The Inspiring Journey of Sandra Anderson

An hour into the Taste of Tea party, Sandra Anderson is walking on to the stage to receive the Playmas Montreal Cultural Association Woman of Merit Award from the Mayor of the City of Cote-Saint Luc, Mr. Mitchell Brownstein. The crowd cheers as she approaches and the loudest cheers come from her family, her husband, Pastor Joel Anderson, her sons AJ, Roshaun and Jayden and her daughter-in-law Shernelle.
With 28 years of teaching under her belt in two different continents, Sandra Anderson feels like she’s just getting revved up. Her beginnings are from the little town of Soho St. Thomas, in Jamaica where she was raised and labelled as a weak student.

“I was a late bloomer,” she says to the CONTACT. “My homeroom teacher said I couldn’t become anything, and to a point I believed him. I had behavioural problems and was fighting and getting into all kinds of trouble, especially in high school.”

Looking at Sandra, it’s hard to imagine her as a fighter. Poised and effervescent, it’s almost impossible to imagine her throwing a punch. After high school she thought she could be an accountant like her other siblings, but she didn’t do well. Her mother never lost hope in her, even after she failed two exams. Instead, she sent her to a teaching college far away so she could focus and study, and it is there that the love of the profession came to her.

“During my teaching practice, I met a boy who had a behavioural problem and wasn’t doing well academically. He reminded me of me, but instead of speaking to him like my homeroom teacher spoke to me, I decided to encourage him and tell him that he could do it and that he was good enough. I have taken this principle with me throughout my journey as a teacher. I work hard to encourage my students to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes I’ll even use my story and tell them if I did it you can too.”

Anderson completed her diploma at the College of Arts Science and Education (C.A.S.E) in Portland Jamaica and later went on to study in Math and Science which she completed in Miami Florida. All the while she was teaching at her primary alma mater, Middleton Primary School. She encountered the same challenges with the students but she was determined to encourage the children to bring out the best in themselves.
She taught at Middleton for ten years and due to her husband’s work as a Pastor, they moved around. She taught in other primary schools until they came to Canada. By then it had been over 18 years of her teaching. She felt like she was tired and wanted to do something else.

“I was done, teaching can be exhausting and I didn’t want to do it again in a new country,” she recounts.

But as has been the norm, her husband and family encouraged her to keep going. She volunteered at the Cote des Neiges Black Association where she taught adult mothers’ literacy every Saturday for 5 months. In 2016 she joined the English School Board of Montreal (EMSB), where again she found herself with difficult classes, a challenge she welcomed greatly. She taught at St. Raphael School, Coronation School and she is presently at Parkdale Elementary where she specializes in a self-contained classroom for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“I tell my students, I was a late bloomer but you see I made it, you can too.

Anderson’s passion for empowering young people extends far beyond the classroom. She’s the driving force behind the Montreal West COGOP’s Youth Energized for Christ, a revolutionary program that ignites the lives of Montreal’s youth (ages 13-25) by combining Biblical teachings with essential life skills.
Imagine a place where faith meets fun. Youth Energized for Christ isn’t your typical church program. It fosters positive connections between young people, their families, and their communities through innovative worship experiences and activities like poetry, drama, and even financial literacy workshops. It’s a holistic approach that equips young people for success, offering life coaching, peer tutoring, and mentorship alongside spiritual development.
In a short time, Sandra Anderson has transformed countless lives, not just in her classroom, but across Montreal’s boroughs. Her secret sauce? An unwavering faith in God, a supportive family (both at home and church), and a dedicated team within the Energized for Christ program. She says, “I am incredibly grateful to the Youth Energized for Christ leadership team, teachers, and mentors. Their support is invaluable.”