SMUS Teacher Feature: Mr. George Floyd

Up until arriving at SMUS in 1991, Mr. George Floyd’s life had been full of changes and moves. Born on a Canadian Air Force base in Zweibrucken, Germany, he was raised on Cold War-era bases in Germany and Manitoba before his family settled in the Comox Valley. After high school graduation, intent on a career in the military, he attended Royal Roads Military College to become a naval officer. Once he realized that the navy wasn’t his calling, he headed to the University of Victoria intent on becoming a marine biologist. During his time at UVic he took a handful of computer courses, too. He worked as a technician (primarily doing data analysis) at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney for a few years before being persuaded to consider yet another career: teaching. He returned to UVic to complete the teaching program, and worked as a substitute teacher in the Greater Victoria School District. Through a connection he made while working as a park interpreter at Goldstream Provincial Park, he came to SMUS as a substitute teacher in the late 1980s. He was hired full-time at the Middle School in 1991. He has taught Science and Technology in his 26 years at SMUS, and says it’s been remarkable to witness firsthand how computers and technology have transformed education over the last quarter-century.

This year Mr. Floyd is teaching Science, Computer Science and Information Technology.

Let’s get to know Mr. Floyd better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
History and the sciences. History is the story of people and times, and science provides the factual backdrop to things. Science without history is pretty dry; history gives you the people connection.

What was your first job?
I was a lab technician at my high school in Grade 11 and 12. I prepped the labs, I got the re-agents together, I washed the glassware – I had complete run of the prep room. It was a tremendous responsibility, and in retrospect I’m shocked they let me do it because in those days the labs had some stuff they don’t allow students to use now.

What do you do on a day off?
I love to visit my grandchildren and I love to sea kayak.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
The Canadian Arctic. It’s part of the Canadian world, and yet it’s one we’re so unfamiliar with. We know of it, but we don’t experience it. I have a cousin living in Tuktoyaktuk, and just hearing stories about it has really piqued my curiosity.

What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
The goal of a teacher, at the end of the day, is to make meaningful connections with their students and to have in some way contributed to their success, in whatever venue they’ve chosen. When kids do computers or science with me, I’m not so fixed on them being successful in my class. But if what we do together contributes to their success or their curiosity in their later lives, that’s the goal I strive for.

What did you do after high school?
A buddy and I went for a canoe trip around Meares Island. Then I went right into basic training for military college. That was grueling. Basic training is everything you’ve seen in the movies.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
Some of the most profound relationships I had with adults in my life were with my teachers. While I didn’t want to jump into their role right away, it seemed like the logical place for me to go.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
A fighter pilot, just like dad. At that age we were living on an air base in Germany, and the Canadian pilots were flying these really hot one-seat interceptors called Starfighters. Dad would be jumping into the cockpit of one of those and it was pretty inspiring. Unfortunately, I’m colourblind and nearsighted in one eye, and you can’t fly with any kind of vision impairment.

When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
Driving my my wife at the time to the hospital for the birth of our children. The only thing comparable was driving to the hospital to visit my grandsons when they were first born.

What was the first concert you went to?
The Engelbert Humperdinck Opera, Hansel and Gretel, in Frankfurt.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
I’ve never overcome it, but telemark skiing. I took up telemark skiing way back and I got reasonably OK at it, but I reached a point where I was just not able to progress. It’s very challenging skiing with deep terrains and ice. Telemark skiing is a challenge I would still love to surpass, but once you’re into your 50s, the reality is you have to give it up because it’s so hard on your body.

What is one thing you can’t live without?

What movie have you watched the most in your life?
The Man Who Would be King.

What’s been your most memorable teaching moment?
My first year at SMUS was memorable. That first year was opening a door to a different world for me. And I had some phenomenal students that year who helped make it truly quite memorable.

Have you ever won anything?
I feel like being accepted to military college was like winning a scholarship. It was quite selective – there was an exacting physical and psychological part to it. Having been selected for the military was a great honour and really changed the world for me.

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
That trip to see Hansel and Gretel. I was a Grade 5 student in Germany at that time, and my teacher thought we would do the full year of learning experientially. We did field trips to the opera, we went to the ballet, we went to the Heidelberg Zoo. She basically ran a field trip course.

Do you collect anything?
I still have a stamp collection. It started as a kid because we travelled so much and we used them as waypoints both in time and place because stamps reflected the people, the cultures. It felt like a mini National Geographic.

What are you currently reading?
I’m rereading The Nightmare Years by William L. Shirer. He was a journalist working in Berlin through the Second World War. It’s not about the war so much as it’s about the world events that preceded it, and the parallels that people are speaking of in the times we’ve moving in. You hear people drawing parallels so much right now, I thought I should reread this first-person view of those times to see if this observation is accurate or not.

What’s the best part of your job?
The kids. They keep you young, and they keep you honest with yourself.

What’s your favourite meal?
Irish stew

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
The access to the outdoors.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
Spiderman when I was 9 or 10.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To see the future. That way you could make good decisions.

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I’d love to go back to grad school and finish off some of the science research projects I had been working on. There’s always more to be learned.

What are you passionate about?
The outdoors. I’m probably most at peace in a forest or on the mountain somewhere.


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