travel and if there’s one thing I am almost as passionate about as teaching, it's animals. I have the sweetest Black Labrador Retriever and a beautiful Siamese cat.

I am passionate about the Montessori philosophy and strongly believe that every child learns differently. They deserve to be in a classroom that is built around mutual respect; one that nurtures their strengths and builds on their weaknesses.

I strive to create an environment that revolves around the needs of the individual child, helping them to meet their full potential both academically and socially.

Photo of Cyrus Mirshahi

Mr. M

Teacher - Grade 6 - Progressive Program

Photo of Cyrus Mirshahi

Mr. M

Teacher - Grade 6 - Progressive Program

Cyrus Mirshahi started at RVS in 2013


What brought you to RVS?

I’ve always enjoyed helping others achieve their goals and realize their full potential. I also just really love working with people and expanding on my own point of view through the things I learn from others. 

I started working at River Valley School in 2013 after I was referred by my aunt who works here doing outreach and teacher support for the JUMP math program.  I’ve never worked in a more welcoming environment or been part of a more supportive and good-natured staff. I’ve also made many good friends at the school, which makes coming to work every day that much better.

There is exceptional leadership here at RVS and an unparalleled environment of acceptance.


What did you do before coming to RVS?

Before I came to RVS I worked as an adult ESL teacher, math tutor and basketball coach. I spend my spare time with family, play/watch/coach sports (particularly basketball), watch classic films, read, cook, travel and enjoy a good crossword puzzle. 


More about Mr. M

I grew up in Toronto, did elementary school in French and high school in English. I took my BA in Psychology at York University and my BEd at OISE.

My fiancée is wonderfully supportive in all that I do and the positive impact she has had on my life is immeasurable.

My brothers and sisters were my first friends and have taught me so much.

My Mother is and has always been my greatest teacher and the person whom I admire most the in the world.

Staff Photo Margaret Petropoulos

Mrs. P

Teacher - Montessori - CASA

Staff Photo Margaret Petropoulos

Mrs. P

Teacher - Montessori - CASA

Margaret Petropoulos

What brought you to RVS?

A very good friend of mine who has been teaching for more than 30 years introduced me to the Montessori Philosophy and a light went on in my head that inspired me to enrol in the Vancouver Training Centre on “the barge” on Granville Island. That was in 1985 and a truly amazing experience!

After graduation, I was an assistant at a Montessori school in North Vancouver then went on to lead the program at the prestigious West Side Montessori School the following year.  Once I married and moved to Calgary, I immediately connected with the local Montessori community and have been with RVS, in many roles for more than 20 years! 

Staff Kathleen Phelan

Ms. Phelan

Teacher - Grade 4

Staff Kathleen Phelan

Ms. Phelan

Teacher - Grade 4

Katheen Phelan started at RVS in September 2012


What brought you to RVS?

The journey to teaching actually began in 2005 when I taught conversational English in Kobe, Japan. That experience really stuck with me and set me on this path.

I feel so privileged to have a career in Calgary teaching at such an innovative school. I love getting creative and exploring the many interests of students and staff alike. My passion of art and nature blend in seamlessly at RVS. I love teaching students about the wonders of wool and the handicraft of crochet. It's so amazing that you can start with a skein of wool and end up with some creation like a bear or owl or hippo in the end!


More about Ms. Phelan

My third passion is birding. Having the opportunity to work with students to show them the amazing diversity of life all around us in our own city of Calgary is truly wonderful. That's me in a nutshell. I look forward to getting to know you too!

Staff Starla Robinson

Mrs. Robinson

Teacher - Junior Kindergarten Progressive

Staff Starla Robinson

Mrs. Robinson

Teacher - Junior Kindergarten Progressive

Starla Robinson started at RVS September of 2011


What brought you to RVS? 

I’ve worked exclusively with 3 and 4 year olds for more than 12 years and I’m certified in Child Development. I recognize how special these early years are and I’m passionate about providing a nurturing and fun environment and programming that enriches learning and growth. I am so fortunate to work at RVS with these very impressionable young people to help them prepare for Kindergarten and beyond. I love to watch their confidence grow through engaging experiences and new challenges they tackle each and every day.


More about Mrs. Robinson

When I’m not at school, I enjoy spending time with my family, I’m a fitness enthusiast and a (really) big hockey fan!

Staff photo Beth Roschman

Ms. Beth

Teacher - Lower Elementary Montessori

Staff photo Beth Roschman

Ms. Beth

Teacher - Lower Elementary Montessori

Elizabeth Roschman started at RVS in 2014


What were you doing before you came to RVS? 

I taught at a Montessori School in Toronto. 


What brought you to RVS?

I moved to Calgary with my husband and two daughters in August, 2014.


What do you love most about your job? 

I enjoy learning with the children each day, as well as working with our team of dedicated staff.


More about Ms. Beth

My family and I spent time living in the United States and Japan before returning home to Canada in 2009.

We enjoy traveling, and learning about the culture, cuisine and history of each place we visit. In our spare time we enjoy going to the Opera as well as performances by the CPO.

In 2014 we adopted two wonderful cats, who have since taken over as supreme rulers of our household. 

Staff Photo Laureen Rohm

Mrs. R

Teacher - Tots - ELC

Staff Photo Laureen Rohm

Mrs. R

Teacher - Tots - ELC

Laureen Rohm started at RVS in 2013


What brought you to RVS?

I heard about RVS from my friend, a teacher here at River Valley School. When she told me how wonderful it was to work here and how passionate the teaching staff was about their jobs, I was hooked. 

I believe children’s first years of learning should be positive ones so they can grow in their self-esteem, self-confidence, have a wonderful school experience, have fun exploring their world and living through wonder. I enjoy learning from my students and they help me become a better educator every day!


What did you do before coming to RVS?

I was a preschool teacher’s assistant for six years.


More about Mrs. R

I participate in Zumba and yoga and I love photography. My favorite movies always include Audrey Hepburn because she’s a classic!

I value family and friends and my school community, especially the littlest ones. Any chance I get I am outdoors in nature hiking, walking, exploring or camping. I abstract paint and enjoy the freedom to be creative and use my imagination in everything I do. 

Staff photo Yvonne Snyder

Miss Snyder

Teacher - Upper Elementary

Staff photo Yvonne Snyder

Miss Snyder

Teacher - Upper Elementary

Yvonne Snyder

What brought you to RVS?

I had a few wonderful teachers during my formative school years that inspired me into the profession. I love being a teacher because it keeps me young and engaged with the world! I first experienced RVS as a student teacher – I love the sense of community between the staff and students. I feel like I go to work everyday with a big group of friends that share a common passion – a commitment to helping kids on the path to success.

So many things makes RVS a stand-out school. The amazing staff, the variety of programs, the leadership, the location to name a few!


More about Miss Snyder 

I try to travel as much as possible. I’ve been to China, Cuba, Vietnam, Thailand, France, Mexico, England and Cambodia.

When I’m not at school, I like to steal a few moments to read, collage, try new recipes and go to yoga. I was born in Toronto but grew up in Calgary, just minutes from RVS!

Staff photo Tannis Williamson

Miss Tannis

Teacher - Grade 2

Staff photo Tannis Williamson

Miss Tannis

Teacher - Grade 2

Tannis Williamson started at River Valley in 2011


What brought you to RVS?

When I was ready to return to teaching, I heard about RVS from a parent at the preschool.  She suggested I apply.  The school seemed to be a good fit with my own philosophy about children, learning and teaching.  


What were you doing before you came to RVS?

I had worked for the CBE as an elementary school generalist.  After nine years in the classroom I took some time off to raise a family.  During my parental leave, I helped to run a preschool in Bearspaw.  


More about Miss Tannis

I am born and raised in Calgary.  Growing up, my Mother was a teacher and I was inspired to follow the same career path.  I spent a great deal of time in my teen years coaching sports and working with young children as well.

I was a high jumper, dancer (ballet, tap and jazz) and a rhythmic gymnast for most of my childhood and youth.  I became a National level competitor for rhythmic gymnastics and my background in sport brought opportunities such as traveling for competitions and running with the Olympic torch on 1988.   I have many wonderful memories…and of course a number of creaky joints to remind me of my younger years.

Today I am the proud mother of two beautiful children.  They hold my heart in their hands and make me thankful every day.  Together we enjoy reading, biking, hiking and camping.  We are an active team who enjoy the simple things in life.

Staff photo Suzanne Hawkes

Mrs. Hawkes

Instructional Aide - Grade 2

Staff photo Suzanne Hawkes

Mrs. Hawkes

Instructional Aide - Grade 2

Suzanne Hawkes started at RVS three years ago


What do you like most about RVS?

I am thankful for the atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance that exists amongst both staff and students at River Valley. I love to witness and celebrate the 'aha moments' that occur along the path of student learning.


More about Mrs. Hawkes

I moved to Calgary two years ago from New Brunswick.  Not counting childhood years, this is my 11th relocation, encompassing six provinces, and nine cities.  My husband and I have been married for 30 years, and have one son and two daughters.  In my spare time I enjoy running, hiking, and reading.

Staff photo Laura Klumpp

Miss Laura

Instructional Aide - Grade 1

Staff photo Laura Klumpp

Miss Laura

Instructional Aide - Grade 1

Laura Klumpp started at RVS September 2011


What brought you to RVS?

A parent of a child at RVS hired me to be her child's Aide in RVS.  I worked with her for two years and then RVS hired me as an Instructional Aide.


What did you do before coming to RVS?

Working one-on-one with children in their homes, as well as home schooling my daughter who has Autism.

I love teaching children how to learn for themselves and instilling in them the desire to learn.  I call it “Learning to Learn.”

I have many years of experience working with children with special needs, and have a passion to help them succeed.  I do this by breaking down tasks and skills into manageable pieces.  I help develop their self-confidence by building on successes and encouraging independence.


More about Miss Laura

I am married and have a son and a daughter.

I used to have a motorcycle. I cannot carry a tune. I hide chocolate in the fridge in a container under the vegetables and so far no one in the family has found my hiding spot. 😉

Ms. Tara

Occupational Therapist

Ms. Tara

Occupational Therapist

Tara Kuervers

Ms. Robin

Speech Language Pathology

Ms. Robin

Speech Language Pathology

Robin Tiller

Photo of Shannon Duthie

Mrs. Duthie

Library

Photo of Shannon Duthie

Mrs. Duthie

Library

Shannon Duthie started with RVS in October of 2010.


What did you do before coming to RVS?

I spent four years working as a library assistant at Webber Academy. Before that I spent 15 years working and travelling with the Airlines.

I love working with children. My favourite is watching the expression on their faces when they find a really good book that interests them.


More about Mrs. Duthie

I have two kids–a daughter, Cassidy, age 18 and away at school now, and a son, Carter, age 16 and in Grade 11. We have a dog named Muffins that is very much a part of our family as well.

My favourite thing to do for relaxation is getting into a good book.

As a family we enjoy travelling and Scuba Diving in warm climates. I spend my summers at the lake boating and golfing.

Staff Jan Taylor Bilenki

Mrs. Taylor-Bilenki

Music - Grades 1-6

Staff Jan Taylor Bilenki

Mrs. Taylor-Bilenki

Music - Grades 1-6

Jan Taylor-Bilenki

Photo of Lauren Blakely

Miss Lauren

Teacher - Kindergarten

Photo of Lauren Blakely

Miss Lauren

Teacher - Kindergarten

Lauren Blakely joined the River Valley community in 2015 to teach French.


What brought you to RVS?

I’m super excited to be teaching Kindergarten at River Valley School this year. I love working with young children and have many years' experience in working with early learners. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with such a fantastic group of people.


What did you do before coming to RVS?

After graduating from UBC with my BEd, I had the opportunity to live and work in London, UK working as a substitute teacher for two years teaching ages 3-12, which I absolutely loved.


More about Miss Lauren

When I’m not teaching, I love to spend time in the mountains (particularly camping and hiking), exploring the world, spending time with my friends, and learning to oil paint and play the piano.

Photo of Elpida Polychroniadou

Miss Elpida

Teacher - Kindergarten

Photo of Elpida Polychroniadou

Miss Elpida

Teacher - Kindergarten

Elpida Polychroniadou teaches Kindergarten at RVS.

 

What did you do before coming to RVS?

After living in Greece for 20 years teaching English, I returned to Calgary in 2012 with my family. I was fortunate to be brought in as part of the RVS community in 2013, as an Instructional Aide working one-on-one with children in the classroom.

In 2015, my dream of becoming a Kindergarten Teacher was realized. Seeing the excitement in the children’s faces, their smiles that greet me at the door and knowing that I am part of their lives and learning, is extremely rewarding and the reason I love to come to school every day.


More about Miss Elpida

I am married with three children. My twins, Alexandra and Dimitri are 13 and Thomas is 12. They enjoy living in Canada but still miss Greece as do I. We love going back in the summers to see all our family and spend time in our home village. Spending time with my children after school is what I like to do most, cuddling up on the couch and watching movies.

Staff photo Suzanne Diermann

Ms. Diermann

Teacher - Grade 1

Staff photo Suzanne Diermann

Ms. Diermann

Teacher - Grade 1

This is Suzanne Diermann's first year at RVS


What were you doing prior to coming to RVS? 

Prior to joining River Valley School, I taught kindergarten for six years at Calgary Early Learning Centre, previously known as Calgary Preparatory School in SW Calgary.


More about Ms. Diermann

I have two children of my own; my daughter is 14 and in grade 9, my son is 11 and in grade 6. As well as my children keeping me busy when I'm not at school, I enjoy my part-time work as a group fitness trainer. I am also dedicated to practicing yoga and enjoying the outdoors; hiking and biking!

My education career has taken me to some interesting places. After graduating from the University of Calgary with my Bachelor of Education, I spent three years teaching elementary school in New Mexico, USA. I also lived in Germany for three years where I taught English as a Foreign Language to kindergarten aged children as well as to adults. While there, I studied the German language as well.

Closer to home, I have had many different assignments with the CBE teaching grades kindergarten to grade 4.

 

Staff photo Jenna Richard

Miss Richard

Teacher - Grade 2

Staff photo Jenna Richard

Miss Richard

Teacher - Grade 2

Jenna Richard

Staff Erin Reimer

Ms. Reimer

Teacher - Grade 3

Staff Erin Reimer

Ms. Reimer

Teacher - Grade 3

Erin Reimer

Staff photo Linsay Allan

Mrs. Allan

Teacher - Grade 5

Staff photo Linsay Allan

Mrs. Allan

Teacher - Grade 5

Lindsay Allan

Staff photo Maggie Volke

Miss Maggie

Teacher - Lower Elementary

Staff photo Maggie Volke

Miss Maggie

Teacher - Lower Elementary

Maggie Volke

Photo of Dalia Refai

Ms. Dalia

Teacher - CASA

Photo of Dalia Refai

Ms. Dalia

Teacher - CASA

 

What Brought you to RVS?

During my Montessori Diploma I was fortunate to meet a parent whose kids are students at River Valley School; she always talked positively about RVS and how it’s a place in which learning and teaching are interesting, fun and challenging. I wanted to be part of the RVS team because I am always inclined to work in a safe, healthy and supportive environment which develops compassion and mutual respect between the teacher and the students; and I knew that RVS was the perfect fit. That’s why I was enchanted when I was offered the position as a Montessori Guide in the Casa Classroom.


What did you do before coming to RVS?

After I earned my Bachelor degree in English Language and Literature I worked as an ESL teacher for a couple of years in an elementary school in the Middle East. After moving to Canada and finishing my Montessori Teacher Assistant course and volunteering in several Montessori preschools here in Calgary, I decided to apply for the Montessori Teaching Diploma at the Montessori Teachers College in Toronto. I worked at Aspen Hill Montessori in Calgary for five years where I was lucky to finish my internship and graduate.


More about Ms. Dalia

I believe in the Montessori philosophy and teaching has always been my passion. I always strive to build independence and confidence in the students.

My favorite quote is: “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of Responsibility and the wings of Independence.” Maria Montessori

I am a lucky mom of an extremely athletic daughter and son; my daughter plays field hockey and my son is a swimmer. I love travelling and my favourite and unforgettable trip was the one to the Bahamas. I love music, reading and walking.

Photo of Stuart Goss

Mr. Stuart

Teacher - CASA

Photo of Stuart Goss

Mr. Stuart

Teacher - CASA

Stuart Goss started at RVS in September 2016.


What were you doing before coming to RVS?

I had previously worked at the same Montessori school in Calgary for many years.  When I came to Canada from England I lived in Toronto. I worked at the Bloorview Macmillan school as a gym teacher. In England I worked in Nursery School and special needs schools.

I visited Canada a long long time ago and after hitchhiking and traveling across the country decided it would be a great place to stay for a while.... I now have a partner, three children and a dog: so it's looking pretty permanent now.

I have worked in Romania in an orphanage and hospital. El Salvador ( Habitat for Humanity) and the THMC children camps in Canada as a volunteer, which were all wonderful experiences that I am very proud of.


More about Mr. Stuart

I love all sports. I played semi-professional soccer in England and still enjoy playing today. I like skiing with my family and would love to travel more.

Staff photo Zoe Donaldson

Miss Zoe

Teacher - Lower Elementary

Staff photo Zoe Donaldson

Miss Zoe

Teacher - Lower Elementary

Zoe Donaldson started as a substitute teacher at RVS September of last year.

In November I was so pleased to be offered to cover a maternity leave as an instructional aide in kindergarten for the rest of the year. This year I am teaching in Lower Elementary.

 

What did you do before you came to RVS?

Before I came to RVS I was teaching in London, England for two years.  In those two years I worked as a substitute teacher, a one-on-one instructional aide, and had my own kindergarten class.

 

More About Miss Zoe

 

My favourite hobby is traveling the world. I love to experience different cultures and have had the opportunity to live in Canada, Europe and Asia. A life goal I have set for myself is to travel to every continent in the world!

Photo of Sue Wood

Miss Sue

Instructional Aide

Photo of Sue Wood

Miss Sue

Instructional Aide

 

What were you doing before coming to RVS?

I was lucky enough to find my way to River Valley School via a company I was working for doing financial accounting that was going under.  I am now back working in a profession I am passionate about.


More about Miss Sue

My favourite colour is green and favourite food is apples. I love swimming, running and cycling. Yes triathlons!  My favourite place is Christina Lake where I cherish my mornings of water skiing and living outside.

I teach Yoga and Water Fitness for the City of Calgary part-time and am currently working towards a diploma in Early Childhood Education.

I live for the moment, breathe often and love my family–three things I never take for granted.

Photo of Jennifer Janzen

Miss Jen

Instructional Aide

Photo of Jennifer Janzen

Miss Jen

Instructional Aide

This is Miss Jen's fifth year at RVS.


What brought you to RVS?

I began working at River Valley School’s before and after-school care program (Kids Club) while I was attending university. I then gratefully accepted a position as an Instructional Aide. I am currently enjoying my third year in Junior Kindergarten.


What did you do before you came to the school?

Before I came to RVS, I was working towards a degree in Social Work, with a focus on youth.


More About Miss Jen

My two favourite hobbies are running and reading. I also enjoy any opportunity to be out in nature. A life goal is to run a full marathon.

Photo of Marilou Fajardo

Miss Marilou

Instructional Aide - Junior Kindergarten B

Photo of Marilou Fajardo

Miss Marilou

Instructional Aide - Junior Kindergarten B

Marilou Fajardo started at River Valley School in 2016.


What did you do before coming to RVS?

Before coming to River Valley School, I taught Grade 4 students for 12 years in the Philippines. Luckily, I was able to come to Canada and worked as a caregiver for over three years for an 11-year-old autistic child.


More about Miss Marilou

My favourite hobby is reading educational books, playing badminton and I love travelling to various parts of the world. I've had the great opportunity to visit United States, China, Hong Kong, Spain and Morocco, where I had the chance to mingle with people from different cultures. But the greatest opportunity I ever had was to live in the Land of the Maple Leaf – Canada. A dream come true!

Photo of Josh Ramirez

Mr. Josh

Instructional Aide

Photo of Josh Ramirez

Mr. Josh

Instructional Aide

Josh Ramirez started at RVS in 2015 at Big Kids Club while completing his last year of university and joined in September 2016 as an Instructional Aide.


What brought you to RVS?

Miss Jamie, the music and French specialist at the Early Learning Campus.


What did you do before you came to the school?

Before I came to RVS, I was in the after-degree program at the University of Calgary and before that, I was living in South Texas and teaching immigrant children in a youth shelter.


More About Mr. Josh

I lived in South Texas most of my life before making the move to Canada. My first degree was a BSc of Biology before I found my love for teaching. I am an avid reader—I have way too many favourites to list! I also love to travel whenever I get the chance and love to visit new places.

Photo of Joan Chard

Miss Joan

Instructional Aide / Kids Club Supervisor

Photo of Joan Chard

Miss Joan

Instructional Aide / Kids Club Supervisor

Joan Chard started working at RVS in 2016, as Kids Club supervisor and Instructional Aide in the CASA A classroom.


What did you do before you came to the school?

Before moving to Calgary in December, 2015, I lived in St. John's, Newfoundland. I obtained a Bachelors degree in Primary/Elementary Education from Memorial University, and I now have my Child Development Supervisor Certificate. In the fall of 2015, I traveled to Sri Lanka where I taught English to students in public schools, in an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mother Teresa and in a Buddhist monastery. When I returned to Canada, I knew I wanted to continue working with kids.


More About Miss Joan

I am the proud mother of three grown children. My eldest daughter is now a pediatrician, my son is in medical school and my youngest daughter has recently completed a computer science degree. My eldest daughter gave birth to a baby boy on December 7, my first grandchild. What a Christmas present!

I enjoy both my positions here at RVS. The staff and students at RVS are amazing!

Staff photo Joan Presquito

Miss Joann

Instructional Aide

Staff photo Joan Presquito

Miss Joann

Instructional Aide

Joann Presquito

Staff photo Krista Hilland

Miss Krista

Instructional Aide

Staff photo Krista Hilland

Miss Krista

Instructional Aide

Krista Hilland

Photo of Andrea Rodgers

Miss Andrea

Instructional Aide

Photo of Andrea Rodgers

Miss Andrea

Instructional Aide

Andrea Rodgers

Staff photo Neeraj Gill

Mrs. Gill

Instructional Aide

Staff photo Neeraj Gill

Mrs. Gill

Instructional Aide

Neeraj Gill

Staff photo Kiran Sangha

Miss Kiran

Instructional Aide

Staff photo Kiran Sangha

Miss Kiran

Instructional Aide

Kiran Sangha

Staff photo Renata Habberfield

Ms. Renata

Instructional Aide - Grade 4

Staff photo Renata Habberfield

Ms. Renata

Instructional Aide - Grade 4

Renata Habberfield started at RVS in September 2016

What did you do before you came to RVS?

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to work with children in some way or another. While attending University at UBC Okanagan, I completed my Bachelor of Education. After graduating, I moved to Calgary to begin a new adventure in the big city. I have since worked with preschool aged children in a daycare program, as well as a pre-kindergarten program. Both experiences were exciting and enjoyable, however working with elementary aged children has always been my ultimate goal.

More about Ms. Renata

I grew up in Kelowna, BC and love to go back every chance I get. Since moving to Calgary, I have met many amazing friends, including my husband. I enjoy being active by playing tennis, pickleball, running, and going to the gym. When I get the opportunity, I like to spend time at Sylvan Lake, go vacationing at our family's place in Phoenix, or travel to Kelowna to visit friends and family. I absolutely love art and drawing and would one day like to illustrate a children's book. My favourite foods are chocolate, watermelon and anything Mexican.

Stacy Woolf

Instructional Aide

Stacy Woolf

Instructional Aide

Karen Behran

Educational Assistant - Kindergarten

Karen Behran

Educational Assistant - Kindergarten

Karen Behran started at RVS in January 2015 as an Educational Assistant for GRIT Calgary Society working with a student in Tots and then Junior Kindergarten. In November 2016, she joined the RVS team full-time as an Educational Assistant in the Kindergarten program.


What did you do before you came to the school?

I have worked with children in a school and home setting for over 30 years and have a background in Early Childhood Education.

I feel strongly about inclusion and supporting children in a way that accommodates their diverse learning styles and abilities.


More About Miss Karen

I love the outdoors, running, hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains.