COVID-19 SPURS CHANGE AT THE TOP FOR SEVEN SUMMITS
By Vivienne Hurley
The pandemic has become a catalyst for generative change and social resolution. Among those hitting the reset button to find the right fit and a better work/life balance are Joyce Oostindie and Tanis Shippy of Seven Summits Centre for Learning.
After re-evaluating lifestyle, reconsidering priorities, and having a professional and personal overhaul, both women are reconfiguring their careers.
Joyce has stepped down as Administrator of Seven Summits Centre for Learning, after a two year stint, to engineer a career which will afford her the flexibility to split her time between the Kootenays and the South Thompson where her family resides. To ensure a smooth transition, she has been training her replacement to step into the role of Administrator over the past couple of months, setting Tanis up for success when she takes over the administrative reins at the start of the new academic year in September 2020.
When asked what that role would entail Tanis replies: “To think big and manage details, to be prudent and bold, to listen and support.”
Discussing what challenges may lie ahead for the innovative blended high school, Tanis explains: “This is an exciting time to be involved in education. Technology is enabling students to take more ownership of their learning and as educators, we would be missing a vital opportunity for growth if we were not nimble and open to the rhythms and different learning styles of teens.“
Shelley Ackerman says, “Covid-19 has raised big questions about what matters most and this pause has given us all a window of time to reflect on our ‘before’ lives, change what is no longer suited to the present and make family a priority.” Shelley is president of the Visions for Small Schools Society Board of Trustees, which governs Seven Summits Centre for Learning. “Joyce will remain in our hearts as a wonderful colleague as well as friend and the VSS Board would like to extend its thanks to her for her commitment, hard work and dedication to the job. Joyce and Tanis are highly regarded education specialists and we wish them both the best of luck in their new endeavours,” she adds.
Joyce Oostindie took up the administrator position at 7S in 2018 when she first moved to the Kootenay region. She says, “What I’ve loved the most about 7S is what I’ll miss the most: The daily interaction with students’ brilliant, creative and determined minds has brought me the greatest joy and I’ll miss all their positive energy.” Her experience as a high school counsellor, who had also started and then administered an alternative school in the Northwest Territories for three years, made her the perfect fit but she says she will look forward to ‘revisiting 7S students to see how brightly they continue to shine’. “Rossland has an amazing, energetic and dynamic community with a serious ‘can do’ attitude. It underlies the reason why such an innovative educator exists in the town, how it came to launch the world’s first kitefoiling academy despite being so far away from the ocean, and how it has just orchestrated the first ski lift graduation for RED, and perhaps the whole of Canada,” she adds.
Tanis Shippy has worked for 20 years as a teacher and guidance counselor, is local to Rossland, has served on the VSS board and has a son attending Seven Summits Centre for Learning. Her experience in education, which spans traditional classrooms, digital environments, outdoor settings and diverse student populations, across Canada as well as the U.S. will stand her in good stead for her new post as will her insight as a 7S parent, volunteer and board member.
Tanis says, “7S started as a grassroots movement of passionate people with a lot of heart, dedication and vision, so I’m looking forward to working with such a dynamic and caring group of educators. I’m thrilled at the prospect of working on the cutting edge of education too. I know that the team works incredibly hard to foster a customized learning experience for students who do not resonate with the typical public school. I’ve also experienced first-hand, our shared belief that every learner is unique and capable with valuable gifts to offer the world. I’ve watched my son, a student of 7S, connect meaningfully to a learning environment in a way he never had before. The long-term reverberations of these connections are huge: he has acquired academic endurance, time management skills, self-direction, purpose and a sense of belonging.”