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Teacher Tuesday: Urban Farming, French and Outdoor Education

Welcome everyone to this week’s Teacher Tuesday! We will be highlighting two very important members of our team. At The Clover School, we are so proud that in addition to Montessori fundamentals, our signature Clover School curriculum features unique programming elements to create a purpose-filled pedagogy that children love. These include French, Outdoor Education and Urban Farming. We would like to introduce you to Ms. Vesna Bosnar, who is our Urban Farming Specialist, and Ms. Alejandra Aguilera, who is our Outdoor Education and French Specialist. We are excited to share with you more about these incredible educators and the enriching and engaging programs that they run! Their classes are favourites amongst our students and we are thrilled to offer these rewarding learning opportunities.

Ms. Vesna Bosnar
Our Urban Farming Specialist, Ms. Vesna Bosnar

Each of our schools are equipped with an on campus Edible Lab, managed and maintained by the students themselves under the guidance of our full time resident Urban Farming Specialist, Ms. Vesna Bosnar. The Urban Farm expands on our science curriculum, exposing children to a variety of interconnected learning opportunities; from cooking to nutrition and more. This fosters environmental and food source awareness while also providing a small business education. Students gain a sense of purpose as they work together to achieve their goals with tangible results. Ms. Vesna, as she is affectionately known as to her students, teaches students of all ages at our Midtown Junior and Elementary Campuses, as well as our new High Park Campus. For this school year, she is teaching our Primary to Middle School levels and preparing gardening lessons for classroom teachers to deliver to their classes for our Toddler and Pre-Primary communities.

Ms. Vesna has been with The Clover School for many years and she loves how the Montessori method allows for hands on exploration. Through her gardening lessons, she is able to impact the lives of her students in a positive and meaningful way. Her mission is to bring knowledge and passion about how food is planted, nurtured, harvested and prepared through an inquiry based gardening program. She strives to help develop the next generation of empowered, awakened children by giving them the skills and confidence to make a better world. Ms. Vesna shares with her students her passion for and belief in vegetable and herb gardening as a means to connect more deeply to the food that nourishes ourselves, our families and our communities.

Ms. Vesna is an architect by training and practiced for 10 years, but has spent the last seven years sharing her love for food and the outdoors with children. Many of our families joke that their children won’t eat a single vegetable at home, but when they are at school in Ms. Vesna’s class they will happily nibble on fresh kale from the garden! Her passion for healthy, wholesome ingredients inspires even the pickiest of eaters to sample! Our students truly receive a farm to table experience during their gardening lessons.

When she isn’t tending to the Clover gardens, Ms. Vesna is busy at home with her two daughters – 12 and 7 years old. She loves to go on long walks through her neighbourhood and explore the ravines near her home. Also, as expected, she is always finding ways to get her hands into the dirt as often as possible. She has a garden at home as well as grows microgreens and herbs inside her home.

She is a coffee enthusiast and loves nothing more than starting her day bright and early enjoying a cup during the quiet morning hours. Her favourite season is spring because it’s the beginning of gardening season and everything blossoms back to life after a long and cold winter. Her bucket list travel destination is to go to a biodynamic farm in Italy for an extended stay where she would be able to learn about their culture and traditions. Her favourite colour is purple and a fun fact is that she is actually a twin!

Ms. Vesna has been able to quickly adapt, modify and pivot her program as needed to ensure that our students are receiving their Urban Farming education whether it be in person or through a virtual learning model. When she is in the classroom or in our outdoor gardens with our students, they are able to plant seeds, transplant seedlings, steward the school gardens, create and use composting as well as harvest, prepare and cook the vegetables and herbs. Through our Clover at Home virtual learning platform, our students received online gardening lessons online which gave them the opportunity to grow plants in their own homes – Ms. Vesna encourages our families to allow their children to explore growing in the family backyard, on a balcony or in a windowsill. Clover at Home provided Ms. Vesna with the opportunity to answer any questions that arose or troubleshoot any challenges students may have face with growing herbs or vegetables at home.

Ms. Vesna’s gardening lessons are always a favourite time of the week for many of our students. They love harvesting their home grown produce, trying lots of new foods and getting their hands into the soil and getting dirty! We are so proud at The Clover School to be able to offer this incredible learning opportunity to our students at all levels. It is an integral part of our signature Clover curriculum.

Ms. Alejandra Aguilera
Our Outdoor Education and French Specialist, Ms. Alejandra Aguilera

Ms. Alejandra Aguilera is our Outdoor Education and French Specialist and teaches at both our Midtown Junior and Elementary Campuses. Ms. Aguilera has a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from York University and Bachelors of Education specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Learning from Queen’s University. This is her second school year with The Clover School and she loves that we are small school and a tight knit community. The students at each campus know one another, regardless of being in different classes, and she is eager to when we are safely able to have our classes interact with one another for a wide array of activities, as we have in previous years.

Ms. Aguilera teaches French to all students from the Primary to Middle School levels. Her French classes are engaging and she strives to make them relatable to daily life. Her lesson are based upon vocabulary students would use and incorporate into their daily lives integrated with drama, arts and creative expression.

Ms. Aguilera also teaches our Outdoor Education Program for all of our Elementary Students from grades 1 to 8. Her favourite part of working on our Clover team is that we offer Outdoor Education to our Elementary students. At The Clover School, we believe that a connectedness to nature and the physical world around us is essential to our wellbeing. Outdoor Education offers children the chance to cultivate real world skills, understand our deeply rooted interdependence with nature, receive immediate feedback from the elements, build confidence and resilience, and act as proud stewards of the environment. We offer experiential outdoor learning, through year round nature days where students and teachers, led by Ms. Aguilera, venture out to local sites for collaborative, adventure based programming.

Ms. Aguilera believes that being able to be outside once a week for half a day and to experience learning in this way are very unique, rewarding and important experiences for the students. Her program allows students to explore what nature means to them, learn about the environment through cooperative games and individual self reflection. Students put themselves in the shoes of many different animals and learn what it’s like to live in the wilderness – by building shelters, understanding the relationship between predators and prey and learning about seasonal food selection

When she is not exploring Earl Bales Park with our students or teaching them to conjugate verbs en français, she loves to cook, hike, play tennis, go for long walks and macramé. She is very family oriented and close to her mother, father and sister. Her parents are from Uruguay. When it is safe to do so, they love to have big parties and celebrate with their entire extended family and they are looking forward to when they are able to do this again (fingers crossed hopefully soon!). Ms. Aguilera’s favourite animal is a dog and she has a pet poodle named Perlita. She is now 14 years old. During a trip fourteen years ago, her family adopted Perlita from Uruguay and brought her back to Canada – so Perlita also knows how to speak Spanish!

Ms. Aguilera loves sushi and she adores the colour green. When asked her favourite season of the year, she can’t choose because as an outdoor educator, she loves being outside despite the weather and loves every season for a different reason. Two of her bucket list travel destinations are Mexico and Italy. A fun fact about Ms. Aguilera is that she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 4 different provinces – Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Most recently, Ms. Aguilera has been supporting our students through our Clover At Home virtual learning platform. She has been using songs and games to engage and interact with her students online. Prior to the temporary transition to virtual learning, our Lower Elementary students were writing French poetry, our Upper Elementary students were writing monologues describing their favourite characters in the Harry Potter book series and our Middle School students were writing their own play entirely in French. Many of the classes were eager to continue working on these exciting projects and have worked on them with Ms. Aguilera during their online synchronous learning. They are very excited to be returning to in person learning on February 16th and to continue to work on them in their classrooms.

Ms. Aguilera’s classes are based on inquiry learning. She allows her students to share with her what they want to learn in French or what they want to explore during Outdoor Education. She listens to their feedback and suggestions and curates lesson plans that follows the curriculum while meeting students’ needs. She witnesses first hand how much students value playing a role choosing what they learn and having control over their education. Inquiry based learning creates more passion and independence and Ms. Aguilera looks forward to continuing to spark that excitement and drive to learn in her classroom.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know the dynamic Ms. Vesna Bosnar and the incredible Ms. Alejandra Aguilera and learning more about our Urban Farming, Outdoor Education and French Programs. Don’t forget to check back next week to meet our three amazing Vice Principals – Ms. Dawn Whitehead, Ms. Tracy Durisin and Ms. Amy Gataveckas. We can’t wait to highlight all the incredible work these amazing women are doing and to give you a glimpse into their respective campuses!