Mr. Adrian French comes to SMUS this year as Director of Learning. He spent the last 17 years teaching social studies and running the Challenge Program at Mount Douglas Secondary (plus one year in the middle teaching at an independent school). He is a born-and-raised Victorian who spent the better part of a decade after graduating high school working as a tile setter in Los Angeles and Vancouver. He returned to school at age 28 and has since earned two bachelor’s degrees (Education and Human Kinetics from UBC) and a master’s degree (Education from Gonzaga University).
Let’s get to know Mr. French better:
What was your favourite subject in school?
History. I love the stories.
What was your first job?
Painting fences at Pearson College when I was 18.
What do you do on a day off?
Hang out with my family – my wife Michelle, daughter Olivia and son Henry, work on my house and go to the beach.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Vietnam for the beauty and the history.
What’s one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
What did you do after high school?
Right after high school I went to work at Pearson College. The following summer I was in the reserves for an eight-week course. And then I got offers to either go to Manitoba with the reserves or Los Angeles to work for a small tile company. I moved to L.A. and got into tile setting.
Why did you want to be a teacher?
In 1992 I realized that I didn’t want to be a tile setter for the rest of my life. I had just begun coaching soccer and my intent going back to university was to get into the world of coaching. But then I realized it’s hard to make a living out of coaching. So I asked, “How do I make a living at basically coaching?” and teaching came along.
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
A fighter pilot. The opportunity actually arose in about 1999. There was a career fair at my school, the Air Force was there and they were needing pilots. So I said, “I’ll be one, I’m in!” And after some discussions they said, “This is what we’ll do: you’ll do your officer training in Quebec so you can learn French, we’ll have you flying within a year, we’ll have you in a fighter jet in 4, and you’ll owe us 7 after that.” And what would my career look like? “You’d be stationed in the middle of nowhere, up north, most likely, to gain experience.” I went home and asked my wife what she thought about northern Alberta. “No.”
When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
The birth of my children.
What was the first concert you went to?
BTO at Memorial Arena.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Completing my first degree after being out of school for so long. I wasn’t a good student and I left high school with very low skills.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
What movie have you watched the most?
A Bridge Too Far.
What has been your most memorable teaching moment?
The going away party at the Challenge Program at Mount Doug after 18 years last year. They had a surprise bash for me, and alumni from many years past came. It was really special.
Have you ever won anything?
My wife’s hand in marriage. And I won the Victoria City Soccer Championships when I was 17.
What are you currently reading?
What We Become by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.
What’s the best part of your job?
Talking with people.
What’s your favourite meal?
Prime rib roast.
What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
The constant change in weather.
What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
A ghost – that stereotypical white sheet with eyes.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
Taking courses – studying everything. I just love to learn.