Mrs. BurnetMrs. Jasmine Burnet
Pre-Primary Teacher

Mrs. Burnet holds an Early Childhood Education Diploma from Douglas College. During her time at Douglas she was exposed to the Reggio Emilia preschool project and was so inspired to experience teaching in an environment influenced by the philosophy and ideas of Reggio that she completed her last two practicum placements in two different Swedish preschools that have worked with Reggio since the 1980s. This experience helped to strengthen her practice of a patient and holistic approach to education.

As well as working in the field of Early Childhood Education, Mrs. Burnet has taught and supported children in a number of capacities over the years, including art and theatre classes in Vancouver. An advocate for quality education for young children, she brings her experience planning and offering meaningful learning opportunities and environments to the children of Urban Academy.

When Mrs. Burnet isn’t teaching, curriculum planning, or reading books and articles related to holistic education and child/human development, she engages in a number of creative pursuits. She collects and shares traditional (folk) music and dances from the Balkans to the Appalachian mountains, cooks and preserves whole foods, and plays the ukulele, to name a few.

Mrs. Burnet is currently on maternity leave.

Mrs. Power

Mrs. Nyah Power
Pre-Primary Teacher

Mrs. Power is a part of the Junior Kindergarten team at Urban Academy. She earned her Early Childhood Education Certificate from Ridge Meadows College. Her teaching philosophy is based on a natural/holistic learning approach.  She comes to Urban Academy with experience working with children from infant to intermediate ages. Her previous expertise as a pre-Kindergarten teacher includes work as a Montessori preschool teacher, as well as a teacher in a center based on play based and natural learning philosophies. She also has worked with children in a variety of other capacities including after-school programs and as a nanny.

When not teaching, Mrs. Power enjoys spending time with family, especially with her young nieces and nephews. She loves reading, camping, running, and traveling.



Ms. VassevMs. Nadia Vassev
Pre-Primary Teacher

Ms. Vassev first joined Urban Academy in 2007 as a child care provider for before and after school. Before joining the UA team Ms. Vassev worked at Mid-Town Montessori daycare for two and half years. There she realized her love for working with children and families, and enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program through the Burnaby school district. On completion of her ECE diploma, Ms. Vassev took up the position of Junior Kindergarten teacher at UA. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, Ms. Vassev believes in the importantance of early learning in a warm, safe and fun environment that listens to the children and motivates learning through developing a curriculum that is relevant to them. In 2013 Ms. Vassev was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Ms. Vassev is a professional puppet actress with a master’s degree in puppetry. She received her degree at the National Academy of Theatre & Film Arts “Krastyo Sarafov” - Sofia, Bulgaria. Ms. Vassev has over 15 years of experience in planning, creating, promoting and implementing both educational and entertaining programs dedicated to children.

In her free time, Ms. Vassev enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, foraging, fermenting and living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Ms. Fera

Ms. Danielle Fera
Primary Teacher

Ms. Fera completed her Bachelor of Physical and Health Education as well as Bachelor of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. After graduating, she moved to the West Coast where she has been teaching a variety of subjects for the last 4 years spanning from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 4. Passionate about developing life-long learners, Ms. Fera believes in experiential learning in her classroom. Ms. Fera is excited to share her enthusiasm for teaching with the students at Urban Academy in the classroom, gymnasium, and outdoor spaces.

In her spare time, Ms. Fera enjoys travelling, hiking, and camping in the Canadian Rockies.




Mrs. McBride

Mrs. Sara McBride
Primary Teacher

Mrs. McBride was born and raised in New Westminster and loves being involved in the community. She is passionate about physical education and being active outdoors.  She believes in experiential learning and is always looking for ways to incorporate that into her classroom.  In her spare time, she enjoys travelling and learning about new places and cultures.  completed her Bachelors of Physical Education and Coaching at Douglas College and then went to SFU to do her second Bachelors in Education. While at SFU, Mrs. McBride had the opportunity to travel to Haida Gwaii to complete her Environmental Education Minor, a very unique educational experience.

Mrs. McBride began working at Urban Academy as a teacher-on-call and quickly became an asset to the primary teaching staff. Urban Academy is delighted to have her as a member of the primary teaching team.  When not at work, Mrs. McBride can be found hiking on trails with her dog, and otherwise enjoying the great outdoors.

Mrs. McBride is currently on maternity leave.

Mrs. Churton

Mrs. Hilary Churton
Primary Teacher

Mrs. Churton joins Urban Academy this year as Junior School Team Leader and Grade One teacher.  Her considerable experience in teaching, administration and special educational needs extends over many years.  Mrs. Churton was born, educated and began her teaching career in Staffordshire, England where she taught in elementary schools and held leadership positions for over 20 years.

Her love for travel and new challenges brought her family to Canada in 2007.  Since then she has taught in elementary schools in the Lower Mainland and was previously Head of School at an independent elementary school in Langley.  As an advocate of life-long learning, Mrs. Churton believes in encouraging her students with creative, inquiry-based lessons, to enjoy learning and develop their own talents and interests.

Her own interests sit firmly in the arts.  She enjoys literature, fine arts, music and theatre.  She is also passionate about animals and has two dogs and a number of fish.  One of her favourite quotes is from Michel Legrand who said: "The more I live, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know."

Ms. Cochrane

Ms. Elyse Cochrane
Primary Teacher

Ms. Cochrane is a primary teacher at Urban Academy. Ms. Cochrane was born in Ontario, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree and Bachelor of Education degree from Brock University. After moving to Burnaby, she began her Masters of Educational Technology and Learning Design at Simon Fraser University. Ms. Cochrane is passionate about using technology in the classroom, and finding innovative ways to help her students reach success at all stages of their learning.

Ms. Cochrane has teaching, tutoring and mentoring experiences in multiple grade levels; spanning from Kindergarten to Grade 8. She enjoys coaching and participating in co-curricular sports such as basketball, soccer and volleyball. Ms. Cochrane is excited to teach at Urban Academy.



Mr. McDiarmid

Mr. Michael McDiarmid
Primary Teacher

Mr. McDiarmid is an enthusiastic, energetic and patient person. His passion for the fine arts led him to earn a Bachelor of Music from the University of British Columbia with a focus on Elementary Education.  Mr. McDiarmid's musical focus is percussion and composition but he also has experience playing guitar and singing. He earned his Bachelor of Education from the UBC education program. His cohort, FAME (Fine Arts and Media Education), focused on teaching curriculum through the use of Fine Arts and Technology.  Mr. McDiarmid prides himself on making personal connections with his students while supporting a safe learning environment. He believes in involving parents and other channels of the community with his classroom to enrich his student’s education and connectivity to the people and places around them. He has worked with inner-city youth at risk in a program called Kidsafe where under privileged youth have a place to go during breaks in the school year. He has also been trained in the Carl Orff Schulwerk program, an international program that specializes in teaching children music composition and dance.

Mr. McDiarmid also has experience working as a muralist showing his passion for the visual arts.   He is honoured to have the opportunity to work at a school that believes in the Fine Arts as well as the idea of developing a student’s ability to make cross-curricular connections.

Ms. Hershfield

Ms. Marlee Hershfield
Primary Teacher

Ms. Hershfield graduated from McGill University in Montreal with her Bachelor of Education. Currently, she is in the process of completing her Masters of Education from the City University of Seattle. During her graduate studies, Ms. Hershfield’s focus has been centered on reading and literacy. She believes whole heartedly in a strong environment where language and learning are intertwined. 

Ms. Hershfield is passionate about working with the primary grades. She has previously worked as a Grade 1 and Grade 2 teacher in the past, and enjoys seeing the progress that each child makes in her class. 

An enthusiastic traveller, Ms. Hershfield has taught ESL in Santiago, Chile where she worked in a local school teaching Grades 5-12.  In her spare time she enjoys running and practicing yoga.


Ms. McEwen

Ms. Lindsey McEwen
Primary Teacher

Ms. McEwen received a Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of British Columbia where she specialised in Mathematics and Science. Since graduation, Ms. McEwen has taught in both public and independent schools, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 7. Her experience also includes two years teaching in London, England. 

Ms. McEwen strives to create a supportive, caring classroom environment in which her students can develop socially, emotionally, and academically. Her background in childcare and recreational programs helps her to plan interdisciplinary and multimodal lessons.

When not teaching, Ms. McEwen enjoys baking, travelling, and creating art.



Ms. Kost

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

Ms. Kost has a Bachelor of Education, with a focus in both Moral and Arts Education, from McGill University in Montreal.  Her teaching assignments have included opportunities to interact with both small and large groups of students, mainly in her capacity as a learning resource teacher.  She has experience teaching 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.  

As an International Baccalaureate certified teacher, she is looking forward to sharing with her Grade 3 students her love of learning and inquiry. Ms. Kost is an avid traveler, having travelled for study, work and pleasure, including stints in Asia, Australia, Europe and Central America.  Ms. Kost strongly believes in integrated and collaborative learning opportunities, and is looking forward to supporting her students every step of the way!


Mrs. Wilson

Mrs. Nicole Wilson
Primary Teacher

Mrs. Wilson has a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Psychology, from the University of British Columbia. She spent the past year teaching at an IB accredited school, where she worked diligently to prepare inquiry-based and engaging units for her students.  During her time as a tutor, she taught students from kindergarten to grade 9, which allowed her to gain extensive experience working with children at a range of levels. 

She is a caring and enthusiastic educator who is passionate about teaching and building relationships with her students and their families.  She believes that in order to facilitate learning, it is important to achieve a strong classroom community where the students feel comfortable.

Mrs. Wilson is passionate about singing and musical theatre and she enjoys incorporating music and movement into classroom activities. She loves teaching and working with children, and is delighted to be a part of the Urban Academy community.

Ms. BrownieMs. Marianne Brownie
Intermediate Teacher

Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Ms. Brownie is a graduate of McGill University's Bachelor of Education program, specializing in Elementary Education. For the past several years, she has been teaching at the intermediate grade levels, as well as teaching English Language Arts at the high school level. Ms. Brownie is experienced with the International Baccalaureate program, and is a great believer in inquiry-based learning. She encourages her students to be creative, open-minded and inquisitive.

When she is not teaching, Ms. Brownie loves reading, baking, and spending time exploring the outdoors with her husband and their dog. Her favorite activities include cycling, hiking, and swimming. She's thrilled to be a part of the Urban Academy team.



Ms. Budd

Ms. Meghan Budd
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Budd is a creative educator who strives to cultivate curiosity in her students by making learning relevant and engaging.  As a practicing artist she has a wealth of inspiration to offer students. 

Ms Budd is passionate about fine arts and media and always incorporates these into classroom learning.  Her experience lends itself well to Urban Academy's arts-infused learning.  She enjoys being active with dance and yoga.

Ms. Budd has a Bachelor of Media Arts from Emily Carr University and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia.  In addition to teaching at Urban Academy, she teaches summer programs at Saint Georges School.  She has diverse teaching experience, teaching a wide range of students from preschoolers to adults.  Ms. Budd believes in supporting a safe learning environment and hopes to honour individuality and empower students.

Ms. Macdonald

Ms. Matlin Macdonald
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Macdonald holds an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in Instrumental Music and French Studies from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Education, with a focus in Intermediate/Secondary Instrumental Music and French as a Second Language from Queen’s University in Ontario. Ms. Macdonald incorporates music into her daily classroom routines because she believes in the connections between music, creativity, imagination and behaviour.

After completing her schooling, she moved to England to travel and teach abroad. She spent two awesome years teaching at Elmwood Junior School where she developed and implemented a successful reading program for ESL and at-risk students. She enjoys watching the changes in a child’s confidence as learning is made fun, engaging and accessible.

In her spare time, Ms. Macdonald enjoys traveling, ice hockey, playing piano, yoga and hiking. She also strives to pass on her love of learning through a positive attitude and by creating a classroom environment where students feel safe to explore.

Ms. Reston

Ms. Tricia Reston
Intermediate Teacher

Ms. Reston is an enthusiastic and passionate educator who strives to incorporate hands-on, engaging exercises into classroom instruction.  Her emphasis on creating and maintaining a welcoming and safe classroom community enables her to establish meaningful and respectful relationships with students and their families. 

After graduating with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria, Ms. Reston went on to further explore her dedication to education and culture while teaching at a Canadian International school in China.  This unique opportunity enabled Ms. Reston to extend and expand upon her teaching approaches as well as indulging her love of travel. 

Ms. Reston is determined to foster a safe and supportive classroom community where students are confident and motivated to continually learn from their surroundings, and where they strive to achieve their individual goals and potential.


Ms. Herman

Ms. Melissa Herman
Secondary Teacher

Ms. Herman has a Bachelor of Science in Immunology from McGill University and a Bachelor of Education with concentrations in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Ottawa. Before moving west, she spent time teaching chemistry, mathematics and computer science at a private school in Montreal. She has worked with youth in a variety of educational settings as a tutor and as a piano teacher.

Ms. Herman challenges her students to connect theoretical concepts in mathematics and science with the world around them. She emphasizes the importance of creativity in the sciences, and is therefore particularly excited to incorporate art-infused learning into her classroom. Ms. Herman advocates safety as the number one priority during laboratory activities and demonstrations. She has received WHMIS training, Flinn laboratory safety training, and has attended a seminar given by the Laboratory Safety Institute.

Aspects of teaching that Ms. Herman finds most energizing include partaking in teachable moments, witnessing student success, and constantly learning. Her active school life is balanced with running, cycling and yoga. She is also an arts enthusiast who enjoys playing the piano and experimenting with different media in her spare time.