Building Belonging for Vulnerable Students: If You Build It, Will They Stay

Johannah Wirzba

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Arthur

City: Lethbridge, Alberta

Occupation: Teacher

Year: 2020


  • Leadership
  • Mindfulness and Wellbeing


Think of a time when you belonged. How did you feel? What the environment around you? Who was with you? What was going on? Now, think of a time when you definitely did not belong. Ask yourself these same questions.

Belonging has become a popular topic in recent years but is often talked of with great illusiveness. Is it possible to foster belonging? Can you make people feel welcomed, appreciated, included, validated? Maybe. But can you make middle school students feel this way? Every day we work with many different types of vulnerable students. I think it is possible to make each and every student feel like they belong.

This project is a compilation of interviews with many different types of educators as they puzzle and discover what belonging means to them, and how to do they make it possible in their own context.

Listen to the Podcast at

Student Biography

Johannah is a teacher, reader, tv watcher, and joyful human experiencer in Alberta, Canada. She loves meaningful conversations, getting to the root of a problem, and fart jokes. She thoroughly enjoyed her MEd at UBCO and is (a little) sad it’s over.