Raven Willoughby

2021 International Women's Day Nominee - Raven Willoughby

Give a brief bio about yourself/ your background/ your history

Once I graduated with my After Degree in Education, I developed as an educator, teaching in the larger community of Brandon, and the smaller communities of Portage, Oakville and Moosomin (SK). I challenged myself and learned tremendously within the diversity of my roles: Kindergarten, Middle Years ELA, SS, Science, Senior Years ELA and Drama. Now I happily reside at Prairie Hope High School as a teacher, Literacy Support teacher, and Continuous Improvement Coach. It gives me great pleasure to be able to work with students regularly and be involved in supporting the school as a whole.

I am married to a wonderful man, Jerrod Willoughby, who owns a carpentry business, an outlet that allows him challenge and creativity, which I love to hear about and occasional get involved in. Aside from work and school, I look for outlets to be creative: this might mean house renos with Jerrod, being involved with school and community theatre, travel, crafts, or a few new endeavours to try a hand at cookie baking and joining a writing club. I am thankful for the wonderful people that surround me in life: my mother, sisters, niece and nephews, brother-in-laws, and friends that I consider family!

What education have you taken?

Graduating from Carman Collegiate (Carman, MB), I began my post degree at Brandon University – hoping to become an architect. After an initial year of learning about myself, and my dis-interest in complex mathematical equations, I transferred to the Arts Department. With a Bachelor of Arts Degree under my belt, and a year of world travel explored, I returned to Brandon University to complete an After Degree in Education. I began my Masters of Education Degree in the spring of 2018, again at Brandon University.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

ExperincED – a program which brings community members and hands on learning to students – inside and outside of the school walls. These blocks of experiences are created to impact coursework credit and to create memorable opportunities.

I am most proud of the life that I get to live with the people around me. I am blessed with my marriage to my husband and all the opportunities I get to spend with family, friends and wonderful colleagues. Nothing would mean anything without these relationships that fill my cup.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

My husband, Jerrod, was a crucial supporter of beginning my Masters Degree in the Spring of 2018, again at Brandon University. My chosen stream, Pedagogy and Curriculum, allowed me to rediscover my love for personal learning and discussing education at the foundational level. This degree also required internal reflection of personal experiences with education and how my grandparents and family led to my love of teaching, often through mimicking and trial and error.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Being nominated for this award is a true surprise and HONOUR. I wish to thank my nominator, Jackie Kirk – for inspiring so many learners – and send best wishes and congratulations to the other nominees. I truly believe that we all do the best that we can everyday, and that I am no more worthy than a huge collective of a community working together to make every day, and every experience slightly better. I look forward to continuing to work with so many of these individuals – like my co-nominees Carolyn Blaine and Katherine MacFarlane – and to meeting many more as I expand Prairie Hope programming and personal interests in Brandon.

What is your philosophy in life?

To try new things and to be good to people. The first is a way of always learning and expanding horizons and reinventing yourself. The second is a desire to treat others the way that I was treated growing up and as a nurturer, to see the good in people.

What do you #ChooseToChallenge?

I #ChooseToChallenge our society’s interpretation of learning and assessment. Blending MB curriculum and Indigenous culture, I challenge the way we teach and assess students, desiring to create a more experiential learning environment with authentic experiences and connections to the community and members outside of the school walls.

Nominators Comments:

I have nominated Raven for this award alongside classmates Carolyn Blaine and Katherine MacFarlane This group of women were enrolled in my Summative Seminar course in the Fall of 2020. I admired the way they supported each other in the completion of their master’s degrees, how they supported other students, and how caring and supportive they were towards the university and for me. They are an amazing group. As I listened to their stories about the changes that they had made in their school and how they were approaching the important work that they do with at-risk learners, I admired the community spirit that they worked to develop. One at a time, each in their own way, they shared their stories about the work that they do in the school. Each of them re-confirmed how much their work was part of the whole and how they could only do it because they were part of this amazing team. As each of them completed their final presentation (and with it, the requirements for the master’s degree), they celebrated the accomplishments of the other two by showing up with party preparations, cards, balloons, and gifts at the door, even though we were all socially isolated and connecting through Zoom. This authentic support for the important initiatives that they lead in their schools and for the real people who are their colleagues is worthy of recognition. They are making a difference for students and families that experience marginalization within our community.