Our Teachers and Staff

Our Teachers and Staff

    Principal's Office

    Mr. Sukhbir Bolina, Principal

    Sukhbir joined Choice School in the summer of 2021. He comes with a variety of experiences in the independent school system. After building the math department in a prominent school in Vancouver, Sukhbir became Head of Mathematics before embarking on a leadership role in a Surrey school.  Sukhbir is very passionate about education and believes that the whole world is a classroom. For several years, Sukhbir has been leading community service trips with Habitat for Humanity in which youth are taken to less developed countries and embark on building projects in the local communities.

    Sukhbir loves teaching and is a life-long learner. He believes that learning does not stop, regardless of age. In addition to his experiences in education, Sukhbir also has qualifications and experience in finance and is a qualified accountant. He holds a private pilots license and loves to fly when time permits. He is committed to creating nourishing, engaging, collaborative, learning environments where students are encouraged to take risks, value different perspectives, deepen their thinking, and strengthen their skills.


    Teaching Staff

    Ms. Marina Dykman, Kindergarten & Grade 1 Teacher

    Marina is very passionate about teaching and believes that she will learn just as much from her students, as they will learn from her. She is a lifelong learner who enjoys looking at things from a different perspective. When she has free time she can be found reading a book, kicking around a ball, or exploring nature.

    Marina has completed both of her B.Ed and B.A with a Concentration in English at St. Mary’s University in Calgary. She has many years of experience with diverse learners and is very excited to start a new adventure at Choice.

    Grace Miao, Grade 4 & 5 Teacher

    Grace has been teaching for over 10 years and is excited to bring her love of learning to Choice School. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Education specializing in Creativity and STEM Education. Grace believes in teaching through an inquiry based approach which fosters creativity and enriches lives of all learners.

    Outside of school, you can find Grace skiing, playing volleyball, rock climbing, hiking, doing yoga, and playing the piano. She is looking forward to being a part of the Choice Community!

    Katie Harries, Grade 4 & 5 Teacher

    Katie is very excited to be joining the Choice School staff this year. Katie studied both history and education at the University of British Columbia. She has taught students in Vancouver, Kitkatla, Penticton, and Calgary, and is thrilled to be continuing her career with the amazing students of Choice!

    Katie is very passionate about inclusive education, incorporating the First Peoples Principles of Learning, and encouraging both critical and creative thinking in the classroom.

    Katie loves to spend time with her family and her dog Phoebe, and she enjoys baking and reading mystery novels.

    Mr. Derek Bennett, Middle School Science Teacher

    Derek is pleased to begin his career as the Middle School science specialist in September of 2019, after completing a Bachelor of Education at UBC. He comes from a scientific background, having completed a Bachelor of Science Honours Kinesiology degree from McMaster University in 2016. He was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario and has spent the last 12 years working with children as a tennis and fitness coach. Derek has a particular liking for scientific and inquiry based learning strategies, as he believes all people learn best when studying something they are passionate about. He is looking forward to learning more about teaching gifted children and further getting to know the unique personalities present at Choice.

    Outside of school Derek’s passions include camping, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, hockey (he is a massive Habs fan), tennis, and reading. As a result, he looks forward to exploring outdoor education and experimental learning activities as he progresses through his career.

    Ms. Dorota Malinowska

    Ms. Malinowska firmly believes that every child possesses different strengths and unique learning styles which need to be discovered and nurtured for an effective education to take place. She is passionate about her chosen career and loves the continued professional growth at Choice School. Educated in Poland where she taught Slavic languages, Dorota is a veteran of the Richmond School District, and has been involved with gifted education at Choice School for several years. Her education is ongoing with a continued passion for learning new languages, and meeting interesting people from all walks of life. She enjoys yoga, discovering new places, reading, and spending time with her family and dog, Bilbo. Dorota loves working with the passionate team at Choice School and its talented pupils. At Choice she is offered the opportunity to develop her students’ potential who then go on to make a positive impact on our society. Choice School’s emphasis on professional development also allows her to foster new ideas and techniques to create the best learning environment possible for each one of her students.

    Ms. Malinowska is on leave until the next school year.

    Ms. Mika Sueyoshi, Grade 2 & 3 Teacher

    Mika is excited to be part of the Choice School team as an elementary school teacher. She has experience working in countries around the world, including Japan, England, and the United States. She most recently moved from New York to resettle in her hometown of Richmond. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Childhood Education and Special Education. Mika believes in the potential for all students to succeed and works to cultivate an active and supportive environment to foster meaningful learning.

    In her spare time, she loves to travel, hike, and enjoy the beautiful city. She is looking forward to becoming a member of the Choice School family and share in the excitement of learning!

    Ms. Shaireen Walli, Middle School Teacher

    Mrs. Walli believes that students learn better when their learning is relevant to their lives as well as when they are actively involved in their learning. She has taught IB English as well as the Cambridge curriculum at an international school in the UAE and mentored local UAE teachers in a local school. Prior to that, Shaireen taught at a private school in Surrey and at Choice School.

    Shaireen attended York University where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in French. She then attended teacher’s college in Australia and continues to take courses at Simon Fraser University. During her free time, Shaireen enjoys working on her blog as well as reading a variety of books. She also tutors a range of children outside of school. Shaireen is happy to be at Choice as she enjoys working with the unique and creative students who attend Choice School.


    Ms. Cathy Kluthe, Art

    Ms. Kluthe always pushes the boundaries in her art lessons, thoroughly enjoys working with children, and encourages creative expression. She enjoys introducing a vast variety of art materials and techniques and is committed to creating a classroom atmosphere that is stimulating, thus encouraging students to reach their “creative best”. She has facilitated many artists in residencies in Richmond, Surrey and West Vancouver introducing multi-cultural themes with multimedia materials. Mindfulness is an important aspect of art creation that allows the mind to play and calm itself.

    Outdoor art education is one of her favourite styles of art instruction that allows students to experience the fresh air, calm, beauty of plants and animals that in turn provide inspiration for their artwork.

    Ms. Kluthe graduated from Red Deer College and Alberta College of Art, she has also studied abroad at Guangzhou Academy of Art in China, and Japanese Calligraphy in Japan. Cathy is also an accomplished practicing artist and exhibits at several galleries throughout BC including the Richmond Art Gallery. She is a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, Langley Art Council, Artstarts, and Richmond Arts Coalition.  She is also a multimedia artisan and juried member of the Crafts Council of BC and member of the British Columbia Art Teachers Association.

    Ms. Kluthe enjoys spending time with her family, skiing, camping and cycling long walks with her dog. She enjoys gardening, birdwatching and cooking.

    Mr. Iain McLaren, Music

    Mr. McLaren is the Choice School music teacher. He believes that all children are musical and creative beings. He strives to provide the students with as many possibilities of writing, improvising and recording their own musical creations as possible. Mr. McLaren also believes that each student’s musical sensibility needs to be nurtured, so that they are able to grow as musicians, performers, and proud supporters of the arts in their communities. With this belief as a guiding principal to his teachings, Mr. McLaren regularly creates opportunities for the students to share and learn their favourite songs, and to share their own musical skill in both the classroom, and in performances.

    Mr. McLaren has vast experience in the musical world from composing, performing, and recording, to movie making, acting and script writing. He plays the guitar, piano, bass, drums, trombone, bass recorder, omniharp, and is now trying to tackle the accordion. He has performed and played in many groups that cover a wide range of music styles: from jazz bands, symphonic winds and choirs, to children’s music, folk, heavy metal, classical and pop. He is also a member of Artstarts In Schools and regularly performs musical theatre with Gogo Bonkers in elementary schools across the lower mainland.

    Mr. McLaren studied Music Therapy at Capilano University in Vancouver and also studied voice and composition at Red Deer College. He has facilitated music groups and recording projects for elementary schools, preschools, daycares, community centres, the ministry of children and families, senior centers, and private functions.

    In his spare time he loves to go for long walks in the forest, hang out with his family, play the piano, nap, and ride his bike.

    Ms. Joanna Thackwray

    Joanna Thackwray is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist who graduated from the University of British Columbia. She began her career in pediatrics at The BC Centre For Ability in Vancouver where she worked both in the Early Intervention Program (0 – 5 year olds) and in the School Therapy Program in North and West Vancouver. She currently works as the Occupational Therapist at Choice School as well running her own pediatric private practice in Richmond, BC. She has worked extensively with children with children with difficulties with executive functioning, emotional regulation, sensory processing and motor coordination, in order to assist them in being successful in the home, community and school environments. Joanna provides occupational therapy to the children she works with, and consults with parents and educators to help develop appropriate accommodations, programming and classroom environments to support individual student differences.

    Support Staff

    Ms. Jameela Allibhai, Administrative Assistant

    Jameela is very happy to be working at Choice School. She graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University with a Diploma in Marketing and Graphic Design. She enjoys cooking from different cultures, crafts, drawing and painting. She loves all animals, but dogs and elephants are her favorites. Jameela has a daughter, and a dog named Karma, a cute little French bulldog who thinks she is a child. She also likes to travel whenever she can, and has been to many countries including Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, United Kingdom and the Caribbean. Jameela enjoys working with children and has a love for art and creativity.

    Ms. Teresa Lopez, Education Assistant

    Teresa is happy to be a part of the Choice School staff. She has worked as a special education assistant for 8 years and enjoys supporting children as they continue to learn and grow. Teresa also has experience working with a variety of students and abilities teaching them how to swim. She has been a lifeguard for 12 years with the City of Richmond.

    In her free time, Teresa enjoys being exercising, travelling, and spending time with friends and family.

    Ms. Mackayla Murray, Education Assistant

    Mackayla has recently completed her BA at Simon Fraser University, with a double minor in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum and Development. She has a wide range of experiences with children and youth spanning from early intervention therapies to working with at-risk youth at wilderness camps. As a designated gifted learner herself, Mackayla is very excited to join Choice School and have the opportunity to support the incredible children it hosts.

    In her free time Mackayla enjoys camping, travelling, and expanding her skills in the kitchen.

    Ms. Chelsea Peterson, Education Assistant Support Facilitator

    Chelsea is delighted to be part of the team at Choice School. She comes to us having had experience working in the public school system as well as distance learning centres. She has worked with a variety of different learners and classrooms, specializing in students who are gifted as well as those who have multiple exceptionalities. Her passion for special education originally stemmed from working overseas with at-risk youth for four years. She now looks forward to using her training in early intervention and special education to support the needs of individual students. In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys photography, playing music and traveling abroad.

    Chelsea will be on maternity leave until September 2021.

    Ms. Simran Sarai, Education Assistant

    Simran is happy to be a part of the Choice School staff. She has worked as a special education assistant for three years and has been working with children for a total of five years.

    Simran enjoys supporting the children at Choice School as they continue to learn and grow.

    In her free time, Simran enjoys being outdoors, travelling, and spending time with friends and family.

    Mr. Majid Qiyam

    Mr. Qiyam has enjoyed working at Choice School for the last several years. Majid looks after the school grounds and maintains the school building, as well as being our friendly and professional school bus driver. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and graduated as a journalist from Kabul University. He is a musician and he likes to sing and play a variety of instruments.

    Majid likes to spend time with his family when he is not helping out at school.