When I heard that District Superintendent and CEO Jim Cambridge had announced his retirement after 37 years, I knew it was time to catch up with him before he got absorbed into the next stage of his life. He’s worked in a variety of roles from classroom teacher to school and district administrator in School District #62, but it was his progressive approach to education that caught the community’s interest. During his tenure as District Superintendent, he championed ways to improve student and staff engagement, to expand the view of what defines student success and the importance of the arts in public schools. I spoke with Jim Cambridge at his office for insights behind the innovations he has infused into the educational practices in our schools and to reflect on his most enjoyable moments as an educator.
Summer sure flies by and the seasons of change seem to remind us of that in our gardens daily. By August, those of us who grow veggies are busy harvesting, canning, freezing, and planning our winter garden. This is the month that winter plants are available in the nurseries. Growing winter veggies means you will have a nice early start for spring harvesting. And, if you let some of them go to seed, you’ll have bee food in abundance! We love letting our purple kale go to seed. Those 8-foot stocks of beautiful yellow flowers attract our pollinators early in the Spring season.
Before school was officially over for the summer, I met up with Glynis Dawson, Department Head of Fine Arts, at Belmont Secondary School and Maureen Garry, a music teacher at David Cameron Elementary School to talk about music programs in their schools. Glynis also arranged to have the Belmont sax combo and a grad combo on site and prepped for a photo shoot for our August cover.
I wish you could have been with us for that photo shoot. The rhythm section started jamming in the background as we were setting up. Immediately, everyone in the room became more animated. What could have been a boring hour adjusting positions and attitudes for the camera, became a choreography of instruments filling up the room with an energy that made you feel like there was nothing else in the world that was more important—or essential—at that moment. Brilliant!
Back in June 19, 1978, the WorkLink Employment Society (then known as the ‘Western Community Outreach Society’), opened its doors in the West Shore with 3 staff. Fast forward to their 40th year of community engagement and you’ll find the number has swelled to 47 staff working in 3 locations! Looking back, WorkLink can be justifiably proud of its many successful milestones with the delivery of over 24 supportive employment and training projects to residents throughout the West Shore, Sooke, Port Renfrew, Beacher Bay, Sooke and Pachedaht First Nations communities.
Victoria is a wonderfully vibrant city, but aren’t there times when you just want to get away from it all? That’s how Julia and Cole felt. They are both young professionals who were looking for a place to call home that would allow them to unwind from their busy work days. They found their dream property in a rural estate sale – but there was a catch. The property they were looking at had an aging mobile home on it that would require a lot of work to update once they moved in. Mobile and modular homes are difficult to both lend on and insure for several reasons.
In past issues, I’ve investigated how the diversity of community activity and landscape in the West Shore makes it such an amazingly place to live, work and play. They’re easy themes to explore and even easier to find things to do once you get there! This summer, I set myself a stiffer task: I set out to capture the spirit of music in our community. What started me on this quest, initially, were comments made by musicians I’d interviewed in past issues. Each one, at some point in the interview, credited their school and music teachers for developing their interest and talents
I’m going to guess that, in the heat of mid summer, spending hours cooking in the kitchen is most likely not that high on your priority list. So, this month, I have brought together some classic tastes of Greece for you in a quick, delicious and satisfying salad for hot summer days. For those of you who are bored with traditional greens and usual salad ingredients, this is a fun twist on Greek salad. It elevates the dish into something far more elegant as well as providing you with a hearty and healthy plate of food.
Mason jars are not just for preserving tomatoes and jams. These inexpensive and stylish containers have now found a place in home decor. I will admit, only half of the jars I’ve ever purchased have been for canning produce. I turned the other half into candle holders, vases, storage containers and more. Now that summer is here, the flats of Mason jars sitting in your pantry or garage can be quickly transformed into summer lighting! The Mason jars are a quick and lovely way to add lighting to an outdoor dining table; they also look great tucked into the garden
The Victoria Conservatory of Music Westshore [VCM] in the Westhills YMCA building has been going strong for over two years now. Launched in March 2016, enrolment has been increasing every term – up 40% this past year alone! Whether you are interested in pursuing music as a career or just as a pastime, having a solid technique and understanding of music will lay the groundwork for a lifelong enjoyment of music making. The VCM offers a variety of musical styles and genres: classical, contemporary, rock, traditional, and more.
The concept for the ‘Music Port’ Program was initiated by Westshore Arts Council and put in motion by Laura Davis, current President of the Council. As a choral singer, Laura appreciates and has experienced the value of music in her life. When she discovered that there were no music programs for ‘Youth at Risk’ in the West Shore, she reached out with her team to find a solution. In 2014, they received some start up funding from the British Columbia Arts Council and the blessings of the province to move forward. It took a while to craft out all of the fine points [for delivery]. But, once they partnered with the Westshore Music Academy, they came up with some pretty fabulous insights on what the Music Port program would look like and how it could work.
Fundraising, such as this year’s ‘Arise’ event, and on-going support by the B.C. Arts Council and Westshore Arts Council, City of Langford and Colwood and private sponsors, keep the program operating throughout the year. The Westshore Music Academy supports the program in kind by not charging for certain services like administration fees or access to practice space, instruments, sound system and a stage—or healthy snacks! Funding is reserved for instructors.