Hannah Merchant: The Power Of Connection

With more than 30 years of success, Brain Power Enrichment Programs Ltd. is regarded as one of the top educational institutions in the Greater Toronto Area. It provides a safe and dynamic space for students to reach their full academic and interpersonal potential.

Brain Power’s dedicated educators and unwavering values consistently deliver a transformative teaching model that inspires and nurtures a profound love of learning. Through their playful senses of humour and a student-centred approach, Brain Power’s teachers help students thrive with newfound confidence.

City Life was honoured to sit down with Hannah Merchant (Dip. E.C.E., B.C.D., M.Ed.), an Associate Instructor & Admissions Ambassador, as she shared how Brain Power educators go beyond the enriched curriculum to encourage their students to improve their academic performance and cultivate a true love of higher education.

After earning a diploma in Early Childhood Education and an undergraduate degree in Child Development, Merchant continued on her academic path and completed her Master’s Degree in Education at York University (also obtaining a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education). She has been a keynote speaker for the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario on the topic of “practitioner self-image and advocacy for the field.” She has also travelled to marginalized communities outside of Canada to provide professional development workshops for educators and caregivers. Most of all, Merchant takes great pride in working to become the teacher she always wanted when she was a student — approachable, compassionate and innovative.

What exactly are parents looking for in an after-school teaching program? Merchant believes parents’ primary concern is that their children are looking for more of a challenge! They also want their children to be inspired and motivated, attitudes that will enable them to strive for greatness and learn to think more critically. At Brain Power, each child’s knowledge, experience, strengths, and challenges are recognized, respected and celebrated within a group- learning environment. Through the experiences provided at Brain Power, students can build a strong network of like-minded and bright young people (and their families), and soon find that greatness is absolutely within reach!

“What separates us from other programs is our instructors. We are passionate and highly educated. We’re inquisitive and we genuinely care about our students’ success. Additionally, our curriculum is at such a high level that our students are being exposed to concepts and lines of inquiry that they wouldn’t encounter until much later in their regular school programs,” she says. Brain Power even goes as far as to connect the students to opportunities beyond their own curriculum by offering training and support for various math competitions, spelling bees, national essay contests, poetry competitions and so much more!

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“What makes us who we are is our unique set of passions, idiosyncrasies and quirks and, along with that, our strengths and weaknesses.” For Merchant, a “strength- based approach” is the teaching method that she believes enables her students to thrive. She says, “I’m a big believer in human connection, and I care about my students very much. If we’re not looking at a student as a ‘whole’ person, and only focusing on academia and what they are able to produce, how can we connect with the student and help them grow? So when I borrow the term ‘strengths-based approach,’ it’s really all about getting to know who they are, helping them to discover their strengths and challenges, and then playing between the two to find that fine balance of celebrating those strengths while working on and learning from the challenges.”

In preparation for the future, Brain Power is determined to implement new technologies into its teaching methods, “staying grounded while riding the waves as they come,” and expanding its reach across the GTA. Brain Power is made up of passionate teaching professionals with graduate and PhD degrees who understand that it is a privilege to educate the young minds that will inevitably impact our future.

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Marc Castaldo

Marc Castaldo