Natasha joined Aspengrove in the fall of 2019, teaching social studies in our Middle Years Program. We recently sat down with Natasha to learn more about her journey into teaching and her preparation for competing for Canada at the Duathlon World Championships in 2021. And how she came to be known as “Queen P” at AGS:
Why did you choose teaching for your career?
I actually fell into teaching. I grew up in England and had recently completed my undergrad in Geography and Economics. I moved to Newcastle and needed a job! I was hired as a teaching assistant at a large Grade 7–13 school with over 2000 kids. I supported all grades and found I was actually good at it and loved it! So, thereafter I applied for the teacher education program and was accepted.
Tell us about teaching in England.
My first teaching job was at a large school in Newcastle. The school had lots of challenges, but I loved it. It’s where I developed my strict, but fun, teaching style. I then moved back to Somerset where I taught at a small IB school, similar to Aspengrove. I had then planned to teach in Southeast Asia, but I met my future husband and those plans changed.
Why did you move to Canada?
My husband, Henry, was transferred to Ottawa for his job. There we fell in love with Canada and decided to stay. It is also in Ottawa where I began to run and bike competitively.
What has your experience been at Aspengrove so far?
I felt immediately welcomed and embraced by my students and colleagues. Aspengrove feels like a family and I was able to build strong relationships quickly because of the small community. I felt that people truly want to get to know you. In teaching the IB program, I enjoy that there is flexibility within the curriculum to extend lessons that students are particularly interested in.
How did you get into competitive running & biking?
I am competitive by nature and grew up doing competitive horseback riding. When I moved to Ottawa, I befriended a woman who coaches high level duathletes (biking and running). I hadn’t previously run, swam, or biked in a serious capacity but I thought, “Why not try this?” So I started training with her, entered my first Sprint Triathlon and came 3rd in my age category. So, I did it again and came 1st! My students know I like to win, so that was definitely part of the motivation to continue.
What inspired you to pursue duathlon races?
I found I enjoyed both biking and running, but didn’t love the swimming part of triathlons. So, I decided to try my first duathlon in 2018. I kept winning the races in my age category and loved it! I like the competition aspect. But I also like the structure to training and staying healthy and fit. I enjoy pushing myself both physically and mentally, and achieving a personal best.
Tell us about qualifying for the Duathlon World Championships.
In the spring of 2019, I won my category in the BC Duathlon Championships in Penticton, so I qualified to compete for Canada in the Worlds in the Netherlands this fall. I am 1 of 5 women in my age category who will be representing Canada. Unfortunately, due to Covid the race has been postponed to 2021.
How does racing competitively inspire your teaching?
Exercise is so important to your physical and mental health. My hope is that I will inspire my students to participate in physical fitness and also to strive to do their best in everything they do.
What would your students say about you? What do you want them to take from your class?
I think they might say I’m obsessed with stickers and that I have some strange traits! But also that I’m strict and fun at the same time, and passionate about what I teach. I want them to understand that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate – it is something you can do throughout your lifetime.
And finally, Queen P? How did this nickname come to be?
Mr. Eriksson and I share a classroom and one day he referred to me as “Queen P” and it stuck! Perhaps it’s because of the English accent? My Grade 8 class actually made me a throne!
We host Open Houses on a regular basis so that you can see “Aspengrove in Action,” meet students and teachers and ask all the questions you’d like. Join us at our next Open House!