Staff Profile: Ms. Sylva Pohanka


Liam Donaldson

Ms. Pohanka sitting in her office in the mezzanine

Originally from Czechoslovakia, Ms. Pohanka was born into the unfortunate political and economic turmoil of the post-war Eastern bloc. As a young girl, she attended a language-focused school, practicing each day in Russian and English.  From an early age, she planned to escape the grip of communist rule, and expand her horizons abroad. Out of concern for the dark direction in which the state was heading, her family opted to emigrate. With her mother, stepfather, brother, and sister, Ms. Pohanka managed her way into Austria where she and her family were granted political asylum.

Once in Austria, they applied for permanent residency in Canada, and a year later it was granted. At only 15, Ms. Pohanka played an integral role in the family’s immigration. Unbeknownst to her, she would not be returning to Czechoslovakia.  She had left behind her biological father, his wife, and their three daughters whom she considered her sisters. At the time, she was the only member of the family proficient in English, and so accepted the responsibility of managing the bureaucratic elements of the voyage. At a young age, necessity forced Ms. Pohanka to lead, and the qualities developed during her youth shine quite visibly through her teachings at St. George’s.

As a new Canadian, Ms. Pohanka continued in her studies of foreign tongues. She is currently practiced in six languages: English, Slovak, Czech, Spanish, French, and German, and is conversational in Polish and Russian. At Saints, Ms. Pohanka teaches Spanish, French and German. She has organized Ski Day, and sponsored badminton, table tennis, fitness, and yoga. Outside of the school community, Ms. Pohanka is most invested in literature, yoga, flamenco dance, and keeping active outdoors.

Though not all of us have had the privilege of studying under Ms. Pohanka, her dedicated work and caring actions have impacted the school in numerous ways, and helped foster the growth of thousands of Saints boys over the years.