Gabriele wandered into Olivet from the community, looking for a school for her then three year old daughter. Fast forward thirty years, and you will find that Gabriele has gone from parent to principal! With a B.A. in psychology, attending teachers’ college and working in social services in the 70’s, and then obtaining her RECE in the early 90’s while her own children were still young, Gabriele comes to her position with a wealth of experience. She led the Olivet Playschool when it was in its infancy and she then taught part-time in the upper grades – teaching some subjects in almost every grade. Seventeen years ago she moved on to teach full-time in the grade 3 and 4 classroom. Time really does fly! Gabriele is grateful to the amazing faculty and staff at Olivet, and to the parents at Olivet who are supportive and true members of the Olivet family. Together we make a team to be proud of!!
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.
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 activities and programs. Gwenda is trained as an elementary school teacher and has studied and attended professional and educational trainings with Michael.
Jared is the newest member of the staff at Olivet. He graduated with an M. Div. from Bryn Athyn College of the New Church in 2015, and shortly afterwards moved to Etobicoke to begin his new job as Assistant Pastor. He was drawn to ministry because of his love for engaging with people around questions and issues that matter in an enduring way—things having to do with the fundamental choices we are all making about who we really want to be. His work with the school includes leading in chapel services, teaching Scripture classes to primary students, and generally being available when support is needed. Together with the head pastor, Michael, he also leads the Olivet Church in Sunday services and offers pastoral support to the church community.
Sara Gatti’s plan for a teaching career began at the young age of 5 when she began school herself! She felt it was her calling from kindergarten on and today she is living the dream at Olivet School.
Believe it or not, Sara herself came to Olivet as a student in the 60’s! She later went to the New Church College in Pennsylvania and graduated from their teacher education program. She began her teaching career at Carmel New Church School in Kitchener, Ontario and then moved back to Toronto where she became the grade one and two teacher at Olivet. Today Sara is the junior and senior kindergarten teacher here at Olivet. Sara and her husband both love Olivet and therefore brought their own two daughters, (who are now in their 20s) to this school.
Sara wants to teach in a school that prepares students for this world and the one to come. She loves the fact that we value the same spiritual, moral, and creative qualities in which she believes. Sara chose Olivet for herself and her daughters because it provides an education for the whole child. A student’s spiritual, academic, physical, social and emotional development are considered in all that is taught. Another big plus to Olivet is its location. Situated close to a green space and Mimico Creek Mrs. Gatti and the kindergarten students are often seen exploring nearby nature or going to visit the ducks down by the water.
Teacher, Grade 1 - 2
Mrs. Braam did not always know she wanted to be a teacher; even though she did enjoy bossing around her younger brother and sisters when she was a girl! While working at various odd jobs during her 20’s, she came to realize that teaching was her passion. Before attending teacher’s college and obtaining her Ontario Teaching Certificate, she took Montessori training and she incorporates this methodology into her classroom. Mrs. Braam loves all things teaching and loves to talk about pedagogy, methodology, strategies and best practices. Her additional qualifications include courses in teaching reading, mathematics, special education and English as a second language. She now has her sights on studying the Waldorf method. In her spare time Mrs. Braam loves to read and be outdoors. Her perfect Saturday would be lounging in bed with a coffee and a good book followed by a hike through the woods or a swim in a lake with Mr. Braam who loves to be outdoors as well. If you have ever met Mrs. Braam you will know she loves to chat and visit with her friends and family. She is the perfect example of an extrovert! Mrs. Braam also has a baby who is no longer a baby but a busy 3 year old named Cedric who will be starting kindergarten at Olivet in September! You will often find Cedric and Mrs. Braam jumping in puddles and running in circles! When asked where she wants to go on her next vacation Mrs. Braam told us that the Swiss Alps are at the top of her list.
Teacher, Grade 3 & 4
Britteny Wilson knew she wanted to be a teacher from when she was 8 years old! She spent four years at Queen’s University and completed her teaching degree at the University of Toronto and now she’s living the dream at Olivet! If you were to walk into her classroom, you’d likely find an organized mess of books, projects, art supplies and lots of laughter. She firmly believes in child-led learning, balancing old teaching strategies with new models, and the power of encouragement. Her favorite class to teach to her grades 3 and 4 class is social studies. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and cuddling with her cat, Kitt. In the summer, Britteny has been known to balance her time with the sunshine by taking classes; so far, she’s completed courses in special education, primary education as well as a religious studies course. She plans on completing education courses in both math and reading in the upcoming year.
Teacher, Grade 5
Elaine Kim has been teaching in North America for 17 years. She began with teaching French and worked as a translator of New Church books at Bryn Athyn College in Pennsylvania after she had completed her MA program in Religious Studies there. She completed a certified teacher program with French literature as her major. Six years ago, she came back to Toronto where her parents and siblings live. Two of her nephews are Olivet graduates! Elaine enjoys living, learning and teaching in Toronto, where its openness and diversity contributes to its strength and beauty.
Elaine loves the teaching approaches that are centered on the learners and afford them the opportunity for in-depth investigation, hands-on activities and collaboration; one of her favourite methods is project-based learning. You can see her senior students’ First Nations diorama boxes, human organs diagrams, or Solar System models, exhibited in her classroom and the hallway. Her hobbies are reading, choral singing, drawing and Chinese calligraphy. In the summer, she enjoys being outdoors with her family and taking education classes. Her next areas of interest to pursue are Special Education and child psychology.
Rachel’s first contact with the school was as a parent, having moved from the U.K. to Toronto as a newlywed. It wasn’t long before she was asked to assist with the music program. She returned to school herself when her children were all in school full time twenty five years ago, and went on to earn a music specialty in Early Childhood Education, a teachers ARCT in piano, and also has her specialist certificate in the Orff approach to music. In addition, she has also taken training in the Kodaly method of teaching, and as a result her classroom features a blend of both Orff and Kodaly approaches to music teaching. Her personal philosophy favours music classes that include the elements Move, Sing, Listen and Play! A highlight of Rachel`s year is always the annual May Music Night. It`s a wonderful way to showcase the talents of all the students from Preschool to Grade Six, and, in the process, it also brings out the support and many talents of our wonderful faculty, staff and parents!
Teacher, French and Library
Karen Cooper, or Madame Cooper, teaches French here at Olivet School. She also is in charge of the school library and develops Sunday School programs. She enjoys interacting with the students in the classroom, and has started a regular reading incentive program, complete with prizes! Mrs. Cooper is also feeling excited about cataloguing all the library books and entering them into a modern library computer program!
Mrs. Cooper has been teaching since 1990. The first fifteen years were at a New Church school in Maryland, USA. There she taught kindergarten, and high school level literature and French. At Olivet she has taught as a home room teacher in the grade 1 – 2 classroom as well as in the 5-6 classroom!
One of the things that Mrs. Cooper most enjoys about teaching at Olivet 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. She has been delighted to incorporate the use of the AIM Method in teaching French, as she feels that its emphasis on learning another language for the sake of genuine communication rather than filling out worksheets is most valuable. She especially appreciates how this ties in with the key Olivet principle of care and concern for our fellow human beings.
Judy came to Olivet as a mother of two children looking for a good community program for her youngest child, Stuart. Having recently moved to Etobicoke and having heard good things about Mrs. Pulpan’s Tots’ Time program, they enrolled. They liked it so much that Stuart continued for two years in Playschool and Judy volunteered in the program during that time. When Mrs. Pulpan moved on to teach full time in the Olivet Grade School, Judy made the transition from volunteering to teaching and overseeing both Tots’ Time and Playschool programs. As a graduate from both Humber College and Ryerson’s Early Childhood Education programs, this transition was well suited to her background. Over the years these programs have adjusted to changing educational philosophies and government regulation under her guidance. Fast forward now 20 years and both her children have finished university! Thinking back to when she first started in the field of early childhood education, Judy never expected to still be enjoying the day to day process of caring and providing experiences for preschoolers at Olivet.
Judy believes that being with young children helps to keep her young at heart and agile. Maybe that is why she has also volunteered for over 20 years with Girl Guides. As a young participant starting in Brownies, Girl Guides gave her two things, the motto Be Prepared, and a love for the outdoors. Judy and her husband enjoy hiking, canoeing, and camping while exploring our National and Provincial parks. Recently, Judy has taken to cycling, riding with a club and training indoors during the winter. “I love that I can challenge myself to do things that I never expected.” Judy says of herself.
Since her daughter, Clare, graduated in fine arts with a love of experimenting and creating art with a social message, Judy also has felt the creative juices flowing and has signed up for acrylic painting lessons; her first efforts are amazing and can be seen in the church lobby!
Naomi Reid is Olivet’s much valued After-school caregiver. She was raised on a farm in northern Alberta where she and her siblings were expected to help out! When Mrs. Reid left home, she went to the New Church boarding school in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania for grade twelve and college. She moved to Toronto in 1986 after finishing a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Religion and then worked for 26 years in an inner-city group home, counseling at-risk and troubled teenage girls. One of Naomi’s favorite activities while working at the group home was to teach crafts to the young ladies. While working full time, she also earned a child and youth worker diploma and eventually a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology. As it turns out, one of her favourite things to do after all that education is still to teach crafts to people of all ages! On Wednesday afternoon she can be found with an attentive group of Olivet children who are given good quality supplies and detailed direction to complete a project they can be proud of. In addition to doing the afterschool program, she also does a number of other jobs for the Olivet church including teaching Sunday School classes and helping plan activities and chaperone multi-congregational high school weekends, youth and young adult’s social events and. If Naomi was unable to do the work she does now, she would probably find other ways to teach a variety of crafts to people who want to learn them.