With every new year comes a new opportunity for each of us to do better not only for ourselves but for those around us and maybe even the greater good. When we had first heard about early childhood educator, Samantha P., and how she became one of Volkswagen Canada’s Volksgiving winners in 2021, we wanted to shine the light on her commitment to giving her students the best learning experience despite all the challenges of this current pandemic!
Samantha drives 120 km to and from work each day as a teacher to her kindergarten grade students. That meant a good three-hour commute daily in decent driving conditions AND if you’re from Toronto you know you can easily take on additional time with traffic.
She would start her days waking up at 5 am to not only avoid the inevitable rush hour traffic but to also give herself early morning pool time for a few laps to get in some exercise a few days a week. Other days she would work out at the gym in her apartment. “I had to leave home by no later than 6:45am to avoid getting stuck in too much traffic, ” said Samantha. “I would typically arrive at school between 8:15 and 8:30am, which left me enough time to get prepared for the day.”
The school day started for her at 9:10am and finished by 3:40am. Then, she would usually get back on the road to head back home by 4:00pm and the drive home would range from an hour and a half to two hours, depending on traffic. Although the driving sounds typical for Toronto and long, she tells us she would listen to music or audiobooks to make the time go by quicker. But she’s not complaining. “Even though I had an incredibly long commute, my students and coworkers made it more than worth it,” said Samantha.
As a teacher she know she can probably get work closer to home, but she tells us her students and the school community made the three hour commute worthwhile everyday. “My students are amazing, always excited to be at school. The school community also became my second family. The friends I made when working there are friends for life. Everyone is so supportive and works together to make a great school experience for every student. After the first year, I could have tried to find another teaching position at a closer school but the bond I made with the students and school kept me going back. I was able to teach the same students for multiple years in a row, which I believed was of great benefit to the students. Having consistency at school is so important and I couldn’t just leave them,” said Samantha.
Since Samantha was a little girl she knew she wanted to be a teacher, specifically a Kindergarten teacher. “Starting in elementary school I would volunteer in the kindergarten classrooms at recess time,” said Samantha. “I taught swimming lessons to young children as my high school job and then in University I would volunteer in Kindergarten classrooms when I did not have classes.”
“The growth you see in young students is incredibly inspiring. They are so curious about the world around them and it is amazing to be part of their learning.”
There are so many aspects of her work that she find rewarding. Samantha tells us she has a passion for making sure all students feel welcomed and comfortable in the classroom. “When I see students arriving at school excited to start the day, that alone is rewarding for me. When my students accomplish something new, seeing how proud they are of themselves is amazing. I remember one time a student wrote her name for the first time by herself and she was so excited. She showed every new person that came into the classroom. It warmed my heart to see how proud she was of herself!”
The Volksgiving recognition celebrates VW owners who’ve gone the extra distance to help their communities (Samantha has a Tiguan). They are about inclusivity and creating a sustainable future for everyone and Samantha mentioned that how that meant a lot to her.”I remember applying because the email I received asked, ‘do you drive the distance to do what you love.’ That really resonated with me because I truly love my job. Being a kindergarten teacher has been my dream since I was barely older than my students are today. I am honoured that Volksgiving recognized the impact teachers can make. This experience is something that I’ll remember and truly cherish for the rest of my life.”
Many of us know how challenging these past couple of years have been for teachers, parents, and kids. We asked Samantha if there was anything she wished her families to know at this time.
“I think the main wish I have for parents and families is that they know teachers are trying their best,” said Samantha. “We want the pandemic to be over so we can have all of our students safely back in the classroom learning and growing together. I also want parents to know that teachers understand how hard this has been on parents too and we want to work together to get through all of the difficult challenges.”
Teachers do get through the day with some positivity too from our kids. What’s that saying, “Kids say the darnest things?” So, what has she heard that made her laugh and smile?
“I have been asked this question before and I find it difficult to answer because every day a student says something that makes me laugh or smile. I really should write it all down because I’d love to be able to share those smiles and laughs with others. Kids love to give compliments, every day they say different things like ‘I love your hair, I love your skirt, I love your shoes’. They really can boost your confidence! Haha. I also love when students put their hand up in the middle of a lesson and instead of asking a question they say something like, ‘I will miss you this weekend,’ or ‘I love you!’” Those moments always warm my heart.”
You can find out more about about Samantha P. and the other Volksiving winners here.
To celebrate, Samantha P.’s Volksgiving recognition, we’re giving away a special Volkswagen Canada Prize Pack filled with goodies (valued at $150 Can)
You have FOUR (4) ways to enter!
- LIKE this post and leave a comment below telling us what your favourite subject was in school.
- Go to the official AuburnLane Facebook page, LIKE the official corresponding post and what your favourite subject was in school. Then, TAG a friend. (Tag as many friends as you like, but make them separate comments!)
- Go to the official AuburnLane Instagram page, LIKE the official corresponding post and tell us what your favourite subject in school was. Then, TAG a friend. (Tag as many friends as you like, but make them separate comments!) Bonus entry if you share the post to your Instastory! Make sure you tag us so we can see!
- Go to the official AuburnLane Twitter page, LIKE this corresponding post and RT.
Contest closes on February 28, 2021 at 12:00 pm noon EST.
*if you’re entering through our social media channels please make sure you’re following us so we can contact you if you’re a selected winner!
No purchase necessary to enter. There is one (1) Volkswagen prize pack (valued at $150 Can) available to be won consisting of various items for your driving commute. Contest is open to Canadian residents who have reached the age of majority in their province. Enter as often you like. Winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries. Winners will receive an e-mail or direct message from our administrative team that will include information to claim the prize. The prize must be accepted as awarded. AuburnLane.com and affiliated partners have the right to discontinue this contest at any time. AuburnLane.com and affiliated partners will never ask for any payment information in order to enter or claim any prizing.