Defining Moments


A Message from Margaret Boersma

We all have defining moments in our lifetimes and they shape who we are and what we do with our lives. I will share a few of my defining moments to inspire you to think of your own. I believe we are here to make a difference; however, it can be challenging to discover our purpose and where we should focus our energy. They say hindsight is 20/20 but in the present and looking into our future, things can be very unclear.

I am the oldest child of Dutch immigrants. Learning English as a second language was not considered novel, but weird, in the area where I grew up.

Pit Moment:

At 11 years old, I am on the back doorstep and I hear my Mom talking on the phone exasperated, “She just can’t learn!” 

What I hear is, “I am stupid. Life will always be hard!”

I remember all the times Mom would help me with homework. It was often so frustrating! Spelling, Math and Reading comprehension! Aaahh!

Search Moment:

In grade 10 my marks really drop. It is my first year in high school and I am in survival mode.

Mom says, “I talked to the guidance counsellor and she highly recommends you go to the general stream next year.”

In a way I feel relieved but I wonder if this track is cutting off future opportunities. I ask, “Can I go back to academics if it doesn’t work for me?”

“That is never done. Once you are in general, it is too hard to go back to academics.”

I try it in the general stream but don’t see myself as one of “them”. I feel like I don’t belong. 

I make a plan. I work hard all year so I can ask to move back to academics for the last year in high school…something that is never done.

Breakthrough Moment:

I am in my last year of high school, back in the academic stream. As always, I walk past the elementary school. Only this time I hear children singing.

I remember the lightness and fun I always had singing with my sisters in the back seat of the car. I remember dancing to the music of Mary Poppins.  

I think, “If I were a teacher, my students would learn through singing, dancing, acting and playing games.” 

“What should I really DO with my life?” I wonder. 

Change school. Change school! Change school!!!

 I will make learning fun!

The next few years, I excel at teacher’s college and at my practicums. I love children and I love teaching them about life. I love those “aha!” moments when kids really get something for the first time.

I realize I am an artist as well. I teach using the arts all the time as it gets to a heart level. The insights children get are profound!

As an artist, I love coming up with new ideas, performing and communicating deep issues through mime and creative dance.

I love people. I love walking alongside them and supporting them emotionally.


Now I am still passionate about changing the way things are taught at school. And my passion has expanded. After teaching for many decades, I am making a difference at the school and board/district level. Working as a consultant, speaker and teacher trainer, I work both at home and abroad.

Teaching social and emotional learning inside a school curriculum or inside a company’s goals radically improves the entire mission of an organization. Using a unique methodology involving the entire brain, allows for engagement and transfer of skills. My gigantic goal is to transform the school system so affective skills are taught inside a robust curriculum. The result is students and teachers thrive. That is my purpose. 

I imagine a better society when all children and adults have a mature development of essential skills such as collaboration, creativity, innovation and problem-solving. This includes social and emotional learning such as knowing how to de-escalate a conflict and bring down one’s own stress level and that of another. 

I never would have guessed this path when I was struggling in school as a child. But looking back, I was not served by the school system in which I was raised and I am still working to transform it now.

What is your path? What is your purpose in life? How can I support you in making your difference?