I grew up in Port Townsend, Washington, across the Strait from Victoria. I began working with young children in 2003 during a gap year before university, when I lived and worked at a Quaker-run family centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I was trained there in a way of working with kids based on a Quaker ethos, that emphasized respect for each person and unconditional loving kindness. I continued to work in childcare part time while studying education and philosophy at Oberlin College in Ohio. After graduation, I moved to Toronto and completed the ECE program at George Brown College in 2009. Since then I've taught in preschool classrooms, outdoor education programs, and childcare centres in Toronto and then in Sooke and Victoria, after my husband and I moved our family to Vancouver Island in 2012.
My approach to teaching preschool today remains rooted in the connection-based practice I learned nearly 20 years ago in Belfast, combined with a basic approach to curricula and program structure based on Waldorf preschool pedagogy. I use sensory integration theory as a guiding framework for supporting children's physical well-being, and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) as a tool for understanding, talking about and supporting children's social and emotional development. One of my favourite parts of my work is that so many different and disparate areas of knowledge and strategies can end up informing my teaching practice in wonderful ways - professional development can mean learning about so many different things, from folk songs or the emerging neuroscience research on attachment to native tree identification or conflict resolution paradigms.
I'm looking forward so much to joining the Oak Bay Preschool next fall. I've had the chance this spring to spend some time in the classroom and begin to get to know the community, and I've been so impressed by how the parents of the school and teaching staff work together to create a preschool experience that is far beyond what any teacher can offer without that parent support. I'm really looking forward to being part of that.
When I'm not at work, I love to go on long walks with my family around Victoria, draw, read, and play music on the piano.
Kirsten has been a part of Oak Bay Preschool for nearly a decade. While her own children attended, she was a parent volunteer and executive board member. After her kids moved on to Elementary, Kirsten stayed on as an inclusion support worker, ECE assistant and this year she has been our substitute ECE! It's not a stretch to say that Kirsten is part of the heart and soul of Oak Bay Preschool. In 2021/2022 she'll be back to her role as ECE assistant 3 days per week.
When Kirsten is not at preschool you can find her spending time with her two children and husband. She enjoys hiking, biking, running, gardening and spending time with family and friends.