Born in Prince Rupert, Wendy Poole has always been attracted to small coastal communities.
So it might not be entirely coincidence that Saltwater Waldorf School in Courtenay was her final stop in a 32-year teaching career – and that the Comox Valley is exactly the sort of small coastal community where she can enjoy her retirement.
Poole’s Early Childhood Education career began in 1984 in Sointula. “I taught pre-school there for eight very wonderful years,” she said.
When it came time to leave Sointula, the good things her family had heard about the Comox Valley made it an easy choice.
Arriving in fall of 1998, Poole’s first job as an ECE in the Valley was a 14-year position at the Beaufort Children’s Centre. “It was a wonderful place to work,” she says. “Lots of joy.”
Four years ago she joined Saltwater, which she describes as “the icing on the cake. Four very wonderful years. I like the rhythm of teaching preschool more than the rhythm of daycare. I’ve also enjoyed learning about the Waldorf philosophy.”
Poole says that philosophy is keeping children young for as long as possible. “Keep life simple. Fill it with lots of singing and outdoor activities.”
Poole also has her own philosophy. “I think the most important thing we can give our children is unconditional love and support. At home, at school, everywhere.”
Now she is retired, Poole is looking forward to doing things she hasn’t done for many years. “To go in the library and read. To get outside more. Do some kayaking and gardening and (rediscover her passion for) art.”
As well, “My husband (Paul Bozenich) and I volunteer with a group called Food Not Bombs. Once a month we cook a meal for people in need.”
Looking back on 32 years of teaching, Poole says, “I feel very privileged. I’ve been a part of so many families’ lives and in such a positive way. It’s just the joy that I felt every day working in the field,” she said.
And after those 32 years, Poole has one message she would like to impart to parents: “Notice what you pay attention to with your children.
“We all love attention. And so often parents will say, ‘You’re too noisy,’ or ‘You’re so sneaky’ – knowing the things they really don’t want to see in their children.
“But because their children want attention and are getting attention for those things, they’re going to continue doing them. So give your children attention to the positive things you want to see. And maintain a sense of humour. That’s so important.”