It took a year away from school to set Lisa Ziebart on a course that carried her back to the classroom.
“Teaching found me,” explained Ziebart, one of this year’s Great Teachers selections. “I didn’t know what I wanted to study, so I needed to take a gap year after graduating from Belmont secondary.”
After a year in England working as a teacher’s assistant and coaching field hockey, Ziebart returned to Victoria and took courses at Camosun College.
“I realized something was missing, and that was being in the classroom.”
She earned bachelor degrees in education and arts, and a masters in education, she taught at international schools in Taiwan and Macao for five years.
“That absolutely allowed me to develop my skills and interact with colleagues and students from all over the world with different perspectives,” said Ziebart, who is in her fifth year of teaching social studies for Grade 9 to 12 at St. Margaret’s School.
“I’m still learning and evolving every year,” she said. “New experiences and connections every year helps keep it fresh.”
Ziebart believes an experiential, constructive approach that creates learning experiences and opportunities works best.
“Learning is all about the students,” she noted. “To not involve them is a disservice to the development of their learning skills.”
Ziebart said it’s important to acknowledge the challenges that come with the territory. “A lot of teachers would probably say that there’s not enough time to accomplish all the goals we set,” she said. “It’s important not to get bogged down and continue to strive to set the bar high.”
She enjoys working at an independent all girls school because of the opportunity to make long-lasting connections.
“It’s a lot of fun to work with students from K to Grade 12 and see them grow and develop from kindergarten through to graduation,” Ziebart said. “Small class sizes are really tailored to focusing on improving students’ learning experiences. It’s rewarding to see the students grow through the work I do with them.”
Involvement in the school’s extra-curricular outreach programs is another plus. “Working with a group of students and different organizations to make a difference locally and globally is very rewarding,” she said. “It’s incredible to see students work together for that common goal.”
Ziebart credits her 6 a.m. sessions with a cross-fit group for preparing her for the classroom. “It gives me the positive energy I need.”
Regarding her Great Teachers nomination, Ziebart said it’s not about the acknowledgment.
“It’s a very demanding profession, so an initiative like this is important for building a better understanding of the work we do. It’s inspired me to nominate one of my colleagues for next year’s Great Teachers.”
The Great Teachers program is presented by Black Press and Staples, in partnership with Camosun College.