Features & Resources

The women of New Westminster Schools

In honour of International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate some of the amazing women who work across this district every day … leaders at various levels. These women are driven by different passions, expertise and come different backgrounds, but they are connected by their commitment to support those around them – whether that’s students, staff or families.

We posed the same questions to each of them, and below are the responses they’ve shared with us … insights on what inspires them and advice that perhaps can inspire another young women to step into a new role or challenges as they find their way forward in life.

*And while we framed the last question in terms of inspiring young women, in keeping with the theme of the day, we think it’s advice that likely applies well for people at any place along the gender spectrum. 

 

Maryam Naser, Associate Superintendent

What is your role in the District? 

I am lucky to be involved in many different aspects of district operations – a jack of all trades. I support the work of a number of teams within our district including Learning and Innovation, Inclusive Education and Indigenous Education. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is guiding the School Learning Plan process through collaboration with our amazing school staff and administrators.

What inspired you to pursue the current role you hold?

I love change and have held a number of positions over the years including elementary teacher, secondary teacher, resource teacher, school psychologist, district vice principal, and director of instruction.  My current position allows me to use the experience and expertise I have gained while challenging me to continue to learn and grow.

Tell us about a time when you felt like you made a real difference in the District. 

I am lucky to work alongside so many talented people in this district and it is our collective work that I feel is making a difference for our students and families.  Some examples of this amazing work are the countless teacher led innovation projects supported through innovation grants, new literacy interventions for young learners and most recently, launching an on-line learning program and engaging new technologies to improve remote learning during the pandemic.

What advice do you have for young women as they seek and pursue their own careers? 

My advice to young women:

  1. Pursue your passions over prestige
  2. Be confident and work hard
  3. Commit to a clear set of values
  4. And above all else – be kind to yourself and others.

 

Maureen McRae-Stanger, Director of Instruction, Learning and Innovation

What is your role in the District? 

I support staff and students with curriculum, instruction and assessment. I love working with teachers to support the amazing teaching and learning experiences they can engage in with their students

What inspired you to pursue the current role you hold?

I am passionate about making sure that students love to learn and that they are successful. I love the redesigned curriculum with its emphasis on competencies and skills, and applying learning to authentic and real life situations.

Tell us about a time when you felt like you made a real difference in the District. 

This year, I supported the creation of the K-8 Online Learning Program. This program helped families and students who were not able to attend face to face instruction due to COVID.  I worked with teachers to shift their instruction to an online platform and learn how to design effective synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences. This has been an incredible professional development experience for the teachers and for me!

What advice do you have for young women as they seek and pursue their own careers? 

It is really important to work hard, stand up for what you are passionate about and make sure your voice is heard.  Don’t be afraid or intimidated by others. Build positive relationships, collaborate with others and be human … acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them and move forward. Embrace new and challenging things!

 

Patricia Pain, Mentorship Curriculum Facilitator

What is your role in the District? 

I have the privilege of working alongside early career teachers. This can range from co-planning, co-teaching, modelling, general support, or just being that lending ear, they need. I don’t do this alone; I work alongside two amazing humans – Kristie Oxley and Maureen.

What inspired you to pursue the current role you hold?

I have always had a passion for mentorship. I got into it many years ago with my work in Literacy (SmartLearning). I joined an action research team where we co-planned, co-taught, took risks and got messy. The learning that happened for me over those years was exactly what my career needed. It postured me into the positions of both mentor and mentee, constantly. I came to realize how critical it was to toggle between those two positions – regardless of where we were in our career. My learning grew by risk taking and inquiry, but also by the support I had from my peers to get messy. This evolved into doing this work with other districts and teachers where I continued this work. From there I moved into mentorship with SFU as a Faculty Associate. This pushed me even further and allowed me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. #comfortablyuncomfortable. I came back with a passion to bring a formal mentorship program to New Westminster. After much conversation and elbow grease, we launched our mentorship program this year!

Tell us about a time when you felt like you made a real difference in the District. 

Working alongside early career teachers, I have been privileged enough to have teachers trust me enough to have vulnerable conversations. I’ve had so many incredible moments that helped both myself and the mentee to evolve, but this biggest difference is helping people to see that they are not alone on this learning journey. This path is meant to be messy. This is how we grow. I have been able to get messy with mentees and help them build their self-efficacy. Sometimes that was simply helping them see the strengths they already possess!

What advice do you have for young women as they seek and pursue their own careers?

My advice would be to take risks without fear, be ‘comfortably uncomfortable,’ and to be there for each other. We need each other in a world where notions of strength and ability need to be disrupted.

 

Sarah Wethered, New Westminster Teachers’ Union President

What is your role in the District? 

My job is to ensure that the collective agreement is followed and to assist NWTU members as needed.  This means I attend many meetings every week on behalf of members and answer lots of member questions.

What inspired you to pursue the current role you hold?

The female NWTU president at the time tapped me on my shoulder to become Pro-D chair.  As the years progressed, I got more involved in my union.  I finally took a leap of faith 3 years ago to run as 2nd vice-president and the result is me now being president.

Tell us about a time when you felt like you made a real difference in the District. 

Being part of the local bargaining team that negotiated job share partnership language and new post and fill language. This new language is beneficial to all members of the NWTU.

What advice do you have for young women as they seek and pursue their own careers?

Don’t be afraid if your first career falls through.  Keep searching until you find one that provides you with happiness.  Life is too short to work in a job where you are unhappy.  If you are a unionized employee, know your rights.

 

Tu Loan Trieu, Vice-Principal at Glenbrook Middle School

What is your role in the District? 

I love my job and every day is never the same! I support my staff and students in all capacities and a big part of it is developing strong relationships, especially this year.

What inspired you to pursue the current role you hold?

I was a Teacher-Librarian in my previous position and I worked closely with my principals who supported and helped develop me in being an instructional leader in the school and district (SD43). They were strong female role models who mentored me and I saw the positive impact they had on the culture of the school.

Tell us about a time when you felt like you made a real difference in the District. 

This is a hard one. There wasn’t a one time, but something that I feel that I’ve made a contribution to the district since joining is in the area of professional development. Learning together has always and continues to be a big part of my development as a teacher and administrator. I’ve helped organize district Pro-D, Pro-D for NWPVPA, and lots of school Pro-D. A special one for me, was organizing the Engaging Middle Years webinars with Leyton Schnellert last year where we were able to gather teachers from all 3 middle schools to participate. It was so exciting to see middle school teachers coming together and talking about middle school students! For a new administrator in the district, I was happy to meet middle school teachers from the other two middle schools!

What advice do you have for young women as they seek and pursue their own careers?

I have been very fortunate to work with some great leaders who supported me in taking risks and trying new things (e.g. organizing school-wide/district/provincial wide events). A big part of it was also not being afraid to ask questions and ask for support when I needed it. Developing great relationships has always been something I really enjoy and have found that there are always people out there willing to help you because they know and trust you. A positive attitude also helps!

 

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