Meet Urban Academy's Faculty and Staff

Urban Academy teachers are leaders in the education profession. Our diverse team is comprised of thinkers, innovators, movers and shakers. Their qualifications include all of the Ministry of Education requirements including undergraduate degrees in education, and many of our staff also hold graduate degrees in specialty areas of instruction. Our faculty are experts in their own realm, each using their unique expertise for mentorship and multi-disciplinary projects that constantly challenge the way students understand the world. Teachers who learn continuously, inspire students to do the same – and that is exactly how we work at Urban Academy.


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teaching tomorrow's leaders

Mrs. Jasmine Burnet
Pre-Primary Teacher

With an Early Childhood Education Diploma from Douglas College, Mrs. Burnet has developed a holistic approach to education. She was inspired by the Reggio Emilia preschool project, which led her to two practicum placements in Swedish preschools, and experience teaching art and theatre in Vancouver.

Mrs. Nadia Vassev
Pre-Primary Teacher

Mrs. Vassev has diverse experience in childcare, a master’s degree in puppetry, an Early Childhood Education diploma from the Burnaby School District, and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013. She creates a warm, safe, and fun environment and motivates learning through developing an emergent curriculum, relevant to Urban Academy students.

Ms. Casey McKnight
Junior French Specialist

Ms. McKnight (known to her students as Mademoiselle McKnight) earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria. She is passionate about bringing a sense of fun into her classes by developing creative and interactive lessons that awaken the curiosity and love of learning in her students.

Ms. Danielle Fera
Primary Teacher

Ms. Fera has a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education and a Bachelor of Education. Passionate about developing life-long learners, Ms. Fera believes in experiential learning in her classroom, and is excited to share her enthusiasm for teaching with the students at Urban Academy in the classroom, gymnasium, and outdoor spaces.

Mrs. Sara McBride
Primary Teacher

Mrs. McBride has a Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching, as well as a second bachelor’s degree in Education with an Environmental Education Minor, which she completed in Haida, Gwaii. She believes in experiential learning and is always looking for ways to incorporate new ideas in her classroom.

Mrs. Hilary Churton
Primary Teacher

Mrs. Churton’s considerable teaching experience began in Staffordshire, England, and she has since taught in elementary schools in the Lower Mainland. She was also Head of School at an independent elementary school in Langley. An advocate of life-long learning, Mrs. Churton uses creative, inquiry-based lessons, to encourage her students to enjoy learning and develop their own talents and interests.

Mrs. Elyse Cochrane
Intermediate Teacher

Mrs. Cochrane has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Bachelor of Education from Brock University. After moving to Burnaby, she also began her Master’s of Educational Technology and Learning Design at Simon Fraser University. Mrs. Cochrane is passionate about using technology in the classroom and finding innovative ways to help her students achieve success at all stages of their learning.

Mr. Michael McDiarmid
Intermediate Teacher

Mr. McDiarmid has a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Music with a focus on Elementary Education from the University of British Columbia. He has also been trained in the Carl Orff Schulwerk Program, teaching children music composition and dance. He prides himself on making personal connections and believes in involving parents and other channels of the community to enrich students’ education and connectivity to the people and places around them.

Ms. Marlee Hershfield
Primary Teacher

Ms. Hershfield has a Bachelor of Education from McGill University, and a Master’s of Education from the City University of Seattle. During her graduate studies, Ms. Hershfield’s focus has been centred on reading and literacy, and she believes in creating an environment where language and learning are intertwined.

Ms. Lindsey McEwen
Primary Teacher

Ms. McEwen holds a Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of British Columbia where she specialized in Mathematics and Science. Her experience also includes two years of teaching in London, England. Ms. McEwen strives to create a supportive, caring classroom environment in which her students can develop socially, emotionally, and academically.

Ms. Merrill Kost
Team Leader, Junior School & Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Kost has a Bachelor of Education with a focus in Moral and Arts Education from McGill University. She has taught students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has training in the PECS programme. In her role as a Special Educator, she has created individual education plans and strongly believes that each child should be taught according to their own personal continuum of learning and growth.

Mrs. Nicole Wilson
Intermediate Teacher

Mrs. Wilson has a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia. She has experience teaching at an IB accredited school, where she worked diligently to prepare inquiry-based and engaging units for her students. She believes that in order to facilitate learning, it is important to build relationships with students and families to achieve a strong classroom community where students feel comfortable.

Ms. Jovana Petrovska
Primary Music Specialist

Ms. Petrovska holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Theory and Education from St. Cyril and Methodius University in Macedonia. Since moving to Canada she has also earned a diploma from the Jazz and Contemporary Instrument Program at Vancouver Community College with a Jazz Piano Major. She energizes students with teachings from all types of music and the joys that music can bring.

Mrs. Marianne Brownie
Intermediate Teacher

Mrs. Brownie has a Bachelor of Education from McGill University, specializing in Elementary Education. She is experienced with the International Baccalaureate program, and is a great believer in inquiry-based learning, encouraging her students to be creative, open-minded, and inquisitive.

Mrs. Meghan Budd
Senior Teacher

Mrs. Budd has a Bachelor of Media Arts from Emily Carr University and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. She believes in supporting a safe learning environment and hopes to honour individuality and empower students. As a practicing artist, she strives to cultivate curiosity in her students by making learning relevant and engaging.

Mrs. Meghan Budd
Middle Teacher

Mrs. Budd has a Bachelor of Media Arts from Emily Carr University and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. She believes in supporting a safe learning environment and hopes to honour individuality and empower students. As a practicing artist, she strives to cultivate curiosity in her students by making learning relevant and engaging.

Ms. Matlin Macdonald
Senior Teacher

Ms. Macdonald holds an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in Ontario. She teaches Grade 6, and incorporates music into her daily classroom routines to bring out the connections between music, creativity, imagination, and behaviour.

Ms. Matlin Macdonald
Middle Teacher

Ms. Macdonald holds an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in Ontario. She teaches Grade 6, and incorporates music into her daily classroom routines to bring out the connections between music, creativity, imagination, and behaviour.

Ms. Tricia Reston
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Reston has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria, and taught at a Canadian International school in China. She strives to foster a safe and supportive classroom community where students are confident and motivated to continually learn from hands-on exercises and their surroundings.

Ms. Melissa Herman
Senior Teacher

Ms. Herman has a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa. She challenges her students to connect theoretical concepts in mathematics and science with the world around them, emphasizing the importance of creativity in the sciences.

Mrs. Suzanne MacLeod
Team Leader, Senior School & Senior Teacher

Mrs. MacLeod is continuing her studies at Simon Fraser University, completing a Counselling Minor with the goal of eventually completing a Master’s in Counselling. She emphasizes the importance of social and emotional development of youth, supporting the unique learning needs of each student.

Mrs. Patricia Brooke
Drama Specialist and Senior Teacher

Mrs. Brooke has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and History from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Education from Brock University. She believes that drama class should be a fun and educational experience with diverse, engaging applications throughout the curriculum.

Mrs. Patricia Brooke
Drama Specialist and Senior Teacher

Mrs. Brooke has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and History from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Education from Brock University. She believes that drama class should be a fun and educational experience with diverse, engaging applications throughout the curriculum.

Ms. Karle Spencer
Visual Arts & French Specialist

Ms. Spencer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in visual arts at Thompson Rivers University and a Bachelor of Education at the University of British Columbia. She is excited to find ways to bring bilingualism into the classroom, as well as provide students with opportunities to create personally meaningful art that explores avenues of their own cultures.

Mrs. Cecilia Liddle
Special Education Assistant

Mrs. Liddle has a certificate in Early Childhood Education, Infant Toddler and Special Needs from Vancouver Career College. She is a strong believer of inclusion and helps every student find their own unique place within the Urban Academy community.

Mrs. Misty Prokop'ev
Special Education Assistant

Mrs. Prokop’ev completed training in the Orton Gillingham method of learning and uses these skills when supporting students in the classroom. She has an amazing ability to meet students where they are at and to take their needs into account with personalized support.

Ms. Nicole Bourget
Out of School Care Staff

Ms. Bourget (known as Ms. B) completed a diploma in Early Childhood Education from Sprott Shaw College. She has experience with Montessori preschools and centres using the Reggio Emilia approach with various age groups, and continues to learn every day from students and colleagues at Urban Academy.

Ms. Jaclyn Haywood-Farmer
Out of School Care Staff

Ms. Haywood-Farmer is currently finishing her undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University, majoring in psychology and minoring in counselling and education while specializing in child development. She enjoys the creativity and adventures that come from working with children, and brings this enthusiasm and passion to the team at Urban Academy.

Ms. Kaitlin Sterndale-Bennett
Out of School Care Staff

Ms. Sterndale-Bennett is an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia working towards becoming a pediatric occupational therapist. Whether playing games, leading science experiments, helping with homework, or taking students on adventures in the community, Miss. S-B (as the students call her) is passionate about building strong relationships with both students and parents.

Ms. Joahna Carvallo-Salas
Out of School Care Staff

Mrs. Carvallo-Salas graduated as a Behaviour Interventionist (BI) from Douglas College after moving to Canada from Lima, Peru. She has had the opportunity to work one-to-one with children with special needs and strongly believes that every child is full of talents and abilities that need to be stimulated and directed.

Ms. Jill Beaumont
Out of School Care Staff

Ms. Beaumont, known by the students as Ms. Jill, has an undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and is also working on her degree in Disability and Applied Behaviour Analysis at Douglas College. She enjoys sharing in the natural curiosity and enthusiasm children have for the world around them.

Ms. Ali Hagerty
Out of School Care Staff

Ms. Hagerty completed her Early Childhood Education – Special Needs diploma at Douglas College and is currently completing her undergraduate studies in Education at Simon Fraser University. She believes it is important for children to learn about and experience the outdoors as well as be able to express themselves in unique ways. She shares her passion for art and creativity with the children in her care.

staff & admin

Mrs. Cheryle Beaumont
Head of School

Mrs. Beaumont provides leadership and direction to help the school as a whole live its mission every day. The role is diverse, and Mrs. Beaumont’s extensive background in education and leadership sets her up perfectly for the challenge. Her career in education spans 36 years, with three Lower Mainland school districts. She has served on a total of eight publicly elected Boards of Education as a member of senior staff in various capacities, including almost seven years as Superintendent. She has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan, and her Master’s of Educational Leadership from Simon Fraser University.

Mrs. Beaumont is most recently a private consultant providing both paid and voluntary service in the public and the not-for-profit sectors.

Merrill Kost
Team Leader, Junior School & Primary Teacher

Ms. Kost has a Bachelor of Education with a focus in Moral and Arts Education from McGill University. She has taught students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has training in the PECS programme. In her role as a Special Educator, she has created individual education plans and strongly believes that each child should be taught according to their own personal continuum of learning and growth.

Suzanne MacLeod
Team Leader, Senior School & Senior Teacher

Mrs. MacLeod is continuing her studies at Simon Fraser University, completing a Counselling Minor with the goal of eventually completing a Master’s in Counselling. She emphasizes the importance of social and emotional development of youth, supporting the unique learning needs of each student.

Mrs. Sonja Kennedy
Director of Marketing and Admissions

Mrs. Kennedy brings with her fourteen years of experience in the communications, marketing and management fields in the not-for-profit industry. With a degree in communications from Simon Fraser University, she began her career and spent eight years working for one of Western Canada’s major trade associations.

Mrs. Kennedy has a passion for working with people, growing organizations and sharing her enthusiasm about the value of quality education. Most importantly, she is passionate about supporting children and has spent many years volunteering in various initiatives that serve families.

Ms. Kerri Crowley
Admissions Officer

Ms. Crowley has a degree in Journalism from Griffith College in Dublin, Ireland, and a certificate in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. With nearly a decade of experience in marketing and PR, she is proactive, thoughtful and enthusiastic about helping others. Ms. Crowley is excited to welcome new families to Urban Academy, helping them through the adventure of finding a school that is the right fit, with a positive attitude and a friendly smile.

Mr. Peter Thrower
Finance Manager

Mr. Thrower is a CA with over 35 years of financial experience including 10 years working in financial management leading BC independent schools. He came out of retirement to help Urban Academy through its transitional period, and his experience is invaluable to the school

Mrs. Miranda McNamara
Administration

Mrs. McNamara graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Law. She brings her talents and skills to the busy Urban Academy administration office, and her strengths in multitasking and customer service ensure that families and the rest of the staff are well supported.

Ms. Jeni McBride
Administrative Assistant

Ms. McBride strengthens the team with her expertise in non-profit administration and customer service as well as maintenance and IT service. The friendly face that answers the door and the helpful person on the end of the phone line at the Uptown Campus, Ms. McBride is always ready with a smile and to help out.

The UA team is an elite group of leaders who deliver the best possible learning experiences. Join a network of expert educators, inspiring the brightest innovators of tomorrow.

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School Leadership

Urban Academy has a passionate Board of Directors who are committed to upholding our commitment to innovation and excellence.

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Our Story

Urban Academy was founded on the idea that creativity, heart and collaboration of individual talents would guide success.

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our Mission

Our most important principles help us shape who we are, where we’re going and who we want to be.

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School Documents

Our school is structured for every child to thrive and feel empowered to achieve their best.

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OOSC

We partner an amazing education experience with an amazing before and after school care experience.

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Publications

From what the press is saying, our annual report and strategic planning initiatives, get a snapshot of what we're up to.

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