Meet the Symons Houseparent Team 2019-2020!

Nikki Kaufmann – Senior Houseparent

Hi everyone! My name is Ms. Kaufmann and I am the Senior Houseparent in Symons House. This will be my 6th year as the Senior Houseparent and 13th year overall as a houseparent in Symons House. I live on the first floor of Symons House with my 1-year old French Bulldog, Jooniper. During the school day at SMUS, I teach Physical Education and I also coach the Senior Girls’ Soccer Team. In my free time I enjoy running, beach walks with Jooniper and going to cafes for coffee (I love coffee!). The SMUS boarding community is a fantastic place to live and I look forward to welcoming all of you to the Symons family and welcoming back our returning Symons girls. Our Symons House motto is “We are Symons and we are family!” See you all soon!

Deanna Catto – Senior Assistant Houseparent

This is my 8th year as a houseparent in Symons House and my 6th living in the building as the Senior Assistant Houseparent. I live on the third floor in the building along with my family. My husband is a Victoria Police Sergeant and we have four sons; Mackenzie who graduated from SMUS seven years ago, Liam and Angus who are twins who graduated from SMUS five years ago, and Allistair who is going into Grade 11 at SMUS. During the day, I work full time at the SMUS Senior School as a math teacher. I have been teaching for 29 years and have been at SMUS for 9 years. I enjoy morning walks and spending my spare time with my family, reading, and travelling. I am looking forward to the year ahead in Symons House!

Lisa Mulvihill – Assistant Houseparent

Hi my name is Lisa Mulvihill and I am heading into my 7th year as a Symons houseparent. Throughout my time at SMUS I have had the pleasure of being a part of an amazing community and boarding house! I truly enjoy my time spent with students whether it’s chatting about life or spending my long weekends exploring new places with them especially when it involves skiing in Whistler. When I am not on campus, I am teaching Kindergarten in the public school system here in Victoria and I have recently begun my Masters of Special Education. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, swimming, exploring Vancouver Island and spending time with friends and family.

Lisa Mulvihill

Kate de Goede (Carlson) – Assistant Houseparent

This is my 6th year in boarding as a houseparent in Symons House. I am a teacher at the SMUS Senior School, and my husband Jake is a Junior houseparent in Barnacle House. In my spare time I coach basketball and soccer at SMUS, and enjoy playing a variety of recreational sports. I love dogs, and have an English Setter named Bentley that I am obsessed with. I enjoy travelling, food, and anything outdoors. One of my lifelong dreams is to compete on the Amazing Race someday! I look forward to meeting all of the new girls in Symons House!

Melanie Bendfeld – Boarding Activities Coordinator and Houseparent

Hi, I am the Boarding Activities Co-ordinator and I am also a member of the Symons Houseparent team. My husband Ian is an Assistant Houseparent in Harvey House (our brother house) and we live on campus with our two kids, Camryn and Callum. Along with my boarding life, I also teach Physical Education at the Senior School and coach the Sr. Girls’ Volleyball team. In my spare time, I absolutely love exploring the west coast, hiking, biking, camping, and golfing. I love everything that beautiful Victoria and this island has to offer. I am looking forward to welcoming everyone home to Symons and I’m excited for what the new school year will bring.

Bendfelds 2019

Stef Sloboda – Junior Houseparent

My name is Stef Sloboda and I’m heading into my 3rd year at SMUS. Throughout my time at SMUS I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in many roles and activities within the community. I have been a part of all three boarding houses, I have coached a variety of sports on campus, chaperoned outdoor education trips, as well as spent some time teaching at the Middle and Senior Schools. When I am not working for SMUS, I am teaching in the Greater Victoria School District, working on my Masters in Coaching and Administration, and travelling with the Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey team as the Performance Analyst. In my spare time you’ll find me enjoying the outdoors on camping or biking adventures, being active in the gym, and spending time with family and friends. I have truly have enjoyed being involved in the diversity of the SMUS community and look forward to my new boarding role as a Symons houseparent.

Stef Sloboda

Megan Blackey – Faculty Houseparent

Hi! My name is Megan Blackey and this will be my third year teaching at SMUS, and my first year as a houseparent in Symons House. I teach Physical Education at the Middle School and also enjoy coaching cross-country, volleyball, basketball and track and field. I grew up on this island and love spending time with friends and family at the beaches, in the trails, and discovering new favourite coffee shops. I enjoy staying active, playing softball, tennis, hockey, and golf as often as I can. I’m looking forward to the year and excited about joining the Symons family!

Megan Blackey


It has been a very busy week at SMUS. Classes are wrapping up and the girls are getting ready for final exams. The grade 12’s organized a house picnic for both Symons and Harvey. The students enjoyed an afternoon of sun, activities and some great snacks.

We also had a couple Symons girls be recognized at the Athletic Banquet.

House Olympics and SMOscars

Last weekend we participated in our final house games rightfully House Olympics. This event has each house come up with an exciting game to play on the field – some take massive skill while others just involve water and lots of it. The pictures speak for themselves – smiles all around!

After House Olympics we came together as a community for SMOscars. Awards were won by Symons sisters – Patty and Carrie won ‘Most Compatible Roommates’ and Maria won for ‘Social Butterfly’. It was a fun evening to celebrate another year passing full of amazing experiences and friendships. Don’t worry, however as we still have a few more events to celebrate our successes.

Big Saturday in Symons House…

Another eventful day in Symons House. During the day we tend to do active things like hike, clean up our neighbourhood and make sushi with friends.

But when the sun begins to set and evening hits we tend to watch movies, play video games and just plan lounge in our rooms. Except Reum, she enjoys a sunset walk on campus.

Alumni Saturday

On Friday a number of Symons girls attended a Climate Change Rally at the Legislature. They spent a better part of Thursday night preparing signs to take with them.

The week was also busy with girls playing tennis and rugby. It’s so great to see them out and about in the sun.

Alumni Saturday is a great day to connect with past alumni who come back to visit. One of the high lights of the day for the grade 12’s is a past alumnus delivers an inspirational speech in chapel and they are each given a grad bear.

Jooniper on duty!

Ms. Kaufmann’s puppy, Jooniper, is now 10 months old and today she joined Ms. Kaufmann on duty. Here she is waiting for kids to come see her!


One of Jooniper’s favourite things to do is to hang out with her Symons sisters! Today, she took the opportunity to get lots of attention. Here she is in her happy place with our wonderful Symons ladies!

Jooniper learned that duty is tiring. Nap time!


On a very exciting note, our Junior Girls Soccer team (with a very strong Symons contigent) earned the silver medal at the Independent School’s Tournament this weekend. Well done Milla, Viviana, Maria, Aiya, and Marbella!

JG Soccer Symons