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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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 🙂