Senior School art teacher Ms. Alex Cecill is originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Born to teachers, her family moved to Germany when she was a toddler while her dad taught at a high school and her mom taught English to German police officers. They returned to Canada when Alex was in Grade 2 and settled in Kelowna, B.C. Following high school, Alex went to the University of Victoria, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in art history. After graduating she spent 18 months in Seoul, South Korea teaching English and art to Kindergarten students. She returned to Victoria with a new found love of teaching and attended UVic to earn her Bachelor of Education. She completed her practicum at SMUS, before being hired in the Senior School art department.
Alex, who is now in her fifth year at SMUS, teaches Grade 9 and 10 art, as well as AP Art History and 3D Applied Design.
Let’s get to know Alex better:
What was your favourite subject in school?
I loved art but I was also really big into jazz band and English literature. I had some really incredible teachers and it was clear how passionate they were about what they taught. It rubbed off on a lot of students.
What was your first job?
I was a soccer referee starting from the age of 12. I played soccer for as long as I can remember and I refereed little kids all the way up to adult league.
What do you do on a day off?
I love to get outside. I’m a runner now. You’ll often find me at Mount Doug running around. My husband is an ultra-marathoner and he’s gotten me hooked on trail running. I love trail running because it’s so beautiful, the time passes so quickly, it’s easier on your body and I find it really meditative.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco and Turkey and I’d love to see more of southeast Asia. It’s the colours and the culture that are a draw for me. And a lot of these places have popped up in my AP Art History course, which makes me want to go even more!
What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I want to do more art of my own. I’ve dabbled in everything and I like it all! Since teaching 3D Ceramics and Sculpture I’ve become really interested in that.
Why did you want to be a teacher?
That year in Korea showed me just how much I love working with kids. Every day as a teacher is different and it’s always challenging but so enjoyable.
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
An artist. When I lived in Germany I remember saying that I would move to Paris and be an artist. As I grew older I never thought it would actually be a career path but I’m so lucky to get to do art every day.
When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
My husband ran the Fat Dog 120 a couple of summers ago – it’s a 120-mile run from Keremeos through the mountains. I joined him as a pacer for a big chunk of the night and we ran through the dark all night. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time, being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but headlamps leading the way.
What was the first concert you went to?
The Spice Girls in Vancouver when I was in Grade 7.
What is one thing you can’t live without?
My family and friends.
What movie have you watched the most in your life?
White Christmas. My dad and I watch it every year. It was a Christmas tradition with my mom and brother too but they got sick of it.
What’s been your most memorable teaching moment?
I love teaching the AP Art History course. That’s been a challenge but it’s so rewarding. The class has been such a pleasure to teach because the students are so keen on what they’re learning, which makes it more enjoyable for me too. And I feel like we teach each other; it’s such a rewarding teaching experience for me.
Have you ever won anything?
I won a giant pumpkin – it was like 100 pounds – through a farmers market in Kelowna when I was a kid. I remember it was so big we could barely get it onto the doorstep and we couldn’t even carve it!
What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
I went to Montreal when I was in Grade 11 with the jazz band to play in a national festival. We spent a whole week in Montreal in the middle of winter – that was a thrill!
Do you collect anything?
Tupperware. I have a lot of Tupperware.
What are you currently reading?
The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
What’s the best part of your job?
The people, by far.
What’s your favourite meal?
What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
The outdoors. There are so many beautiful areas so close to us.
What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
I was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz with a group of friends. I also really enjoyed being a cluster of grapes. I went to school wearing purple balloons and everyone popped me all day!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. Travel takes so long and I could see my family in an instant.
What are you passionate about?
Since I started teaching it, art history and learning about art has become a really big passion.
If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I’d still want to do something involving art, volunteering in some capacity. And I’d love to travel more.