SMUS Teacher Feature: Ms. Alison Galloway

Alison Galloway

Ms. Alison Galloway has been at the SMUS Junior School for the past 10 years. She was born in Mallorca, Spain and spent the first few years of her life there until her family moved to Canada. She grew up in North Vancouver and came to Vancouver Island to study anthropology at the University of Victoria with a goal of using her education to travel the world. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she spent nine months backpacking through southeast Asia with her boyfriend (they returned home engaged). Alison also returned home with a new career in mind: teaching. She completed the two-year teaching program at UVic and got a job at a small independent school working with students with hearing impairments. After eight years, she got a job as a teacher at SMUS. She recently completed her master’s degree.

Alison and her husband, Steve, have two kids, Lucas and Ava, who attend SMUS.

Let’s get to know Ms. Galloway better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
I really enjoyed my language classes, Western Civilization and really any class where you could find out other people’s perspectives on things. I liked to write and I loved learning about the world and about cultures. I was also interested in how other people viewed the world and how world views differ depending on where you’re from.

What was your first job?
I worked at a clothing store when I was 16. I remember thinking how hard they worked there – you’re working every holiday, you work long hours. It gave me a lot of respect for people who work in retail.

What do you do on a day off?
We love to go boating – it’s our passion as a family. We visit all the Gulf Islands, we go crabbing, fishing, hiking. I love being outdoors but being out on the ocean is my happy place.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
South America, partly because I was born in Spain and I’m drawn to Spanish-speaking countries, but also because of the beauty of the land, the people and the culture there. My son is going to Nicaragua on a SMUS service trip at spring break and I can’t wait to hear all about his amazing adventures when he returns.

What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
Right now I’m on a break from setting big goals; I just finished my master’s degree on educational technology and innovation and that took up a lot of my time. I was exposed to all sorts of really innovative and interesting ideas around the future direction of education. I found it really inspiring!

One thing I would like to do, though, is one day teach in a Third World country. It would be so rewarding, and I think an opportunity like that reaffirms the value of education. I feel educating children is a way to a happier, gentler world. Education builds understanding and we need more of that these days.

What did you do after high school?
I went to Quebec City on a six-week exchange where you go and learn French in the mornings and then you spend the afternoons experiencing culture in Quebec and exploring the city. It was beautiful!

Why did you want to be a teacher?
When I was travelling in Nepal, which is my favourite place, I was struck by the poverty there. A little boy ran up and he wanted to sell me a picture he had drawn. I bought his picture, paid him the money and he ran off looking so happy. I’ll never forget the look of pure glee that he had sold something he had made. I remember in that moment thinking that I wanted to be able to inspire children like that. I felt like teaching would be a good way to make a mark in the world.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved my cats and there were horses down the street that I loved. I just wanted to help all the animals in the world.

When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
I was almost kicked off a mountainside by a donkey in Nepal. I was on edge of a steep cliff while hiking the Annapurna Circuit and a donkey train went past. I moved over to let them by and the very last donkey kicked out at me, got me in the thigh and I almost went over the edge. That was a big adrenaline rush. I had to limp the rest of the way.

What was the first concert you went to?
Michael Jackson in Vancouver when I was 12.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Finishing my master’s degree while working full-time and looking after my family was a big challenge, as my husband is often away for work. We had a lot of simple dinners!

What is one thing you can’t live without?
Chocolate and my family, not necessarily in that order.

What movie have you watched the most in your life?
The Princess Bride.

What’s been your most memorable teaching moment?
I love our Genius Hour that we do in Grade 3. There have been lots of great moments but every day I really enjoy witnessing the children take the lead in their own learning. I try to facilitate whatever they’re interested in and I’m blown away by what their passions are, what their interests are, and how much learning they can do independently. We have students coding, taking apart computers, cooking, sewing, drawing, creating mini robots and making movies. I love that hour because the children are scattered around the school completely engaged in what they’re doing and so passionate about it.

Have you ever won anything?
I was the Employee of the Week when I worked one summer at the PNE. I sold souvenirs and I was chosen as Employee of the Week. My prize was presented by Bill Vander Zalm and I got all sorts of PNE swag. I’ve also won two different hula-hoop contests – once when I was 5 in Spain and again a few years ago we went on a family cruise.

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
In Grade 7 we went to an outdoor school in Squamish and stayed there for a few days. We all had jobs and there were animals to look after and I remember doing science exploration at the lake. I really enjoyed that!

Do you collect anything?
Beach glass off the beaches we visit.

What are you currently reading?
A collection of Agatha Christie short stories.

What’s the best part of your job?
The love – I feel loved every day. My class is so warm and they’re so delighted to learn. Being surrounded by children who are so passionate about learning and are so delighted by whatever it is we’re learning about just energizes me.

What’s your favourite meal?
My mom’s Easter lamb dinner.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
I love the ocean. I love being able to smell the ocean and to be able to drive to so many different beaches whenever I want to.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
I was a giant M&M one year.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would love the ability to transport myself wherever I would like. It would be really nice to be able to transport my whole class, too. When we’re learning about something we could just appear somewhere and get to experience something right there.

What are you passionate about?
I’m really passionate about where education is headed. I’m really excited about the direction our curriculum is taking and the ability to teach innovative, real-world skills to children. From my background with the Reggio Emilia Approach,  I’ve learned that teaching is all about listening to children, and that children have remarkable ideas. Sometimes just sitting back and watching and observing and then helping where you can is the best way to teach.

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?


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