Trained as an artist, Philippa Glossop never imagined a career as an educator. However, a request from a neighbour to teach her daughter to draw changed all that. From that moment, Philippa found joy and purpose in teaching. Filled with inspiration, Philippa transitioned her art studio into an after-school program. “I wanted to make a difference in the world,” she says with certainty.
As the French artist, Henri Matisse, once said, “Another word for creativity is courage.” Through her art classes, Philippa inspires her young students to find the courage to express themselves. She is devoted to teaching children of all abilities. So much more than an activity, Philippa believes art is a form of learning and personal development.
Central to her philosophy of teaching, Philippa encourages creative freedom in her students. A parent agrees, “Philippa makes my kids feel at ease. There’s no right or wrong. She’s attentive to different personalities and needs, and every student feels noticed.”
Back to school
The after-school and weekend nature of Philippa’s art classes took her precious time away from her own children. Seeking to align their schedules, Philippa started working in a high school. “I wanted to be home when my children were there, without sacrificing my passion for teaching.”
For ten years, Philippa taught art in elementary and high schools. “It was challenging but I loved it. I had a purpose and wanted my students to enjoy learning.” Recognizing her vast teaching experience combined with a Master of Education, the school principal asked Philippa to become a resource teacher, supporting students with diverse learning needs.
In spite of her experience, education and qualifications, she did not feel adequately prepared in her role. Something was missing. “To better support my students, I wanted to pursue a rigorous and practical Education Assistant (EA) Diploma,” she explained.
Perfecting her craft
Philippa first heard of Stenberg’s EA program while struggling to support one of her students. She had reached out to Dr. Kenneth Cole, Ph.D., R.Psych., from the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism & Related Disorders (POPARD). “I tried the conventional ways of supporting my student but it didn’t work. I asked Dr. Ken for help and was blown away by his knowledge. Together, we built a program around my students’ needs.” Inspired by Dr. Ken, Philippa chose Stenberg College’s EA program when she learned that he taught in it.
Though Philippa preferred in-class delivery, she wanted to keep her art studio afloat, and chose online delivery. “I wasn’t sure if distance learning was for me but once I was online, there were so many opportunities to collaborate. It meant a lot that I could continue to run my studio for the students. They inspire me every day.”
Philippa’s passion for teaching aligns with her community values. “I understand there’s a need for teaching with care. This is a part of community service.” As a child, Philippa’s personal experience with teachers wasn’t positive. “When I think about the teachers I had, there isn’t one that jumps out. I feel sad that I didn’t have a teacher who looked out for me. I’m now able to do that for my students.”
Making a difference
Philippa is the type of teacher you would want as a curious child. She doesn’t restrict her students. Passionately, she says, “I brainstorm creative ways to help my students understand concepts. I don’t tell them, ‘Okay, the sun goes here, the barn goes here.’ I do my best to make learning enjoyable through something they love.”
Communication is critical for Education Assistants. Philippa uses art to facilitate and improve interaction. “I weave together all of my knowledge and experience with art. Visuals are a fantastic way to understand what children are thinking. In this way, I can help my students communicate their ideas with confidence.”
As a life-long learner, Philippa’s journey won’t end here. She believes that as an Education Assistant, she will continuously strengthen her skillset through hands-on experience. In turn, it will allow her to provide an enriching curriculum for her students. She now feels prepared to provide the support her students deserve. She is making a difference.