Marilyn Hodgson, left, helps her daughter Stephanie get ready for a new school year in her daughter’s Grade 3-4 split class at KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

Two generations of teachers at North Saanich’s KELSET Elementary School

As children go back to school this month, teachers too are heading back to class and for many of them, this will be their first experience in front of young, eager minds.

For Stephanie Hodgson, her new job at KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich isn’t her first time in front of students — but her class of Grade 3 and 4 kids is her first full-time teaching gig. What has made it special for the Stelly’s Secondary grad, is it’s the school where her mom, Marilyn, ended her teaching career of 35 years.

Mom and daughter got together in Stephanie’s class at the end of the first week back to school and spoke with the News Review about the two generations of the same family making their mark as teachers at KELSET.

“This is my very first full-time contract,” Stephanie said. “I’ve learned everything I hope in a teacher … I’ve learned it from my mom. She’s just such an inspiration to me. She demonstrates a passion for the career.”

Stephanie attended the University of Victoria after she graduated from Stelly’s and then spent a year working in London, England. She said she taught in a Year 4 (Grade 3) class there and said while it was a different way of teaching, it was a great learning experience. While in London, she said she taught a group of 30 students. At KELSET this year, Stephanie will be in front of 21.

Part of that difference is last year’s Supreme Court of Canada decision that ruled class sizes should go back to 2002 levels. That has had some school districts scrambling to find space for new classrooms and additional teachers to fill them. That’s part of how Stephanie got the job at KELSET.

“Originally, I did not see the posting for this position. One of the teachers at the school called me the night before the job was going to be assigned. I applied, kept my fingers crossed … and sure enough, I got the job … last Tuesday.”

She added her mom is a natural, having done the job for so long, and has been able to help her with the transition into the elementary school.

“I know so many of the staff members here. Already walking in, I felt so welcomed and so comfortable in the space.”

Her mom Marilyn was part of the team that started teaching at KELSET when it opened in 2008, replacing both McTavish and Saanichton elementary schools. She got her start in Hudson’s Hope in northern B.C. Her family would later move to Prince George and for the last 25 years, she has been working in School District 63 (Saanich). She retired two years ago.

Marilyn said the culture at the school is tremendous, having integrated students from around the area, including the Peninsula’s First Nations communities.

Marilyn is proud of her daughter for pursuing a teaching career — and for landing a job at the school where she ended her career.

“The staff is amazing. She knows a lot of the parents already and the kids really respond well to her,” she said, adding Stephanie is athletic and will be involved in the school in that way as well.

“There’s a lot to learn,” Stephanie said. “I know I’ll always be learning in this profession. Learning is never done — my mom can attest to that.”

Marilyn said there’a lot of joy in teaching as a profession. She said the connections she’s made over her long career has made it very rewarding.

“We are passing the torch. Hopefully (Stephanie) will just run with it and make it an amazing career.”

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