Former farm girl learns to go with the flow at Janus Academy

Calgary Herald, 17 Feb 2021, JACQUELINE LOUIE

Malorie Schwenk teaches Grades 1 to 3 at Janus Academy, a not-for-profit independent school in Calgary that focuses on the educational needs of children with autism.
Born in Coronation, Schwenk, 25, grew up on a family farm east of Castor, about a three-hour drive northeast of Calgary. After earning a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta, she taught for two years with Edmonton Catholic Schools and last year at Behaviour Therapy and Learning Centre, a preschool for students with autism in Calgary. Schwenk began teaching at Janus Academy last September.
Q: How would your best friend describe you?
A: Supportive, caring, generous, funny and adventurous. People who know me, know that I find laughter extremely important for my mental health, and I do my best to help everyone smile and laugh throughout the day.
Q: What would your students or staff be surprised to learn you like to do in your personal time or on a day off ?
A: My favourite thing is to go back to my parents’ farm and help out. One of my favourite times of year is in the spring when the cows are calving. I like seeing the calves and helping out in the springtime.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face at school this year?
A: COVID-19. Adhering to all the policies while still trying to provide quality education to students with autism. I try really hard not to let any of the stresses of the pandemic affect my teaching. One thing I struggle with is teaching speech and communication without students being able to see my mouth. I also find it upsetting that students are going to go an entire year without seeing facial emotions.
Q: What does your school have bragging rights to?
A: I think what is really unique is how we create highly personalized goals for students to support them in their educational development. We offer low student-to-teacher ratios. Our classrooms are staffed depending on the needs of the students. I also think the way we strive to place students within peer groups and provide them with appropriate social interactions is really important, as well.

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