Diane Nelson, Director of Instruction

diane-nelson-portraitWest Vancouver Schools Premier Academy

Diane Nelson, Director of Instruction, is founder of West Vancouver Schools ten Premier Academy programs.

Chosen as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals in 2012 by the Learning  Partnership, Diane was selected for her ability to communicate a compelling vision, to engage the community by consistently bringing together a highly knowledgeable and competent team of teachers, coaches, instructors, and other community members to work together to deliver quality programs for student-athletes.  Diane is an exceptional leader, one who continues to lay the foundation for the success of her students and the betterment of the community through a strong and vibrant public education system.

Twice nominated (2002 & 2012) for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the categories of Entrepreneurship, as well as Education, Training & Development, Diane has been honoured for her achievements that contribute to the well-being and future of the community. The YWCA Women of Distinction Award is recognized as one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for women.

diane-nelson-awardWith over 30 years experience in education, as both a teacher and administrator, Diane has obtained her Bachelor of Education, Diploma in Counseling Psychology, and Master's in Educational Administration, all from the University of British Columbia.

As a MindUP Trainer, Diane has provided numerous workshops and in-service for teachers to help them deliver an evidence-based curriculum that helps foster social and emotional awareness, enhance psychological well-being, and promote academic success. Diane inspires educators to create an optimistic classroom that promotes and develops mindful attention to oneself and others, tolerance of differences, and the capacity of each student to grow as a human being and a learner.

An educational consultant for the Vancouver Canucks' Community Partnership Program since 2005, Diane is the creator and author of the character education program called Fin’s Friends. The program was written for teachers to help them provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance ethical and responsible behaviour. This valuable classroom resource for teachers assists them with the teaching of social responsibility and character building. The program, written for Grades K-3, is being taught by primary teachers in over 3800 classrooms around the province. To date, the program is being used in over 35% of all K-3 classrooms in B.C. Diane last presented the program Nationally to educators at the Canada Character Conference held in Abbotsford, B.C. October 2015.

diane-nelson-w-gordon-campbellDiane's leadership style is marked by her entrepreneurial spirit. Her accomplishments are numerous including founding, owning and operating the Vancouver Griffins, the first women's professional hockey team in Western Canada, a member of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). The team featured Olympians such as Nancy Drolet, Cammi Granato, Shelley Looney and Courtney Kennedy. In November, 2010, Cammi Granato was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Many of her Griffins' artifacts are on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame, including the signing of her first pro contract with the Griffins' organization. In 2002, the BC Sports Hall of Fame recognized Diane for her achievements in sport as part of an exclusive group of 35 outstanding women leaders and legends.

A long time athlete, she has competed in numerous sports including half marathons, 10km runs, triathlons, dragon boating, field hockey, figure skating, bodybuilding and swimming. Some highlights include 6 gold medals at the 1986 World Lifeguard Championships and Miss Vancouver, 1983 Bodybuilding Championships.

Diane's entire career has been about giving students an opportunity to better themselves and realize their hopes and aspirations. She firmly believes that enthusiastic and thoughtful guidance is the best way to assist our youth on the path that they choose.

Yashar Farmanara

yasgar-farmanara-ssgTeacher: Co-Founder, Director of Athletics & Head Coach

Yashar has been a member at Hollyburn Country Club for almost 20 years. After graduating from the Hollyburn minor hockey program, he joined the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL when he was 16 years old. His WHL career lasted five years and over 300 games, including his final year playing in Medicine Hat under current Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. After the WHL, Yashar committed to the University of Western Ontario, where he played 4 years of CIS varsity hockey and graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business, helping Western win an Ontario University Championship and reach the CIS National Championships three times.

After graduating from Western, Yashar signed a pro contract to play in Europe, but his career was cut short due to a back injury. He then returned to Canada and joined the Corporate Finance group at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Vancouver, where he has worked primarily on sell-side M&A advisory for the past three years while working towards his CFA designation. During his time at PwC, Yashar worked on a number of assignments including advising Mr. Lube on its sale to Diversified Royalty Fund, the sale of Pan Pacific Nissan Surrey to the Applewood Group, and the sale of Manning Diversified Forest Products to West Fraser. Yashar has also coached the Hollyburn Midget A1 hockey team for the past three seasons, reaching the Final Four twice and the BC Provincial Championships in 2014.

Read more about Yashar Farmanara here.

Nathan Fischer

nathan-fischer-ssgCo-Founder, Director of Development & Assistant Coach

Nathan grew up in Trail BC and played hockey in the Smoke Eater minor hockey program. His keen interest in business at a young age led him to securing independent financing for his first venture when he was 13, in which he became the youngest John Deere equipment owner in Canada. Nathan attended the University of Alberta, graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Commerce. He has worked in various industries over the past 20 years including marketing, law enforcement, mining, hospitality, and tourism. Most recently this included 8 years in various roles and leading diverse teams with the world-acclaimed Rocky Mountaineer. Nathan attained his Masters of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia in 2015. He has been an assistant coach with the Hollyburn Midget A1 team for the past four seasons, helping lead them to two Final Four appearances and a BC Provincial Championship appearance in 2014.

Willie Desjardins

willie-desjardins-spartan-sport-groupCo-Founder and Director of Program Development

Willie Desjardins became the 18th Head Coach in Vancouver Canucks history on June 23, 2014 and he begins his second season in that role. In his first season behind an NHL bench, Desjardins led the team to a 48-29-5 record (101 points) en route to the second-highest point total in the Pacific division. The 2014.15 season marked the fifth highest win total in franchise history. Before joining the Canucks, Desjardins served as Head Coach of the Texas Stars for two seasons compiling a 91-40-21 (.667) regular season record in 152 AHL games. He was awarded the Louis A. R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year in 2013, his first season with Texas. Desjardin’s second season with Texas produced a regular season record of 48-18-10 (.697) and a 15-6 playoff record culminating in the Stars first Calder Cup Championship.

Steve Marr

Player Development, Assistant Coach

Steve played four years in the WHL for the Medicine Hat Tigers, three of which were for Head Coach, Willie Desjardins. Steve’s final two seasons, he served as Team Captain. In Steve’s second to last season, he and his team won the WHL championship and played in the Memorial Cup.

Coming out of junior Steve signed a three year NHL contract with the Calgary Flames; serving two seasons in their organization playing down in the American Hockey League which at the time was situated in Omaha, Nebraska.

In the summer of 2007 Steve was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and served the final year of his contract playing in the Blackhawks farm system, splitting time between Rockford, Illinois of the AHL and Pensacola, Florida of the East Coast Hockey League.

Steve concluded his professional career by playing one season in Herne, Germany. Prior to the academy, his previous, non-playing hockey experience was derived from an opportunity to work for a Player Agency specifically for hockey players (the agency he was with as a player) where he was in charge of recruitment as well as managing the player development for all of our WHL and NCAA prospects.

Mark Fenn

mark-fennTeacher: On-Ice & Classroom Theory

This is Mark’s 5th year with the hockey academy as one of our teachers/coaches. He is a full time teacher at Sentinel, a member of the school’s P.E. Department and coaches the Cross-Country & Track & Field teams every year.


Bachelor of Physical and Health Education/Bachelor of Geography from Queens University
Bachelor of Education from Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia)
Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Track and Field athlete while at Queen’s University
National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) – Level II certified
League Manager for Track and Field for the North Shore Secondary School Sports Athletics Association (NSSSSA)
Coaches Track and Field and Cross-Country at Sentinel Secondary School
Played competitive rep hockey up until Midget for West Vancouver Minor Hockey Association, and currently still plays competitive ASHL hockey here in the Lower Mainland

John Hyatt

john-hyattHollyburn Country Club’s Personal Trainer
Experience: 7 years


Bachelor’s Degree in Human Kinetics, Trinity Western University
NSCA – Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer

Training philosophy:

Everyone has an abundance of untapped strength and ability that is just waiting to be discovered and harnessed. I passionately believe that improving one’s strength through natural movements will not only help us perform and function more effectively, but it will also improve our health and overall quality of life.

Personal Interests:

Weight training, football, cycling, anything outdoors

“We all have possibilities we don’t know about.
We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.”
~ Dale Carnegie

Ryan Kerr



West Vancouver Secondary School Grad (2007)
York University Grad (2015 BAS)
Drafted 1st overall in the Western Hockey League (2004)
Played 5 years in the WHL (Portland and Lethbridge)
Assistant Captain as a 19 & 20 year old
Attended 2010 Washington Capitals’ camp
Teaches private lessons at NSWC (since 2011) specializing in defenceman footwork and shooting
Assistant Coach, Bantam A2 at the North Shore Winter Club (NSWC)
Head Coach, North Shore Warriors

Shayan Vaghayenegar

shayan-vaghayenegarPersonal Trainer, Hollyburn Country Club
Experience: Since 2012


Human Kinetics Diploma (Exercise Science Stream)
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology – CPT
NCCP Olympic Weightlifting – Level 1 Coach
Crossfit Level 1 Coach

Shayan’s passion for athletics began early in high school with wrestling and rugby. Once out of high school, he competed in triathlons, half marathons, and a marathon. Shayan is experienced in a variety of other training modalities, such as powerlifting, olympic lifting, and crossfit. Shayan is always looking to explore new alleys of fitness and he enjoys sharing his passion with others. He believes in delivering a challenging training program through purposeful training.

Diane Nelson
Director of Instruction
West Vancouver Schools Premier Academy

Office Direct Line: 604-981-1150
Cell: 604-786-3575
Email: dnelson@wvschools.ca
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