From student to teacher at Meadows WestJanuary 11, 2023 News Story
They say you can’t go home again, but that isn’t the case at Meadows West School.
Current Meadows West teachers Gina Florendo, Alana Kolomaya, Simran Seehra, as well as educational assistant Paul Pineda, are all former students of the Nursery to Grade 8 school.
Kolomaya started teaching Grade 3 at the northwest Winnipeg school seven years ago. A 2003 graduate of Meadows West, Kolomaya taught at Sister MacNamara School and St. Andrews School before returning to her old stomping grounds.
“It felt like a comfort blanket,” said Kolomaya on returning to her roots. “I knew the school, I knew the community, I saw familiar faces amongst the staff, I knew what to expect. I had lots of mentors to look up to, to help me out if I ever needed help. It felt like home, because it is home. I grew up in the area and my family still lives here.”
It didn’t take long for Seehra to find her way back to Meadows West. A 2008 graduate of Meadows West, Seehra did a couple practicums at other schools before landing her first full-time teaching position at her former elementary school in 2018.
“I’m very happy and grateful that I came back to a place that I knew backwards and forwards,” Seehra said. “It was also a little overwhelming and nerve-wracking as well, being the young one on the junior high squad. Still, it was so incredible to have these teachers guide me in a whole different way.”
Seehra, team lead of Grades 7/8 mathematics, said it took some time to get used to calling her colleagues by their first names, but the transition from student to teacher was faster in a familiar environment.
“That learning gap, from being a university student to being a teacher, was closed at such a fast speed,” Seehra said. “I was able to get from one point to the other so much more quickly because I knew the people I was working with.”
Florendo, on the other hand, took the long way home. The Grades 7/8 science teacher is in her first year of teaching at Meadows West and her twentieth year of teaching in WSD, including a 10-year run at Sargent Park School.
“I look back at my journey through education and what made me the educator I am now. I can look all the way back to my early years at Meadows West, my experiences as a student. That’s what shaped me,” Florendo said.
As a Grade 1 student, Florendo started attending Meadows West in 1988, the same year the school first opened its doors.
“I remember we released balloons to commemorate the opening,” Florendo said. “I also remember voting as student body to choose our mascot. I remember one choice was Thunderbirds, but we ended up with Wildcats.”
“It’s been quite beautiful to reflect and share in that with my students and fellow staff. I get to give back to the community that really made me. I can look back but also forward. I can embrace and celebrate our history but also look forward to the future and see what can be next for our school and community.”