At Royal Oak, we’re proud to offer a unique educational experience designed to enhance intellectual growth and promote participatory engagement. Take a look through our site to learn more about us.

Julia Cain Murray

Head of School

BSc. Honours, MA Child Study & Education (OISE)

Julia has been in education for over twelve years, and holds a degree from Queen's University in Biology and Psychology as well as a Master's degree in Child Study and Education from OISE at the University of Toronto. Before joining Royal Oak as their Head of School and previous to this, as their Academic Director, Julia was a teacher researcher for 8 years at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, located at the Lab school in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Julia is a specialist in Mathematics, consulting privately for Independent schools in Mathematics programming as well as for the Ministry of Education. She also consults as a Lead Teacher for the Landscape of Nations Educational Initiative in Niagara, helping to plan and disseminate knowledge and teaching practices to teachers in the area of Indigenous history and perspectives.  She has a special interest in Inquiry and Constructivist Teaching, and has shared her knowledge of these practices in conferences in India and Japan, as well as at the Graduate level with teacher candidates. 

Meet Our Teachers

At Royal Oak we focus on creating a student-driven, inquiry based learning program. In order to do this we need a strong team of teachers and staff to help make this possible. Our highly dedicated, professional team works hard to provide the students with a rich and varied education program. 

Kirsten Koyle


Grade 6/7/8 Teacher

Kirsten has a BA degree from Brock University in Community Recreation with a minor in Political Science. She completed her B.Ed at Lakehead University, and is currently putting the finishing touches on her Masters of Education degree. Kirsten specialized in Indigenous Education and focused her Masters portfolio on creating a text of compiled resources for using outdoors to explore number sense and numeration for primary levelled grades. Kirsten has experience being a Forest School Educator as well as an Outdoor Education programs coordinator. She brings energy and creativity into the classroom.

Brittany Nyenhuis 


Grade 4/5 Teacher

Brittany is a Brock University graduate for Concurrent Education with a Minor in Geography. Brittany has a 10-year background in Music Theatre, she is an enthusiastic and passionate educator with a love for the arts! Her teaching background extends to several years in tutoring for grades 4-12 and teaching in Peru.  She has taught at a Grade 4 level classroom at the DSBN, and Brittany will bring these skills and many more to our community at Royal Oak.

Michael Solanki


Grade 3/4

Michael is a native of St. Catharines, and completed a BA Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University where he was also part of the Varsity Football team. He completed his Bachelor of Education at Brock University and is currently completing his Master’s of Education Degree specializing in Leadership and Administration. Mike formerly has worked with the YMCA of Niagara in several different positions focusing on child development and integration. He is an energetic educator who has a strong passion for diversity and inclusive education.

  Laureen Dennis


Grade 1/2


Laureen Dennis has 17 years of experience in the Ontario elementary and secondary public and private school system. She holds two combined degrees; Anthropology and History, and Archaeology and Geography. As well as a degree in Education with a concentration in Primary/Junior education. She holds additional qualifications in Special Education and History as well as certificates in Adult Literacy, Working with Exceptionalities and At-Risk Individuals. Within her years as an educator, she has worked with communities across Ontario, including Indeginous and English as a Second Language students. Ms. Dennis grew up in Port Colborne, Ontario and after a decade away, living and working in Toronto with her husband and son, she moved back to be closer to family and friends. Ms. Dennis has returned to Royal Oak Community School after a year sabbatical where she taught Adult Literacy with the community organization, Port Cares in Port Colborne, Ontario. After a year away, she is ready to get back to her chosen calling and is excited to be ROCS Grade 1/2 homeroom teacher. Ms. Dennis likes to spend time with her son and husband; she is a singer and likes to bake in her spare time.

Derek Stephenson


JK/SK Teacher

Derek has a BA degree from Trent University in Environmental and Resource Studies. He completed his B.Ed at the University of Ottawa and is in the final semester of his M.Ed degree at Lakehead University with a specialization in Environmental and Sustainability Education. Derek's teaching career has brought him as far away as Northern Manitoba and Vietnam, where he spent 3 years teaching Early Years at the Canadian International School in Ho Chi Minh City. After two years at Ridley College where he was part of the upper school boarding program, Derek is excited to be back in the Early Years classroom!  He is passionate about Outdoor Education   Indigenous perspectives in education, and Sports.    

Mireille Salem

French Teacher

Mireille has a Master’s Degree in Theatre Research from St. Joseph’s University in Beirut. She also holds two BA’s, one in Music Education and the other in Computer Science. She worked as a Music, Drama and French teacher for more than 17 years in various school environments internationally, and locally in gifted schools. She also worked as an educational trainer with a focus on teaching all subjects through Music, Drama and Games. Furthermore, Mireille used her talent as a script writer to create radio broadcasts and TV series for children. She plays piano and guitar and always aims to make learning an exciting adventure by using her arts and technology background in each and every lesson.

Gianna Dritsacos

Founding Head of School

Gianna received her B.Ed. at McGill University in Montreal and has lived in Niagara-on-the-Lake since 2007. Specializing in Kindergarten and Elementary Education, she has taught in both the public and private sectors, from Kindergarten to Grade 11, and is fluent in three languages. She has a keen interest in all aspects of education and is dedicated to creating a challenging and enriching learning environment for the students. She believes in shaping young minds into future leaders and is devoted to creating wonderful opportunities for students.

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    Contact Us


    © Copyright 2019 by Royal Oak Community School. Proudly created with

    176 Wellington Street, P.O. Box 419


    ON, L0S1J0


    Tel: 905.328.9592