Get to Know Our Staff: Elanna Robson

Kate Raven, Communications Manager
Elanna joined the Greenwood community in 2007, when she was hired to build Greenwood’s Business program. In those early years, the only Business course the school offered was Economics. “When I arrived, David Thompson [Greenwood’s founding Principal] was teaching Economics,” Elanna says. “I remember him handing me his binder -- the only resource available at that time -- and I took it from there.”

In those first years, Elanna’s focus was creating many of the courses that currently make up Greenwood’s suite of Business offerings. She started with Economics, Entrepreneurship and Information & Communication Technology In Business (BTT); over time, she added courses in Business Leadership, International Business, Accounting and Marketing. “We offer a real breadth of business courses,” Elanna says. “Many independent schools only offer Economics, and maybe Accounting. It’s one of the things that makes Greenwood unique.”

Business courses were originally housed in the Math and Computer Studies department. However, as the course offerings expanded, a separate Business department was created with Elanna as the inaugural Subject Team Leader (STL). Other leadership positions Elanna has held in her time at the school include Diversity Coordinator, a role in which she started Greenwood’s Gay-Straight Alliance (now called the Gender-Sexuality Alliance) and Teacher Mentor. In the latter role, she was one of a group of experienced teachers who conducted classroom visits and engaged teachers in coaching conversations related to their practice.

Today, Elanna is in her fourth year as Greenwood’s Director, Academics. A large part of this role is overseeing the school’s STL team. “As a group, our job is to execute on Greenwood’s areas of academic focus,” she says. She also works closely with them to ensure compliance with Ministry of Education expectations. In addition, Elanna is a member of the Staff PD Committee along with Mary Gauthier, Heather Maxted, Heather Thomas and Jonathan Tepper. Together, the group plans teacher PD offerings for the year, using a variety of sources to determine what would be most beneficial. “We use student survey results, staff and Ministry of Education feedback, and ongoing engagement with educational research to plan,” Elanna says. 

Other areas in Elanna’s portfolio include academic policy, the Missed Assessment Centre and Homework Support Centre, progress reports and events such as Curriculum Night and Parent-Teacher Conferences. Elanna also works with teachers in years 1 and 3 at Greenwood, conducting classroom visits to support their teaching practice and ongoing development as educators. “After each visit, I meet with the teacher(s) and we’ll have a collaborative dialogue about what I observed and work together to identify areas for growth.”

Many students also know Elanna from the basketball court. In her first years at Greenwood, she coached the U20 Girls’ Basketball team with Gerry Barker, the school’s first Athletics Director; she then made a switch to coaching the U16 boys. “I taught that first group in Grade 8 Reach-Ahead Math and started coaching them the next year,” she says. “I stayed with them as they aged up to U20, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.” With Elanna’s guidance, the U20 Boys’ Basketball team moved up from DII to the more competitive DIB, winning CISAA championships in 2017 and 2019.

Elanna has originated many courses and roles at Greenwood, and the opportunity to do so is one of her favourite things about working at the school. “In those first few years especially, there was a real startup mentality,” she says. “There were lots of opportunities to put my stamp on things.” Elanna is particularly proud of starting the annual Business Case Competition, in which senior business students work together to tackle a business issue or opportunity and present a solution. “The Case Competition provides an opportunity to involve alumni and parents working in industry and allows us to engage students in experiential learning.”

As much as she enjoys teaching, Elanna also highly values the opportunity to consider academics at Greenwood as a whole. “I really enjoy thinking deeply about how to enhance our academic program,” she says. “Recently, we have done a lot of work with assessment and evaluation in particular that is very progressive, like introducing expectations-based grading and fluid assessment and evaluation practices.” 

Elanna has been an athlete her whole life; she played varsity basketball for the University of Toronto and went on to compete in Crossfit and weightlifting. Today, she works as a personal trainer outside of school, running classes at a gym and seeing clients for one-on-one sessions. While she remains very active, her training focus has shifted. “These days, I train for health,” she says.

Looking to the future, continued innovation is one of Elanna’s main goals. “I’d love to identify more opportunities for experiential learning that are connected to the curriculum,” she says. “We’re doing that on a small scale now, but I want to give students more chances to work with community organizations and subject professionals working in the field.” Experiential opportunities can make timetabling more challenging, but it’s a challenge Elanna is ready to take on. “We need to support where education is going and where it should go.”
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