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Meet the Team: Sarah Lee, Language and Literature Teacher

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Why makes you want to be part of the GNS community?

Well, first and foremost, I know GNS exceptionally well because I have two children in the school, and they love it here. I also love to be a part of this small community and get to meet new students and know their personal stories. 

How does it feel to be teaching at GNS? What were your impressions?

My first impression is the students are very enthusiastic. They are willing to participate in groups and activities. They enjoy writing, and most of them are into reading. And everybody’s very friendly. So, for example, students are happy to help and point you in the right direction when you’re finding your way to one of the many libraries.

What are some of your interests outside of school?

I love to ski, that’s one of my main hobbies, and I try to do that as much as possible in the winter. In the summer I like to go for long walks like the beach. Occasionally, I’d like to bake, though not always successfully.

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

I’ve taught in different schools in many different countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Vancouver and now Victoria. So I feel like I am coming to GNS with a lot of experience that I hope to offer the students. Also, secretly, I love to eat lots of chocolate.

Favourite book you would recommend?

Love in the Time of Cholera, but I love anything by Gabrielle Garcia Marquez. I love to read plays. There’s a great book I recently read called Washington Black. I also really enjoyed reading a novel called “The Sympathizer,” which I read in the summer. The novel is about a Vietnamese traitor who is a double agent for both the states and Vietnam during the Vietnamese war. I would definitely recommend those for Grades 11 and 12. I also love to read poetry, especially by Haruki Murakami, who is a really famous Japanese author who wrote the elephant vanishes. I also love this author named Banana Yoshimoto. 

Do you have any role models that you look up to, and why?

I have a lot of different role models, but one of my many role models is Nelson Mandela. I think he was an exceptionally great man who suffered under apartheid. Although he had as many faults as most people, he showed a kind of greatness, courage, and leadership that I had never felt before. That’s why I believe Nelson Mandela is my hero.

What is one piece of advice you would give students that would like to pursue a career in liberal arts?

Right now, it almost feels like taking liberal arts isn’t the right path because our world seems to be dominated by the urgency for science, technology, mathematics and business. But what liberal arts give you is the opportunity for personal self-expression and understanding of world problems such as the climate crisis and the current wars that are going on. Liberal arts gives us the opportunity to be ourselves, see different perspectives, and unite us to work together.

We all know that IB English is challenging. What do you think is the most important attribute for a student to be successful in this course?

In English, you’ve got to be tenacious. You might not always love the articles you’re reading or the text you’re studying. But you always got to give things a try. Also, you’ve got to be tenacious in realizing that sometimes when you write, you can write a brilliant piece of work, but it’s also okay to not get things right and to always voice your opinion. I want people to enjoy themselves and get the opportunity to give things a go, to try their best. And that’s the Mark of a good student, specifically in English, to not worry about having the right answer, but focus more on what they think and to make sure what they think is actually grounded in the text.

How did you know teaching was the right path for you?

I didn’t. I thought of going into journalism. I thought about possibly going into different field of studies, but during high school, I did a lot of tutoring, specifically with younger students and into university as well. And I realized my passion was working with young people and seeing their potential. I think students at GNS have an opportunity to make incredible changes in the world, given in our privilege. And that I hope to be part of that kind of their journey. I hope what we’ve done in the classroom or the relationships we build in class will last a lifetime.

Thank you Ms. Lee for your time. It was a pleasure to interview you!