We have a staff of dedicated, enthusiastic educators with many years of proven experience and a wide range of expertise. Our team is passionate about education and are committed to The Oxford School because they believe in our mission, and the atmosphere of learning and excellence that has been established. They provide a caring, supportive and stimulating environment for our students. Our team delivers a comprehensive and enhanced curriculum.
Mr. George Friesen, OCT
Head of School
Honours BPHE - McMaster University
B.Ed. Junior, Intermediate, Senior - Althouse College, University of Western Ontario
Honours Specialist - Health and Physical Education
Mr Friesen graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton with an Honours degree in Health and Physical Education in 1994. He followed undergraduate studies by earning his Bachelor of Education degree from Althouse College at the University of Western Ontario in 1996. Since graduation he has added many qualifications including junior, intermediate and senior teaching certificates, specialist in Health and Physical Education, Cooperative Education and Special Education.
Mr. Friesen spent 21 years of his life teaching in the secondary panel of the Thames Valley District School Board in various departments. His most memorable and enjoyable opportunity was teaching special education students at Huron Park who taught him the value of genuine honesty and true happiness. He was involved in piloting and planning the grade 9 fourth R health curriculum early in his career as well as designing and piloting the new Experiential Learning Outdoor Education Program initiative designed to explore innovative learning methodologies in the 21st century. Mr Friesen served in many leadership roles as Department Head of Geography and Athletic Director during his time with the board. He also dedicated many hours coaching volleyball, football, basketball, hockey, track and field, wrestling during his career. Mr Friesen enjoys planning and participating field trips, throughout Europe. He has taken as many as 70 students, exposing them to unforgettable learning experiences surrounding Canadian Historical events.
Mr. Friesen truly enjoys teaching kids. He is passionate about experiential learning, athletics and outdoor education. George lives with his wife Judie and three kids; Zach, Hailey and Ty.
“My experiences have taught me tremendous lessons regarding student learning, as well as curriculum planning and writing in various subject areas. My greatest accomplishment so far has been my own personal growth and understanding of the unparallelled value and effectiveness of team work.”
“I am excited about learning from this extraordinary group of teachers and students of The Oxford School and look forward to where we will go!”
I moved to Woodstock from West Yorkshire (near Manchester) in the United Kingdom in 2010.
It was with the desire that my son and his future family would have the best opportunities life has to offer and to have the fortuity to thrive in a diverse community where everyone is incredibly kind and polite. This also allowed us to be close to our immediate growing family who have been established in Ontario for over 40 years.
I’m so very thankful and incredibly proud that my son and I became Canadian Citizens in 2017 during the special celebratory Canada 150 year.
I have been fortunate to spend the last five years of my career as Administrative Coordinator for VON Oxford where I was able to play an instrumental role to the growth and development of valuable services which serve the Oxford County community.
I strongly believe that education is the foundation upon which we build our future. Having formerly worked for many years as a school secretary in a busy public primary school setting in the UK with children aged 3-11, I am thrilled to have the chance to be able to return to this fulfilling role where my heart truly lies. Working in the education sector helped me recognize and appreciate children with unique needs and I’m beyond delighted to assist children and parents with their journey at The Oxford School and provide support to the Head of School and teaching staff through the School’s exciting future developments.
Crocus Plains Regional Secondary
Family and Community Services
Certificates/ Professional Development:
Red Cross First Aid
Handwriting Without Tears - Rolling River School Division
Putting Professionalism in Your Performance
Let’s Make Music - Manitoba Childcare Association
Documentation as Relationships: “I am in Your Eye”
Butterflies in the Stomach
Rethinking your Preschool Environment
Bringing Outside - Inside - Professional Early Learning Committee, Stratford
Hi! My Name is Michelle Houseman.
I grew up in “Friendly” Manitoba and moved to Ontario In the fall of 2014.
I am the proud mother of two girls. I became part of the staff at TOS in the fall of 2017. Working at TOS has been a great experience for me, allowing me to achieve my career goals in such a positive way. I felt very welcomed by both the families and my co-workers. I’m looking forward to being a part of the continuing legacy of The Oxford School!
Over the course of the last 22 years, I have enjoyed working with all age groups, from infants to school aged children. I received my diploma in Family and Community Services in 1989 after which I moved into Child Advocacy. During this time I worked with “at risk” children. It wasn’t until later in my career I decided that working with children in the early years was where I had to be. I studied Early Childhood Education while raising my two babies.
My teaching philosophy in the classroom is all about fostering independence, self respect and having confidence in yourself. I tell my students all the time; “I trust you”, “I know you can do this!". I am a huge advocate for outside play and encourage “getting dirty”!! My classroom is a fun environment driven on the interests of the children. Sometimes our days in preschool don’t play out the way I had planned because the children have their own ideas too. I encourage their input and respect their ideas.
In my personal life, away from school, I enjoy a great life outdoors. My family and I participate in camping excursions when we can. We enjoy fishing, trips to the beach and bike riding in the summer. In the winter, although I’m not a huge fan of winter, we enjoy toboggan runs and snowshoeing around Wildwood Conservation area. I look forward to every spring because of all the new beginnings it brings!
RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator)
Diploma in Early Childhood Education - Conestoga College
I believe in opening doors and creating opportunity. I think that hands-on experience will take you furthest in life and I know that a smile has the power to change someone’s day if not maybe even change a little bit of the world. I adore my job and don’t think of it as a job but much more so an extension of myself. I wanted to be a Momma my entire life and I am so proud of my 2 daughters, ages 9 and 6! I believe that the most important thing I will ever do is leave an imprint on my children and teach yours too! I am also a proud TOS parent! I believe so much in what The Oxford School has to offer and adore seeing it first hand!
I graduated from the Early Childhood Education program at Conestoga College in 2004 and after spending some time working for preschool programs in the Waterloo Area I moved back to my roots in Oxford County and discovered The Oxford School. I came for a tour and fell in love with the little school that makes a big difference. In 2005 I was hired to develop and open the school’s preschool program. After getting it up and running I spent many happy years working with our youngest students and loving it! In 2013 a position opened up teaching Junior Kindergarten and I was thrilled to be asked to take it!
My philosophy of teaching encourages independence, and celebrates confidence. My hope for every child that enters my classroom, is that they will leave with confidence in themselves. This is likely the most important thing I can ever instill within them. In our classroom we explore and ask why and then work to figure out the answers and discover new ways and new skills along the way. I believe that having a growth mindset encourages positive thinking, builds self confidence and focus as well as teaches kids how to treat themselves and others with respect and appreciation. We work the whole year with groups and independently, setting goals and celebrating! Learning truly is so much fun and I am so happy to be a part of it everyday.
When I am not at school I am in my home in Innerkip, or taking my daughters to dance or swimming. I love being a part of the community I live and work in and am always happy to have a house full of cheerful sounds and children playing. Family is so important to me and my friends are an extension of that as well. I have a special affection for pirates and cute and hairy monsters and love to bring this fun into the classroom!
I want you to know that I will invest myself into your child’s education and I am excited to embark upon their education career with them. I can’t wait to get to know you!
Honours B.A. French and Spanish - Wilfrid Laurier University
B.Ed. - University of Toronto
Honours Specialist - French
As a long time member of the The Oxford School staff I can honestly say that there is nowhere else I’d rather work. I have been in the teaching profession since 1984, after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Toronto. I began my teaching career for the Peel Board of Education and moved to Woodstock in 1989, where I taught with the then Oxford County Board of Education. I joined the TOS Staff in 2000 and have been teaching Kindergarten since 2001.
I consider it quite a privilege to be able to play a small part in shaping the lives of these little people. I aim to provide an atmosphere for learning that feels safe and encouraging to each child, and where kindness and compassion reign. Our days consist of a balance of structured and unstructured time where we engage, explore and lay the foundation for the learning that will take place throughout the rest of their school career.
Outside of school I am a happy wife, a proud Mom and active at church and in volunteer work.
B.A. Honours French Language and Literature, Honours General Spanish Language and Literature - Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.
Diploma as a Child Development Practitioner - Collège Boréal
Hello and welcome! My name is Olivia Poirier and I have been working in primary education since 2013. I began my career in education as an Educational Assistant in a Grade 1 classroom, providing additional support to children who required it based on their Individualized Education Program. Shortly after that, I spent two years working in a Full Day Kindergarten Program where I partnered in the development and integration of a quality emergent kindergarten program that was based specifically on the needs, interests, and learning styles of my students (with the primary objective being each child’s global development).
Currently, I’m very fortunate to be the Grade 1 teacher at The Oxford School. I have based my Grade 1 program on the Ontario Grade 1 Curriculum and my teaching approach is founded on the Nine Types of Intelligence (Spatial, Naturalist, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Existential, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic and Bodily-Kinesthetic). As such, I love incorporating a wide variety of activities, centres, transition periods, experiments and discussions into my lessons in order to reach every learning style. My experience and education have helped me recognize the importance of uniqueness, self-regulation, independence, risk-taking and self-confidence in the classroom. These are the qualities that I look to foster in each of my students as it is my belief that their acquisition will result in children that are confident, competent and resilient both in and outside of the classroom!
Although my heart is deeply rooted in primary education, I’ve taught, instructed and developed programming for a wide array of age groups, spanning from infants and toddlers in a Daycare setting to adults in college level Continuing Education courses. In the classroom, I live by Miss Frizzle’s motto and I encourage all of my students to “Take chances! Make mistakes! And get messy!”. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, camping, gardening and exploring the great outdoors!
Honours B.A. Contemporary Studies - Wilfrid Laurier University
B.Ed. Primary/Junior - Nipissing University
Special Education Part 1 - Trent University
Human Services Foundations Certificate - Conestoga College
My name is Julie Millward and I have been working at The Oxford School since 2015. I have always had a passion for working with children and have been doing so in private childcare, summer camps and schools for over 15 years! I completed the Concurrent Education program with Wilfrid Laurier and Nipissing Universities in Brantford Ontario and loved every minute I was able to spend learning from other teachers and interacting with students in the classroom. After graduating I decided to combine my love of teaching with my love of travelling and went to London England to teach for a year. It was after returning from that adventure that I learned about The Oxford School and began my next adventure here!
In my classroom I strive to instill a love of learning through exploration, praise and fun! Every student is supported and pushed to achieve their own personal best, which, I acknowledge looks different for each and every student. Our schedule is flexible so that if students struggle we have the time to keep practicing and if they quickly and easily grasp a new concept we can dig deeper and really master the material. I am passionate about teaching and often find myself reading teaching blogs to learn more or searching Pinterest for new fun ideas so that I am able to provide the best education I can for my students.
Also in my classroom, as through the whole school, I emphasize our TOS motto of honesty, kindness and integrity. I have high expectation for my students to use manners, speak to others with kindness and respect, and to do the right thing whether there is someone watching or not. I am thrilled to be part of a school where these values are so strongly instilled. The TOS community truly is one big, happy family that I am so fortunate to be apart of!
Honours B.A. Contemporary Studies, Children's Education Development - Wilfrid Laurier
My name is Liz Miller and I started working at TOS in 2017. It didn’t take long to realize this is a dream job. The Oxford School has the same core values that I carry in my life and classroom. I believe that there is no limit to the potential that a child can reach. Therefore I use a growth mindset in my classroom to ensure students are able to learn from their mistakes and work through them until they are successful. I work hard to ensure that there is a community feeling in the classroom where each student feels connected and valued. I create lessons that are both purposeful to the curriculum and life. I want students to finish the year feeling like they have the tools and strategies they need to help them learn and be in charge of their own life.
When I’m not teaching I can often be found at an arena. I have coached and played ringette for the majority of my life. I also run the special events committee and sponsorship program for a Jr. C hockey team, the Ayr Centennials. Although I keep busy in the winter, summer weather would have to be my favourite. I enjoy spending time outside by a ball diamond, lake or pool with my family, friends and dog, Gretzky.
B.A. Honours Contemporary Studies - Wilfrid Laurier University
B.Ed. Junior, Intermediate with Minor in History - Nipissing University
Hello, my name is Olivia Garside and I have been teaching grade 5 full-time since graduating in 2014. My journey started with teaching in England, and from there I found my home here at Trinity and have been with this amazing group of students and staff for the past 3 years!
My philosophy emphasizes that all children are unique and must have a stimulating environment where they are happy and can grow physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Each individual has something special to bring to the classroom.
It is my desire to create an atmosphere where students can meet their full potential. I provide a welcoming and safe environment where students are invited to share their ideas and take risks. I assist my students to express themselves and accept themselves for who they are, as well as embrace the differences of others. I encourage my students to reach their full potential always! I like to incorporate as many of the learning styles as I can, and use manipulatives to help students connect to concepts in a way that works best for them. I celebrate any and all achievements. I love to see students working together, team building and helping one another to achieve their very best and have that feeling of success!
I love a challenge and anything artistic or creative! I regularly have seasonal door decorations where the students creations are displayed. I have holiday themed academic activities throughout the year which always gets the students engaged. Finally, I love Harry Potter, it is a consistent theme in my classroom. The students arrive in September, are sorted into their respective houses and receive magical names and professions. Throughout the year they can earn regular house points through a variety of ways and get prizes for getting to 200 points. This is a great way to reinforce team building and teach good sportsmanship. At the end of the year the overall winning house gets the house cup prize (really good!) and a certificate signed by Dumbledore himself!
B.A. Honours Contemporary Studies with Distinction - Wilfrid Laurier University
B.Ed. Primary, Junior - Nipissing University
Hello! My name is Rebecca Ruxton and I am a 2015 graduate of the Concurrent Education program at Laurier Brantford/ Nipissing University. Over the course of my five-year program, I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Studies, with a minor in English and Religious Studies, as well as a Bachelor of Education. Upon graduation, I started my teaching career in grade six at our very own The Oxford School and haven't looked back; I have truly found my home here amongst all of our wonderful staff and students.
My philosophy of teaching emphasizes a growth mindset, where I encourage all of my students to maximize their full, individual potential. Personal bests are encouraged and celebrated! Our small class sizes enable me to do a variety of exciting hands-on learning activities and to individualize curriculum content to reflect the needs of my students. I like to incorporate various STEM ideologies in my classroom and love to watch students collaborate with each other, embracing both academics and creativity to complete a task!
Over the past ten years, I have enjoyed teaching recreational and competitive dance at various studios throughout Southwestern Ontario. I am fortunate to be able to incorporate my passion for dance and performing arts into my teaching program here at TOS. Stay tuned for surprise performances at tea! Aside from teaching, I adore anything and everything Disney! I enjoy vacationing with my fiancé and am always anticipating our next visit!
B.F.A. Honours Theatre - York University
B.Ed. Junior / Intermediate - University of Ottawa
Reading Part 1 - York University
Primary Division - University of Western Ontario
Hello! My name is Alanna Stinson. I began my career in education teaching in England. After completing a year long contract I accepted a permanent position, at my school, and enjoyed teaching grade 7, 8, 9 10 and 11 English classes, getting involved in extracurricular activities and becoming a valued member of our school community. Since returning to Canada I have tutored students in math and literacy and taught science workshops with Mad Science of Hamilton and Kitchener. I was also responsible for developing Mad Science programming and training and mentoring other ‘Mad Scientists’. I was thrilled to join The Oxford School family and am excited for the wonderful challenges and infinite possibilities the coming years hold.
Family is very important to me and I am the proud mom to three amazing little boys. My eldest son began kindergarten last fall so I understand the immense trust parents place in their children’s teachers. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be a positive influence in my students’ lives and look forward to working in close collaboration with parents to ensure each of my students reach their potential. I believe my main role in the classroom is to create and maintain an inclusive, caring and safe learning environment for my students. A place where students can take risks, grow in confidence, feel a sense of belonging and develop a love of learning. I have always strived to provide students with learning materials that reflect the diversity of students in our classroom and design learning opportunities that engage students’ natural curiosity of the world around them. I respect that every child is unique with different strengths, abilities and talents and strive to provide activities that engage multiple intelligences and are FUN! I love drama and have a passion for the arts! I completed a BFA in Theatre Studies at York University and have been involved in many community theater productions. I use my expertise to incorporate drama, music and art activities into my lessons and have found that these types of learning opportunities are not only fun but also provide students opportunity to explore topics verbally, visually and kinetically.
Liberal Arts - Moody Institute
Music Performance, Elementary Specialist Certification - Royal Conservatory of Music
Ontario Music Educators' Association Member
Hi! My name is Anne Forgie and I have been at The Oxford School since it opened in the Fall of 1999. I have had the privilege of teaching for 25 years. My experience includes having my own JK classroom, as well as grades 1-4. My passion, however, is in the music room where I developed TOS’s music program and have served as Music Director for the past 12 years. I hold an Elementary Specialist Certification in piano from The Royal Conservatory of Music, and I teach many different instruments along with music theory and music history. I also currently have a large private studio which I am very proud of. Many of my students have been awarded trophies and scholarships at The Woodstock Rotary Music Festival and other competitions. While studying music performance in Chicago, specializing in trumpet and piano, I had the opportunity to perform throughout the United States with The Moody Concert Band, followed by freelancing in Chicago and New York. I continue to enjoy performing at weddings and various venues with my musically talented daughters (who are all TOS graduates!).
The most rewarding part of teaching at TOS for me is to see my students achieve their goals and feel confident and happy in an environment that supports this. I have witnessed the ways in which skills and self-confidence gained through musical study have transformed other areas of students’ lives in incredibly positive and inspiring ways. I encourage you to join this fabulous community that provides an environment of learning and developing in a safe and positive atmosphere.
B.A. French Literature - Brock University
B.Ed - Brock University
Specialist - French as a second language
Bonjour. My name is Darlene Woodwood and I am currently teaching the FSL program at The Oxford School for grades two through eight. Teaching has always been my passion, and I have been blessed with the opportunity of earning a living while doing what I love. It has been a lengthy career at that. I graduated from Brock Teachers’ College at a time when university degrees were not a prerequisite for teaching certificates, and faced my first class at the age of 18.
For 10 years I taught grade seven and eight language arts in Port Colborne, then left the teaching profession to open a dance studio and supply store called the Danceworks in St. Catharines. During the course of the following eight years my three children arrived, and I decided to return to teaching, only to be informed that there would be no openings in September unless I could teach French. (This was intended to be a joke apparently.) That fall, having switched my degree major from English to French, and having completed French part 1 during the summer, I was offered a placement in Niagara Falls teaching FSL grades 4-8, and never looked back. I completed my degree in French at Brock University, finished my French specialists part 2 and 3, then in 2000 moved to Cambridge and retired from the Waterloo Board of Education in 2005. I was done with the system, done with the rat race, but missed teaching terribly. Then I stopped by WTS one November day and talked to Miss Hurley about a job.
Needless to say, I was in shock and awe at the relaxed, positive ambiance that greeted me from my first day. Not only were the students enthusiastic and ready to learn, but they left Trinity as responsible, decent people, who were considerate of others and confident in their abilities. Both character education and academics are alive and well at The Oxford School. Through many life changes, both happy and sad, this place has become my home away from home. I’m sure the same feeling applies to students and teachers alike.
As a staff we are now looking forward to new opportunities as Miss Hurley passes on the torch. I see it as my personal goal to embrace the future changes, while cherishing the basic principles that this school was founded upon.
B.A. History and Literature - University of Western Ontario
My name is Kate Innes and I have been working part time at TOS since 2001.
I graduated from Western University with a degree in History and English and then spent five years in the advertising field, at the London Free Press, London Magazine and then with my own advertising consulting business. After marrying and moving back to Woodstock, I was busy supporting my husband on our dairy operation and raising three sons. Despite our hectic schedules we always took the time to travel with the boys whenever we had the opportunity.
In 2001 I was ready to return to work part time and was lucky enough to find the perfect fit – working Mondays and Wednesdays heading up the drama department at The Oxford School. Since high school I have been involved with community theatre groups in various roles including director, actor and volunteering on boards. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my love of theatre with students at TOS for over fifteen years. The high point of each year is taking the graduating students to the Stratford Festival for a performance.
I have always enjoyed creative pursuits so about ten years ago I began taking painting classes and workshops in Canada and New York. Now I am teaching art classes at TOS and painting workshops to adults throughout the area. Just recently several of my paintings were licensed for mass production by a company in Chicago.
My teaching and parenting goal has always focused on individuality and independence. In drama class, each student is encouraged to experiment and explore in a supportive, nurturing environment without judgment. I give each child the tools they need to feel comfortable on stage. I have had many students over the years who have been hesitant to participate in drama activities only to discover that they really enjoyed performing in front of an appreciative audience. Over the years we have developed a wonderful costume and prop department due to the generosity and support of Trinity parents. It is a happy day when the students pick their costumes! I firmly believe that the confidence that comes from being on stage as part of a team cannot be underestimated.
In art the students are introduced to the fundamentals of art and design and then are encouraged to explore their individual artistic expression while developing their problem-solving skills. I provide clear instructions and illustrations and organize the classroom in such a way that they can work independently on their art assignment with little intervention from me. Between lessons I encourage what I call “free art” where the students can help themselves to supplies and use their imaginations to explore their own creative instincts. It is very fulfilling for me to be part of the Trinity teaching team. It gives me great satisfaction to watch my students flourish and develop into kind, well-rounded young adults.
RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator)
B.A. Childhood and Social Institutions - Western University
Diploma in Early Childhood Education - Fanshawe College
Hello! My name is Alisha Van Haeren. I am actually a graduate of The Oxford School. I attended the school for grades 6, 7 and 8. It was in 2016 when I started working at TOS. It was because of the great educational foundation I received that I went on to further my education in more ways than one. I have successfully graduated from both Western University and Fanshawe College.
As the Resource Teacher you can usually find me in a number of classrooms throughout the day giving the teachers any assistance they may need. I also work with the students in small groups or one on one in my office. I love being able to get to know the students through working with them. As a teacher there is no greater moment than when a student becomes confident in the work they are doing. However, what I find equally important is that the students feel like they are gaining strength mentally, socially and emotionally. TOS has such a welcoming atmosphere for the students to find their own path and follow it.
Before becoming the Resource Teacher I took a year to indulge in one of my biggest passions, which is travelling. From 2015-2016 I spent my time travelling across the globe and gained so much cultural perspective. My first stop was in Bolivia helping to build an orphanage. It wasn’t long after that I decided to go to Spain which is where I lived for a few months, and learned how to speak Spanish. I also had the privilege to travel in Europe to see many different cities. Lastly, I found myself being able to check off my bucket list. I had always wanted to explore Australia, and when I finally had the chance I jumped at it. It was certainly my most favourite trip to date.
As much as I wish I could keep travelling, teaching is truly where my heart lies. I love being able to use a variety of educational tools and strategies to help enhance children’s learning!
Educational Assistant - Former Oxford County Board of Education
5 Year Arts & Science Graduation Diploma - Blenheim District High School
Hi! My name is Kathryn Blonski. I am a very proud wife, Mom and Gramma. I love every opportunity I have to spend time with my family, including my two granddaughters ages 9 years old and 7 months old.
In 2007, I was very fortunate to be hired at The Oxford School as a Preschool Assistant. Initially, I team taught with Kim Dorken and enjoyed helping to nurture and support many sweet & active little boys and girls. I worked to create a fun and creative learning environment through daily routines of cooperative play, stories, songs, sharing, caring and independence. In return, my time in Preschool provided me with many gifts - daily doses of giggles and laughter, as well as some very special friendships with ‘my little ones’ and their families.
In September 2016, I moved out of Preschool and became part of the TOS Support Staff. During this time, I have enjoyed spending time supporting students in the JK classroom as well as some older students, on an as needed basis.
My time at The Oxford School has allowed me to see ‘first hand’ the benefits of small class sizes, the weekly opportunities students have to speak/sing/perform in front of a group, the daily contact with families, and the personal touch of a small school community. I have also been very fortunate to feel the support and friendship of a unique and caring staff.
Thank you TOS!