Our Staff

Freedom Thinkers Education believes that the quality and dedication of the educational team is of paramount importance to the success of EVERY child in our school. For those reasons, we staff our school with outstanding educators that continue to be learners themselves. 
Sandra Cushway

As the founder and Principal educator of Freedom Thinkers Education school, I am passionate about education for all and constantly strive to improve learning opportunities for myself and others. One of the challenges I enjoy about teaching is changing reluctant learners into passionate learners.  

 

I grew up on a ranch in a small rural community about 100 miles North of Fort St. John called Pink Mountain (population approximately 30). My first years of schooling were shared between correspondence and a small one-room multi-age rural school that contained the grades K-8. This setting felt more like a family than a school and is one of the environmental factors that I am able to create in a multi-age setting. Moving into “town” and boarding with friends on a farm for the second semester of grade 11 and grade 12 provided me the opportunity to graduate from North Peace Secondary School. Following Grade 12, I registered in our local AHCOTE (Alaska Highway Consortium of Teacher Education) program in Fort St. John resulting in a Bachelor of Education from Simon Fraser University. Many years later, I took my Masters of Education in Curriculum Design from UNBC in Prince George. I was a classroom teacher for close to 25 years in Peace River North (School District #60) and started my teaching career in several small rural schools, eventually joining the Baldonnel staff where I taught for 18 years. I have had the opportunity to teach every grade from Kindergarten to Grade 10 over the years and with the exception of 2 of these years, the classes have all been multi-age classrooms. I believe in teaching and learning skills through projects and individual interests and love the “family feeling” of the multi-age classroom. I have completed math research, presented math topics in different places across Canada and co-written articles with my friend and colleague Carollee Norris. A passion and strength of mine includes building a safe and caring classroom setting. My dream is to teach all students in an environment where they feel safe to take risks and gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and passion for learning that I have. It is a rare occasion that I’m not taking some sort of course and can generally be found enjoying the outdoors, nature and gardening. I am a wife, a mother,  a dog trainer , and a strong advocate for educational change with a dedication to improving the educational system for all children.

Chris Cushway

My formal education ended and my working life started prior to the traditional Grade 12 graduation; however the experience of my early working life has brought me a personal wealth of knowledge and self assurance as I was engaged in learning the various aspects of a variety of jobs. These experiences included being a professional hunting guide, truck driver, crane operator, ticketed welder, wildlife contractor and construction worker. These positions ranged from labourer to foreman and were often seasonal work.

I have always had a deep love of art work, learning in general, and a curiosity about nature.  These things took up any leisure time I had.  My desire and willingness to pass this knowledge down to children brings me a personal sense of pleasure and joy on a daily basis as I interact and work with the students in our school.

I see Freedom Thinkers as a safe environment that gives all students a chance to succeed and build a belief that will allow them to continue on with whatever career path they may choose. The world is quickly changing which is why it’s imperative for children to gain confidence and a love of learning that will carry them through life to bring forward that “Can Do” spirit which is my personal goal in the work I do with children.

‚Äč

Marlene Miller

I  worked as an educator in School District #60 for 25 years. I am a mother to five daughters, grandmother to nine and a great grandmother to five. I love working with and watching children as they try new things and see their growth and accomplishments. It makes me proud to know I am part of this. I am looking forward to working with the team at Freedom Thinkers Education again this year.

Anathalie Wilson

Being part of the teaching profession for about 17 years has given me many opportunities to try various positions. My favorite was working as a learning assistance teacher, where I helped students strengthen their learning skills.

I moved here from Ottawa about 20 years ago. My husband and I have raised our three daughters here. We are a road tripping, dog loving, do life together kind of people. I am always looking for new and interesting things to learn and share. I am excited to be part of the Freedom Thinkers team again this year, and working with the students who attend.

Erica McNaughton

I grew up on the coast in the rainy (but beautiful) town of Prince Rupert, and have always loved school.  After high school, I spent a year abroad, and settled in Prince George for university, where I met my husband.  We moved to Fort St. John in 2006, and had our 3 children here. We initially came for only 5 years, but quickly fell in love with the community here.  When it was time for our children to start attending school, I realized an untapped passion for education, which inspired me in two ways: first, to home educate my own children, and second, to head back to university to get my teaching certificate and Degree in Education.  Now that I'm finished school (with a few years under my belt and two of my own children at Freedom Thinkers), I am so excited to join the staff in the truly great things they are doing for the lives of these lifelong learners.  I have seen the difference this model of education has made in my own children, and I am honoured to be part of it!

Bev Baker

My first teaching position was at Dr Kearney Middle School in SD#60, Peace River North and then I went on to teach Home Economics at North Peace Secondary School for 14 years.   I moved to an Elementary Counseling position after having completed my Masters of Education (School Counseling) at the University of Victoria.  As an elementary counselor, I was a part of the Special Ed department and had opportunity to work with our School Psychologist for several years and then transition to working with the district Learning Assistant teachers in a mentoring role.  I was also a District partner for POPFASD (Provincial Outreach Partner for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders).  I have continued to be a district trainer for FRIENDS, an anxiety prevention program for K-7 students.

 

I recently became a new member on the Board of Directors for the Child Development Center in Fort St John.

 

The students at Freedom Thinkers Education have a wide range of learning abilities/challenges and the opportunity for them to learn through a project based, student led approach is resulting in significant personal and academic growth for every student.  It’s exciting to be a part of this educational team.

Darla Jackson

I grew up on a farm in Rose Prairie, and have lived in this area my whole life. I have two sometimes amazing teenage children. I enjoy being active and playing sports, especially hockey. I have done a lot of coaching through school and in the community. I also love music, I have sang with my dad for many years and I am now just learning to play bass guitar. I worked at Upper Pine school for eight years. Working with young people is absolutely wonderful; it is rewarding to watch then grow, learn and build confidence. I am very excited to be part of the Freedom Thinkers team again this year.

Jill Stromsmoe

 I am a third generation resident of the Peace River area, a mother to two girls and a new grandmother. I have loved reading for as long as I can remember.  I believe reading opens not only our minds, but our hearts as well.  I am inspired by the power of the written word, and in awe of the ability a book has to transport the reader to a private place that is unique to each person’s imagination. I am thrilled to be joining the learning community at Freedom Thinkers Education for a second year and look forward to facilitating novel studies and learning with each and every student as they experience the wonderful world of books.  

Shanna Billey

My name is Shanna Billey. I was raised in the Fort St John area and raised a family here as well. I received my Early Childhood Education from Northern Lights College in 2005 and worked at Totem Preschool for 14 years.  Being involved in a child's learning is important to me because I am passionate about children developing positive self esteem and confidence. If a child has a good sense of self, other developmental areas will flourish.  Freedom Thinkers Education feels like the perfect fit for me and I look forward to the many years ahead. Thank you for the opportunity to teach, grow and learn with your children. 

Joanna Esau

I was born and raised in Hudson’s Hope, BC and moved to Fort St. John in 1992. I completed the AHCOTE program at Northern Lights College in 1997 and received my standard teaching certificate.  My husband and I have four wonderful children and, shortly after our second one was born, we made the decision for me to become a stay at home mom.  When my kids were older, I went back to work as an Educational Assistant at Duncan Cran Elementary School.  I love that I have had the opportunity to work as a teacher and an EA because it has enabled me to view the classroom from two different perspectives.  When I’m not in the classroom, you can find me outdoors, with my dogs, either running or hiking. Our family loves to travel and adventure together and we all enjoy time outside. I am so excited to be part of the team at Freedom Thinkers this year and know that, together, we will all become life long learners. 

Lorraine Walker

I am a mother of three children and a grandma to three as well. I grew up in Taylor, BC and raised my children there. My career began at Taylor Elementary School where I was an Educational Assistant (EA) for 23 years. I held various positions as an EA from working as the Learning Assistant aide, to running the Fastforword program. I also worked with many individual students supporting them in the classroom. I am pleased to be at Freedom Thinkers Education (FTE) for another year and really enjoy being part of the staff and school academy.

 

© 2019 Freedom Thinkers Education School