Building relationships key to being a successful teacher

A new and retiring Sooke teachers give their perspective on education

Building a relationship with your students is the key to being a successful teacher, an idea shared by two Sooke school teachers who are at different points in their career.

Marion Stupich, otherwise known as Ms. S, graduated from the University of Victoria with an education degree, and has just began teaching full time at Sooke Elementary School this year.

Prior to her new job, she worked as a preschool teacher for three years, and then later worked as a teacher on call, also kinown as a TOC, around the Island.

Stupich taught kids of all ages while working as a TOC, but felt she was best suited to teach elementary students, as she likes the idea of having the same class year-round.

“My whole life I’ve been working towards being a teacher,” Stupich said. “I’ve never wanted to be anything else.”

Stupich was always drawn to becoming a teacher because she loves being in a learning environment.

“I want to help kids find what their spark is and give them the tools to chase after it,” she said. “There are so many kids that don’t feel like they have a voice, and I want to show them what they can do.”

On the other side of the spectrum is Edward Milne Community School principal Patrick Swinburnson, who is retiring this year after 36 years in education, but still shares the same passion for helping youth as Stupich.

“My favourite thing about teaching is making those connections with the students,” he said.

Swinburnson, who began teaching in 1981, said technology has been the biggest change he has seen throughout his career, and believes it is great for education.

And while there have been giant leaps forward with the way things are done in the classroom, he said people remain constant, and highlighted the importance of building relationships with students.

“If you make your students feel like they’re valued and welcomed, you will find everything after that is easy. You’re behaviour management will be easy and student achievement will improve,” Swinburnson said. “Show your compassion right from the beginning, let them know that you care and your job is going to be so much easier.”

Stupich is optimistic heading in to her career, saying she is a life-long learner, and wants learning to be a joyous thing for students as well.

“I’m here first and foremost for the students. Kids have so much power and so much potential,” Stupich said.

“The most divergent thinkers in the world are kindergartners, you give them a stick and they can see 50 different things and then they’re told all through out school, ‘No that’s a just stick’ and then they become an adult and they think ‘OK that’s just a stick. That’s all it is and that’s all it will ever be,’ kids still have this imagination that hasn’t been squished out of them yet.”

Stupich’s goals moving forward are to build strong relationships with her students, and to be a good role model.

“I know I’m going to fail at times, but that’s okay because I’ll learn from it. I try to see challenges as opportunities and I want my students to view things that way as well,” Stupich said. “I’m just looking forward to really getting to know my class and seeing where they take me, there’s so much potential for so much fun.”

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