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Meet the Team: Sarah Riddell, Teacher, Language & Literature

We learn a bit more about Ms. Riddell, who is in her second year at GNS. We talked about cross-country running, literature and why she became a teacher. 
What made you want to be part of the GNS community? 
I’ve taught IB Language and Literature for the past seven years, and I truly believe in the program. Our students are so inquisitive, open-minded and dedicated to both their academics and their co-curricular lives. I also really wanted to find a school that felt like a second home—a place where everyone works together to do our absolute best for the kids. GNS has that feeling for me. My colleagues are incredibly supportive, collaborative and, honestly, really fun to spend time with. The school has a constant ‘buzz’ of positive energy, and I see every day that the students genuinely feel connected and happy being here. It’s a pretty fantastic place to be part of. 

What are some of your interests outside of school? 
Lately, it feels like my life outside of school is mostly chasing my two-year-old daughter around! In pre- and hopefully post-COVID-19 life, I love to travel—experiencing new cultures and exploring new places is always such a privilege. Of course, I love to read, and I love being outdoors—hiking, long distance running and the beach. To me, Victoria is the perfect place to combine all these interest areas!

What is something most people don’t know about you? 
I’m actually a bit of an introvert outside of my professional life. I wrote my Master of Arts thesis on gender in Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Although my passion is literature, I actually love human biology and consider myself a secret science buff. 

Why did you want to become a teacher? 
To be totally honest, it felt like a very natural fit for me. When I was considering career paths, my Dad said something that really stuck with me—“you will touch more lives as a teacher than I ever will as a physician.” I think in some ways, this is true—we get to build relationships with our students during a foundational time in their lives, and we witness as they find their paths academically and in terms of their interest areas and areas of strength. For me, it’s really neat to watch them grow and develop into young citizens ready to take on the world in post-secondary. As an English teacher specifically, I really enjoy watching students fall in love with literature and realize that text—even poetry—can help shape the ways in which they view the world. 

What is your favourite part of your day? 
Professionally, my favourite part of any class is when the students get excited and start to run with a discussion prompt or a collaborative project and I just get to listen and ask a whole bunch of follow-up questions. At home, my favourite part of the day is definitely helping my daughter, Lily, get ready for bed. We read books, she tells me stories, and she often snuggles with me! 

Do you have a favorite piece of literature?
I couldn’t choose just one, but I absolutely love Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, and recently, Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air

Why did you want to be the cross-country coach? 
I ran cross-country in high school and university, and it’s the only sport that I’m good at. Also, it’s really fun to watch young runners improve—often dramatically—with a little bit of targeted training. 

What is your favourite thing about cross-country running? 
My absolute favourite kind of run is through our beautiful West Coast trails, enjoying nature, with great music or great conversation. You can kind of zone out and let your body and breath take over. For me, it’s a time to reflect and let my mind wander without trying to control my thoughts. I find it very calming and therapeutic.
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