SMUS Teacher Feature: Ms. Becky Anderson

Becky Anderson

Ms. Becky Anderson has been at SMUS for 18 years in a variety of teaching and leadership roles. She became Director of the Junior School in 2016. Becky was born and raised in Campbell River, until she headed south to Shawnigan Lake to boarding school for Grades 9-12. She attended Trent University for a couple of years before switching to the University of Victoria to complete her Bachelor of Science degree in Geography. She worked in a couple of environmental jobs, including at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Saanich documenting Canada’s forests. During her time at the PFC she began coaching volleyball after work, and realized that coaching was the part of her day she was most looking forward to. She went back to school to become a teacher, and spent a couple of years at Esquimalt High before coming to SMUS in 1999.

Becky is married to Mr. Eliot Anderson (Director of the Senior School) and they have two daughters at SMUS.

Since coming to SMUS, Becky has taught Social Studies at the Middle and Senior Schools, coached Senior and Junior girls volleyball, and worked as a Grade 10 advisor, Director of Leadership Development and a houseparent in the boarding community.

Let’s get to know Ms. Anderson better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
I had been in French Immersion when I was in school in Campbell River. I loved languages and finished my languages quickly. I also loved Geography and discussing current events.

What was your first job?
My mom owned a kids clothing store and my dad owned a tire store. I always worked at my parents’ businesses sweeping and doing those kinds of jobs. But my first paid job was a summer at McDonald’s, which was a great job for character building.

What do you do on a day off?
I feel like either I get up and want to have a really slow morning and I’ll read by the fire with a coffee, or I get up and get out of the house and go for a great run with friends. We love to take our dog for family walks. We love to spend a lot of time together as a family.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
We are really keen to go to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe. Eliot and I taught in Kenya for a summer and visited Tanzania; we want to get back and take the girls. It’s just such a beautiful part of the world. We found the people were really great, we loved teaching there – it was such a positive experience for us and we’ve always known we want to share that kind of experience with our kids. I’d also love to go to India and Colombia.

What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I want to continue to travel the world with my family. That trumps everything else in life for me. And I want to see both of my girls as citizens of the world, and people who can really live comfortably whether they’ve got all of the amenities we normally have at home, or whether we’re in a little shack on stilts with no electricity on a small island in Thailand. A life goal of mine is to have that kind of family.

What did you do after high school?
I moved to Tofino and fashioned a little shelter for myself in the bushes off the beach. I lived in the forest off the beach for the summer while I worked at Middle Beach Lodge. It was an amazing summer. I’d wake up occasionally with slugs in my hair! Slug slime is very challenging to get out of one’s hair.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
I felt very positively influenced by the teachers in my life, and I really loved the connection with kids of all ages. I have a deep respect for kids and teenagers and what they’re capable of. I feel like it’s a very challenging job, and I feel really strongly that the right people have to be in this job, so I’ve been really glad that it’s one that I’ve loved so much. It wasn’t really a profession I thought about having when I was in high school. With my interest in environmental science, I had really adventurous thoughts of – and I know it sounds silly – saving the world, but I didn’t know what that would look like. I was thinking it would be more of an activist-type role, but now I can make a difference by educating really wonderful, positive, fully contributing citizens.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
A professional horseback rider or a cowgirl.

When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
It’s pretty cool to watch the sun rise from the top of Kilimanjaro – though that’s not really an adrenaline rush. I love snowboarding in Whistler, I loved ziplining in Costa Rica, and bungee jumping in Indonesia.

What was the first concert you went to?
The Jackson 5 in Vancouver in 1984.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
A challenge I struggle with every day is staying in the present moment. I’m so excited to do so many things that I need to remind myself to enjoy exactly where I am in the moment.

What is one thing you can’t live without?
My family. Or coffee.

What movie have you watched the most in your life?
I don’t watch a lot of movies on repeat, but I love Forrest Gump.

What’s been your most memorable teaching moment?
The reflective ending to the Grade 10 experiential program one year in particular. It was with a group that was really well-connected and just hearing some of the students’ personal reflections on what they learned about themselves, what they learned about nature, what they learned about how they interact with other people in challenging situations was pretty powerful.

Have you ever won anything?
I won horseback riding awards when I was little. I showed Quarter Horses and did competitions in B.C., Alberta, Washington. It was a real passion of mine until I was 14.

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
I loved going out to Port Renfrew and Bamfield in Grade 11 or 12. I loved the tidal pools and I loved studying the coast.

What are you currently reading?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

What’s the best part of your job?
Getting to walk through the classrooms and see all of the wonderful things the kids are doing, and to know that I’m a part of creating a wonderful, warm, welcoming, inspiring learning place for kids.

What’s your favourite meal?
An arugula salad with roasted beets and goat cheese. Or anything Thai.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
I love that both sides of our family live on the Island. I love that we can quickly be at the beach and then get up to the mountain. And I love having easy access to nature.

Have you ever been on TV?
I was on The Phil Donahue Show as an audience member in 1994 – I asked a question to one of the guests. It was super entertaining and a very memorable show.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
I was Charlie Chaplin in Grade 4 and no one had a clue who I was. I had a silly little routine I did, but I was so annoyed because I had to explain to everyone who I was. Halloween was always funny because my mom would make our costumes and she really really liked my sister and I to have creative costumes. We often just wanted to be a punk rocker or a hippie, but my mom always heavily influenced what we ended up being.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To fly because I could see more of the world more easily.

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
Travelling with my family; backpacks on, just meandering around the world.

What are you passionate about?
I’m so curious about the world. I’m pretty passionate about trying to carve out time to have awesome experiences in this time that we’ve got.


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