MEET THE COMMUNITY - CHANDRA WIEGAND

Tell us about your role and what you like most about it?
At the end of the first day of school in September 2021, a student was picked up by her grandmother, and we engaged in small talk. The grandmother politely asked how long I’d been doing this job. Well, it’s complicated. My current role has me teaching grade 2 students. As I have a passion for and background in mathematics, I am always looking for ways to strengthen the mathematics program at the Junior School. 

In the 14 years that I have been at Elmwood, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve taught grades 1, 2, 3, and 5 in the elementary building. Prior to Covid, I used to venture over to the ‘big school’ where I taught the middle school photography course and the Math Olympiads enrichment programme. But that still doesn’t really answer the question I was asked. In short, I graduated a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Actually, it was Queen’s in ‘98, and I have been teaching ever since. 

I love figuring out what makes each student tick. What interests them, what motivates them, and the keys to helping them reach their potential. After teaching for as long as I have, I recognize there are similarities between kids, and just as often, there are differences. Each child is unique, and the plan for reaching their potential needs to be just as individualized. Solving this puzzle and seeing the plan to fruition is the part of my job I love most.

What is your favourite thing about Elmwood?
The people. Elmwood is a one-of-a-kind place.

...Oh, and the sugar cookies from the Bistro.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and from whom?
“You're off the Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!” are lines from Dr. Seuss’s book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” Being open to trying anything is one of my philosophies.

I was “ready for anything under the sky” on a cold day in February ‘98 when I attended a job fair at Queen’s University. Six months later, I was on a plane to teach grade four at the American International School in Cairo, Egypt. Two years after that, I tried my luck at another job fair, and with the flip of a coin, I was off to Basel, Switzerland.

I think country singer Leann Rimes puts it best, “Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin'.” This has certainly been true for me.

If you could choose one superpower to have, what would it be?  How would you best use it?
I would choose to be telepathic. Reading students’ minds would help me better understand why they wrote a specific answer, behaved a certain way, or what excites them. If I know the reasoning behind their thinking, I can better support them in achieving their potential.

Which word or phrase do you use most often?
“How would you like your hot chocolate?” 

Most days begin with me greeting my students and taking their orders for hot chocolate. Some students opt for their imaginary drink to have whip cream; others want coloured marshmallows or sprinkles. Occasionally, a kiddo will suggest a new topping, and we all just have to try this invisible concoction. Starting the day with a joke or ritual that we all share brings a smile to my students' faces. Life is about creating fun in each day.

What is one thing that would surprise people about you?
I hold a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and am working toward my second dan. When I was in seventh grade, I started Tae Kwon Do with my family. I was 16 and one belt away from earning a black belt when I decided it was no longer for me. I took a break away from this sport– a rather long break. When my youngest son, Lucas, was four, I, like my mother, decided we wanted an activity our whole family could learn and do together. Tae Kwon Do fit the bill.

What is your favourite way to treat yourself?
It is always a treat when I can spend the whole day hanging out with my boys. I love the busy days we’ve spent cooking new recipes, playing in the yard, and trying any activity they want. I also love the quieter moments when we’re snuggled on the couch, reading books in front of a fire. Being a mom has taught me how to become a stronger teacher.