FeatureStory

Cathy Newton

“The staff and students at Connect are amazing. Connect has an incredibly supportive school community and everyone in the building is treated equally and as someone of worth”
– Cathy Newton 

How long have you been working at Connect Charter School? 

Eight months. 

What is your educational/professional background? 

This is my third year as an Education Assistant. I have earned certificates for Education Assistant and Child’s Mental Health from Mount Royal University.  

What brought you to Connect? 

I heard of a job opportunity from Ms. Horsman. 

What do you consider the best part of working at our school? 

The staff and students at Connect are amazing. Connect has an incredibly supportive school community and everyone in the building is treated equally and as someone of worth.

Tell us a bit about your family. 

My husband is a Lieutenant Commander (N) and works with Cadet Corps in the Southern Alberta region as well as volunteers as an Aide to the Lieutenant Governor. I have two grown children, my daughter (23) is a recent graduate from the University of Lethbridge and is a teacher for CBE. My son (20) is attending his fourth year at the University of Lethbridge, also taking Education. 

What do you like to do when you’re not at Connect?

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, attending my son’s hockey games and taking Sign Language classes. I am also always looking for personal learning opportunities.

If you could have an animal love you unconditionally, which animal would it be?

A killer whale. 

Stephanie Horsman

“I consider my relationships with students as the ultimate best part of each and every day I am at work. I really take it as a compliment when I see happy smiling faces from the kids in the morning that are eager to say “good morning, Ms. Horsman!” The amazing supportive team I am fortunate enough to be apart of is just the cherry on top of my every day great experiences here at our school.”
– Stephanie Horsman

Stephanie Horsman

How long have you been working at Connect Charter School? I have been working at Connect since the beginning of the 2017 school year after having completing a practicum and volunteering at Connect the previous school year.

What is your educational/professional background? Before I chose to enter into the Education Assistant program at Mount Royal University, I spent 4 enjoyable years as a school bus/charter driver for First Student Canada.

What brought you to Connect?When I completed my practicum at Connect, not only was I drawn in by the friendly, excited buzz from the staff, but I was also in awe of how happy the students were. When there are happy students, it’s because there are happy staff members who are creating positive, effective learning opportunities which is spearheaded by a passionate, thoughtful and driven admin team. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? Every day I walked into Connect during my practicum I was welcomed with warm friendly faces from everyone, students and staff combined. These interactions made me feel included as another member of the team for student success instead of being the struggling terrified mistake-making learner that I actually was in that moment, who was just trying to fill my practicum hours. I felt very much felt like I was an inconvenience at other schools from around the city who was just getting in everyone’s way, but not at Connect. The Student Services team took me under their wings and patiently mentored me through my learning and shaped me into the EA I am today. I looked forward to every practicum day I had at Connect which then prompted me to become a classroom volunteer which grew into a feeling that there was no other school that matched my philosophies of education and the process of learning. I knew I needed to work as hard as I could to be a part of the culture and community that Connect fosters for its students.

Tell us a bit about your family. I have 3 kids: an 8 year old daughter who is a never ending ball of energy and is eager to join the Connect community next year. An 11 year old son who is a talented paper manipulator and is currently loving his third year at our school. Lastly, a 35 year old (aka husband) who enjoys his free time playing video games with the other two.

What do you like to do when you’re not at Connect? When I’m not at work I usually spend my time with my kids and nieces. I bring them to various activities or we enjoy the outdoors, camping and hiking being at the top of our list. In my own personal down time I like to research, create and then try out different homemade concoctions of hygiene products that I make like body washes, scrubs, shampoos, conditioners and lotions.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know about you?  After graduating high school I joined a Vancouver agency and was an extra on many different movie sets around the Fraser Valley for a couple years. A few major sets I’ve been on were: John Tucker Must Die, Whistler, She’s the Man, Hot Rod, Kickin’™ it Old Skool, White Chicks, Dr. Dolittle 3, Final Destination 3 as well as others. Some of the major celebrities I’ve met while on set were Jesse Metcalf, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Amanda Bynes, Jamie Kennedy, Andy Samberg, Kyla Pratt and Channing Tatum. My mini second of frame-fame was in Kickin’™ it Old Skool during a break dancing competition as well as the opening scene to the pilot episode of the TV show Whistler.

What is your favourite colour of socks to wear? I like to wear wooly blue socks the most!

If you could have an animal love you unconditionally, which animal would it be? If I could have an animal love me unconditionally it would a baby elephant!

Dawn Elliott

“I love being able to take the students’ learning outside of the school. Being able to connect with them and experience curriculum in a variety of environments. “
-Dawn Elliott

How long have you been working at Connect?

I am in my fifth year at Connect.

What is your educational/professional background?

I took the Education Assistant course in BC back in 2008 and worked there for the first 5 years. I moved to Calgary in 2014 and continued my career here.

What brought you to Connect?

I started working for the CBE when I first moved to Calgary. Charter schools do not exist in any other province so I did not know what they were. I had the opportunity to work with a lady whose husband works at Connect and she was always talking about how amazing it was.

What do you consider the best part of working at our school?

I love being able to take the students’ learning outside of the school. Being able to connect with them and experience curriculum in a variety of environments. 

Tell us a bit about your family.

I have a busy house! I am married to an amazing man named Jeremy, together we have 4 children ages 10-19 (3 still at home). My in-laws also live with us.

What do you like to do when you’re not at Connect?

I do not have a lot of free time but I love going to live theatre and operas. My husband and I also try to get together with friends as often as we can for games nights. We love random obscure board games and playing Dungeons and Dragons.

What is your favourite colour of socks to wear?

I made tie-dyed socks for everyone in my family. I love wearing them, they make me smile. Sometimes I convince my family to wear theirs all on the same day, lol.

If you were given a chance, would you enter Big Brother?

Never!

What movie genre would you want to have a starring role in?

A British comedy.

If you could have an animal love you unconditionally, which animal would it be?

A tortoise. 

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?

My Limited Success: a Rags to Hand Towels Story. 

Leane Riley

 

 

“As an educational assistant, I get to do the best part of my job all day, everyday, just by being with all the kiddos. They are all gems!”
– Leane Riley

How long have you been working at Connect Charter School? 

I am now in my sixth year. 

What is your educational/professional background? 

Life has really taught me the most and continues to do so, however in 2013 I decided it was time for a mid-life career change and I applied to the Educational Assistant program at Mount Royal University. It was quite surreal receiving a university acceptance letter and I was never more excited to jump into my new career! 

What brought you to Connect? 

I was one of the lucky ones that was sent to Connect for an EA practicum. It was very hard saying goodbye on my last day, but it was my good fortune when a new EA position became available the following school year and I was the lucky candidate.

What do you consider the best part of working at our school? 

As an educational assistant, I get to do the best part of my job all day, everyday, just by being with all the kiddos. They are all gems! 

Tell us a bit about your family. 

I have adult children, it is very hard to believe sometimes but they actually do become adults. While they are very busy carving out their new lives as adults, I continue to be their biggest fan and love cheering them along. While our life is full and busy, I love taking walks along the Bow River with my husband and our dog. It is the most amazing way to wind down at the end of the day. 

What do you like to do when you’re not at Connect? I like to do a wide variety of things and doing new things. Most recently I rode a bike for the first time since I was about 18! 

Jessica James

“The best part of working at Connect is the strong relationships and the team atmosphere.”
– Jessica James 

How long have you been working at Connect Charter School?

I am currently in my 7th year working at Connect.

What is your educational/professional background?

I completed my post-secondary education at the University of Calgary. I have an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Greek and Roman studies with a minor in archaeology. I finished my Education degree in 2009 and taught for one year. After that year of teaching, I volunteered in a grade 1 and grade 2 classroom for several years.

What brought you to Connect? 

I applied at Connect after hearing of a job opening for an Educational Assistant through a friend. I looked through the school’s website and really liked what I saw about inquiry based learning and the outdoor education program. 

What do you consider to be the best part of working at our school?

The best part of working at Connect is the strong relationships and the team atmosphere. When I started working here, I immediately felt included in the school community. I also really appreciate that the school provides outdoor opportunities that students may not otherwise be able to experience. One student told me that without the Outdoor Ed elective, he would never have tried skiing, something he found that he quite enjoyed. 

Tell us a bit about your family. 

My parents are both retired. I have a younger sister who works in the oil and gas industry. We all enjoy travelling, and recently went on a Mediterranean cruise. I am an honorary aunt to several nieces and nephews who keep me up to date on the latest news about Paw Patrol and what constitutes a “cool” running shoe.

What do you like to do when you’re not at Connect? 

When I’m not at work I like to read, nap, travel, and have recently taken up kick boxing.

What is your favourite colour of socks to wear? 

My favourites socks are bright aqua with orange and yellow gummy bears on them. They are both fashionable and warm. 

If I gave you an elephant, where would you hide it?  

I would hide an elephant under my desk, as I might need it for something at a later date. It would sit between my bag of rocks and my box of tissue paper.