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Teacher-authors around the world: meet Susanna from Canada!

Here's my interview with Susanna Westby, the creator of Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

As you might have noticed, I love being able to highlight the work of those that are dear to me.
Susanna is one of them. She was probably the first person I really interacted with when I started this journey. And she was great - patient and kind.
I'm glad I "ran into" her early on as that has encouraged me to keep on doing this. If people in this virtual teaching/blogging world were as nice as her, why would I leave?
Hers was also the first set of clipart I ever used. Guess I can blame her for my clipart addiction :D

 Teacher-authors around the world: meet Susanna from Canada
click on the image to check out Susanna's blog 
1. What should we know about the place where you live?
I was born in Toronto, Canada, however I've always lived here on the west coast near Vancouver. Tourism is a huge industry here because of easy access to the mountains and ocean; this means there is always something to do outdoors, such as hiking, surfing, boating, camping or biking. The cultural attitude could be described as relaxed, culturally diverse and inclusive. The down side to living in such a popular destination is the very high cost of living! 
I live on the edge of a huge forest, and this means close contact with many forest animals. These little cuties have definitely inspired my artwork!

 Whimsy Workshop's clipart

2. I've gotten to know many Canadians, both "virtually" and in person, and they were all incredibly friendly and warm. Is it a Canadian thing?
I have heard Canadians described as "polite", so perhaps it is! I've never really thought of it! Culturally we do tend to be courteous and thoughtful of other's feelings. Also, in such a culturally diverse area it's necessary to be respectful of others in order to live harmoniously.

Susanna's two sons

3. What has changed in education since you've become a teacher?
The biggest change I've seen is the growth of technology in the classroom. When I started my masters I chose Technology as my focus, but back then it was very new and wasn't considered a serious topic. My how that has changed! Technology has made teaching so much more engaging and fun! Also, the resources now available online are amazing; when I started teaching we had to create everything ourselves, usually hand written and copied. Gathering resources was expensive and time consuming, which is why I usually resorted to creating my own. Little did I know that this skill would come in handy many years later when I joined TPT. The majority of items in my store are things I made years ago and perfected over the years; many people who know my graphics don't know that I actually sell more literacy sets than clip art!

4. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel that you believe strongly in the power of art in educating kids. Art is not only an end, but also a means to managing behaviour, building relationships, and anchoring learning. How important is art to you as a teacher?
I've always used art as a vehicle to engage my students and teach effectively. As I was often drawing quickly on the board during a lesson, I learned how to use images to convey my idea quickly and effectively. I also love to see students giggle at my funny characters, or ask to use my drawings to copy in their own drawing books.

I also use art in other ways at school. For example, although I teach primary, I started an art group for high-risk intermediate students during my lunch hours. I give them all canvases and paint, and while painting we talk about any difficulties they are having in their lives or just talk and laugh. My goal is not only for them to discover art as a means of expression, but to build connections with each other, and build trust in me should they ever need an adult to talk to in the future. It's been very meaningful to me, and art is the perfect way to make it all happen. 

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5. Have you always created and illustrated your classroom resources? Had you ever imagined you'd be sharing your creations with the world?
I've always used my own illustrations for teaching resources and children's books, but it wasn't until joining Teachers Pay Teachers that I decided to create sets of clip art for other teachers to use. It's such a joy to see other teachers using my drawings! It's been a wonderful journey and the people I've met along the way are so precious to me.

 Whimsy Workshop Teaching: Susanna
Had you seen Susanna before?

6. What is your number one tip for new teachers, bloggers, TPTers?
When people are starting any new venture, whether it be teaching, selling on TPT or blogging, my advice is always to simply be kind, be patient, and work hard. I began just for the love of it, and tried not to compare myself to anyone else. I was grateful for every sale and every compliment - and I still am!

Thank you, Susanna, for the interview! You really do follow your own tip!

Go check out Susanna's blog, "like" her Facebook page, drool over her clipart and follow her TpT store!

Thank you all for reading!


  1. Wonderful interview ladies! Thank you both for sharing. Really enjoyed learning more about Susanna. What a wonderful contribution you are making in your lunch hours!

  2. Another terrific interview! Thanks to both of you! Carol

    1. I love seeing this whole other side of people I "meet" online and I'm glad I can share that.
      Thank you, Carol, for reading!

  3. I agree - all the Canadians I've meet have been cheerful, warm and polite! :-D So interesting to read about how art influences your teaching style - thanks for a great read!

  4. Thank you for sharing Susanna with the world. She truly is a gift to her students AND to teachers everywhere. She is everything you described. I sort of love how so many people think of her as "my" Susanna. She's so warm and kind, you just love her right away. This was a great interview!

    1. I couldn't agree more with you on Susanna being a gift. She truly is!
      Thank you, Carolyn, for reading and commenting!