Style Profile – Fab & 40+ Edition: Sheri Alcordo

Name: Sheri Lyn Nielsen- Birkhof-Alcordo

Occupation(s): My occupation is with being inspirational, reflective and creating caring learning communities that are engaging – AKA educator/full-time teacher (22 years with the TDSB), Work Shop Presenter, Mentor, Tutor, Program Developer, Super Mom, “Energizer Bunny” and Dream-Maker

Age: …is what you make it. Only my body is 46.5!

Lifestyle: Active, physical, creative, diverse and non-stop

 

Solid Red Aline Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtArt

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

Continuous! If you were on my Facebook friends list you would see in my albums that my life is packed full of activities to maximize each day with experiences and impactful, memorable moments.

 

When at home, I prefer to be outside doing things with friends and family; enjoying nature or engaging in fun community events that unite my husband, my children and their friends. My albums could actually be made into a video slideshow to describe things for families to do around the GTA to have their summer planned out, LOL!

 

 

I am the school’s teacher-librarian, so my work includes library responsibilities; building an inclusive, equitable, shared community teaching and learning space and co-teaching with different grades K-5.

 

I also work as a prep teacher; when regular classroom teachers have their preparation time, I take over their classes and teach them. It’s a non-stop day collaborating and interacting with the school community, which involves the parents, staff, students, and community partners.

 

I usually run/co-run an extracurricular club at lunch or after school, such as “library helper time” (to help the kids build character, empowerment, and a sense of ownership over their own library learning commons), chess (for problem-solving and character development), Lego (fostering STEM-sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics) or floor hockey (for character development, self-regulation and breaking down gender stereotypes).

 

Solid Red Aline Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtArt

 

After work I pick up my two daughters and sometimes we try to get to the gym. They’ll hit the kid’s Fitzone while I do some cardio with my workout buddy.

 

After that, it’s either making dinner or heading out to eat or ordering in for the family, doing a bit of school work, getting the kids ready for the next day and into bed. “Me time” is usually around midnight and  involves a few minutes of responding to e-mails, playing my favourite apps, “Panda Pop” or Euchre, reading a novel or some blind gossip entertainment while chilling on our front porch.

 

Flower Garden Dress in Bright Blue (also available in Yellow, Blue, and Ivory!) by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtART

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

My family, friends and faith.

 

Building a safe, supportive community both for my family and friends and work communities – one that fosters empowerment, partnerships, empathy, communication and respect.

 

Reflection. Trying to grow and improve as an individual so that I can be the kind of person I’d encourage my own children and students to be.

 

Flower Garden Dress in Bright Blue (also available in Yellow, Blue, and Ivory!) by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtART

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

People knowing the real me.

 

Knowing me for me; that whatever I do in action is done with a pure heart and with utmost caring and intention. And for being a good mom and person.

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

I have always had my own sense of style. Growing up I only owned a few designer pieces and had to work with what I had. I have never felt the need to be with what’s trendy and I like my wardrobe to be versatile.

 

I enjoy different looks: from classy, professional and funky to athletic, playful and eclectic with pieces that are current or found at vintage stores (for something more unique). I have a variety of sides to my personality, often being described as “enigmatic,” so I think this plays out in my fashion sense at times.

 

Kitty Cat Halter Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtART

 

At work, dressing professionally with semi-formal wear is something I do on occasion, but when teaching prep for Drama and Dance I am constantly moving around in different settings, so I usually have to dress more casually.

 

Being a very active person, I like to have an extensive wardrobe with different pieces for various purposes and functions. I have several black pieces in different styles to go with everything, but I love to wear bright colours – not to get attention, but because they make me feel energized and have an uplifting effect on people’s emotions!

 

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Having had a few children and changing sizes, I have to admit I’ve become more self-conscious about my expanded figure, so I do look for some styles and design that might best suit my “last decade” body, LOL!

 

This all in mind, my husband has been known to say, “How much clothing do you need?!” while looking at my 4 dressers, walk-in-closet, 15 bins of seasonal 4 coat racks! One day I might fit in those again!

 

Kitty Cat Halter Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtART

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

I love that the designers are Canadian! The collections are fresh and unique and I love the mix of classic and contemporary animal print.

 

I love the way the materials are used together, and that there is a  multitude of colours to choose from!

 

There is a wide variety of pieces that can be combined in more casual or formal ways, which is a fantastic asset for day and night wear versatility. The clothing and accessories are also affordable and come in varied sizes. The fabrics used are high-quality and combined in original ways. While in the store, there were also a variety of different age groups shopping!

 

High Rise Ankle Jeans – 27″ Inseam – Black Light by Montreal label Yoga Jeans; T.O. Racerback Tank Top – Black w/White Skyline (also available in White w/Black Skyline) by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd

 

I also like that the clothes were accessible to me; that there was a variety of styles for all of my purposes and moods (athletic wear, casual, professional, formal) all under one roof. I tried to show this in the outfits I selected.

 

As an award-winning teacher, you’ve spent two decades working at one of Toronto’s inner-city schools and helping children realize their potential as students and community members. Could you share with us some of your proudest achievements in this domain?

I am just thankful to have the opportunity every year to work with the school community: the staff, parents, and community partnerships to inspire one another and develop empowering experiences for the growth of all those involved, while working together to attain resources to support our programs. Learning is continuous.

 

More than a Wrap Dress in Black Crepe (also available in Navy Sahara Print and Coral Sahara Print) by Toronto label It Fitz Me!™; Laser cut necklace by Dundas label Curious Oddities

 

I am proud of the students that I have taught that have continued to implement strong values, think critically and advocate for social justice. These are the kids that have demonstrated character traits such as leadership and self-confidence to share their voice and demonstrate inclusivity.

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

I work hard to advocate for equitable access to community resources and learning for all. Out of all the schools in Toronto, our wonderfully diverse school community is number 6 on the Learning Opportunities Index, despite the socio-economic challenges we face!

 

Over the years I have written to many people and businesses to appeal for support and assistance in providing better learning opportunities to our students. I have also partnered with classes and empowered students to have a voice in their own learning experiences.

 

More than a Wrap Dress in Black Crepe (also available in Navy Sahara Print and Coral Sahara Print) by Toronto label It Fitz Me!™; Laser cut necklace by Dundas label Curious Oddities

 

As a result, many empathetic, wonderfully generous individuals and local businesses have helped with financial support for out-of-school excursions and workshops; bussing our kids back and forth; new furniture for our library space; school sports uniforms with our new mascot; donations of curriculum-related literature; funding for technology in our school lab so classes can have one-hour of lab time per week; gardening equipment; environmental, art and science programs; special guest professionals related to curriculum so students can make connections to the real world skill applications with what they are learning in class.

 

I am constantly looking for new partnerships with those excited to provide opportunities for students that will enable them to explore, experiment, inquire, create, challenge, modify, learn and voice.

 

We are currently trying to appeal to donors for new Ipads, Chrome Books and printers to support student learning in classrooms with 21st century technology.

 

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We would also like to replace our 25-year-old school playground to promote healthy living and an active lifestyle.

 

I also appreciate the partnerships I have formed with community leaders who grew up in the school area. This way, they can play a role in showing students that they, too, can be leaders – both now and in the future.

 

This is also a way to demonstrate the importance of valuing others who have shown kindness and caring in their generosity and dedication, as well as a way to show the importance of teamwork in making things happen.

 

Solid Red Aline Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtArt

 

Finally, it provides the students with relevant experiences to develop and apply initiative, perseverance and a voice to take action and see results.

 

Everything IS possible and preparing the students for becoming self-advocates with a stronger sense of self-confidence and self-worth should be co-joined with academics.

 

Solid Red Aline Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtArt

 

Apart from teaching children, I also teach adults! I loved being a model classroom for beginning teachers through my focus on developing cultural relevance and inclusion.

 

It is a goal to work with them again at some point if the opportunity arises. I often mentor new teachers and students in the Faculty of Education program.

 

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I have also been a key note speaker and workshop presenter for York University, University of Toronto, Peel Board of Education, TDSB, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Frontier College and OAME, discussing a variety of topics which focus on cross curricular teaching, building an inclusive community, cultural relevance and community-based collaboration.

 

I love to be able to connect with other professionals and community members to share ways to grow professionally and continue to make learning fun for the students and teaching fun for teachers.

 

Flower Garden Dress in Bright Blue (also available in Yellow, Blue, and Ivory!) by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtART

 

I have also consulted and created engaging programs in the Arts and Literacy, specifically drama and story-telling, as well as acting for a popular children’s play centre, which is used for camps and monthly programming.

 

I am currently working on creating some educational short video clips on safety for kids using toys. From observing my own children and watching over kids on computers regularly, I’ve noticed that there seem to be many sites on the Internet using toys just to get viewers, with no real story purpose. I’m a newbie at this so my videos are a little basic, but made with the best of educational intentions, LOL!

 

My “business” name, which I use as an umbrella for all these various ventures, is “Engaging Learners”.

 

Kitty Cat Halter Dress by LA label Eva Rose; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label burfurtART

 

Most of us would probably experience major compassion fatigue doing the work you do – especially for as long as you have! What made you fall in love with this job so much?

When I was younger I worked with a few camps with children affected by mental health issues, living in poverty or experiencing unsafe home situation. Having grown up being bullied and feeling excluded, while also being withdrawn after my parents got divorced, I was always worried about conflict and expressing my voice.

 

Both situations made me feel empathy and compassion for those in my care. I didn’t want them to feel what I had to feel growing up. I wanted to create situations where youth would feel empowered to impact others and themselves in their learning and development of their shared learning and teaching spaces. 

 

I wanted them to have amazing and memorable experiences; to have a place to feel welcome, safe and cared about; to see what can and is possible and to learn how to ask for what you need to make things happen.

 

High Rise Ankle Jeans – 27″ Inseam – Black Light by Montreal label Yoga Jeans; T.O. Racerback Tank Top – Black w/White Skyline (also available in White w/Black Skyline) by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd

 

As someone who experienced a difficult upbringing and now helps children facing similar (or even more difficult) circumstances, you seem so resilient hard-working, while clearly maintaining a strong bond with your husband and kids! Where do you find your energy and motivation?

 

Life is too short to be little. I am just very thankful to be as blessed as I have been. We have two wonderful daughters aged 11 and 7. In between them, we did experience the tragedy of having our son, Noah, stillborn.

 

It was hard for us. I threw myself into work, had some counselling, became Catholic and we continued supported one another. Being an “older” mom (it took too many years to finally find Mr. Right, but it finally happened!), it was frightening to try having another child, but seeing our oldest being lonely, we decided to go for it. Now our two daughters are best friends!

 

Our son is in our thoughts and prayers daily, but we try not to focus on the “what ifs” and focus on the “what ares”. Being thankful for each other, our children, and getting to interact with the youth under my care as a teacher, and with their parents and other staff, is what humbles, energizes and helps me make the most of our moments to the best of my ability.

 

High Rise Ankle Jeans – 27″ Inseam – Black Light by Montreal label Yoga Jeans; T.O. Racerback Tank Top – Black w/White Skyline (also available in White w/Black Skyline) by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

I love to play floor/ball hockey and flag football!

 

I love photography and friends know that if we are out, I’ll be taking photos (usually they appreciate it after the fact, though not always during! LOL!).

 

I am third-generation Canadian, predominantly Japanese (mom), Danish, Irish, Scottish and French (Dad).

 

I recently developed severe allergies to dairy and yeast, which are two very difficult allergies to have. And I don’t like mushrooms!

 

More than a Wrap Dress in Black Crepe (also available in Navy Sahara Print and Coral Sahara Print) by Toronto label It Fitz Me!™; Laser cut necklace by Dundas label Curious Oddities

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

I am “Googleable” if you’re curious to see some of the past work I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of with former students (i.e., breaking down their community stereotypes and being active stewards).

 

I rarely have time for Twitter and Instagram, although I may try harder this coming year. I’m a Facebook user and have gone from scrapbooking (who has time for that now?!) to digital “scrap-albuming”, LOL!

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