In addition to an Ontario Teaching Certificate, Laura has Montessori training which she skillfully incorporated into her classrooms over the years. She loves all things teaching from pedagogy, methodology, strategies and best practices. Additional qualifications include specific training in teaching Reading, Mathematics, Special Education, Kindergarten and English as a Second Language, some study of the Waldorf method and she is acquiring a Certificate in School Management and Leadership program through Harvard Business School.
Laura brings a deep love of children, a passionate commitment to Olivet School and an incredible spirit of helping others. She has great communication skills and is known for her exuberance and joy. Her fresh perspective and authenticity is a huge contribution to the success of Olivet School. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family outdoors, or enjoying a good book.
Michael Cowley, M.Div., MAPC combines over 35 years of pastoral, administrative, educational and counselling experience with his love for the students and parents at Olivet School. Along with his daily activities in the school, he offers parenting and marriage workshops. One of the best ways we can help strengthen the work we do with the pupils at Olivet School is to strengthen the parents in their work at home. Michael has taken training at the Gottman Institute to be recognized as a certified educator both in the Emotion Coaching: The Heart of Parenting program as well the Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work program.
Michael has been married to Gwenda for 35 years and together they have raised six (now adult) children. They often work together as a team in various Olivet School activities and programs. Gwenda is trained as an elementary school teacher and has studied and attended professional and educational trainings with Michael.
Jared Buss graduated with an M. Div. from Bryn Athyn College of the New Church in 2015. His love for engaging with people around the fundamental aspects of life and faith is what drew him to his current position as Assistant Pastor with Olivet School. Jared’s work at the school includes leading in chapel services, teaching Scripture classes to primary students, and offering pastoral support to the church community. His mission is to help those he meets become the individuals they truly wish to be.
When he’s not at work, Jared enjoys spending time with his kids, writing stories, and working in his garden.
Sandy graduated with a BSc from Philadelphia University. After taking time off to raise her children, she joined the staff at Olivet School, starting out as the school secretary and transitioning to the position of office manager. She has a long-standing affection for the Olivet New Church, in which she was raised, and has enjoyed and valued the many connections she has made with Olivet School families over the years. Sandy is often the first point of contact for new parents and tries to make everyone feel welcomed and informed during the enrollment process and beyond.
Her interests include hiking, performing in a rock choir, and travelling.
Teacher, Grades 1 & 2
Britteny Wilson knew she wanted to be a teacher from the age of 8. She spent four years at Queen’s University, and completed her teaching degree at the University of Toronto before living out her dreams at Olivet School! She firmly believes in child-led learning, balancing traditional strategies with new models, and the power of positive encouragement.
Outside of school, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and cuddling with her cat, Kitt.
Teacher, Grades 4 & 5, French
In the summer, Elaine enjoys being outdoors with her family. She’s looking forward to continuing her education in Special Education and child psychology. She’s proud to call Toronto her home, and believes its openness and diversity contributes to its strength and beauty.
Sharon is happy to be joining Olivet School’s staff as a Music Teacher. She has been running a thriving music school for over two decades, and felt a true calling to find new opportunities to expand her work through her passion of teaching young children. Sharon believes that teaching music and instilling an appreciation for the arts within a Christian environment allows her to combine her extensive training, teaching experience and Christian faith by doing what she loves most – nurturing the inner musician in every child. She has many years of experience as an Artistic Director, designing early childhood music programs with certification in Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze Eurythmics programs. Sharon is also an active piano teacher and accompanist with students of all ages.
Outside of her busy work life, she and her husband are very physically active, participating in triathlons and marathons.
Kimberly Parker is excited to be teaching Kindergarten, after having worked in Olivet’s preschool program for six years. Kimberly is graduating from the Early Childhood Education program at Humber College. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Sociology, at York University and completed the Developmental Services Worker Diploma program at Humber College. She firmly believes in an eclectic approach to child-directed early childhood education, meshing many models and strategies, while adapting to meet the needs and interests of all children to insure full inclusion and participation. She brings caring, kindness and a sense of humor to the classroom.
After-School Caregiver & Classroom Support
Before working at Olivet School, Naomi attended the New Church boarding school in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Religion. She worked for 26 years in an inner-city group home in Toronto, counselling at-risk and troubled teen girls. During that time, Naomi earned a Child and Youth Worker diploma from George Brown College, became certified to teach life skills, and eventually earned a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology with a focus on non-profit management. Working as a counsellor helped her discover how therapeutic and fun being creative can be.
At Olivet School, Naomi runs the Broader Horizons program, where children are given good quality supplies and detailed direction to complete an artistic project they can be proud of. She’s also involved in Sunday School classes, planning and facilitating after-church activities, youth and young adult’s social events and chaperoning multi-congregational high school weekends.
In her spare time, Naomi enjoys taking art lessons, including dry pastels and pottery classes. She also enjoys reading, nature photography, and exploring new places.