Kathy Cillis has a diverse teaching background as demonstrated by the wide variety of classrooms she has had the privilege of teaching in, filled with students ranging from 4 to 75 years of age. Her career began in a fly-in First Nations community in Northern Ontario and more recently, she taught at a junior high school in Akita City, Japan. Kathy says that she became a teacher because of her strong belief in the importance of accessible education and the desire to help others. She knows the power of learning and how it can change lives.
These days, Kathy is the Education Lead at The Ottawa Mission and spends the majority of her time in the shelter’s small Stepping Stones Learning Centre. The centre is a unique space open to adult men and women who are ‘at-risk’ of homelessness and looking for educational support.
People from all walks of life come looking for help with a wide variety of needs – from basic literacy to preparing for the GED exam and taking post-secondary online courses through accredited colleges and universities.
When adult students first visit the Stepping Stones Learning Centre they are asked about their educational journey to date as well as their goals for the future. This helps Kathy build an individualized learning plan that is right for each person. “I truly enjoy working at Stepping Stones because I get to work one-on-one with people who are gaining confidence as they work towards a brighter future. Nothing beats watching someone’s face light up when they grasp a new concept. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”