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Teacher Spotlight: Kat Harjula


Introduce yourself in one sentence, please

I’m Ms. Harjula from 1B!

How long have you been at AAS?

This is my second year at AAS.

Share something we do not expect to hear from you?

My dogs, Scotty and Elsa are celebrities in 1B- somehow they manage to find themselves in our math problems and writing exemplars…  I adopted them both as adults from an animal shelter in South Korea eleven years ago.  Fingers crossed for eleven more years together!

What do you love most about your job?

Guiding students as they make new discoveries and helping them to reflect to see how much they’ve learned and grown is the most rewarding part of my job.  A close second is being part of a great team.  I’m so grateful for the kind, smart, supportive people here at AAS.  The staff, families, and students make a huge difference in the learning here.

What would you be if you weren’t a teacher?

My first degree was in environmental studies, and I would love to be involved in educational programming in the provincial or national parks back in Canada.  If that didn’t work out, I would like to take some time off work and travel the world by motorcycle.

What is the most important thing one has to learn at school?

This is a difficult question, and I don’t think that there is one most important thing that students learn at school.  They learn how to be caring (about themselves, others, and the environment), how to inquire, how to communicate effectively,  how to identify their principles and stay true to them, how to be responsible, courageous, open minded…

One area that I’ve found has a big impact is the ability to approach failure with a sense of optimism- I hope that my students learn to love challenges, enjoy putting effort into learning, keep reflecting on growth, and making plans to move forward.

What would you say to your 13 year old self?

Don’t stop learning French or the piano!

Please recommend a book to read

For adults, I recommend Warlight by Michael Ondantje.  It’s the most recent book that I read by one of my favourite authors.
For students, I recommend Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole.  It’s a book about a princess who doesn’t buy into the fairytale path and finds her happiness on her own terms.

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