School Administration Team
Teacher, Grade 1, 2, 3 & Principal
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.
For the 2020/2021 school year, Britteny is taking on the part-time role of Principal, as part of the School Administration Team. She brings strong leadership with her organization skills, clear-sightedness and balanced perspective.
Outside of school, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and cuddling with her cat, Kitt.
Teacher, Kindergarten & Assistant Principal
Before attending teacher’s college and obtaining her Ontario Teaching Certificate, Mrs. Braam took Montessori training and now incorporates this methodology into her classroom. Her additional qualifications include courses in mathematics, special education and English as a second language. She now has her sights on studying the Waldorf method.
Mrs. Braam brings this a deep love of children, exuberance and an incredible spirit of helping others. She loves all things teaching and loves to talk about pedagogy, methodology, strategies and best practices.
In her spare time, she loves spending time outdoors, and enjoying a good book.
Lead Administrator & Human Resources
Valerie has been contributing her skills and services to the Olivet School community in a Human Resources capacity for the last 5 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Education in addition to being certified in Human Resources Management. For the 2019/2020 school year, Valerie is also taking on the part-time role of Lead Administrator as part of the School Administration Team, hoping to support the smooth running of the school.
She brings a sense of humour, perspective and compassion as key leadership and relationship tools. When time permits, Valerie loves to do imaginative crafts, go for drives in the country and hikes on the Bruce Trail with her husband.
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.
Assistant Teacher, Grades 1, 2 & 3
Sara was a student at Olivet School in the 1960s. She developed a passion for teaching at a young age, and later graduated from the teacher education program at New Church College in Pennsylvania. Her teaching career officially began at Carmel New Church School in Kitchener, Ontario. Several years later, she moved back to Toronto where she became primary teacher at Olivet School where it all began!
Sara is now semi-retired and teaching part-time in the primary classroom. She and her husband both love Olivet School’s approach to education, and brought their own two daughters, (who are now in their 20s) to share in the experience. Sara can be frequently seen with the kindergarten students exploring nearby nature, or going to visit the ducks down by the water.
Teacher, Grades 4 & 5
Elaine has been teaching in North America for nearly two decades. She began teaching French and working as a translator for New Church books at Bryn Athyn College in Pennsylvania, where she earned her master’s degree in Religious Studies. After completing a certified teacher program with French literature as her major, she returned to Toronto to be closer to her family. Elaine loves the teaching approaches at Olivet School that are centered on the learners, giving them the opportunity for in-depth investigation, hands-on activities, and collaboration.
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.
French Teacher, Librarian, Support Teacher Grades 1, 2 & 3
Karen Cooper, or Madame Cooper, teaches French at Olivet School, and is also in charge of the school library and Sunday School programs. Karen has been teaching since 1990. She spent the first fifteen years at a New Church school in Maryland, USA, where she taught kindergarten and high school level literature and French. At Olivet School, she teaches homeroom in grades 1-3.
An aspect of teaching at Olivet School that Karen enjoys is the focus on being “useful”. She believes that everything we do should have a focus on helping others, from the information that we learn, to our day-to-day activities. Karen has been delighted to incorporate the use of the AIM Method in teaching French, as she appreciates its emphasis on learning another language for the sake of genuine communication.
When she’s not at school, Karen loves to play with her grandchildren and make quilts.
Playschool Director & Classroom Assistant
Judy came to Olivet School as a mother of two children looking for an excellent community program for her youngest son. After hearing good things about Tots’ Time, she enrolled him in the program. He liked it so much that he continued for two years in Playschool, and Judy decided to become a volunteer. Judy soon made the transition from volunteering to teaching, overseeing both the Tots’ Time and Playschool programs, which suits her background as a graduate of both Humber College and Ryerson University’s Early Childhood Education programs. She believes that being with young children helps to keep her young at heart.
In her spare time, Judy enjoys canoeing and camping while exploring our national and provincial parks with her husband. She also has a newly founded passion for acrylic painting, which you can see on display in the church lobby!
After-School Caregiver & Primary Grades Art Teacher
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.
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.