Staff – Our Mentors

What is a “mentor”?

Our mentor teachers are Ontario Certified Teachers that work in our partner communities. They assist and ensure the success of our students as they navigate the unique challenges and rewards of completing their Ontario Secondary School Diplomas online!

Get to know them below!

Thomas Choong, Bearskin Lake

My name is Thomas Choong, and I am happy to return to the KiHS family. I previously worked with the school from 2014-2017 as a teacher/mentor in Bearskin Lake. I have been teaching since 2006, and it will be my 11 year as a full time teacher. It is my pleasure to return to both the classroom and online to help all of you students achieve your personal and academic goals.

When I’m not working, my main areas of focus are my family and boxing. I am an avid fan of the sport, along with having had a brief amateur career and completing my final certifications as an Ontario certified coach.

If you need any assistance with the courses, or have any desire to “shoot the breeze” about boxing or anything at all, please feel free to contact me in my classroom IP extension 1384 or email me at thomaschoong@edu.knet.ca.

Dorrie Meekis, Deer Lake

My name is Dorrie Meekis. People call me Mona.

I have been working at KIHS for 5 years. I did take a year off to work at the board of education of Deer Lake School. I live and work in Deer Lake. I have 3 daughters.

My role at KIHS is the Deer Lake mentor. I make sure the door is open to the classroom and encourage students to stay in school. I encourage you to continue your schooling and do the best you can. All we can do is try.

I can be reached at the Deer Lake classroom: IP phone is 1389, landline is 807- 775-9907. My email is dorriemeekis@edu.knet.ca.

Judy Barratt, Dryden

Wachiiyeh! My name is Judy Barratt. I am from Fort Severn, Ontario. I am Cree and speak my language (basic). I spent most of my years living in Thunder Bay. I went to Saint Patrick High School for grade 11 and 12. I went to Confederation College and took Social Work. I then went to Lakehead University and took a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education Concurrent. After graduating, I went back and did my Honours Degree in English. I worked up north in Fort Severn for one year and then for six years in Bearkskin Lake. I enjoy learning and reading. I currently live in Dryden. I work at Dryden High School with the KO students, and I also teach online courses through KIHS.

My contact number is 1807-223-2316 ext 117. My email address is judybarratt@edu.knet.ca.

I look forward to working with all of you through the online internet high school 🙂

Judy Barratt tehsehnekasoon. Wasahook tooshchiin. Wasahook kiishsoopehken. Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay kiisiiskoonoon. Dryden nehsehwiiken

Sangchul Yu, Fort Severn

Hello everyone! My name is Sangchul Yu. However, you can call me Sang.

I’m the teacher-mentor at Fort Severn First Nation. This is my second year teaching. I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with all of you!

Before I worked for KiHS, I worked for a company in South Korea to develop a military air defense system and worked in the IT field for several years in Canada. In my spare time, I like to learn new knowledge and make new things. I like to program and make electronic circuits in my spare time. Recently, I started learning guitar for myself.

When I’m not working in Fort Severn I live in Toronto with my wife and three daughters.

Please feel free to call me at 1-807-478-9638 or IP phone (1393) if you have any questions or information to share with me. Or you can email me at sangchulyu@edu.knet.ca!

Mikail-Kaii Newby, Fort Severn

Hi! This is Mikail-Kaii Newby, mentor teacher for Fort Severn! I am extremely grateful to be welcomed into your community!

For nearly my entire life, I have called Ontario’s flower city, Brampton, Ontario (just West of Toronto), my home. Outside of going on hikes with my friends and eating pasta and chicken, I enjoy playing Halo on my Xbox, sinking hours in my second playthrough of The Witcher 3 on my gaming PC, and watching YouTube videos on the latest tech news.

Straight from York University’s Faculty of Education to KiHS, I will be teaching Human Development (HHG4M), Families in Canada (HHS4M), and Intro to Information Technology in Business (BTT1O). As a brand-new teacher, I am super excited to bring a fresh perspective to these courses. But more than that, my passion is you, the students under my motto Connect to Inspire. To quote Dumbledore, “it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be”. My hope is to reach beyond the curriculum and connect to each and everyone of you to ignite a spark of inspiration that would lead you to do great things for yourself, your community, or beyond!

I’ll see you soon!

Cathy Rodger, Fort William

Hello, my name is Cathy Rodger and I am entering my 16th year of teaching with KIHS. I live and work in Fort William, just outside of Thunder Bay. I have two sons, Kaden and Caleb who are showing me the world through the eyes of boys.

I love to sew, garden and spend time on the land. Recently, I have taken up yoga and it has been incredible for helping me physically and mentally. My long term goals are to be able to live off the land as well as grow my own food for my family. I hope to spend a great deal of time on the land this year with my students and staff.

Katarina Gram, Keewaywin

Hi, my name is Katarina Gram and I will be the mentor teacher for Keewaywin.

I grew up in a small town outside of Toronto, but also have strong ties to Switzerland, where my family is from, and spent a lot of time there as a child. Before coming to KiHS, I taught science in China and Kuwait. In my spare time I enjoy travelling, reading, catching up with friends and listening to music. I love learning about history, politics, cultural issues and about my own community and the wider world.

I’m looking forward to meeting you this year!

Graham Copping, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug

Hi! My name is Graham Copping, and I am the mentor teacher for Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake). I am also teaching Civics, Careers, and Grade 9 Geography.

I grew up in Calgary, and I love sports, exploring, and anything else to do in the outdoors. I’m also an indoor gardening enthusiast (you may find some delicious salads growing in the classroom when you stop by).

I’m excited to get to know you this year!

Ian Vaithilingam, Mattagami

Hi there! My name is Ian and I’m the mentor teacher at Mattagami First Nation.

I grew up in Northern Ontario in the city of Timmins, Ontario – not from from Mattagami First Nation. My parents and sister still live in Timmins.

I studied a little bit of everything in university and I love learning – math and physics were my favourite subjects. I love helping others understand how the Universe works.

Outside of teaching, I love listening to and playing music – I play guitar, piano, bass, and drums. Please feel free to share your favourite music with me – I’m always looking for something interesting and new to listen to. I also really enjoy the outdoors (hiking, canoeing, snowboarding).

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, or just to say hi: ianvaithilingam@edu.knet.ca. You can also message me on Moodle, or give me a call at 1-800-387-3740, extension 1333.

Tammy West, Mishkeegogamang

My name is Tammy West and I am the classroom mentor in Mishkeegogamang. This is my 11th year with KiHS and I have enjoyed the journey watching young people learn and grow. I have a passion for teaching and books.

I started my teaching adventure in England teaching high school before coming back to Canada teaching in the north. I spent my first year at KiHS in Keewaywin before moving onto Mish.

Besides teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family and being outdoors. I have a two-year-old son, Connor who keeps me on my toes every day. He is a delight who makes me smile and laugh daily. I also have two dogs, who have been on my wild journey up north with me since beginning my time at KiHS.

If there are questions or concerns in regards to my courses or would just like to chat I can be contacted by email at tammywest@edu.knet.ca, or by phone at 807-928-2684.

Michael Kecskeméti, Nibinamik

My name is Michael Kecskeméti, and I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. I attended York University and Brock University. My favorite genre of books and films is science fiction; I love the sense of adventure science fiction gives me. My two favorite foods in the world are pizza and tacos. My favorite mode of transportation is the bicycle because every mile peddled feels like a big accomplishment. My next goal is to cycle the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico. I also enjoy fishing, and I look forward to fishing with you in Nibinamik. I really want to post a note on my cabin door saying: “gone fishing.”

This is my first year teaching with KiHS and I am really excited to work and mentor with all of you. I have been teaching for nearly 13 years. My teachable subject is history, but I have been teaching English for my entire career. I have really enjoyed my teaching profession because it has allowed me to travel, live, and work with people from various backgrounds. I cannot think of a more rewarding career than being a teacher.

If you ever want to talk shop about anything from carbureted engines to your academic success, please do not hesitate to drop me a line. You can send me an email at: michaelkecskemeti@edu.knet.ca

Luc St-Jean, North Spirit Lake

My name is Luc St-Jean. I am originally from Northeastern Ontario (not as far north as North Spirit Lake) and look forward to becoming an active member of the community.

My experiences in teaching include: Electronic Systems Instructor (radar systems), Hairstyling and Aesthetics teacher, English as a second language teacher, and Pilates Instructor. My goals are to learn from the community, build longlasting relationships and help success grow.

You can reach me anytime at lucstjean@edu.knet.ca or at 1-800-387-3740, extension 1391.

Andrea Prosser, Poplar Hill

Hi to everyone at KiHS! I have a lot of people ask me where I’m from and an old Hank Snow song usually springs to mind: “I’ve been Everywhere.” So, maybe not exactly everywhere, but I sure do like to travel when I can. I am currently the teacher at the super-friendly community of Poplar Hill.

I was born in Montreal, and have also lived in Ottawa and Toronto. I started teaching in 20 years ago in Norfolk, Virginia, where I used to live for 30 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Education and am a fully certified Montessori teacher. Working in other places like a museum and a store and in the office of a few companies has taught me too. You can learn wherever you are.

I like warm weather, reading historical fiction and mysteries, writing fiction, painting, photography, old movies, visiting friends, baking, and travel.

Mary Anne Barrett, Sachigo Lake

Hi everyone! My name is Ms. Mary Anne and welcome to my teacher profile!

To briefly summarize my life events: I grew up in Pickering, Ontario with my two brothers and one sister. I lived in St. John’s, Newfoundland when I was 17-21 years old to do my Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics and Applied Math and minoring in Biochemistry.

Let’s make this our best year yet! 🙂

Jesse De France, Slate Falls

Hi, my name is Jesse De France. I will be the mentor teacher at Slate Falls and I will be teaching Ontario Literacy Course OLC40 and Health for Life PPZ3C. This is my first year with KiHS and I am incredibly excited to work with and learn from my coworkers and northern communities.

I was raised in a rural area outside of Hastings, Ontario and I currently live in Ottawa. I started my teaching career in 2011 when I taught English as a Second Language overseas for a number of years. My primary area of academic interest is in Medieval studies and my hobbies include reading, running, weight lifting, playing video games, writing and watching historical films.

I am awaiting the new school year with much anticipation!

Rajendra Budhram, Weagamow Lake

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year. My name is Raj Budhram and I am the classroom teacher in Weagamow Lake. This is my eleventh year with KiHS and my tenth year in Weagamow Lake.

I teach six courses: grade 10 applied science, grade 10 academic science, grade 11 chemistry, grade 11 biology, grade 12 chemistry, and grade 12 biology. I am married and I have a son who is in the third year medical doctorate program at Queen’s University. I wish everyone a successful year.

Krystyna Villanueva-Gruszecka, Webequie

Hi, my name is Krystyna Villanueva-Gruszecka. I am the mentor teacher for Webequie.

I was born and raised and currently live in Thunder Bay, Ontario. In my spare time I enjoy playing music, watching YouTube videos, taking photos, and going for walks. My main instrument is piano and I like learning and playing different instruments.

I am excited to meet you this year online and I hope to see you in one of my courses 🙂