OCT OEEO

PS_June_2018

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37 June 2018 | Professionally Speaking ILLUSTRATIONS: JANICE KUN/i2i ART Talk about a room with a view. When Diana Yalowica, OCT, gazes out her living room window, she can see the Northern Lights. "Amazing," she says. For two years she has taught at the Ross River School, in an Indigenous community of less than 40 0 about five hours northeast of Whitehorse. The local amenities include a general store (also the bank and post office), gas, nursing and RCMP stations, a com- munity centre and the school. Yalowica started her career as an early childhood educator in southern Ontario, before pursuing her B.Ed. She did supply teaching in Ontario, then worked at an international school in Shanghai. Back in Canada, full-time jobs were so scarce that she considered leaving the profession. Then her husband saw job postings for the Yukon and encouraged her to apply. Her K to 12 school has around 50 students. Half the time she teaches the biggest class, 10 JK/ SK students, and in the other half she does reading recovery. Ross River follows the B.C. curriculum, with a strong focus on incorporating Indigenous culture. "We welcome elders into our school, and the children participate in ac- tivities such as oral storytelling and traditional crafts," says Yalowica. "A focus is also on preserving First Nations languages. We work on inte- grating keywords into daily practice in each classroom." Her one-year post turned into a second year, and now she'd like to stay long term. She learned that in a small school you must fill many roles. While there aren't any specialty teachers, every- one has their area of expertise, "so we brainstorm together," she says. "Sharing each other's strengths is important." Yalowica says some lessons from teaching in Shanghai, where she had to be sensitive to students who came from around the world, apply in her current role. "It made me more understanding. This has carried with me in the Yukon. Although we live in Canada, the First Nations ways of knowing and doing can be very differ- ent. I need to be aware, respectful and sensitive to that." NEW WAYS OF KNOWING AND DOING diana yalowica, yukon

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