As a success coach with Right from the Start, Allyson Van Impe encourages Banff Elementary School students to “fill each other’s buckets” with kindness. The idea is that when a student places positivity into another’s bucket, it fills theirs at the same time because as Van Impe says, it feels good to be kind. So much so that Van Impe’s own bucket is overflowing — overflowing with adjectives from her peers like supportive, patient, and caring.
Having worked for Canadian Rockies Public Schools for 15 years (first at Elizabeth Rummel School and now at the Banff Elementary School), Van Impe has made a meaningful impression on students, parents, and fellow teachers, especially through mental health capacity building.
“Allyson has a way of truly ‘seeing’ people in a nurturing way that allows them to be vulnerable and real, allowing for true growth and healing to take place. This makes Allyson someone who people naturally go to when they need help — children, parents, and teachers alike,” says colleague Kate Rive. “Allyson shapes the community she believes in and fosters the strengths of children; she advocates for kids and the possibilities that they hold, even when others have had ‘enough’ or are having troubles seeing past the problems.”
Helping students to develop friendship skills, learn how to better manage their anxiety, and to express their emotions in a healthy way are examples of what Van Impe does on a daily basis.
“I have the best job in the world,” Van Impe says. “My job is not about band-aiding the problem, but about teaching kids how to self-regulate. It’s also about creating a safe place for students, where they feel they belong and are safe to talk about their feelings.”
Van Impe is proud to say that the very first Banff Elementary School class to have the Right from the Start initiative is now in Grade 8 — with better tools in which to deal or talk about their emotions.
“With positive support from Allyson, kids and their families are better able to lead happier and healthier lives,” Rive says.
When she’s not encouraging her community to live large and seize the moment, Van Impe is taking her own advice: cross-country skiing, paddle boarding, and mountain biking with her husband Mike and their two daughters Erin and Caitlin.