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

Mrs. Burnett, driven by a passion for the development of potential, came to Urban Academy with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Douglas College. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early education, Mrs. Burnett completed her practicum placements in Swedish Preschools, as well as gaining experiencing teaching art and theatre in Vancouver. Mrs. Burnett is furthering her professional development by training as an Orton Gillingham tutor. In her classroom, Mrs. Burnett strives to create an environment where students can experience a sense of mastery and competence, where they can see mistakes and failures as important steps in their learning journey. In her spare time she enjoys camping, gardening and outdoor activities with her family. Mrs. Burnett hopes that her students will learn effective communication skills, problem solving strategies and how to build strong connections.

Mrs. Nadia Vassev
Pre-Primary Teacher

Mrs. Vassev has an Early Childhood Education diploma from the Burnaby College and a master’s degree in puppetry, and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013. Ms. Vassev shares her passion for children, nature and art to create a supportive and exciting environment that motivates learning through an emergent curriculum. Through her work, Mrs.Vassev hopes to foster a curiosity in her students, a sense of caring for themselves and others and a relationship with the natural world. In her free time, Mrs.Vassev enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, foraging, fermenting and living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Ms. Casey McKnight
Primary & Intermediate French Specialist

Ms. McKnight (known to her students as Mademoiselle McKnight) earned a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in French, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria. Her decision to pursue teaching comes from her own passion for learning and her desire to make a positive impact on the lives of others. In her spare time, Ms. McKnight enjoys playing beach volleyball and spending quality time with her friends and family. She is passionate about bringing a sense of fun into her classes by developing creative and interactive lessons that awaken a curiosity and love of learning in her students.

Ms. Tessa Burnside
Primary Teacher

Ms. Burnside attended Queen’s University, in Ontario, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, as well as her B’Ed where she specialized in Arts Infused Education. She has additional qualifications in Special Education as well as experience in Montessori Education. Ms. Burnside became a teacher with the hope to inspire, discover and create alongside her students. Ms. Burnside strives to help her students become critical and creative thinkers, have a resilient and courageous mindset, and to instil curiosity and wonder in her classroom. In her free time, Ms. BUrnside enjoys hiking and being outdoors with her boyfriend and dog.

Mrs. Sara McBride
Primary Teacher

Mrs. McBride has a Sport Science Diploma and a Bachelors of Physical Education and Coaching from Douglas College in New Westminster, as well as a B’Ed with a minor in Outdoor Education from Simon Fraser University. Mrs. McBride became a teacher because she wants to make a positive difference in her community. She believes that having a teacher who shares their passions with their students makes for an enriching classroom. Mrs. McBride enjoys teaching students about being healthy and active, and believes that experiential learning helps students develop a deep connection to the subject matter. Exercise is at the heart of what Mrs. McBride loves to do for fun. She enjoys running and trying out new fitness classes, as well as weekend hikes with her family and dog. Mrs. McBride hopes that her students love school and feel a special connection to with their peers in the classroom. She also hopes that they continue to love playing outdoors in any type of weather, especially on those rainy, Vancouver days!

Ms. Amanda McCrimmon
Primary Teacher

Ms. McCrimmon has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta with a Middle Years major and a Generalist minor. Ms. McCrimmon fell in love with teaching during her second teaching practicum, when she saw just how huge an impact a caring adult could have in a child’s life. In her free time, Ms McCrimmon enjoys sewing, performing, and spending time with her fiancé, Tyler. Ms McCrimmon hopes that her students become independent learners who think critically and creatively to discover the world around them.

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
Primary & Intermediate Music & P.E. Specialist

Mr. McDiarmid completed his Bachelor of Music in Elementary Education Stream at the University of British Columbia, specializing in percussion. He also holds a Bachelor in Elementary Education. He came to Urban Academy six years ago, and since then has transitioned to the Music & P.E. Specialist sharing his passion for music and sports with students from JK-Gr. 3. Mr. McDiarmid has always enjoyed and excelled at working with children, and felt teaching was a great way to inspire positive change in the world. Outside of school, Mr. McDiarmid enjoys team sports, hiking, cycling and swimming. Mr. McDiarmid aims to inspire his students by introducing them to different forms of fitness and music to help enrich their lives. He prides himself on making personal connections with his students, providing a safe learning environment for them to thrive.

Mr. Mike Twaites
Athletic Director & Senior Teacher

Mr. Twaites graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching from Douglas College, and completed his teacher training at Simon Fraser University. His experience includes teaching at an IB accredited school. Mr. Twaites was drawn to a career in education because he believes that students should learn to lead a healthy life while also experiencing new sports. When he is not teaching, Mr. Twaites is either coaching or playing hockey, going on adventures with his dog or spending down time with family and friends. Mr. Twaites’ hopes for his students are that they develop an interest in various sports and outdoor education pursuits that help them to grow in confidence and courage.

Ms. Lindsey McEwen
Primary Teacher

Ms. McEwen holds a Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of British Columbia where she specialized in Mathematics, Science and Technology. Her experience also includes two years of teaching in London, England. Ms. McEwen is a passionate learner and explorer of the world. As a primary teacher, she hopes to share this enthusiasm with her students. In her free time, Ms. McEwen enjoys baking, sculpting, and travelling. Ms. McEwen strives to create a supportive, engaging classroom environment in which her students can develop as creative risk takers and critical thinkers.

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

Since graduating from McGill University with a Bachelor of Education Degree, Ms. Kost has been involved with a wide variety of ages, stages and educational needs in her nearly 10 years of teaching and learning. She has extensive experience working with students from Kindergarten to High School, students with special needs, and at-risk youth. Coming from a long line of teachers, Ms. Kost’s passion for education runs deep. Having travelled around the world for education, work and pleasure, Ms. Kost brings to her students a love of learning stemming from her wide variety of experiences. She has a passion for nature-based education, and currently is completing her Master’s of Education: Curriculum & Instruction in Nature-based and Place-conscious Practices. Ms. Kost always aims to have her students develop a deep connection with the natural world.

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 is passionate about educating children and helping them foster a love of learning, which is evident in the relationships she develops with each student. During her free time, she enjoys singing, dancing, and scrapbooking. Mrs. Wilson strongly 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. Diana Leeson
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Leeson has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UVIC and a Bachelor of Education degree from UBC with a specialization in Elementary Education. She has taught and lived in four countries (Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada) to hone her teaching pedagogy. She is well versed in international best practices in education and believes that this knowledge is an asset for all of her students. She has a passion for using technology in her classroom to help her students reach their fullest potential! Ms. Leeson enjoys watching movies, trying new exercise classes and of course teaching and traveling. Ms. Leeson strongly believes that each child should be taught according to his/her own personal continuum of learning and growth, and that each child feels safe and successful.

Ms. Mary O'Byrne
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. O’Byrne  graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree and postgraduate certificate in Education from the National University of Ireland, and the Department for Education in the UK. Teaching is in her family; Ms. O’Byrne’s mother and grandmother were both teachers, and she began to love the idea of teaching while making resources for her mother’s Kindergarten class. During her free time, Ms. O’Byrne loves to try different classes every year, and try to new skills: most recently it has been glassblowing, lampwork, and making silver jewellery. Ms. O’Byrne hopes that her students will leave her class with the personal and technical skills needed to succeed in their next grade, as well as a sense of responsibility for their own learning and a pride in their achievements.

Mrs. Meghan Budd
Arts Specialist

Ms. 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 creating a safe nd supportive learning environment, and strives to honour individuality and empower students to be creative thinkers. As a practicing artist, Ms. Budd has vast experience with Media and Visual Arts materials and processes to share with students and teachers at Urban Academy. A mother of one little boy, in her spare time Ms. Budd can be found playing outside or at the Arena watching hockey. Ms. Budd strives to cultivate curiosity in her students by making learning relevant and engaging.

Mrs. Meghan Budd
Arts Specialist

Ms. 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 creating a safe nd supportive learning environment, and strives to honour individuality and empower students to be creative thinkers. As a practicing artist, Ms. Budd has vast experience with Media and Visual Arts materials and processes to share with students and teachers at Urban Academy. A mother of one little boy, in her spare time Ms. Budd can be found playing outside or at the Arena watching hockey. Ms. Budd strives to cultivate curiosity in her students by making learning relevant and engaging.

Ms. Matlin Macdonald
Music & French Specialist

Ms. Macdonald attended the University of Guelph and Queen’s University where she studied Music Education and French as a Second Language, specializing at the intermediate/senior level. Ms. Macdonald’s passion to inspire students to love learning and challenge themselves is what motivated her to become a teacher. Away from the classroom, she enjoys all things musical, spending time with her family, playing hockey and doing puzzles. Ms. Macdonald hopes her students become passionate people who take responsibility for themselves and work hard to achieve their goals.

Ms. Matlin Macdonald
Music & French Specialist

Ms. Macdonald attended the University of Guelph and Queen’s University where she studied Music Education and French as a Second Language, specializing at the intermediate/senior level. Ms. Macdonald’s passion to inspire students to love learning and challenge themselves is what motivated her to become a teacher. Away from the classroom, she enjoys all things musical, spending time with her family, playing hockey and doing puzzles. Ms. Macdonald hopes her students become passionate people who take responsibility for themselves and work hard to achieve their goals.

Ms. Tricia Reston
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Reston has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria, specializing in Elementary Education. Prior to teaching at Urban Academy, Ms. Reston taught at a Canadian International School in China and also gained Montessori experience. Surrounded by positive role models and inspirational educators as a child, Ms. Reston has always wanted to pursue a career in teaching children. When she is not teaching, Ms. Reston enjoys spending time at her family cabin on the Sunshine Coast, traveling to and exploring new places, and remaining active outdoors. In her classroom, Ms. Reston strives to foster a collaborative and supportive classroom community where students feel safe, captivated, and motivated to learn. Her hope is that through engaging, hands-on experiences, students develop a lifelong love of learning.ngs.

Ms. Melissa Herman
Senior Teacher

Ms.Herman completed a Bachelor of Science in Immunology at McGill University followed by a Baccalaureat of Education at the University of Ottawa. Following an initial teaching experience at a private school in Montreal, she moved to Vancouver to join the team at Urban Academy where she teaches senior Math and Science. Currently, Ms. Herman is pursuing a Master’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education at Simon Fraser University. Ms. Herman teaches to share her love of learning with students, and to continually learn and grow. She strives to help her students develop their individual abilities to think critically and creatively problem solve in mathematics and the sciences. Ms. Herman hopes to intrigue her students by the beauty and ingenuity of these disciplines. Outside of her classroom, Ms. Herman can be found hiking the scenic mountains of Southwestern British Columbia.

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

Ms. MacLeod is passionate about youth mental health, personal wellness and a healthy life balance. Ms. MacLeod’s qualifications include an education degree from SFU with a focus on curriculum, instruction and educational psychology, a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University with particular focus on counselling youth, individuals and families, as well as Orton Gillingham certification in literacy and numeracy. Life has always brought Ms. MacLeod back to education, it’s who she is! She thrives in an environment where she has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students from JK to Grade 12.  In her free time, Ms. MacLeod loves the west coast outdoors lifestyle – camping, boating and playing recreational sports. Time spent with her family is priceless, and family gatherings are a big part of weekends and vacations. Ms. MacLeod hopes that her students become independent thinkers, find a passion that drives them towards their goals, and understand and demonstrate empathy toward others.

Mrs. Patricia Brooke
Drama Specialist, Junior & Senior School

Mrs. Brooke attended Simon Fraser University where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and History, followed by a Bachelor in Education from Brock University. She has always wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember, believing that it’s very rare to have a job that allows her to do all her favourite things every day while empowering her students to strive for confidence and courage in everything they do. Outside of school, Mrs. Brooke runs Shadows and Dreams Theatre company, which has performed Shakespeare productions in Queens Park for the last 12 years. Mrs. Brooke hopes to create joyful and critical thinkers who use their knowledge to make the world the best place it can be.

Mrs. Patricia Brooke
Drama Specialist, Junior & Senior School

Mrs. Brooke attended Simon Fraser University where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and History, followed by a Bachelor in Education from Brock University. She has always wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember, believing that it’s very rare to have a job that allows her to do all her favourite things every day while empowering her students to strive for confidence and courage in everything they do. Outside of school, Mrs. Brooke runs Shadows and Dreams Theatre company, which has performed Shakespeare productions in Queens Park for the last 12 years. Mrs. Brooke hopes to create joyful and critical thinkers who use their knowledge to make the world the best place it can be.

Ms. Cailyn Kim
Middle Teacher

Ms. Kim comes to Urban Academy with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in visual arts, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. She recently completed International Baccalaureate certification focusing on the primary years program. Ms. Kim has always wanted to be a teacher, to share the inspiration for learning that her teachers instilled in her. She wants her students to discover the joy of learning that will guide them to become lifelong learners, always curious but optimistically critical about the world they live in. A passionate artist, Ms. Kim loves painting and drawing in her free time. Her favourite artist is Frida Kahlo.

Mr. Oliver Leclair
Intermediate Teacher

Mr. Leclair graduated from the University of Victoria with a BA in English Literature and a Minor Certification in Journalism and Publication. He also holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. Mr. Leclair has extensive experience working as an intern teacher, TOC and Outdoor Education teacher in other private and public schools in Vancouver. A love of helping students to overcome challenges and achieve success are the reasons Mr. Leclair became a teacher. Life outside of school for Mr. Leclair involves reading, playing board games, camping and spending time with his family. Mr. Leclair hopes that his students find joy in learning and discover their passions.

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
Special Education Assistant

Ms.Haywood-Farmer graduated with honours from Simon Fraser University, with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Counselling, specializing in child development. She also earned her Early Childcare Educators Assistant Certificate and Applied Behavioural Analysis Certificate for Educators. Ms. Haywood-Farmer has been working in the childcare setting for over five years and enjoys the creativity and adventures that come from working with children. Some of her hobbies include playing soccer, board games and spending time with family and friends..

Ms. Kaitlin Sterndale-Bennett
Out of School Care Staff

Ms.Sterndale-Bennett has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. She came to Urban Academy with extensive experience working with children and youth in recreational settings such as North Vancouver Recreation Commission, Coquitlam Recreation, and SFU Childcare Society. Whether playing games, leading science experiments, helping with homework, or taking students on adventures in the community, Ms. Sterndale-Bennett is passionate about building strong relationships with the students in her care.

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
Special Education Assistant

Ms. Beaumont has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and a diploma in Disability and Applied Behaviour Analysis from Douglas College. Ms. Beaumont became a special education assistant because she enjoys teaching young children and helping to make classrooms and communities more inclusive. Outside of school, Ms. Beaumont loves to go running and swimming, and also enjoys spending time with my family, friends and cats. Ms. Beaumont’s goal is to help the students in her class develop a love of learning and a curiosity to explore 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. During OOSC Ms. Hagerty hopes to provide a safe and enjoyable environment where children can further explore their interests and ultimately engage in their learning through games, arts and crafts, sports and free play.

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.

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

Since graduating from McGill University with a Bachelor of Education Degree, Ms. Kost has been involved with a wide variety of ages, stages and educational needs in her nearly 10 years of teaching and learning. She has extensive experience working with students from Kindergarten to High School, students with special needs, and at-risk youth. Coming from a long line of teachers, Ms. Kost’s passion for education runs deep. Having travelled around the world for education, work and pleasure, Ms. Kost brings to her students a love of learning stemming from her wide variety of experiences. She has a passion for nature-based education, and currently is completing her Master’s of Education: Curriculum & Instruction in Nature-based and Place-conscious Practices. Ms. Kost always aims to have her students develop a deep connection with the natural world.

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

Ms. MacLeod is passionate about youth mental health, personal wellness and a healthy life balance. Ms. MacLeod’s qualifications include an education degree from SFU with a focus on curriculum, instruction and educational psychology, a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University with particular focus on counselling youth, individuals and families, as well as Orton Gillingham certification in literacy and numeracy. Life has always brought Ms. MacLeod back to education, it’s who she is! She thrives in an environment where she has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students from JK to Grade 12.  In her free time, Ms. MacLeod loves the west coast outdoors lifestyle – camping, boating and playing recreational sports. Time spent with her family is priceless, and family gatherings are a big part of weekends and vacations. Ms. MacLeod hopes that her students become independent thinkers, find a passion that drives them towards their goals, and understand and demonstrate empathy toward others.

Mrs. Sonja Kennedy
Director of Marketing and Admissions

Mrs. Kennedy brings with her 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 in trade and technology education for youth and then 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. Mrs. McNamara enjoys the outdoors and has been taking part in Hawaiian outrigger canoe races in BC, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. She also enjoys Polynesian dance classes.

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. She has a passion for seeing projects through, and being a key support in the transition to the new school facility. 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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