Early Childhood Educator overcomes the odds

In Our Valley: Meghan Marshall

Meghan Marshall delivered work bundles for her kindergarten class to do during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo submitted/Meghan Marshall)

Meghan Marshall delivered work bundles for her kindergarten class to do during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo submitted/Meghan Marshall)

Not every path in life is a linear one and sometimes it takes an obstacle before you find your niche.

For long time Kitimat resident, Meghan Marshall, 37, life has always been an exciting journey with plenty of new doorways opening.

Originally born in Terrace, Marshall and her family moved over to Kitimat when she was just over five-years-old. At the time her father, Clinton Marshall, worked at MethaneX and the move was much closer to his job.

“It was just easier for the whole family, of course, I didn’t love it when we moved at the time because I was five and I had my friends at my school,” said Marshall

“We moved to Cable Car and the transition was fairly easy.”

Living in Cable Car presented a challenge as the only school that wasn’t full that the bus would take Marshall to was Cormorant Elementary School, a French immersion school. By Grade 4 the school would be entirely in French and English would no longer be offered which posed a problem.

Luckily Marshall along with her two brothers, Brodie and Kyle, made the switch to Nechako but she did not take to it right away.

“In my Grade 4 mind it was, you can’t make me go, I don’t want to and you have to fix this and if you can’t fix this I don’t know what to tell you I’m not leaving.” said Marshall.

Marshall would spend the next three years at Nechako Elementary School before spending her high school years at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School.

While she was a teenager, her father had the baseball diamond behind Riverlodge Recreation Centre dedicated to him.

“I think my mom knew but my dad didn’t and that was the first time I ever saw him tear up in public. I remember as a teen thinking, wow, this is a really big deal.”

Upon graduating from high school, she headed off to the University of Victoria in hopes of becoming a teacher. At the time it was a very large move and added new pressures on Marshall who was also dealing with some undiagnosed mental health illnesses.

“I pushed through some anxiety-inducing things that I thought were just because I was from a small town, but really it was more because I had mental health issues and had to deal with them.” said Marshall.

Marshall was suffering from undiagnosed anxiety and depression. At the age of 19 she began medication to help her deal with her mental health.

After roughly a year and a half at the University of Victoria, Marshall returned home where she began working at the Child Development Centre.

“I always knew I wanted to work with kids so I applied for a job there, and for the first couple of years I did always like the hours,” said Marshall.

The new job was a natural fit as the hours suited her and it gave her the opportunity to work with children. So she made the decision to attend the Northwest Community College taking Early Childhood Education, which at the time qualified you to work with students with special needs.

The course no longer qualifies you to work with students with special needs, however, Marshall did get a job as an education assistant with School District 82. Marshall spent six years working as an education assistant before getting the chance to move into the position of library assistant at both Kildala and Nechako Elementary.

To rewind a bit, there was a very large challenge that Marshall would take on.

“At 23 I decided to become a foster parent,” said Marshall.

It was quite the challenge and it was something that Marshall knew very little about at the time. She continues to be a foster parent not regularly or consistently, however not as often as when she first became a foster.

Over her time fostering and working with the school district Marshall did also get a chance to teach kindergarten. At the time Marshall applied, there were no qualified teachers applying for the position and she decided to take the chance and apply.

“I ended up applying and I taught for a year and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.”

“I don’t think I’d end up doing it again as I don’t think I’d be so lucky with my class and parents.”

There was a difficulty that also came with this short chapter in her life, it was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marshall had to learn with all the other teachers how to navigate this new digital teaching world. She ended up taking an extra step in trying to keep connected and launched a YouTube channel so she could read to her students.

“Parents would send in requests from their kids, I went down a list so every kid in the class could choose a book that Ms. Meghan would read to them on the T.V.,” said Marshall.

Throughout her time working at the school district, Marshall would typically go by “Ms. Meghan” to the students, a name that has stuck to this day. This was a new venture for her and she didn’t have the technical skills yet to edit the videos. Marshall would instead do the videos in a single take to circumvent this issue.

To continue to stay connected she would drop off a package to her student’s houses that contained work activities and crafting supplies for the following week. Sometimes that would still give her the opportunity to connect with her students.

“Then that would give me the opportunity to talk to them from the window or outside if it was a nice day, Kitimat not so much, you could wave to them from the window which was really lovely because everyone was in lockdown,” said Marshall.

With every step in her life, Marshall has managed to find a way to overcome the odds, including in her weight loss journey.

“I started my weight loss journey about four years ago I actually ended up having gastric bypass surgery,” said Marshall.

She realized as she was walking around with her family on a beach that it was very difficult and at that point, Marshall made the decision that would lead to her losing roughly 200 pounds. Prior to having the gastric bypass she lost 100 pounds and put a focus on her health. Marshall is a very goal-oriented person and put her mind to dieting and exercising.

The weight loss journey is something that Marshall credits as changing her life.

“I don’t think I would have been able to teach kindergarten prior to my weight loss, I was worn out as it is, carrying around another 200 extra pounds I don’t think I would have been able to handle that,” said Marshall.

Now you can find Marshall continuing her work with the school district in the library at Kildala and Nechako. She also dedicates some of her time working with the Rotary Club of Kitimat.

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