SMUS Teacher Feature: Ms. Sarah Beeston

sarah beeston

Ms. Sarah Beeston’s journey to SMUS (and back) has been a long and circuitous one. While originally born in Vancouver, her family moved to Vancouver Island and she began her schooling in Qualicum Beach. She jumped around independent schools starting in Grade 6, before landing at SMUS for her high school years. After graduation she headed abroad to travel and study French at a boarding school in France. She returned to Canada to complete a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American studies at Queen’s University, before travelling again. She earned her master’s degree at St. Andrews and hit the road once more to teach in Ecuador. After a bit more travel, she returned to Victoria to complete the PDP program at UVic (where she met her future husband, French teacher Mr. Gregor Klenz). They spent two years teaching in Mill Bay before coming down to Victoria to start a family. Mr. Klenz came to SMUS first as a Middle School librarian, before the entire family moved on campus to work in boarding. Sarah started teaching at SMUS in 2010.

This year, Sarah teaches French 9 and 10, and Business 10

Let’s get to know Ms. Beeston better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
French and Spanish, and PE. I have always been fascinated by other languages. When we were young, my sister and I used to pretend on planes that we could speak a different language. We would speak gobbledygook to try to fool stewardesses into thinking we were from another country. I was so desperate to speak another language! And PE because I liked exercising and playing sports. I played field hockey and I rode horses.

What was your first job?
Busing in a tea room when I was 13.

What do you do on a day off?
Right now I renovate – we’re moving on Saturday into a house we’ve been renovating. But normally, before these past two months, we enjoy time in the garden, going on hikes or big walks outside, running with friends, socializing and making good food.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
I’d like to visit more countries in Africa. I’ve travelled to, I think, 55 countries. I’ve only been to Egypt and Morocco in Africa, but there’s so much of that continent that I really want to see.

What’s one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I’d like to be self sufficient and run an urban farm. I’d also like to visit 100 countries – 45 more to go!

What did you do after high school?
I went to a boarding school in France for a year. I wanted to learn to speak French. It seemed like an adventure to me. I wasn’t concerned with academics, I was more concerned with meeting new people, learning the language and travelling.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
I had never thought about teaching, I wasn’t interested in teaching. But I wanted to travel after my master’s degree, and I met someone in a bar that I went to university with, a teacher, and he told me about a school in Ecuador that would hire me because I had a master’s. For my master’s, I studied international security and diplomatic service. I wanted to work in development work or with CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) doing security-type work. Within a week of teaching in Ecuador, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. All the energy in the classroom and the connections with kids – it was just a fun environment to be in.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
An equestrian show jumper; an Olympian.

When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
We ski a lot, and after having kids we would go up to Mount Washington with small kids and they’re either on a leash or you’re just going slow. One year, Gregor and I went to Whistler – just the two of us – and we just skied like hell for a couple days and didn’t look back. We came back feeling like rock stars; ten years younger.

What was the first concert you went to?
U2 in Vancouver when I was 13 or 14.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
One of the more challenging times in my life was getting ready for our family sabbatical in 2014-15. It was many, many years in the making with financial sacrifices, and lots of planning for the kids’ education on the road, and getting ready to go, but it ended up being a magical experience. We were in France, Italy, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, England, Spain and Morocco, backpacking as a family of five budget travellers. The kids came back so flexible. They saw that nothing was a big deal if we’re all together and home is wherever we are.

What is one thing you can’t live without?
I can’t just choose one: family, girlfriends, wine, tea, running, nature, travelling, gardening.

What movie have you watched the most in your life?
Christmas Vacation. Growing up in my family, it was our Christmas Eve tradition.

Have you ever won anything?
I won lots of horse shows. And in Grade 12 the Senior girls field hockey team won provincials!

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
Our classes would go to Rathtrevor Beach every June for a year-end trip outside.

Do you collect anything?
Heirloom seeds for the garden. And musical instruments from around the world. I try to bring home an instrument from every country.

What are you currently reading?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

What’s the best part of your job?
Hands down it’s connecting with students, getting to know and understanding them, and building relationships with them.

What’s your favourite meal?
I love Asian food, spicy food, salads (especially from our garden), and our homemade pizzas.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
The rainforest, the ocean, the mountains and skiing.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would have two. I want to teleport myself to places so I could catch a sunrise or catch up with a friend. Or stop time and be the only one in the world awake.

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I would be building our urban farm, travelling, working with kids, and I would like to work more with single mothers in Victoria.

What are you passionate about?
Food security and teaching kids about food security. I’m passionate for several reasons: for your own health and the mental benefits of gardening, but also because we need to grow more food on the Island. And so much of the food we eat is not healthy or grown responsibly. The way we grow food will, I think, change the imprint we have on the Earth.

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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