Tanya Lebar: A lifelong journey of teaching and empathy

October 5, 2023

World Teachers’ Day is on Thursday, October 5. For that, we share the story of Tanya Lebar, a dedicated MOSAIC BC LINC instructor who always wants to take a step further to help and guide her students. world teachers day

By Zara Khurana, Communications Generalist

In a world where teachers play a pivotal role, Tanya Lebar stands out as an educator whose journey into teaching was driven by a sense of empathy and a desire to make a difference. For the past three decades, she has dedicated her life to teaching, with a special focus on helping immigrants and refugees navigate the world of language and literacy.

Tanya’s path into teaching was deeply influenced by her family’s history. Her parents were refugees who fled war-torn Yugoslavia in the late 1950s, seeking safety and a better life in Canada. As immigrants, they faced the challenge of adapting to a new country, where English was not their first language. Tanya observed the impact of this language barrier, particularly on her mother, and how it limited their access to resources. This experience planted the seeds of her future career.

With a Bachelor in Linguistics from the University of Calgary and a Diploma in TESL from Vancouver Community College, Tanya started her career by teaching international students, but she felt a pull to work with immigrants and refugees. She found her niche as an entry-level teacher, specializing in literacy, where she could make an impact on the lives of refugees, many of whom had limited exposure to English. Tanya realized that many of her students, mostly women, faced similar challenges due to their immigrant backgrounds. Issues like childcare and cultural differences often led to them missing out on accessing essential resources.

Tanya’s commitment to her profession is evident in her dedication to teaching for 30 years. For the past 20 years, she has been working at MOSAIC helping newcomers to Canada bridge the language and literacy gap, setting them on a path to successful integration into their new home.

“One of the most challenging parts of being a teacher is that I become a confidant to newcomers, hearing their stories, and addressing their issues. Many of my students come from war-torn regions, and the stories they share can be heartbreaking. However, on the other side of the coin are the immense rewards, like building trust and rapport with students, being their first point of contact, and guiding them toward support services.”, she says.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a unique set of challenges for educators worldwide. Tanya’s approach to teaching had to adapt to the new normal. While level one students transitioned smoothly to online learning, her literacy students faced more complex hurdles. Given their limited exposure to written text, Tanya decided to combine virtual face-to-face sessions with mailed materials, including visually engaging worksheets and writing exercises. She also created a YouTube channel to provide supplementary teaching materials. Although the learning progress slowed down, her students’ engagement and enthusiasm remained intact.

“Empathy, patience, and resilience in education are very important. I am not only imparting knowledge but also helping individuals from diverse backgrounds navigate the challenges of settling in a new country.” world teachers day

Tanya Lebar’s story serves as a testament to the impact a dedicated teacher can have on the lives of others, and MOSAIC is proud to feature her as part of World Teachers’ Day.