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Meet the Team: Ms. Catherine Thijs

Meet the Team
Ms Catherine Thijs

Ms. Catherine Thijs has been part of our GNS community for over two years and is a valuable member of the Language and Literature department as well as a staff sponsor for our Senior School Round Square committee. 

What made you want to be part of the GNS community?

I’m originally from southern Alberta, but early in my career, I thought seriously about moving to Vancouver Island. This was in the late 80s; however, it was not to be. At some point, I heard about the International Baccalaureate Programme and became enthusiastic about a curriculum that was truly “international”—one that embraced views and voices from all corners of the globe. After teaching in the IB programme for just under a decade in Calgary, a part-time opportunity became available here at GNS. It was always a dream of mine to teach here one day and that dream came true for me in 2021!

How did you choose teaching as the right path for you?

I am incredibly lucky because I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was six years old. I just “knew it.”  In that way, it was a bit of a calling for me. I often tell my students that when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. I love teaching.

What are some of your interests outside of school?

My interests outside of school include reading and writing, (I’ve published poetry in several Canadian journals), yoga, live theatre, music, travel and trivia.

What is something most people don’t know about you? 

Most people don’t know that I once “busked” for a very brief period of time along with a friend of mine while we were on a summer road trip from Alberta to the island. This was back in the 80s in Gastown, an interesting part of Vancouver. I played the guitar, she played the tambourine, and we both sang. If I recall correctly, I think we made a whopping $30.

What do you like about living and working in Victoria?

I like working at GNS because the students are absolutely amazing, the faculty and staff care a lot about what they do, and the parents are incredibly supportive. I like being close to the ocean, walking the beaches, and exploring parts of the island I’ve never been to before. I like the fact that some flowers bloom here in January. I also like my fiance, Paul, a lot. I guess I must because we are getting married in February 2024!

What made you become an English teacher?

Stories. I get paid to talk about stories with young people. I also get to read their stories, which sometimes make me laugh and sometimes make me cry, and I get to read their essays where they discuss what they think about the stories that we read.  

Do you have a favorite piece of literature? What is it? Why?

I have favourite authors. William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, Alice Munro, Ernest Hemingway, Lorna Crozier, Anne Michaels, Michael Ondaatje, Chimamanda Adichie, Haruki Murakami, Tim O’Brien and Barbara Kingsolver are a few of my favourite authors—for all sorts of reasons that I could talk about all day.

Thank you, Ms. Thijs, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions, and for making your classes and clubs the highlight of your students’ day.

Ayden Kuo ’26 is a member of our Gryphon Life Media Club.