SMUS Teacher Feature: Mr. Dave Hlannon

We’re excited to welcome Mr. Dave Hlannon to SMUS in a new role for our school: director of educational technology. Born and raised in Winnipeg, he came out west to study computer science and philosophy at Simon Fraser University, and has lived on Vancouver Island for 15 years. Prior to coming to SMUS, he was running Byte Camp, an organization that teaches students creative tech skills.

Let’s get to know Mr. Hlannon better:

What was your favourite subject in school?

What was your first job?
I cleaned the tool and toy sections at Zellers when I was 15.

What do you do on a day off?
I love hiking around the Cowichan Valley.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Cuba. My background is Czech, there’s a common heritage from the communist days between the Czechs and Cubans. When I see pictures of Havana, it reminds me of Prague – this museum of a city. I imagine that’ll change pretty quickly now that they have a relationship with America, so I’d like to go there before it changes too much.

What’s one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I would like to change how we teach creative technology in the school system.

What did you do after high school?
I went to England for a summer and worked as a bartender in an English pub on the south coast.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
My first experience teaching was when I was a TA (teaching assistant) at university. It’s always been a happy, comfortable calling for me. The feeling of the intrinsic rewards of teaching have always been there for me.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
There was a stretch when I was really into karate. I never picked it up or anything but I wanted to be like Karate Kid.

What was the first concert you went to?
Tool. It was a great show!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
At 19 I plunked myself into the city where my parents came from – Prague, with a so-so grasp of the language and I didn’t understand the culture.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

What movie have you watched the most?
Star Wars – the good ones.

What has been your most memorable teaching moment?
One of my first semesters as a TA at university I was running a tutorial with about 15 to 20 students. They had an exceptionally hard teacher that semester and the way the lectures were being taught was very difficult. I was trying to make things easy and understandable for the students and I noticed somewhere in the middle of the semester my class size started growing. Students from the other tutorials were showing up in my class. I realized that I was offering them something that they weren’t getting in the lecture hall and that I was able to help these students in philosophy.

Have you ever won anything?
I received a national entrance scholarship to Simon Fraser University.

Do you collect anything?
I used to collect hockey cards. I have boxes and boxes of hockey cards. I’ve got a rookie Ray Bourque and Brett Hall, and a second-year Mario Lemieux.

What are you currently reading?
All the Light We Cannot See. It’s a beautiful story.

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
Lower Fort Garry in Winnipeg – it’s an old fort outside of town. They had live people acting out the roles, so they would talk to and you could speak to them as if you were in that era.

What’s the best part of your job?
I really am excited about this role, because it’s exactly what I want to be doing: it’s working with students, faculty and the IT department to figure out how we create a coherent tech curriculum from K-12.

What’s your favourite meal?
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 20 but my favourite meal goes back to when I wasn’t a vegetarian. It’s a home-cooked Czech dish called Vepřo, knedlo, zelo, which is pork, sauerkraut and dumplings. It’s a greasy, meaty dish. I’ve tried to replicate it using tofu – it doesn’t work.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
I love the pace. I love the outdoors. I love that there’s no mosquitoes.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
Yoda when I was 5 or 6. I had two older brothers – the older brother was Darth Vader, the middle brother was Luke Skywalker and I was little Yoda.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I’d still be fiddling around with education and technology.


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