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Meet the Team: Gina Sicotte, Arts teacher

This summer, Ms. Sicotte finished her Master of Art Education at the University of Victoria! Get to know a little more about her with this Q&A. 
1. How did you choose teaching as the right career path for you? 
I was a late bloomer in terms of a career path. I didn’t go to university until I was 28 years old. I took a ‘10-year’ gap year! I knew I wanted creativity in my life on a regular basis and I wanted to share my love of art making with young people so being an art teacher seemed to be the perfect fit.

2. What made you want to be part of the GNS community? 
I started as a one year contract in the Middle School but knew very quickly that I wanted to be a permanent teacher here. The faculty was impressive and caring. I sensed very quickly that the quality of education was high and I also wanted my daughters to be a part of this school. 

3. What is the best part about working at GNS?
Having my daughters at school with me is definitely a huge bonus but the best part about teaching here are the students. I am continually impressed at how friendly, kind, respectful and polite the kids are. They are all such nice human beings and I am so lucky to work with them.

4. What is something that most people don’t know about you? 
I have travelled by train, plane, bike and foot through 37 countries. I have been skydiving three times. I have attended a 10-day silent retreat in Thailand. I have lived in all the western Canadian provinces as well as Argentina and Trinidad and Tobago. I have seen the southern right whales in Patagonia. I persevered through a three-week trek in the Himalayas in Nepal. 

5. How was your journey on getting your Masters? 
The program was so well suited for me as there was an equal focus on studio practice and teaching practice. There was dedicated time throughout the program to work in a shared studio space at UVic, as well as deeply investigating teaching pedagogy in the visual arts. The journey was life changing as I began to discover who I was as an artist and educator and how my studio practice revealed these characteristics, but also influenced and changed the way I teach art. The work was challenging and time consuming but so relevant to what I wanted to learn. My biggest (yet simple) discovery was that we need to play more. Play with media, play with ideas, play with concepts, play to learn. The trick is that we need time and a place to play. My Masters gave me the place and time to explore and discover what’s needed in order to learn.

6. Tell us a bit about the book you wrote, The Art of Play. 
The book was the project portion of my thesis. My rationale for creating the book was simple, I wanted to share the joy of play through some of the visual art activities that inspired me. By creating the book, I also discovered new insights and more deeply understood play and its connections to learning. This book represents the perfect fusion between the artist and teacher in me. In many ways, the book is like a biography of my master's journey. Page after page became a concrete way for me to synthesize special moments from my creative and literary research through the past three years of my Masters. These moments influenced my teaching in authentic ways, which in turn, inspired me to share these playful experiences in a book but also with my students in the classroom.

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