A Lighthearted Reflection
Samara Ridley-Thomas

After returning from teaching in England for several years, it was 1994 and my heart sank with the somber words I was hearing: “I regret to have to tell you this…but the school will not be able to open as planned due to a problem with the rental agreement for the school site. However, we very much hope that you will not lose hope and will be ready to go in September 1995.” I had turned down two other teaching offers that year because in my heart I knew that I wanted to be part of the small but incredibly determined team starting a brand-new school, full of such excitement and possibility, led by a dynamic and inspirational leader, Alan Brown. I felt connected to his vision of a “light hearted place with a serious purpose” and I agreed with his words “a world without children would be like a rice pudding without raisins - just plain intolerable.”

              Mrs. Ridley-Thomas with her very first class

And so, my journey began, from teaching in the basement of a rented church where innovation was not an option, to a modular unit set amidst farm fields with horses, gravel, and enough mud to keep any small child perfectly content for hours! One of my fondest early memories was “The Great Southridge Trek” held in October 1995, when all students and faculty enthusiastically walked together in the rain from the rented church in White Rock to the current location of the school. Cheers and shouts of joy were heard as parents eagerly served hot chocolate as the groups arrived at 160th Street. A second favorite memory is coaching the first senior cross-country team. I can picture the students running jubilantly through the surrounding empty lots and fields, jumping over the logs and swamps where Grandview Corners now stands. There was not a building to be seen…quite a change from today!

Over my 26 years at the school I feel privileged to have worn a few different “caps”, including teaching Kindergarten, Grades One and Two, working as Learning Resource Teacher for K-Grade 7, mentoring teacher candidates, coaching track and field and cross-country running, organizing the Sun Run team, and establishing a connection between the Semiahmoo House Society and our very youngest learners. I was also part of a small team that organized and led the first outdoor education trips, including hiking, biking, canoeing, and camping expeditions to Whistler, Squamish, Golden Ears Park, the Powell Forest Canoe Route, and Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. I have always enjoyed helping to provide opportunities to encourage young people to spend time outdoors to gain an appreciation of the natural world.

The time has flown by and I will cherish the memories of wonderful colleagues and supportive parents. I value the many professional endeavors I completed due to support from the school administration, particularly the opportunity to be trained in Orton Gillingham techniques, which enables me to provide better support to bright students who need alternate teaching strategies to reach their potential.

Most of all, I will remember the many joyful students I encountered over the past 26 years who made me smile and want to come to work every single day.

I am now moving on to another exciting chapter in my journey with the knowledge that Southridge will always remain a very special place to me.

Contributed by Mrs. Ridley-Thomas, IB Junior School Teacher