New Beginnings bids farewell to its longest-serving teacher on Monday.
Dianne Oliver is retiring after 21 years with the young parent program. Throughout that time, she has helped hundreds of students complete their high school education.
“This has been an amazing job that’s allowed me to create and bend the rules,” said Oliver, who has been a teacher in the Abbotsford School District for 32 years. “It’s not been a regular teaching job. It’s allowed me to be who I am and create a (curriculum).”
New Beginnings offers part- and full-time classes to young parents completing or upgrading their high school education as well as childcare, parenting courses and individual support.
Program supervisor Louise Smith says Oliver uses innovative techniques to engage students and find solutions to their learning challenges.
“Dianne’s strength comes in her willingness and ability to be really creative,” she explained. “Her expertise and energy are definitely going to be missed.”
Between 60 and 80 students graduate from New Beginnings every year. For Oliver, the best part of the job is when former students return to share their accomplishments. Some of her graduates have gone on to careers in nursing and teaching.
“You feel like you’ve made a difference,” said Oliver. “I’ve learned that the academics are really important, but it’s more about helping the individual. Learning to be an advocate for them and helping them overcome what’s in their way is most important.”
With her new freedom, Oliver plans to spend more time with family, travel, read and garden.