Gaynor Samuel was brought up in a tiny coal-mining village in Wales. It was here, at the foot of the Black Mountain in Brynaman, where she learned the strong family values and traditions that make her such a natural for Shawnigan Lake School. Following her childhood dream, to become a teacher, Gaynor received a bachelor’s degree and teacher’s certificate from Cardiff University and took her first job as a biology and math teacher in North Wales in a town called Mold.
After two years, she moved back to Cardiff and Glantaff School where she taught science for ten years. Gaynor was recognized early in her career as a leader, and was appointed Head of the Glantaff Middle School after several years of teaching.
During this time, Gaynor married Rhodri Samuel. Rhod was working in Canada at St. Michael’s University School in Victoria, so Gaynor made the move to SMUS as Head of Girls’ Boarding. After a couple of years, Rhodri and Gaynor moved back to Wales to start a family and worked at Christ College, Brecon.
Two years, and two children later, the Samuel family heard of an opportunity at Shawnigan Lake School. Rhodri was appointed Head of Ripley’s and Gaynor settled into her role as “House Mother” and relished the opportunity to spend time with her own growing children in the comfortable setting of Shawnigan.
In 2006, Gaynor left teaching to become an Admissions Associate, taking over the role of Admissions Director in 2008. When not at work, Gaynor is a keen interior designer and is highly sought after to assist in the decorations of houses on campus.
Admissions Associate - United States and Domestic Enrollment
James Blake joined Shawnigan’s Admissions team in May 2017.
Originally from Victoria, James came to Shawnigan from UC Irvine in California, where, as Director of Operations, he was responsible for admissions, alumni relations and community relations work.
In his current role, he oversees United States and domestic enrollment, working with families to ensure a seamless application process and entry to the School. He is also a dedicated advisor, helping to guide students through academic challenges, course selection, and university applications.
In his spare time, James enjoys spending time with his family and swimming in Shawnigan Lake.
Julia Pollock grew up in Nuremberg, Germany, and spent five years working at a German television station following high school. She met husband, former pro-hockey player and current Midget Varsity Head Coach Jame Pollock, when she interviewed him following a hockey game. After a move to Mannheim and then to Munich to complete her university education in linguistics, education and phonetics, the couple then relocated to Vancouver Island with their two young children in late 2014. Julia began working at Shawnigan in 2015 and found a home in Admissions where she enjoys the positive experience of helping great young people find their place at Shawnigan. When she’s not busy in the office or on the road connecting with prospective families, Julia enjoys spending time with her family at their cabin on the lake.
As a member of the graduating class of 1990, Sarah Sinclair was one of the first female “School House” students at Shawnigan. Following her time at Shawnigan she went on to UVic where she completed a BSc in Geography and subsequently spent several years working as a GIS specialist in the forestry industry. She moved back to Vancouver Island with her family to pursue a change of lifestyle and is the proud mom of a Shawnigan graduate and a current Shawnigan student. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys rowing, hiking and gardening.
Originally from a coal mining village in Wales, Rhodri completed his undergraduate degree at Cardiff University, Wales, and his post graduate teaching degree at Exeter University, England. He taught biology and chemistry in England and in Wales before emigrating to Canada in 1984. His first eight years in Canada were at St Michael's University School, Victoria, where he was a housemaster and a science teacher. Rhod and his family came to Shawnigan in 1993 where he very happily ran Ripley's House for 17 years. During his tenure at Ripley's, he taught science and ran the rugby program. After house directing he moved into administration where he oversaw tone and discipline at the school. Rhod is now involved with the gap and intern program, Alumni Relations and Admissions. He is married to his childhood sweetheart Gaynor, who runs the Admissions team at the school. They have two sons, Dafydd (Ripley's '08) and Owain (Ripley's '09). In his spare time, Rhod enjoys hiking and pottering around the garden.
Janis Wright has enjoyed being part of the Shawnigan community for 20 years. After a brief early spell in the General Office and two years helping out in the Advancement Office, she found her place in administrative support in I.T. and Admissions. As the School’s database manager, Janis is responsible for looking after all student data, from initial inquiries right through to enrolled student records. She and husband, Director of Academic Technology Shawn Wright ’85, have two grown children, one of whom is currently working as a member of the culinary team at the School. In her spare time, Janis is an avid reader and, together, she and Shawn enjoy hiking and travelling.
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Shawnigan Lake School is a co-educational boarding school on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The school is home to nationally-ranked academics, arts and athletics, with 100 per cent of graduates accepted to university.