Burlington Mayor extols virtues of Living Classroom at Tansley Woods

The last time Marianne Meed Ward visited The Village of Tansley Woods in Burlington, she spent the bulk of her time chatting with residents in the pub and social club, just off Main Street. On a bright and beautiful morning in late May of 2024, she returned to learn more about what the Village has to offer the community she serves as Mayor, specifically how a partnership launched in 2023 between the Village and Mohawk College is helping develop the caring professionals of the future.

Tansley Woods resident's council president Doug Petitt speaks with Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Mohawk College's Karen Ball and Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel.“I had no idea until very recently about the program with Mohawk College,” she says.

The classroom offers future Personal Support Workers and Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist Assistants the opportunity to learn in a unique lab setting as well as in the wider Village where they regularly engage with team members and residents. In the fall of 2024, a new bridging program will also harness the potential of PSWs who are eager to become practical nurses, fulfilling an important need for nurses in the region and offer exciting growth opportunities for 40 PSWs in the first cohort of students.

“It is inspirational,” says mayor Meed Ward. “It is exactly what we need in our city, more of these kinds of partnerships because people get real-world, real-time experience while they’re learning. The residents love having (the students) here and then many of them stay on to work here, so there’s a continuity of care, which is really important.”

Tansley Woods resident’s council president Doug Petitt was part of the tour that showcased the Village to mayor Meed Ward, alongside a contingent from Mohawk College and Schlegel Villages. He says experience, far beyond what can be learned in a textbook, is what students gain from their time in the Village and the Living Classroom.

PSW and Practical Nursing student Richard Kranstz shares his experience as a student of the Living Classroom at Tansley Woods. “They get firsthand experience, if nothing else, just talking to folks upstairs because when we get ‘young’ like us, we have a lot of situations that people don’t understand if they’re just learning it in a book,” Doug says. “The residents here take that responsibility seriously.”

Compassionate PSWs and nurses, along with all team members, are what makes the experience of living at Tansley Woods so positive, he adds, so passing that compassion along to future caregivers is important.

Richard Kranstz trained as a PSW in the first cohort at Tansley Woods beginning in the fall of 2023, and he’s looking forward to being among 40 PSWs taking the Practical Nursing training this fall.

“Having that PSW certification is a gift,” Richard says, noting that the skill is in such high demand that he can easily secure a job to help fund future education. “I never would have been able to get into nursing otherwise, so I’m exceptionally thankful.”

Branching into this career in his 50s is about “doing something that was important to me,” Richard says, and he’s eager to fully offer himself to a caring profession.

As mayor Meed Ward reflects on her visit, she considers Richard and the many other students choosing the pathway offered now at Tansley Woods.

“Bringing this together in partnership is exceptionally important,” she says, noting how critical it is that we nurture the development of kind, compassionate and dedicated caregivers in Burlington and beyond.