SMUS Teacher Feature: Mr. Gordon Chan

Gordon Chan

Mr. Gordon Chan, teacher and technology specialist at our Junior School, is currently in his 22nd year at St. Michaels University School.

He was born and raised in Victoria, and after graduating from Mount Douglas Secondary he attended seminary. He spent 13 years working for a church with new Chinese immigrants and youth. While working with at-risk youth he began hearing a common theme emerge: “Most of the kids felt that the education system let them down,” he says. This triggered a career change (“I wanted to see if I could make a difference.”) and Gordon went back to school to earn his Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Victoria. He taught for two years in Saanich before joining SMUS in 1996. He has been a homeroom teacher, and taught social studies, computers and digital skills. He also earned his Master of Educational Technology degree in 2007.

Gordon is married to Margaret. They have three adult sons, Jordan, Zachary and Adam.

Let’s get to know Mr. Chan better:

What was the best class you took in school?
It was a cultural diversity class at university. It was the first time that I experienced a true feeling of equality, regardless of culture, where everyone from a different background was proud of their heritage and diversity.

What was your first-ever job?
I sold newspapers on a downtown street corner when I was 10 years old. It wasn’t the best job in the world but it exposed me to working with different types of people and it taught me how to accept people and not judge them by their appearance or behaviour.

What do you do on a day off?
I spend time with my wife and enjoy all that beautiful Victoria has to offer.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Japan because I have always been interested in the country’s history. Plus all of my kids have gone and loved it!

What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
I want to be a positive influence on those who cross my path.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
To model to students that we all have something to offer to each other. When I was growing up there weren’t many minorities in teaching positions and I want to show all students that they can be whatever they want to be.

What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to be a policeman. I thought it would be cool to ride in a police car chasing bad guys!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
When I was very young I was hospitalized for a year with a kidney condition. I didn’t know how to speak English at that time so it was very challenging trying to learn English while living in hospital.

What hobby would you pursue if money and time were no object?
I would love to travel the world and take photos of ordinary people enjoying life and doing the things they love to do. Ultimately I’d love to create a photographic coffee table book.

What’s been your most memorable teaching moment?
At the end of a Social Studies unit on heritage, a student told me that she learned so much about her family that she didn’t know before and that she was proud to be a minority.

If you could time travel, when would be the first place you go?
I would travel back to the time when Jesus was teaching his disciples and listen to him because Jesus’s teachings have had such a tremendous impact on the world for centuries. 

What was your favourite field trip as a kid in school?
Going to Kelowna when I was in Grade 5. We were studying parts of B.C. and we had a sister school in Kelowna that we visited. I had never left Victoria and this was my first trip on B.C. Ferries and I got to see a part of B.C. that was so different from what I knew.

What are you currently reading?
Nighthawk by Clive Cussler

What’s the best part of your job?
Working with the students and my colleagues. Each day is different and each day comes with very different challenges.

Where is your favourite place on Vancouver Island?
I can’t choose a favourite. There are so many wonderful places close by – from the beaches to mountains – that whenever I need to go out and experience nature, depending on my mood there is always something there that takes my breath away.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing for a living?
I would probably be a social worker because I like to help people.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
I remember being a ghost because it was an easy costume to make by myself.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Flight because then I could travel anywhere in the world.

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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