Symbols Tutor Profile Series: Anna (Vancouver)

At Symbols, we are fortunate to have a team of dedicated and talented tutors teaching one-to-one multisensory lessons based on the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach. The Symbols Tutor Profile Series is an opportunity for us to introduce you to our team and celebrate each tutor’s unique contribution to the work we do. In preparation, each tutor receives a crossword puzzle with clues about the theme of the interview. Today, we meet Anna, who has been working at the Symbols Multisensory Learning Centre in Vancouver since early in 2018.


  1. Big water near tiny rocks.
  2. A blanket, a hamper, and food best served cold.


  1. It barks and it bites.
  2. This equatorial country is named after its highest mountain.



Tea and Teaching

Hadden Park is heaven for dogs. The Kitsilano park is home to the Maritime Museum and to a sheltered off-leash dog beach strewn with driftwood where gentle waves splash against the sand. It’s also heaven for dogs’ human companions – the perfect place to meet Vancouver’s canine inhabitants, as long as you don’t mind some sandy paw prints on your clothes. Anna’s dogs gallivant up and down the beach, enjoying themselves tremendously. We sip our tea and chat about what is means to learn and teach.

LYDIA: Teaching students who have been struggling at school can pose some unique challenges. How do you help them regain their confidence and enthusiasm?

ANNA: I like to reassure children that they are not alone and that there are many children that face the same problems. I also strongly believe that children who face more challenges at a younger age are really just preparing themselves better for the big wide world ahead. As we all know, nothing in life is straightforward and being able to face and conquer challenges (learning to persevere) is a very important skill.

How many dogs can you fit on a kayak? (Image by S. Speddy)

A poodle wanders over to us in search of treats. We oblige and more adorable, soggy dogs decide that we are an excellent source of free food. As I distribute the last of the treats, I ask Anna about what it’s been like for her working at Symbols.

LYDIA: Is there something you’ve learned at Symbols that you wish you had known before or maybe didn’t expect?

ANNA: Each child I tutor teaches me something new as every child has such different capabilities and different interests. Keeping in mind all their different capabilities keeps me on my toes. I am always looking for better ways to capture their attention, and to encourage them to be more interested in learning. Just seeing the progress one child can make provides me with endless happiness. Which is why I became a teacher.

Before moving to Vancouver two years ago, Anna worked as a teacher in Kenya. Anna, who is originally from the UK, has now made her home in Canada and she and her husband and their two dogs are taking full advantage of everything the outdoors has to offer.

LYDIA: What material do you most enjoy teaching? Is there something – a skill or a concept – that opens up reading or writing for your students? 

ANNA: There are so many! Although, my favourite type of word to teach is an adverb. I like to call them ‘my magic -ly’ words. They can make any sentence so much more interesting and sound so much more magical. You can start a sentence with them or you can put them before a noun.

By now we have walked up the slope, past the museum, and towards Kits Beach. “It’s just beautiful, isn’t it?!” Anna stops to look out over Hadden Park from above. Vancouver stretches out ahead of us serenely. Thank you to Anna for taking us on a walk with her and her dogs and for letting us share in her educational adventures!


Rob Wahl