Lora Kikuchi started teaching grade 7/8 in Lac La Croix First Nation in September 2017. Before going North with Teach For Canada, Lora completed her Bachelor of Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, and her Bachelor of Arts at York University. She has previously taught in New Zealand, Japan, and France. Lora is originally from Toronto.
Living in northern Ontario can bring many learnings and challenges that teachers may not expect when they make the move to a place unfamiliar to them. A common challenge teachers face when they move North is maintaining healthy habits and routines. Shorter days in the winter, cold temperatures, lack of access to a variety of fresh foods, and the demands of teaching can make staying healthy a real challenge.
A Positive Role Model
Lora Kikuchi, a grade 7/8 teacher in Lac La Croix First Nation, is in her first year of teaching in the North. She has found simple ways to stay healthy and active. She offers her students an excellent example of how to stay fit and overcome the challenges of ensuring healthy living in an isolated northern community.
Maintaining an Active Lifestyle
Her students regularly observe how Lora stays active and fit. For one, she participates in Outside Looking In, a dance program for students. She may not know all the moves, but she makes the effort! They also see her at the school playing volleyball on Mondays and floor hockey on Wednesdays. Even more impressive, she plays in the Fort Frances women’s volleyball league, undertaking a 5 hour round trip just to play for 40 minutes. She’s a terror on the court, smashing spikes and offering up blistering serves. On Sundays she goes for 10km runs on the main road that leads to Highway 11. “At first people weren’t sure what I was doing, but now they wave, give me a thumbs up, and roll down their windows to say hi to me,” says Lora. Clearly her active lifestyle is getting some attention!
Of course, exercise is only part of the battle in staying healthy. Nutrition is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Lora models healthy eating in her class by choosing whole grain bread for her sandwiches and whatever fresh fruit and veggie snacks she can find. She can be seen walking around holding a bag with celery sticks haphazardly jutting out the top.
A Commitment to Health
Staying healthy requires a lot of planning and reflection. While Lora sometimes wonders whether she is overdoing it, she realizes that this commitment to healthy living provides her with the balance she needs to be effective in the classroom and maximize her time in the North. Connecting with the community is another motivating factor. All this activity has allowed Lora to spend time with people outside of the school staff, and this has helped her transition into her new home.
Lora’s commitment and effort is a great demonstration of work/life balance. Teaching in the North provides a unique set of challenges, that aren’t limited to the classroom. Lora shows us all how a little planning and effort can turn a challenge into a demonstration of personal strength.