At the end of the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year, Riverside teacher Ms. Joni Blaxland retired after teaching for 28 years in School District #43. She has made many meaningful memories and connections with students and staff during her years at Riverside. She will be especially missed by the PE and Leadership Department. Even though she is no longer teaching, Blaxland’s positive impact will continue to be remembered by the Riverside community for many years.

Before Riverside, Blaxland taught at Baker Drive Elementary School, Hazel Trembath Elementary School, and Heritage Mountain Elementary School. She then taught for Moody Middle School for nine years. She was inspired to become a teacher after realizing her passion for helping make a difference in the lives of her students. She also enjoyed making positive relationships with her colleagues and playing an active role in the school community. “Working with students has always kept me feeling young and inspired,” said Blaxland.

When she first starting teaching at Riverside in 2007, Blaxland taught modified English, PE, and Leadership. She also coached the Riverside Senior Girls Field Hockey Team and sponsored clubs such as Rapid Change and Green-Shirts. During the last year of her teaching career, Blaxland co-taught the Outdoor Ed program with Ms. Erica McArthur.

After many years of building and establishing the Leadership program, Blaxland succeeded in impacting the lives of the Leadership students and the people in the community.“ I developed the Leadership program in a way that really involved the community with our visits to Hawthorne, Central Elementary and Best Buddies,” said Blaxland. She hopes that the Leadership students have learned many valuable communication skills throughout their experiences and will continue to keep making a positive impact on the community.

Blaxland with Ms. Linda McMinn at Riverside’s Graduation Ceremony in June 2019

When reflecting on her favourite memory of Riverside, Blaxland shared that she was incredibly fond of the initial stages of the Rapid Change Club where she had around 50 students highly involved in making a change in their community. For many years, this group continued to grow and they raised $10,000 every school year to donate to a country in need. “It was very inspiring to see so many youth passionate about helping others,” said Blaxland.

Since her retirement, Blaxland has been teaching fitness classes at the Port Moody Recreation Centre and spending time with her family. She has also been playing field hockey in a women’s league, mountain biking, golfing, running, and hiking with her dog. In her spare time, she enjoys tending to her garden and spending time with her three granddaughters. “I am loving retirement and keeping really busy,” said Blaxland. She also plans on continuing to travel abroad in Canada with her husband, after recently returning from a three-week trip to Banff and Jasper.

A message that Blaxland would like to share with the Riverside community is to enjoy the small things in life and live in the moment. “Don’t sweat the small stuff and just be yourself,” said Blaxland. She also thanks the students and staff at Riverside for an amazing 12 years.

On behalf of the Riverside community, we wish Blaxland all the best during her retirement!