North Vancouver School District
the natural place to learn©
May 29
Essential childcare program staff create smiles at school


Seymour Heights' custodian Ronald Hayes is ready to welcome back students. Photo Maria Spitale-Leisk

by Maria Spitale-Leisk, NVSD Communications

From creating Lego masterpieces and sock puppets, to perfecting their layups, to even indulging in some equine therapy, children of essential service workers have safely enjoyed being at school for the past two months.

The success of the North Vancouver School District’s emergent childcare program was possible thanks to dedicated staff who went the extra mile to keep kids happy and healthy at their respective schools.

Penny Gill, an education assistant normally assigned to Lynnmour Elementary, now has a second school family at Boundary Elementary, where she has made meaningful connections working with students and staff for the past eight weeks.

It has been a really positive experience, reports Gill, emphatically. 

“There’s been a TON of artwork done and whenever we had the opportunity, we took the kids outside for playtime, a walk in the forest or to down the block to see the horses,” says Gill.


Education assistant Penny Gill and her student see a pony during their walk around the block near Boundary Elementary. photo Maria Spitale-Leisk

Kilometre Club, a challenge Gill created for her students, resulted in physical literacy goals met and some amusing sibling rivalry – along with an unexpected fringe benefit.

“I started this as fun at school, and personally have never been much of a runner, but since this experience I am now training for my first five-kilometre run!” reveals Gill.

Penny Gill meets with her Kilometre Club members. Photo Maria Spitale-Leisk

Cleanliness is king at Boundary and the other school sites, where custodians have been giving a lot of extra attention to touchpoints and high traffic areas.

School district custodian Jason Villanueva sanitizes like clockwork.

“I concentrate on the main task which is sanitizing touchpoints and common areas,” explains Villanueva, who works at Boundary. “I do this routine almost every hour, and every time someone comes in from the front door.”

“Rest assured that we are doing our best to keep our school clean and safe for everybody,” adds Villanueva.


Boundary custodian Jason Villanueva cleans the boys’ bathroom. Photo Maria Spitale-Leisk

Meanwhile, over at Seymour Heights, custodian Ronald Hayes, who has also been working hard, is welcoming back students with a special message:

“I miss them, and I will enjoy seeing them again … because I always say ‘Hi’ to the kids that go to this school,” affirms a jovial Hayes.


District Early Learning principal Deb Wanner, who co-ordinated and oversaw the Essential Services Childcare Program, has high praise for NVSD staff who shifted from their regular assignments to deliver this valuable service.

“So many staff went above and beyond expectations and stepped up with compassion, creativity and great inspiration to make the childcare program interesting, engaging, educational and a great deal of fun for the students,” says Wanner.

The childcare program yielded positive benefits for families, students and staff in the North Vancouver School District.

Essential service workers were able to concentrate on keeping the community safe knowing their children were well looked after, while staff made connections with the students and forged new friendships with colleagues from across the school district.

“I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do this,” says Gill. “Now as we move into the next phase of reopening, I know the transition will be much easier and less anxious for me personally because of this experience.”




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