SMUS Teacher Feature: Mr. David Kerr

David Kerr

Mr. David Kerr was born and raised in England. With his dad in the British navy, he and his family moved around a lot in his younger years (including a two-year stint in Annapolis, Maryland) before settling in Buckinghamshire. He attended Dr Challoner’s Grammar School before heading to Lancaster University to study history and politics. While rugby and cricket were his sports of choice as a teen, he excelled at field hockey in university and played at a very high level in England. After earning his degree, he spent some time working for the Royal Bank of Scotland and travelling (including a visit to Canada) before returning home to study teaching. He spent a couple of years at a school in Blackburn, Lancashire before immigrating to Canada. He taught at York House School in Vancouver for 10 years before he and his wife (who he met on a B.C. ferry) came to Victoria to start a family; they now have two boys at SMUS. He has been at the school since 2006.

This year Mr. Kerr is teaching AP Research, AP Seminar, AP European History and Social Studies 11 (co-credit). He is also a senior houseparent in Harvey House, coach of the Senior girls field hockey team and coordinator of the school’s sailing team.

Let’s get to know Mr. Kerr better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
History. I had a very inspirational teacher who made the subject challenging, made it fun and made me very curious about it. And it improved my writing, as well.

What was your first job?
I helped a milkman deliver milk bottles when I was 10 or 11. I remember we had thick snow one winter and it was so cold. I was wearing gloves but they couldn’t grip the bottles so they kept slipping out of my hands. I lost a few bottles of milk in the snow banks that year.

What do you do on a day off?
I like to get into nature, I like to go sailing (Rebecca Spit on Quadra Island is a personal favourite) and I like going for walks.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Certain parts of Africa and South America. I’ve been to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Peru and Bolivia, but there are other parts of both of those continents that appeal to me. I enjoy travelling; it’s fascinating meeting other people and seeing different cultures and a different way of life.

What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I’d like to sail around the world. Second on that list is I’d like to travel to some of those places (see above) with my family, especially my boys so they can see the world as well.

What did you do after high school?
I got an Interrail pass and went backpacking through France, Italy and Greece for a couple months with friends. Then I went to university.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
There’s a service side to me that enjoys helping others, and with teaching, I feel that I can make a difference for young people. Ironically, the last thing I wanted to do out of high school was be a teacher. I remember thinking, “Never again would I want to be in a classroom.” I think my revelation to become a teacher in my mid-20s was probably a sign of growing up. It came from a combination of travelling, knowing people in teaching and seeing what life was like in other forms of employment that I didn’t enjoy.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
I wanted to be in charge of my own ship.

When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand.

What was the first concert you went to?
I think it was The Clash and The Pogues at Brixton Academy.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Adapting to life in Canada with the rest of my family in the UK. It was a big decision to come over here permanently. With my family still over there, I’ve definitely felt a little isolated at times, but I have no regrets. I chose to come to Canada because I had seen it on my travels and I felt that the people here were more tolerant and there’s a lot more to do outdoors. I also felt that, even though I didn’t have a family at the time, it’s a better place to bring up kids.

What is one thing you can’t live without?
Exercise and getting into nature.

What movie have you watched the most in your life?
It’s a Wonderful Life – we watch it every year at Christmastime. Though recently my youngest has been watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a lot, and I’ll sometimes watch it with him.

What’s been your most memorable teaching moment?
It’s not a single moment, but it’s when grads come back to you and show their appreciation for your teaching. It gives you a real sense of accomplishment and it feels very rewarding to hear that. As far as an individual moment, we recreated an enlightenment salon for AP European History in the Daily Grind once, which was a lot of fun. The kids dressed up and acted as philosophers and discussed worldly events.

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
Going to northern England to visit historic sites and learning about the culture.

What are you currently reading?
Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin.

What’s the best part of your job?
The people – students and colleagues. And the fact I continue to learn here.

What’s your favourite meal?
Lasagna or jambalaya.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
You can do anything you want here. There are so many outdoors activities and cultural events and it’s easy to get around. You don’t need to leave the Island; there’s so much to do here.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to cast happiness everywhere, and reduce conflict in the world.

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
Part of the time would be on the boat, but I would also be travelling (not on a boat).

What are you passionate about?
I care a lot about the environment and action on climate change is important to me. If we want to leave the world a better place for our kids, we have to embrace change. I’m also very passionate about education in general.


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