Alva Holliday - Principal; English, Senior Options
Being the Principal of West Country Outreach School is incredibly rewarding. Our school prides itself on offering an excellent educational environment within the richness of relationships and a sense of 'family'. Our mission/vision statement is "To instill hope and inspire success for all learners". We invest our time and hearts into every student at WCO.
After obtaining my Bachelor of Education, I taught in both Alberta and Nunavut before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology; Native Studies) and a Master of Education in Leadership. Every day, I am thankful that my path led me to Rimbey and this incredible group of students, educators, and families.
I enjoy travel - locally, nationally, and internationally! My summers are usually spent in the Yukon, hiking, and sightseeing with family and my wee dog, Scout. People who know me well would describe me as someone who loves a strong cup of coffee, great conversation, and laughter – especially if those 3 things go together with a student or colleague, or friend. Those same people would say, "Alva loves her work, and is proud of the school." They would be right. I do, and I am.
Kim Beierbach - Administrative Assistant
I have been the Administrative Assistant at West Country Outreach since September 2013. Every year I enjoy getting to know the students and staff better, it truly is like a second family.
My husband and I grew up in Rimbey and stayed here to raise our family. Our children, the lights of my life, are now both adults and pursuing their post-secondary education and I couldn't be more proud.
When I'm not at work, I enjoy traveling, reading a good book, camping, spending time with my family, enjoying live music, and socializing with my friends.
"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."
Sam Chartrand - School Social Worker
Natalya Agafonov - Senior Math, CALM
Marg Brookwell - Junior High Math & Science, Senior Science
Hello! My name is Marg Brookwell, and I teach JH Math and Science, HS Biology, and Grade 10 Math at West Country Outreach. I feel fortunate to work with the talented and experienced team here at WCOS, and to continue learning and developing as a professional educator in Wolf Creek School Division.
I have worked in various locations in Wolf Creek, and each school was a unique community that allowed me to develop my skills in teaching various grades and subjects. The main theme of my teaching career has been “change”, as I have experienced overhauls of curriculum, new technologies, and increasing mental health needs in our schools. Every change has required me to learn new methods, tools, and skillsets, so I can meet the needs of each new cohort of students. Fortunately, being a lifelong learner is my favorite thing about being a teacher.
In my home life, I am a mom of two grown daughters and share my home with my large German shepherd, Lily. I enjoy walking with my dog, reading, crafting, and learning new things. I love traveling and visiting museums wherever I go.
Shelley Dyrland - Senior Science, Work Experience, Dual Credit
This is now my eleventh year at West Country Outreach!! Wow – where has the time gone? This year I am teaching General Science, Chemistry, and Physics, as well as being the Off-Campus Coordinator. Within the Off-Campus role, I oversee Work Experience, Green Certificate, Dual Credit, and Apprenticeship Training.
Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with my family, which includes 3 adult children, that all still live close to us. My husband and I celebrated 30 years of marriage this year and spent most of the summer hiking and chasing after big and beautiful waterfalls. I also enjoy riding horses – something that I have been blessed to be able to do since before I could walk. For most of my life, I have been active in rodeo and western riding. For the past year, I have been challenging myself with learning to do English Riding and learning to jump. This definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone and has helped me learn to trust in my coach and my horse.
I love the challenge that doing new things brings – and the reward I feel when I accomplish “hard” things. Challenging myself is a great way to remind me of how my students feel – and a lifelong skill I feel is critical to the experience. One of my favorite quotes is “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway” by the timeless cowboy John Wayne. He doesn’t discount the feeling of fear – this is a real experience and a very real emotion. I love how this quote encourages us to realize that some things are more important than being scared. It encourages us to push through the fear and helps us realize that within the challenges we can expand our experiences and gain confidence in our ability to achieve! Here’s to a year of pushing through our fears, climbing those proverbial mountains, and becoming the best version of ourselves!!
Melissa Marois - Senior English
SIX Things you may not know about me:
1. I once skydived over the Shuswap Lake in Salmon Arm. It was less terrifying than I hyped it up to be in my mind. My legs would certainly turn to jello if I were to attempt it again though!
2. My pet peeves are reminders that the little things matter; incorrect apostrophe usage and time left on the microwave just get to me.
3. I love celebrating holidays. This is certainly connected to the tiny toddlers in my life! I love seeing the magic fill their eyes.
4. I have been married for eleven years. It felt a little disappointing to celebrate both a 30th birthday milestone and a 10-year anniversary milestone at home, in a pandemic but, alas, proper celebrations are to come!
5. I’ve recently started getting back into writing poetry and I have convinced my mother-in-law to illustrate a children’s book I have written. Creativity is my jam!
6. If I could be any animal I would be an octopus! I love the ocean and it would be fascinating to have the same skills as this unique creature.
David Robertson - Junior Social Studies & English, Senior Social Studies, PE, Aboriginal Studies
If I ever slip into my Scottish accent, please understand that I come by that very honestly. My parents were both born in the Glasgow area, and my dad still sounds like he left Scotland yesterday. I was born in Dover, England, and lived there until just shy of my third birthday when my parents moved to Nanaimo, BC. My little brother (also a teacher) was born a couple of years later, rounding out the Robertsons. I grew up in a small Vancouver Island town called Nanoose Bay, graduating high school at Ballenas Secondary in Parksville. After many years of university that had me studying at Malaspina College, UVIC, and Simon Fraser, I became a certified teacher.
I will never forget my first subbing job in Campbell River, BC. It was Halloween Day, and I was in the Drama room. Chaos ensued. In my first three years teaching I taught Math, Drama, SS, Science, and French, took a couple of turns as Santa, and once supervised an entire school dance in an Easter Bunny costume.
I moved to Alberta in 1998, where I taught grades 3-5 at Zama City School. The following year I was hired as the principal in Zama, and taught grades 4-7 with 9 students. That was an eye-opening experience that helped prepare me for what was to come. After that year, I taught at a predominantly Mennonite school in a community called Blue Hills. While there I had my first experience driving on an ice bridge. There are things people are meant to do, and that is NOT one of them. In 2001, I started working at Rimbey Junior-Senior High School, where I stayed for 4 years. And in 2005 I moved to West Country Outreach School. I feel like everything I’ve learned throughout my career about working with kids, adjusting to the student’s needs, and meeting people where THEY are at, is finally serving me and the community perfectly. I love our little school, and the thought of being anywhere else pains me.
Outside of school, I have three wonderful children who fill my life with love and joy. We enjoy reading together, going to movies, Broadway theatre, baking, Shakespeare in the park, concerts, and anything that makes us laugh. Top of our list though is a love of reading. We keep the town library hopping with all of our requests and will share our favourite reads with one another. We can spend hours in Chapters just wandering.
For fun, I enjoy soccer, baseball, travel, and listening to my records or CDs. There is always music playing in my house.