“I was a teacher and director at my own nursing college in India and my husband was a doctor running a 50-bed hospital. It was difficult to leave everything, move to Canada and start from the beginning. But we did it for our kids and their future.”
When Simarjit Saini said goodbye to her life in India, she faced a lot of change, much of it, very challenging. She liked her life in India. With a Bachelor of Education, Simarjit was always drawn to academics. Before joining her husband as an instructor at the nursing college they owned, she taught grade eight and nine students in Mumbai.
Simarjit’s passion for education is deep. She believes in education and what it can do for people. “The nursing college and my husband’s hospital were in Amritsar, a city in Punjab. We wanted to help girls study and have bright futures, so we offered scholarships for the college.”
Simarjit and her husband hoped that one of their children might become a doctor and run the hospital but they wanted their children to make their own decisions. “We didn’t want to force them into anything. They needed to choose for themselves. But in Punjab, there was no future to go further.” With that, Simarjit and her family decided to chase new beginnings.
Simarjit and her family spent three months in Abbotsford then moved to Calgary. Here, Simarjit’s education was evaluated and she obtained her Early Childhood Education certificate. But she was homesick and missed the life they had built for themselves in India. “I worked in a daycare for one year but the weather didn’t suit me. It was so cold and I was often sick. At first, I cried to go back. I’d say to my husband, ‘Let’s go home.’ But now, this is my home.”
A year later, Simarjit and her family returned to the west coast where the weather isn’t quite so cold and the winds aren’t quite so strong. Here, they built a life for themselves and they built a home.
Simarjit found employment at BrightPath Early Learning and Childcare Centre. “I love the kids. They give me hugs and tell me they love me. They make me so happy.” For those who know Simarjit, it’s no surprise she excelled as an Early Childhood Educator. She gives everything her best effort. “Whatever I do, I do it with my heart.”
This is what prompted Simarjit to enrol in Stenberg College’s Early Childhood Education Post-Basic diploma. After working with children at the daycare with specialized needs, Simarjit realized there was a gap in her knowledge. Though she found a natural knack for success, she knew additional education was what she needed to best support the children. “I had a couple of special needs kids in my class and I didn’t have technical knowledge on what to do.”
“I found they were naturally attracted to me because I was willing to give them my time,” Simarjit continued. “I played with them, sat with them. At Stenberg, I learned what I was doing right and what to do better.”
Simarjit recalls one of her favourite lessons, a technique called scaffolding. She learned that children do not benefit from being told to stop. “I don’t say, ‘Stop, you’re not being good!’ We guide and redirect them. Instead of stopping, I help the kids see something else and move to a different activity.”
Simarjit took advantage of being a student again, soaking up every drop of knowledge the program had to offer. This didn’t go unnoticed by her employer. Sharon Pauwels, Director of BrightPath, explains, “Simarjit works hard to get to know each child, their likes and dislikes, their strengths, interests, and developmental profiles. She inspires children to take risks to encourage growth and takes pride in their accomplishments, big or small.”
Loving what her education has given her, Simarjit plans to open a daycare for children with and without specialized needs. She has secured a space in Abbotsford with her husband and plans to be operational in early 2019.
Her children are also following a bright path. The eldest son is pursuing his education to become a dentist, and her younger son is enjoying being a 14-year-old. “From India to Canada, teaching is something I have come to know and love. Education is my passion and I want to share it in whatever way I can.”