Decades don’t diminish gratitude for Great Teachers

Readers can recognize teachers who make a difference

May 29 is the deadline to nominate a teacher that has made a difference in the life of someone you know.

May 29 is the deadline to nominate a teacher that has made a difference in the life of someone you know.

A conversation he heard on National Public Radio a couple of years ago got Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen thinking. And doing.

When the host of the program asked his guest if he ever thanked the teacher who played such an important role in his life, Jensen decided to try and get a hold of a teacher who had done the same for him when he was growing up in Montreal.

“I had only been in Canada for six months and didn’t speak English,” Jensen recalled. “My second grade teacher, Miss Hayami, a Japanese Canadian lady was the kindest person, a wonderful human being who was very supportive.”

Although he put up with his fair share of teasing from classmates because of his limited language skills, the classroom became his sanctuary thanks to Hayami’s tireless efforts, Jensen said. So he decided to try and contact her to let her know how much he appreciated her help, prompted by the radio program.

“It was a pivotal time in my life, and I will never forget how much she helped me,” Jensen said. “I wanted to impress her with what I learned and she really motivated me. Her endearing qualities were her kindness and how she nurtured self confidence, instilled a love of learning, self esteem and a love for others.”

It took some effort to get a hold of Hayami’s contact information, but once he did, Jensen spent a couple of hours crafting a letter he emailed to her.

“She called 10 minutes after I sent the email and asked if I was the little Danish boy who couldn’t speak English,” said Jensen, who shared her classrooms for grades two, three and six. “She said she was very moved by my letter and I told her how much she had influenced me.”

Her overwhelming kindness didn’t prevent Hayami from doling out discipline when required. “We used to try and throw pee wee footballs around the class when her back was turned and I had to wait until the end of the year before I got mine back a couple of times,” he recalled with a chuckle.

Jensen’s life took another major turn in high school when a teacher made chemistry so engaging that he was inspired to earn a degree in chemical engineering, a career path he pursued for a number of years before deciding to get a law degree. “I wanted to do something more involved with helping people,” he explained. A career in law nurtured a love for teaching, which has been a part of his life on and off for more than 20 years.

“The students’ enthusiasm is a great reward,” said Jensen, who is looking forward to teaching at the University of Victoria again in the near future.

 

Capital Region mayors reflect on teachers’ influence

 

Highlands Mayor Ken Williams was quick to credit a music teacher in high school for helping to shape a career that involves composing scores for Hollywood movies and producing local musicians and bands.

“His name was Emile Michaux and he was a former military band conductor who came to Canada from a very musical family in France after the (Second World) War,” said Williams, who attended Colquitz high school in the late 1960s. “He was a great teacher who had the knowledge to engage his students in what he was teaching, and our school band won a few provincial championships. Quite a few professional musicians came out our local school bands and it was a top notch experience.”

Having a sister who teaches helped shape Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton’s perspective on the profession.

“I used to help her set up her classroom in her early years in Prince George,” said Hamilton regarding her sister, Karen Friesen, who has taught at the elementary school level for 25 years. “You develop a real admiration for the work they do and become well aware of the extra effort they put in.” Although Hamilton is many years removed from her days in the Prince George area, she still occasionally runs into her sister’s former pupils. “They all say what a great teacher she was and how she positively impacted their life.”

Langford Mayor Stew Young can easily trace his appreciation for sports and the qualities they instill back to Muzz Bryant, one of his teachers at Belmont secondary school. “I learned about the value of teamwork, discipline and leadership,” Young said. “Those values become part of your life. They gave me the knowledge and work ethic that have helped me as a businessman and a mayor. I gained much more than an education during my time at Belmont. The efforts of the many teachers helped me realize you can achieve your goals if you’re willing to work hard and work with others.”

If you have a teacher who made a significant impact on your life, Black Press would like to hear from you. Just visit SaanichNews.com, click on the great teachers icon and let us know what grade they taught, which school and why they are deserving of a nomination. The deadline for nominations is May 29.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read