Who We Are - Staff Profiles
Island Discovery teachers enjoy creating a genuine attachment with the students they teach, and typically they work with families in Kindergarten to grade 9 across all curricula. Staff are based on Bowen Island and the Lower Mainland and support students in both classroom and full-time home learning programs.
Allan Saugstad created Island Discovery with a group of families in 2003, for his own daughters and their friends. Before that, he was a Principal and teacher in Vancouver, since 1991. He has taught all grades K-9 and been a specialist in Math, English, Technology, Music, Drama, and P.E. His passions include musicals, sports, and helping kids learn new things. His favourite thing about Island Discovery is how interconnected everyone is, in such a heartfelt way.
Laura joined The Learning Centre (now Island Discovery Learning Community) in 2005 when her daughter Lacey entered Kindergarten. As a volunteer parent, Laura brought her former administrative experience plus love of homeschooling, attachment parenting and community building to The Learning Centre Community. In 2008 she was offered a formal position as school secretary and has enjoyed being a part of the evolution of Island Discovery ever since. She continues to work with families and staff in a support role using innovative methods of communication, collaboration and technology, and continues to model a heart-centred approach to the IDLC philosophies of circle of attachment, homeschooling and community building.
Amy has been a teacher at Island Discovery since 2005. She teaches students in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. Additionally she supports full-time homelearning students from kindergarten to grade 9. Amy is passionate about nurturing her students’ intrinsic motivation for learning. She is also passionate about the role of play in learning and development. Her favourite thing about Island Discovery is its amazing community of students, parents, and teachers that inspire her every day.
Cara Felde has been teaching with Island Discovery for nine years. She began when her twins (now 17 years old!) started homeschooling with IDLC and she was hired as their teacher! Since then she has taught primary classes both on Bowen and at our Lakeview location. In addition, she supports many IDLC full-time home learners. Cara has always been very interested in alternative education and began her own schooling at the New School, one of Vancouver’s seminal “free schools”. Cara is passionate about the attachment-based learning environment that IDLC supports, and loves working closely with her classroom and FTHL families. She believes the kids she works with teach her something new every day, and feels very privileged to teach and learn in such a supportive and forward thinking environment.
Saffron Gurney has been working with children for the past 30 years and has no plans to stop. This is Saffron’s fifth year with IDLC and the New Westminster District. Her home base and teaching post is on Bowen Island. She feels fortunate to have a varied position as the school-wide Art teacher for grades K-9 as well as the K/1 classroom teacher. Saffron also supports full-time home learners. She has narrowed it down to three favourite aspects of her job, collaborating with families and teachers on cross curricular study themes, envisioning community events for the large school community, and learning from families the amazing dedication that they demonstrate as home learning parents.
Gillian Bentall has been a teacher at Island Discovery for 6 years. She currently team teaches Grades 1-3 with Cara in the Lakeview Program, teaches Physical and Health Education for Grades 1-9 on Bowen as well as supporting many full-time homelearners. In the past, she has taught Kindergarten and coached many sports teams. Her passions include being outdoors, running, skiing, hiking and spending time with her family and friends. She also enjoys reading, teaching and living on Bowen Island! Gillian is enthusiastic and energetic and loves interacting with students and parents in the Island Discovery community.
Skylar Freeborn has been an active member of the Island Discovery Learning Community for the past twelve years; this is her 5th year serving as a teacher. She works primarily with grades 7 through 9 in the senior class program on Bowen Island and also teaches grades 4 through 6 at the Lakeview program. In addition, she provides support for many full-time home-learning families. Skylar has a passion for nature based experiential learning and First Nations studies. She also enjoys teaching early literacy skills. Her favorite thing about Island Discovery is the community itself. She feels very blessed to be part of this powerful collaboration of parents, students and teachers.
Gitte Jorgensen has been a teacher at Island Discovery for 6 years. She is the resource material support teacher at the IDLC. She has also taught high school math and science. Her favourite thing about Island Discovery is the people.
Cheryl homeschooled her children until her daughter decided to join the Bowen classroom program in grade 9. Both kids joined at that time, and remained until they each moved on to high school for grade 10. At that point (2013), Cheryl was invited to join Laura in the office part time. She is thrilled to be a part of the warm and welcoming community that is Island Discovery. In her free time, Cheryl is a passionate cook, gardener, and photographer.
Hana Hermanek has been a teacher at Island Discovery for 1 year. She teaches Fresh Air Learning grade 1 and 2, as well as supporting many full-time homelearners. She has also taught Watershed Education and Park Interpretation programs for Metro Vancouver, Environmental Education for the Sierra Club, and High School and Elementary subjects in public and private schools as a teacher-on-call. Her passions include playing her flute with her band “Hint of Lime”, teaching yoga at her local Rec. Center, and making things with her hands. Her favorite thing about Island Discovery is being able to work outside all day and experience and learn from the changing seasons with enthusiastic children, teachers and parents.