A passionate pioneer of inclusion in learning

Schools & Students

“I believe that all students are entitled to achieve excellence in their learning,” says VSB Director of Instruction Catherine Jamieson, who is retiring this fall after 28 years of service to the Vancouver School Board, where she has advanced the idea of inclusion for all learners.

Through her career, Jamieson has seen many changes in education. “The biggest change I’ve seen is the move towards more inclusive practice,” she says. “Inclusion is more than location. It’s friendship and interaction. It’s bringing students together in a space to learn from each other. It’s important that all students have the opportunity to build on their own strengths and the strengths of their peers.”

Jamieson started her career as a teacher in a class for students with severe learning disabilities in Edmonton. She later took a job as a classroom teacher where she was the first teacher in her district to integrate students with developmental disabilities into the regular classroom program.

When her family moved to Vancouver, she started at the VSB in a program called the ‘neurologically impaired class.’ “Back then there was more reference to medical terms,” says Jamieson. Later she served as a district resource teacher where she went from school to school to support students with a range of developmental disabilities. She’s also held positions as a district resource teacher mentor, has worked at the Teaching and Evaluation Centre program for students with learning disabilities, and she developed the original website for Individualized Education Plans (IEP). She was then seconded to develop the Ministry of Education provincial resource program for students who were at risk of developing a learning disability.

After completing her Masters in Leadership and Organizational Change at Royal Roads University, she became a vice principal at both Lord Selkirk and General Wolfe elementaries, and then a principal at McKechnie and General Wolfe. She moved to the district office first as District Principal of Student Support, and finally as Director of Instruction, Learning Services, where she has served for four years.

“When you think of all the things that Catherine has accomplished as Director, the list is more than impressive,” says Nancy Brennan, Associate Superintendent. “She developed the MIST team process, the Student Support website, and reorganized the Student Support team to better support schools. Catherine has always worked closely with schools to support their complex learners, worked collaboratively with management to problem solve issues surrounding students with special needs, and worked with the families of these same students.”

“I believe that all students are entitled to equitable access and the pursuit of excellence,” says Jamieson. “It’s important that they are engaged and learning, that they're members of the community and that they actually have that feeling of self-worth. A key piece that I loved about being a teacher was that you could really work closely with kids to ensure that they viewed themselves as capable learners, regardless of the fact that they may have a different learning style or learning rate than others, that they really believed in themselves.”

“Catherine has had such a successful and impactful career over many years,” says Brennan. “I am in awe of her work ethic, her depth of knowledge, her respectful attitude to all, and her loyalty and support. I am sad to be saying goodbye to such a talented educator.”

Jamieson says she’s retiring now because it’s time to do something different. “I’ve always been very fortunate to be passionate in every role I’ve had,” she notes. “I believe it’s important for people to leave when they’re still loving their job. I still love being an educator.”

Having recently moved to Vancouver Island, Jamieson looks forward to reconnecting with her family, enjoying island life and travelling. “I’m leaving because I know that there's a really strong team in place, but I know I’ll still do something, helping with some portion of what I’ve been doing these past years,” she smiles.