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Our Team

Our Director

Kelly Farrell, B.A.H, OCT

Kelly Farrell, B.A.H, OCT

Founder & Executive Director

Kelly Farrell is the Founder and Director of Oak Learners circa 2016. She is dedicated to supporting learners of all ages and abilities reach their goals and love the learning journey. Kelly’s philosophy of education is based in the understanding that every child has the capacity to excel and succeed when they are given the tools and taught the skills to help them on their journey.

Kelly is an OCT Certified teacher and has worked in classrooms and alternative learning environments since 1996 and as a certified teacher since 2004, working with students from Kindergarten through Grade 12. Kelly has a passion for empowering students to develop confidence through building on their strengths to support their difficulties, particularly those with learning exceptionalities, including Learning Differences, ASD, social emotional needs, and anxiety.  Kelly subscribes to the tenants of Montessori, Reggio-Emilia and Constructivist methods of teaching and is always looking for ways to bring these strategies into the 21st Century through technology and environmental education. 

Throughout her teaching careers, Kelly has been teaching, leading, and connecting students and staff with a global community of educators leading the way in 21st century personalized learning. In 2014, Kelly was awarded “Project of the Year” at the Water Docs @School Film Festival for her Inquiry-Based Learning project, “Kids Against Road Salt“.  This project has been used to train new teachers on the benefits and processes behind inquiry-based learning. Kelly’s teaching was also featured in Owl Magazine on the “Cool School” page in  2014 for a unique publishing project undertaken by her Grade 7/8 class that year.

Kelly has also founded Teach Me Social in 2012, a social media marketing agency and training organization which continues to empower entrepreneurs to brand themselves online and share their messages through social media. Her experience in business and educational leadership lends Kelly a unique approach to technology training. She offers business owners a different perspective on technology, gaining participation in her sessions by energizing participants and inspiring them to dive into the Social Media world whilst also providing valuable skills, tips and strategies they can use to construct their online presence at their own pace.

Our Administrative Team

Arlen Atanasiu, B.A. Hons

Arlen Atanasiu, B.A. Hons

Office Manager & Program Support

Arlen has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2017. With a B.A. in Honours Psychology and Sociology, she has been working with a range of students since her graduation in 2016. She understands and supports all kinds of behaviour and unique needs, and tailors her students’ learning experiences around those needs.

When she’s not at work, Arlen enjoys outdoor activities, reading, animals, and spending time with friends and family.

Jenn St. Denis

Jenn St. Denis

Admissions & Communications

Jenn has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2020. With over 30 years of experience working with children, our office manager Jenn is the one to call! Her passion for communication influences her hardworking attitude, and her behind the scenes work is what allows Oak Learners to communicate with its families in a productive manner. We encourage any and all questions to be sent to Jenn, as she is always the one with the answers!

When she is not at work, Jenn enjoys spending time with her family and pets, planning exciting adventures!

 

Sara Absher, OCT

Sara Absher, OCT

Tutoring, Camps & Extra Curricular Coordinator

Sara has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. Sara is an OCT certified teacher with qualifications in the Primary/Junior/Intermediate divisions, and more than twenty years of experience working with children in a variety of settings. Prior to joining the team at Oak Learners, Sara was a classroom teacher for 12 years, teaching grades 3, 5, 7, and 8. She has extensive experience tutoring both in person and online, as well as teaching art classes and coordinating a summer camp. She also spent a year in Japan teaching English to adults and children.

Teaching and art are Sara’s passions. When she’s not teaching, Sara enjoys spending time with her family, arts & crafts, baking, and cake decorating.

Kristina Poleva

Kristina Poleva

Office Administrator

Kristina has been a member of the Oak Learners team since 2022. She is working at the Lake Shore Campus in the office, helping set kids up for success daily! Additionally, she teaches music and encourages creativity.

Our Day School Staff

Janelle Barnett, OCT

Janelle Barnett, OCT

Classroom Teacher

Janelle is joining the staff with twenty years of education experience as a classroom teacher, coach, and instructional leader. She believes in engaging and student-centered learning that values individual and academic student needs.

When she is not at work Janelle enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, enjoying a good book, nature, dance, traveling, and music.

Josie Bonadie, BA

Josie Bonadie, BA

Teacher

Josie joined the Oak Learners team in 2023. She has twenty years experience working with children of all ages and abilities! She enjoys engaging students and encourages growth through their interests. 

Karen Stern, OCT

Karen Stern, OCT

Teacher

Karen is an OCT certified teacher and Expressive Art therapist with twenty years of experience supporting children who have learning disabilities and social/emotional challenges. Her teaching pedagogy is student led and inquiry based, informed by creativity, collaboration, and play. Karen joined the Oak Learners team in 2023 and is excited to be a part of the team!

Outside of work, Karen enjoys being surrounded by nature, taking canoe trips in the summer, baking, knitting, reading, and spending as much time as possible with her new nieces and nephews.

Mishka Khilnani, OCT

Mishka Khilnani, OCT

Teacher

Mishka Khilnani has been a teacher with both public and private schools since 2010. Her first interest in alternative and holistic education sparked through professional development in her Masters of Education course of study. She is eager to bring her experience and natural love for learning to the students at Oak Learners. She is a mom of two, and fur-mom of two, too!

Our Child Specialists & Support Team

Andrea Morrison, CYC

Andrea Morrison, CYC

Child Specialist

Andrea has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2023. Andrea holds a Child and Youth Worker Diploma and a Child and Youth Care Bachelor’s degree from Humber College. Andrea has always loved working with children and youth and has many years of experience in a variety of environments including private schools, day cares, after-school clubs, babysitting, and summer camps!

Andrea enjoys building strong, meaningful relationships with the children and youth she works with. Andrea strongly believes in being able to meet them where they are at and support them in a holistic way.

When Andrea is not at Oak Learners, you can find her outdoors hiking, swimming, bike riding or looking around for the next best photography spot! Andrea also enjoys spending time with her cat Leo!

Anna Kaczorowski

Anna Kaczorowski

Child Specialist

Daniela Urbina, BA

Daniela Urbina, BA

Educational Assistant and Resource Coordinator

Daniela has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. She grew up in Colombia; she is a Psychologist from La Sabana University. She also took Homeschooling and Child Neurodevelopment, Neuroeducation and Neuropsychology courses at Ceenford and a study at the Queensland University of Technology about Inclusive Education: Essential knowledge for success. She co-founded a non-profit foundation, where she developed and implemented some social impact projects, gave speeches, and created dynamic activities. She has experience working with kids between 15 months to 15 years old.

She loves cycling, being active, learning daily, reading books and accepting new challenges. She believes the learning process should be fun and dynamic and that the student needs to know how to apply the knowledge to their lives. Teaching is her passion, and she tries to transmit this love to her students.

Eunice Santiago, CYC

Eunice Santiago, CYC

Program Instructor

Eunice has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021, as a placement student and has recently graduated with a Diploma in Child and Youth Care from George Brown College. She has spent several years working with youth, including in a group home for mental health. She enjoys being with children and youth and being able to support and understand their needs.

In her free time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, walking her dogs, being outdoors, and trying different foods. 

Melissa Wilson

Melissa Wilson

Program Support

Melissa has been a member of the team since 2022. She is creative and fun, and loves to help students bring out their own creativity!
 
When she isn’t working, Melissa enjoys spending time with her pets, family and friends.
Tenzin Yangser

Tenzin Yangser

Educational Assistant

I am Tenzin Yangser, a Child and Youth Care Worker deeply passionate about empowering and nurturing young minds. My days are filled with the rewarding challenge of guiding children and youth towards brighter futures. As a fervent soccer fan, I draw parallels between the teamwork on the pitch and the collaborative spirit needed in my profession. Above all, my life’s ambition is to extend a helping hand to those in need, in every way I can. This aspiration drives me to be a source of support and inspiration, making a meaningful difference one child at a time.

Our Tutoring Team

Sara Absher, OCT

Sara Absher, OCT

Tutoring & Extra Curricular Director

Sara has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. Sara is an OCT certified teacher with qualifications in the Primary/Junior/Intermediate divisions, and more than twenty years of experience working with children in a variety of settings. Prior to joining the team at Oak Learners, Sara was a classroom teacher for 12 years, teaching grades 3, 5, 7, and 8. She has extensive experience tutoring both in person and online, as well as teaching art classes and coordinating a summer camp. She also spent a year in Japan teaching English to adults and children.

Teaching and art are Sara’s passions. When she’s not teaching, Sara enjoys spending time with her family, arts & crafts, baking, and cake decorating.

Aaron De Melo

Aaron De Melo

Tutor and Music Teacher

Aaron has been a member of the Oak Learners team since September 2023. He studied at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Aaron also received a certificate from the Institute for Orton-Gillingham Educators. Before then, he trained professionally in voice at The Royal Conservatory of Music. Aaron has many years of experience working with children of all ages, ranging from 4 to 16. His work has enabled him to develop and implement the Orton-Gillingham Approach, Direct Instruction, and JUMP Math. When he is not working, he enjoys reading, being in nature, getting involved in community outreach and spending time with family and friends.

Aaron is currently accepting students from K-10 in math; K-4 in early literacy; and voice, piano, and guitar students.

Adrianna Armstrong

Adrianna Armstrong

Teacher

Adrianna has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021. Adrianna is currently in the Concurrent Education program at Queen’s University. She is working towards a major in psychology and a minor in English, and she is also taking a concentration of courses in Indigenous Studies. She enjoys working with kids and has done so as a soccer coach, swimming instructor, and respite care worker. Adrianna is also passionate about mental health work and advocacy and she pursues volunteer work in this field.

In the future she hopes to combine her love for working with youth with mental health work so that she can support youth and foster their overall development and well-being.

Joseph Wentworth, B.A. Hons, PGCE

Joseph Wentworth, B.A. Hons, PGCE

Teacher/Tutor

Joseph has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022 when he moved from London, UK to Toronto. He joined as an Elementary Teacher and was the 2022 Summer Camp Director. Joseph brings almost a decade of experience of teaching and developing program curriciulum in the UK and is passionate about teaching Physical Education and inspiring his students to excel.

In his free time he enjoys watching and playing football (soccer), along with exploring new places!

 

Katie Hartford, B.Sc.H., MBA

Katie Hartford, B.Sc.H., MBA

High School Tutor, Math & Science

Katie has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2020. Katie has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics from McMaster University and an MBA at the DeGroote School of Business. She has always had a passion for Math and the Sciences and loves having the opportunity to pass that passion on to others while helping them to find success. She has always loved teaching and has been a strong member of the Oak Learners team since our inception in 2017.
 
When she isn't working, Katie loves being active, rock climbing and running regularly, and playing tennis and hockey when the weather allows. She also loves curling up with a good book and spending time with her family and friends.
Lauren Halliday

Lauren Halliday

Tutor

Lauren is a dedicated and passionate educator at Oak Learners, bringing several years of experience working with children.
Lauren graduated from York University in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Minor in English. She is now a certified Ontario Teacher in the Primary and Junior Division!

With a deep understanding of individualized learning, Lauren is committed to creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students.
With a focus on English, Math and Social Emotional Learning she fosters a love for learning by incorporating hands-on activities and always strives to motivate children to reach their full potential!

In her free time, she loves to read, cook and spend time with her closest friends.

Luxmy Thiru

Luxmy Thiru

Tutor

Luxmy began teaching at Oak Learners in 2023. They previously completed a degree in Honours Life Sciences in Origins of Disease, with a minor in history. Currently, they attend Humber for the Addictions and Mental Health program where they hope to work with marginalized youth in the future.
Luxmy has an adaptable teaching style to accommodate various student needs, whether such needs are formally identified or discovered along the way. They believe that teaching and learning is an collaborative process, where students and teachers can work together to get the best outcome!

Outside of tutoring, Luxmy loves crocheting, painting with watercolours and gouache, reading, and spending time with loved ones!

Maggie Robertson, OCT

Maggie Robertson, OCT

Teacher

Maggie has been a member of the Oak Learners Staff since 2021 sharing her passions for teaching and dance with our community. Maggie is an OCT graduate from the Bachelor of Education program at Western University. Prior to this, Maggie completed her Bachelor of Kinesiology with the University of Toronto and has spent almost 10 years teaching dance lessons as well as a variety of sports skill and recreation classes. When she is not working, Maggie enjoys a variety of sports and reading.

Read the Staff Spotlight on Maggie HERE

Michael Bielejec, B.Ed

Michael Bielejec, B.Ed

Tutor

A passionate and highly driven educator with a love for education, and inspiring future generations. Qualified as a primary and junior teacher with Special Education Part 1 AQ. Teaching style is a blend of constructivism and humanism.

Hobbies include swimming, basketball, reading, continuous learning, and watching films.

Richard Crooks, MSc, PhD

Richard Crooks, MSc, PhD

Upper Level Math & Science Tutor

Richard has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2022. Richard is a biological scientist with a PhD in protein chemistry and an MSc in clinical bioinformatics. Before moving to Canada, he worked in universities and hospitals in England, where he is originally from, and also volunteered at an orphanage for disabled children in Armenia. He is extremely knowledgeable about biology and chemistry. He has an enthusiasm for science that he loves to share, and tries to find exciting ways to explain complicated topics.

In his spare time, Richard enjoys learning languages, playing guitar and canoeing.

Sandra Sutton

Sandra Sutton

Sandra joined the Oak Learners team in 2023 as a tutor. She has several years of teaching experience with the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic School Board, and extensive corporate training experience with large organizations in Canada and abroad. Sandra believes that her diverse work history and world travels enable her to connect with learners from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. She finds it very rewarding to help students discover their hidden talents and strengths that will help them advance in their journey of learning.

When she isn't tutoring, she loves spending time with her rescue dog, Benjamin Bean, performing roles as an extra in TV shows and movies, trying food from different countries, and learning new languages.

Our Music Faculty

Natalie Julien

Natalie Julien

Music Program Director

Natalie has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021.  Since then, she has been teaching music lessons, musical theater and hosting classes for Little Rebels. Natalie holds two post-secondary diplomas in Musical Theatre and grew up studying classical music through the Royal Conservatory of Music for voice & piano, regularly competing in festivals. She has been teaching for the last 13+ years in many different capacities and is an active stage and screen performer. She has spent a lot of her life caring for children as a nanny and brings an empathetic, patient and holistic approach to teaching. Nothing makes her happier than seeing a child’s confidence and instrument flourish! 

Aaron De Melo

Aaron De Melo

Tutor and Music Teacher

Aaron has been a member of the Oak Learners team since September 2023. He studied at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Aaron also received a certificate from the Institute for Orton-Gillingham Educators. Before then, he trained professionally in voice at The Royal Conservatory of Music. Aaron has many years of experience working with children of all ages, ranging from 4 to 16. His work has enabled him to develop and implement the Orton-Gillingham Approach, Direct Instruction, and JUMP Math. When he is not working, he enjoys reading, being in nature, getting involved in community outreach and spending time with family and friends.

Aaron is currently accepting students from K-10 in math; K-4 in early literacy; and voice, piano, and guitar students.

Adam Houle

Adam Houle

Music Teacher

Adam has been a member of the Oak Learners staff since 2021. Adam is a professional drummer/percussionist with a strong passion for music and teaching, He has over 11 years of playing experience in multiple styles (Rock, Funk, Jazz, Latin etc.) and have been teaching music for 7 years. Adam believes a great teacher is one who can assess not only a student's current musical ability, but determine what style of learning the student thrives in. He is passionate about helping his students develop their individuality as artists.  He holds a Bachelor of Music from Humber College as well as a degree in Broadcasting & TV production! He is available to teach drums & piano. 

In his free time, Adam continues to practice his own musical skills and has impressed many other Oak Staff with his amazing covers!

Read the Staff Spotlight on Adam HERE

Kristina Poleva

Kristina Poleva

Music Instructor: Guitar, Ukulele, Piano

Kristina has been a member of the Oak Learners team since 2022 and has since graduated from Kyiv National University in Ukraine and received a bachelor's degree in Translation studies. She studied piano for 8 years and then guitar and ukulele for 2 years. Since 2018, she’s been playing in different bands, writing music in different genres, and teaching music both in Ukraine and Canada. Kristina’s goal is to teach children to be fearless in expressing themselves through music and be capable of improvising, creating and playing their own music. Kristina is available to teach piano, ukulele, guitar & songwriting and has developed a music recording program that will be offered at Oak Learners in 2024. 

Leah Jackson

Leah Jackson

Music and Mindfulness Teacher

Leah is a Music and Mindfulness Teacher at Oak Learners since January 2024. She has background in Voice, Birth and Death Doula work, private caregiving, house management, kids yoga. Leah is passionate about helping families cultivate peace through positive attachment building and mindfulness techniques. Leah speaks basic French and intermediate ASL. She has worked with children of various needs and ages and enjoys creating a safe and nurturing environment.

Outside of work, Leah enjoys training and playing with her two small dogs, Everest and Soleil, swimming, rock climbing, paddle boarding, practicing yoga, cooking, and more.

Partner Showcase: Humber College Placement Student

Oak Learners has teamed up with Humber College and various other colleges to gather talented students from across Canada to work inside the school. Nick started at Oak Learners in the summer of 2022 as a placement student on the administration team. Nick shared what he has learned from working at Oak Learners and what takeaways he has from the placement.

Spotlight on our amazing music teacher, Adam!

    At Oak Learners, we are fortunate enough to have professional musicians on our team, and this time we are spotlighting our drum/percussion/piano teacher, Adam! When he is not touring or gigging around the city, Adam can be found teaching at both the RY and LS...
Teacher Interview

Oak Learners Classroom Teacher Interview – Maggie Robertson

At the heart of Oak Learners are the teachers that work with students every day to create an environment for the learners to excel with every project, task, and endeavor they complete. We wanted to interview some of our teachers to see their perspectives on their teaching field, get to know them better, and see what inspired them to become a teacher. The first interview we did is with Maggie Robertson, a teacher at Oak Learners wanting to share her experiences! Enjoy!

Oak Learners Top Award Choice 2023

2023 Top Choice Awards: Best Private School In Etobicoke

Oak Learners was voted Best Private School In Etobicoke in the 2023 Top Choice Awards.

Seneca College Partner Feature

Partner Showcase – Seneca College Internship with Oak Learners

The concept of teaching and learning matching is that it impacts learning in a way that encourages students to respond more positively to instructional methods while informing faculty about effective teaching practices. This encourages collaboration between the teacher and student which in turn reduces classroom management issues.

Recent research has shown that it is not as effective for a teacher to change their teaching preferences to suit the students in their classroom because they may not be as comfortable teaching in that manner.

yoga instructor

Partner Showcase: Meet Donna Reed, Yoga Instructor

I became a Certified Yoga Instructor in 2012 and an Age Group Developmental Swim coach in 2004. My teaching journeys along the way have included, Yoga at a Women’s Prison, an Orphanage, Drug/Alcohol Rehab Centers, Schools, Yoga Centers, Private Clients and Retreats.

Humber College Partner Showcase

Partner Showcase: Humber College

Oak Learners has teamed up with Humber College and various other colleges to gather talented students across Canada to work inside the school. We interviewed one intern student from Humber College that joined the Oak Learners team, Joshua, to speak more on what they have learned whilst working with Oak Learners, how their experience went, how Humber College saw the experience, and what takeaways they have from the internship with Oak Learners.

Partner Showcase: A New Take on Outdoor Education with Larchwood Nature OT Programming

At Larchwood Nature OT we are developing courage, confidence, coordination and deep care for our precious environment in all of our clients. Nature offers many opportunities for supporting development of the mind, muscles, senses, and emotions.

Teacher Interview

Oak Learners Classroom Teacher Interview #2 – Emma van der Jagt

The concept of teaching and learning matching is that it impacts learning in a way that encourages students to respond more positively to instructional methods while informing faculty about effective teaching practices. This encourages collaboration between the teacher and student which in turn reduces classroom management issues.

Recent research has shown that it is not as effective for a teacher to change their teaching preferences to suit the students in their classroom because they may not be as comfortable teaching in that manner.

Creating a Culture of Inclusivity: How Our School Values Diversity and Equity

At its core, inclusivity means recognizing and valuing the diversity of our students and ensuring that each and every one of them feels welcome, supported, and included in our learning community. This includes students of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities.

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