Bruised: The Second Novel by YHS English Teacher, Tanya Boteju

by Diya, Grade 11

Tanya Boteju

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing our own in-house author, Ms. Boteju, about her spectacular new novel Bruised. Following a young teenage girl who has recently suffered a grave loss, Bruised follows Daya, who engrosses herself in the world of roller derby. The violence and bruises it brings distracts her from her grief, and throughout her journey of introspection, she learns that strength isn’t always physical. Ms. Boteju provided some extremely helpful insight into the writing process, which is something that I know many Yorkies found useful! The following is a list of the most useful advice I’ve compiled from our conversation. 

  1. Don’t have your writing space be the same place as one where you relax! For example, your bedroom. Turning a comforting space into a workspace will do one of two things. Either it will make you stressed when you are trying to relax because you associate the space with work, or, it will make it impossible to get any work done because you associate the space with relaxing.
  2. Writing down anything is useful. Anything! Writer’s block won’t happen to you as long as you’re willing to write down even the terrible stuff. Just a description of a specific setting or scene or free-written rant can be helpful for developing your ideas!
  3. Draw from your own life experiences. Ms. Boteju shared how she used her conversations with alumni and students who are the same age group as her protagonist as development for her storyline. Using the people around you for inspiration is always a good idea, and will make generating more ideas a much easier process.
  4. Schedule your work time. Ms. Boteju said the most difficult part of the writing process for her is just finding the time to work on her stories. Setting aside a few hours here and there, free of distractions, is crucial to the process. Otherwise, it’s far too easy to keep saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, and nothing will ever get put on the page.

Being a passionate writer myself, I found Ms. Boteju’s advice invaluable! I truly enjoyed our conversation and hope that other YHS students will find it fruitful for their own writing endeavours. Bruised is now available both online and in physical copy, so make sure to give it a read. It’s one of the books I’ve enjoyed the most in a long time, and I hear the author is pretty neat 🙂

Employee Long Service Awards 2021

We acknowledge and appreciate that the foundation of our school’s success is built upon the commitment and dedication of our employees. Our Long Service Awards recognize exemplary years of service for our dedicated employees.

When students, parents, and alumnae talk about how special York House School is, they readily recognize the incredible faculty and staff who make this school such a special place to be. So that is why it is important for us to acknowledge, to thank, and congratulate our employees for their years of service to York House School. 

Whitney Black, Math Teacher (15 years):
Ms. Black’s dedication and commitment to the school go above and beyond her passion for teaching mathematics. For many years she has been the teacher sponsor for the Pastry Club where she is able to share her first career as a baker. Did you know that in her career as a Pastry Chef, she appeared on the Food Network as a Chef at Large for “Wedding Cake Masterpiece”? 

An accomplished violinist, she has often played as part of a student-teacher string ensemble for our Celebration of Community. Over the years she has chaperoned outdoor ed trips and assisted with coordinating Prize Giving and Pre-Grad and Grad activities for the past several years. 

Frances Lee, who will be graduating this year, shared this with us, and it really does a wonderful job of illustrating the educator that Ms. Black is: “I’ve had the privilege of being Ms. Black’s student for three years, as well as being part of her TAG since Grade 8. Her thoughtful, kind, and patient nature has encouraged me to be the best version of myself. She truly cares about the learning and wellness of her students and I would not be the learner nor person I am today without her. Ms. Black is an incredible teacher, baker, and person. Thank you, Ms. Black, for your continued service at York House. I will miss you next year!”

Thank you Ms. Black for sharing your many talents with us for the past 15 years!

Stephanie Keating, Math Teacher (15 years):
Ms. Keating is a humble, down to earth person who always has her students’ best interests at heart. In her time at York House School, Ms. Keating has taught mathematics to students from Grade 8 to 12 as well as AP Calculus AB. Ms. Keating is always there to support her students, and her colleagues appreciate her collegiality, friendship, and commitment to collaboration. 

Beyond the classroom, Ms. Keating has participated in numerous outdoor education trips, coached field hockey, and has been a teacher sponsor for one of our most long-standing community service programs, Each One Teach One. Each One Teach One is a student outreach program that pairs York House students, as mentors, with local Vancouver elementary school students, and which has them undertake a range of activities together over the course of an academic year. 

You can often see Ms. Keating riding her bike to school, but did you know that prior to joining York House, she was a member of Power Shift 2000 where she cycled across Canada to promote air quality awareness? We are certainly glad that Ms. Keating found her way to us and we thank her for her many contributions. Congratulations Ms. Keating, and thank you for your commitment of 15 years (and beyond!) to York House School.

Eileen Jensen, French Teacher  (15 years):
Madame Jensen is passionate about French education. She is deeply devoted to helping students develop their French language skills both inside and outside of the classroom. She designs her lessons with tremendous care and thoughtfulness. She is curious. She is playful. In class, she meets every person where they are. She has a special gift for being able to hear, see, and understand each student and then figure out how to support their learning. As Ms. Dorcey has expressed, “Madame Jensen models how to be curious about what’s hard and how to work through that in order to grow.” 

Madame Jensen is a beloved leader of our Modern Languages Department. She has a deep respect for colleagues and is deeply respected in return. She inspires us all to learn from and to support one another. She is a life-long learner who loves singing in community choirs, visiting vineyards with dear friends, having picnics in secret gardens, and travelling with her family. For countless students at YHS, she has designed inspiring trips to Quebec City and France with lively excursions to the cabane a sucre, to the Parc de la Chute Montmorency, to the wonders and croissants of Lyon and Paris. 

Thank you, Ms. Jensen, for all that you do to enrich the learning experiences of our students and colleagues at YHS! 

Tanya Mallette, Textiles Teacher (15 years):
Working with students in Grades 8-12, Ms. Malette shares a passion for fashion and entrepreneurship. Before coming to York House, Ms. Mallette studied Fashion Design at Kwantlen College and worked in the fashion design industry drafting patterns and making evening wear. At YHS, she has developed a vibrant Textiles Program and has inspired many students to pursue a career in fashion design. 

Ms. Mallette is inspired by students’ growth and loves to support students as they begin with few or no sewing skills and progress to making garments that they can wear and use. She has supported the creation of the costumes for many of our drama productions. One of Ms. Mallette’s key contributions to the school is the annual student-led fashion show. In the spring of 2019, 160 students and parents attended the event. Students showcased pyjamas, slacks, dresses, and costume lines of their own design. Students organized lights, music, run-way design, the agenda, and models. This is a wonderful tradition at YHS. As one student expressed, “I am proud that we can make clothing that we can wear, and to develop a collection like people do in the fashion industry.”  

We are grateful for all you have contributed to YHS, Ms. Mallette!

Mong Xuan Ha, Director of Finance (20 years):
Over the past 20 years, Ms. Ha has worked with three Heads of School and has had an exemplary track record of success in her leadership role at the school. As Director of Finance, Ms. Ha not only oversees the Finance department, she oversees the school’s financials, works closely with all departments in the school, and supports the financial operations of our Board, the Parents’ Association, the Alumnae Association, and the YHS Foundation.

In her role, Ms. Ha works very closely with the Head of School to advance our school’s goals and strategic priorities and as a result of her steadfast financial skills and leadership, our school remains very strong financially. On a regular basis, she interacts in a caring and considerate manner with colleagues, parents, and outside organizations to help support our school operations. Under her leadership, the school has thrived and this past year, with the uncertainty of the pandemic, Ms. Ha’s thoughtful contingency planning and business acumen has allowed us to maintain strong operations. We are incredibly grateful for Ms. Ha and congratulate her for 20 years of exemplary service and love for our school!

Paul Sinclair, Director of Facilities (15 years):
As you can imagine, Mr. Sinclair is a very busy man as he oversees his team and ensures that our facilities and maintenance are in tip-top shape at the Little, Junior, and Senior School. In addition to the regular maintenance and upkeep of the building, Mr. Sinclair oversees bussing transportation, responds to all maintenance requests put in by faculty and staff, and keeps a keen eye on any potential safety issues. It really takes a lot of skill, organization, and knowledge to oversee so many responsibilities. Whenever anyone hears Mr. Sinclair’s signature phrase, “don’t panic” we know that whatever problem there is, he will work to solve it. 

Some of you may not know this, but Mr. Sinclair is a man of many talents. Did you know that prior to coming to York House, Paul was an aircraft maintenance engineer and even was flown in to attend to emergency mechanical situations for aircraft recovery? Mr. Sinclair is also an avid motorcyclist and he looks forward to rebuilding the vintage BMW motorcycle he recently purchased. 

We cannot begin to tell you how much planning, work and attention to detail Mr. Sinclair has had to put into ensuring our health and safety protocols in our school during this pandemic. His leadership has been instrumental in ensuring that we are all able to attend school safely, have the hand sanitizers we need, have the plexiglass and learning spaces and so much more. When you put all of this experience and combine it with a great big heart, you get Mr. Sinclair. 

Mr. Sinclair, we want to thank you for your incredible 15 years of service, your dedication and your love for this school. We are truly, very fortunate to have you. 

Lela Ling, Science Teacher (20 years):
Ms. Ling has been a Science, STEAM, and more recently an ADST, teacher and champion for the past 20 years at the Junior School. Ms. Ling is a master at finding new and creative ways to capture the imaginations of our young scientists. Year after year, she has brought the outdoors, and even outer space, into the classroom. For example, every year she teaches students about the salmon life cycle through the “Salmonids in the Classroom” program and in Grade 5 she has hosted the Mars Space Challenge and arranged for her students to talk with an astronomer from the HR MacMillan Space Centre. 

Her classroom is a whole new world; an exotic jungle filled with luxurious plant life which is like stepping into a Museum of Natural History. Our Grade 3 students participate in the “Tomatosphere Program” and our Grade 5s learn about accessibility challenges through the “The Accessibility Program” supported by the Rick Hansen Foundation. Each year, Ms. Ling also organizes very exciting field trips to support experiential learning. 

Dedicated to supporting our students inside and outside of the classroom, Ms. Ling has been a cross-country coach and organizer extraordinaire and track and field coach. She has also been a keen participant in the Maker Club, Destination Imagination Club, and the Environment Club in the Junior School. 

If you ask Ms. Ling what one of her proudest moments were, she would tell you: introducing renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, most known for her long-term study of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, at the Centre for Performing Arts!

Thank you Ms. Ling for all that you do to enrich the lives of our Yorkies!

Susan Sobieski, Junior School Counsellor (20 years):
Ms. Sobieski has been the Junior and Little School Counsellor for 20 years. In this role she has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students and their families, not to mention the teachers. Ms. Sobieski is dedicated to the wellbeing of all of those around her and she plays an instrumental role in daily supporting students as they navigate their friendship challenges and she supports the teachers in their teaching of their social-emotional learning lessons. 

Ms. Sobieski has been responsible for bringing in many new programs to the Junior School including Second Step, Mindfulness, Peer Mediator program, bullying prevention and she applies Peace Education concepts in her daily practice. This year, Ms. Sobieski brought in Lindsay Sealey, a passionate advocate for girls, who works with parents and teachers as a coach and consultant in curriculum development and special education. This year Ms. Sobieski will work with the parents in a Coffee Morning and Book Club and introduce the Growing Strong Girls program to the Grade 4 students. 

We are so thankful to Ms. Sobieski as she always keeps abreast with the latest research around social-emotional wellbeing and ensures that the community benefits from her learning. Ms. Sobieski has been an active member of the Faculty Sunshine and Social Clubs, as well as been a sponsor for the Art Club for students. 

Thank you for often being the glue that has bound us together, Ms. Sobieski!

Madeleine Abbott, Grade 4 Teacher (20 years):
Ms. Abbott has been teaching at York House School for 20 years! All of her students have been so lucky to have her as a teacher. Ms. Abbott is so passionate about teaching and engaging every student. She is also a wonderful colleague who always has a funny story to make her teaching partners laugh. If you walk through her classroom, you will find students engaged in solving some kind of math problem or learning to write interesting stories. 

Ms. Abbott has coached and supported volleyball, cross-country running, and track and field, and she also took a two-year sabbatical to pursue a Masters Degree in Assessment. Did you know that Ms. Abbott can teach in both French and English? 

We are so lucky to have this passionate teacher at York House School and we are so grateful for 20 years of service! 

Brent Jackson, Junior School P.E. Teacher and Athletics Coordinator (20 years):
Mr. Jackson is so passionate about physical education and all that it can do for building up young women. You can see this passionate educator out on the field or in the gym every day, teaching kids to toss, throw, pass, slide, jump, tackle, and cartwheel or dance their way through their years at the Junior School.

Mr. Jackson is also our Athletics Coordinator at the Junior School, so as well as organizing all of the games and travel for our many teams, he coaches Grade 7 Basketball, and Grades 3-7 Track & Field. On top of these many gifts, Mr. Jackson is great at sharing his passion for athletics with his colleagues and helping all of us become better coaches and supporters of our athletics programs. Way to go, coach! 

Thank you for all that you do, Mr. Jackson.