Katherine Ovenell-Carter reflects on the decade plus since IPS

My time at IPS ended well over a decade ago, when I started the daily commute over to West Vancouver Secondary for the International Baccalaureate program. I’d already decided back then that I was going to be a geneticist (thank you Jen for happily feeding my 13-year-old self everything you had on DNA!) so I was looking forward to university. I graduated high school with the Governor General’s Bronze Medal and a full scholarship to SFU, where I studied molecular biology and biochemistry. I worked in an organic chemistry lab there between grade 12 and first year, and everything was on track for that future in genetic research. And then a funny thing happened.

In third year, I took a summer job working for Science AL!VE – a K-12 science outreach program that ran classroom workshops, summer camps, and weekend programs. And I fell in love with teaching science. So, I finished off my B.Sc. and returned to get my B.Ed. so that I could keep doing just that. My PDP module focused on Indigenous education, something I chose after time spent running science camps and programs in Haida Gwaii and Nunavut made me realize I knew far too little about Indigenous history in Canada.

My first full time teaching job was teaching grades 6-8 in Klemtu, a village of about 400 people located in the Great Bear Rainforest. Later, I moved down to Squamish to be closer to home again and taught grade 7 and 8 at Coast Mountain Academy. But I did get the chance to go back to Klemtu this past summer to see my first ever group of students again – now at their grade 12 graduation! It was such a special feeling to see “my kids” grown up and ready for whatever the world offered next.

Now, I teach grade 7 math and science at West Point Grey Academy. I think it’s no coincidence that I’ve stayed working with middle years students, and as a science teacher (though I admit, the math surprised me!). It’s been years, but I still say “we” when I talk about IPS. The school left its mark on me in so many ways and remains a source of inspiration. I find myself thinking of my IPS teachers whenever I’m feeling stuck in my own work – they’re still teaching me even now.

Kathryn Ovenell-Carter (2003 grad)