Rimma Goodfellow is a Kindergarten teacher at OLOS and has been working there since 2001.
“I’ve held a number of positions at the school, which include learning support teacher, librarian, Early Learning Program teacher, and Grade 1 teacher,” Goodfellow said. “I continue to enjoy teaching, (although less so during a pandemic), because five year olds are hilarious.”
She also appreciates the positive impact she feels she can make in the lives of children.
“It may not be immediate, but there is immense satisfaction in looking back over the course of the school year and realizing how much some of your students have learned, grown and blossomed,” Goodfellow said.
The most memorable event was the grand opening of the new school building in 2009, she said.
“I will never forget welcoming students back after Christmas break and watching their faces as they walked through the halls of the beautiful new school,” she said.
Goodfellow is originally from Rosemere, a suburban town north of Montreal.
“My husband Trevor and I left Quebec for teaching positions on the northern coast of BC and spent a decade in Prince Rupert,” Goodfellow said. “After we were sufficiently soggy, the mountains and lifestyle lured us to Canmore and we have lived here for just over 20 years.”
They love Canmore and feel fortunate to live in the community, she said.
“My family includes Trevor, three adult children, two of their spouses, one dog (we lost two in the recent past), two cats, two rabbits and a lizard named Lieutenant Commander Worf.”
They enjoy cross-country skiing, kayaking and biking, she said.
“We volunteer with the Canmore Folk Music Festival every year, and run our local children’s theatre group, the Rogue Players,” Goodfellow said.
During non-pandemic years, she has a number of critters living in her classroom.
“Notably our current bunnies Poppet and Squidge,” Goodfellow said. “In the past, I’ve also had hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, fish, frogs, spiders, a Uromastyx lizard and a bearded dragon.”
She lets eggs hatch in the classroom every year or two, producing chickens, ducks or quail that occupy real estate in her class until they move to the farm.
“I have a deep love of living creatures and the lost and injured often seem to find us,” Goodfellow said. “We have good friends who operate a wildlife rehabilitation shelter in Prince Rupert and I have learned a little bit about injured wildlife car from them.”
She also has connections to an Alberta rescue centre in the Red Deer area and she’s transported birds to them for rehabilitation.
“At school, I’ve gained somewhat of a reputation for saving animals and on numerous occasions students have shown up at the door to my classroom with injured or orphaned birds or small critters in boxes,” Goodfellow said. “The children then return for updates on a daily basis until the animal has been released or gone in to care.”
The pandemic has made it a difficult year and a half for Goodfellow and her colleagues, she said.
“Besides having to teach and interact with students and staff with masks and or visors on, we’ve all had to rearrange our classrooms to try and maximize the space between students,” Goodfellow said. “We have to make sure that the children sanitize or wash their hands frequently and we sanitize surfaces at every given opportunity.”
They have also had to make seating plans to avoid exposure to the virus.
“That doesn’t even begin to cover the extra planning for online learning, the worry that students will fall behind and the fear that we could be out of school for weeks or months at a time without adequate time to prepare for the children to be online,” Goodfellow said. “There is also sadness at knowing that your students are missing out on school events such as performances, assemblies, dances and grad, as well as sports teams and extracurricular activities.”
“As much as my students and their families have taken online learning in stride, it is really not the same as seeing my students in person every weekday,” Goodfellow said. “The joy of teaching and connecting with the children has been all but lost. Now that a large number of people have been vaccinated, I am hoping that the next school year will look a lot different and that life in and out of the classroom will return to as close to normal as possible.”