Dunsmuir middle school’s Darren Russell is one of this year’s Great Teachers. (Katherine Engqvist/Black Press)

GREAT TEACHERS: Keeping pace with a career that’s constantly evolved

Dunsmuir middle school’s Darren Russell is one of this year’s Great Teachers

Rick Stiebel

Black Press

For Darren Russell, the keys to a teaching career are the connections you make with students that last a lifetime.

“Running into former students and hearing their fond memories of school is personally very rewarding,” said Russell, one of this year’s Great Teachers selections who is in his third year as principal at Dunsmuir middle school. “Knowing you made a difference in someone’s life is why we do this job.”

The opportunity to coach volleyball with elementary students when he was in Grade 11 started Russell on a career that will span 30 years in September.

“I was motivated by my high school volleyball coach,” he explained. “That started my passion for connecting with young people and seeing them develop.”

Russell spent the early years of his career teaching physical education before adding social studies. “Teaching phys ed allowed me to be outdoors and involved in physical activity that’s different from the classroom,” he said. “Teaching social studies let me see both sides. It enabled me to explore ways to foster a lifelong love of learning in my students.”

Russell credits a year in a teachers exchange program in Perth, Australia for broadening his skills.

“It was an amazing experience that gave me insight into another education system,” he explained. “It was interesting to see the differences and similarities.”

Russell has been involved in administration as a vice-principal and principal for the past 10 years.

“Stepping from the classroom to the principal’s office is more about the greater community of the school as a whole,” he noted. “Part of what motivates me is that the biggest part of my job is the opportunity to build relationships with students, parents and the community. That’s first and foremost. It also allows me to visit classrooms and see first-hand the amazing work teachers do every day.”

Time with family is also key for Russell, who looks forward to his daily walks on the beach and in the woods with his wife, Kim, and their dog.

“She takes photos of anything heart-shaped, whether it’s rocks, puddles or clouds,” he said, adding that some of her photos are on display at the school. “It helps me to see the beauty in what’s around us and keeps me balanced, recharged and ready to go.”

Russell also enjoys watching his kids participate in community sports.

“Being part of a team fosters a sense of belonging, instills confidence and teaches the importance of working as a team,” he said. “It also forces you to be organized in order to get school work, practices and everything else done.”

Russell was humbled to be selected as one of the nominees for the Black Press Great Teachers feature. “I’d like to share this with everyone who has inspired me to do the job I do.”

The Great Teachers program is presented by Black Press and Staples, in partnership with Camosun College.


Just Posted

Victoria non-profit empowers women escaping abusive homes with a fresh start

Organization’s gift certificate program helped around 400 women last year

VIDEO: Royal Bay Secondary students take flight in ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Play tells the story of the orphan who becomes Peter Pan

WATCH: Oak Bay wins regional skating competition

Winning tradition continues leading up to provincials

Sidney designer showing killer collection at Van Fashion Week

A young Sidney designer is showing her 14 piece collection Obsidian Nights at Vancouver Fashion Week

Volunteers begin work on memorial garden for former Metchosin counsellor

Garden a fitting tribute to Moralea Milne, a champion of Garry oak ecosystems

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

Most Read