When a new teacher is hired at Aspengrove, our goal is always to help them feel at home within their first week—mostly because we know the importance of our educational community, and that our teaching staff plays an enormous role in shaping that culture. And for Norm Kaethler, one of our newest teachers, efforts made to achieve that goal were clear from the very beginning.

“Orientation was helpful and useful,” he says. “The leadership team at Aspengrove made a point of joining in, being present, answering questions, and guiding us through the process. They helped me understand the culture, protocol, strategies, and big goals for the coming years. I could tell they were working hard at making us [new teachers] feel welcome and grounded.”

Once orientation was through, Kaethler says, he was ready to jump with both feet into the classroom. Meeting students, establishing the classroom culture, and identifying the expectations of parents and students were his top priorities in those first few weeks. From there, he says, he focused on understanding IB culture and settled into the new campus. We’re grateful. 

Rediscovering Teaching

As a teenager, Kaethler spent seven summers as a camp counsellor, and discovered his appreciation for working with kids and for nature. “I always knew teaching would be a possible career direction. But I was stubborn and thought it was too obvious a choice. I wanted more life experience,” says Kaethler. He spent some time working in non-profits for environmental advocacy, worked in grant facilitation at the BC Centre for Disease Control, and then started considering potential career paths.

“I loved working with people, and knew I wanted to have an impact, so I thought back to earlier ideas of becoming a teacher, and haven’t looked back.”

A Focus on the Middle Years

Kaethler, a Middle Years Programme (MYP) teacher, sees Science as a lens through which to view the world. Since the MYP curriculum focuses on academic challenge and life skills, it’s a perfect fit for nature enthusiast Kaethler.

“I’m grateful for the chance to work with kids and instil an appreciation for nature in my students. I appreciate that Aspengrove is out in the woods. For every one of my courses, I’ve had the chance to take the students outside for a walk to explore nature.” This kind of engagement helps students develop their own personal relationships with their community, another crucial attribute of MYP.

Getting to Know Aspengrove Culture

When he first arrived at Aspengrove, Kaethler could immediately sense that the students knew each other really well — not only within grades, but between grades as well. He credits Friday exploratory afternoons, our robust buddy system, and intentional efforts by teaching staff for facilitating that tight community.

When asked what he likes most about Aspengrove, Kaethler highlights the willingness of his students to collaborate on their learning journeys, by taking suggestions from teachers and fellow students and by tackling multi-disciplinary projects.

“Students here are keen to try any wild activities that we throw at them,” laughs Kaethler, citing his students’ recent bottle rockets projects as just one example. We look forward to many more! 

If you’re interested in meeting our staff, or in learning more about the middle years program, we welcome you to get in touch.

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