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.

Igor Gantsevich


Dec 21, 2018:
A big congratulations to Mr. Igor Gantsevich, Head Coach of the Premier Fencing Academy as he has just been selected as Manager of Team Canada for the next four years (2019 to 2022) responsible for both Cadet and Junior World Championships.

Igor is a former member of the Canadian Men’s Epee Team (2004 to 2012), a high performance coach, mentor and owner of Dynamo Fencing Club.

Igor’s lifelong commitment to the sport of fencing and his dedication to the Canadian National Team make him the ideal candidate to lead the next generation of the Canadian Team.

Igor Gantsevich’s decade as an elite athlete and National Fencing Team member culminated in 2008 when he won a bronze team medal at the International Grand Prix – the first of its kind in Canadian history. Igor finished his career on a high note with a bronze medal in Men’s Team Épée at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara.

Moving from an athlete role, Igor is a major force in the development of fencing in Canada and throughout the world. He is the President of Dynamo Fencing Club – one of Canada’s top fencing clubs.

Igor sits on the Board for the Canadian Fencing Federation as the Athlete Representative and is an Executive Committee Member of the Pan American Fencing Club Organization.

Since 2013, Igor has exposed the sport of fencing to over 10,000 students across the lower mainland of British Columbia, and as a result, he now instructs over 500 full time students on a weekly basis.

Career Result Highlights:

Member of Team Canada 2004 – 2013
2011 Pan American Games Bronze Medalist – Guadlajara, Mexico
2008 World Cup Team Bronze Medalist – first ever in Canadian Team History
2008 Pan American Champion
2014 North American Cup Champion
2014 Canadian National Champion (winning this more than 10 times!)
5 time North American Cup Finalist
2009, 2010 and 2011 Pan American Medalist

Professional Career:

Assistant Coach / Mentor to Dylan French – 2014 World Championships Bronze Medalist
Team Canada Manager / Head of Delegation – 2014 Senior World Champions, and Cadet / Junior World Championships
President – Dynamo Fencing Club, largest fencing program in Canada
Co-chair Vancouver International Fencing Grand Prix – 2013, 2014 and 2015

Website: www.igfencing.ca

Zbigniew Pietrusinski

Assistant Coach, WVS Premier Fencing Academy

Zbigniew was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1957. At 10 years old, he joined the Academic Sports Club (AZS Warszawa), a member of the first Fencing Academy in Poland. This group of 40 students took part in high performance training sessions during both their elementary and high school years (1968-1976).

Zbigniew eventually went on to become part of the Polish National Team in Sabre, Under-17 (Cadet) and Under-20 (Junior). At the age of 19, Zbigniew was accepted to the prestigious Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw, Poland where he continued competing and coaching in sport of fencing during four years of study.

Zbigniew graduated from the Academy of Physical Education with a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and Maitre D’Armes Diploma L’Academie D’Armes in Warsaw, Poland in 1980.

In 1981, Zbigniew immigrated to Canada. He opened the North Vancouver Fencing Club where he fenced and coached students in all three weapons (foil, epee and sabre). Zbigniew has also run fencing programs in different Recreation Community Centers in the Greater Vancouver Area including North and West Vancouver, Surrey, White Rock, Coquitlam, and North Delta.

Over the years Zbigniew’s students have finished in the top three places on Provincial, Western Canadian and National levels. Some of his students include David Hopps in Foil, Dotan Amitt in Epee, Kris Horodyski in Eppe, Zoe Clarke in Sabre, Shant Basmadjian in Sabre, and Hunter Moricz in Sabre.

Zbigniew has been teaching Physical Education at St. Francis Xavier School for the last 27 years. He obtained his BC Teaching Certification after graduating from UBC Faculty of Education in 1988.

Zbigniew is also a certified NCCP Level 4 in Epee, Foil & Sabre in Canada. He is certified as National Referee in all three weapons.

Zbigniew continues to fence for Canada as a Veteran in Sabre, earning 7th place in the 2008 World Fencing Championship in Limoges, France. More recently earning 9th place at the 2018 World Fencing Championship in Livorno, Italy.


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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