Searching For Purpose: The Teachers Who Influenced Me


It was my first day of jr/sr high school in Eckville. Madame Hempel started the French class in French and spoke the language the whole class. If you want to make an entire insane class, pay full attention the whole time, talk to them about it in a foreign language. By nature, she already had a loud inviting voice that makes you listen. Later she would teach me art and my favourite class, Drama. Madame Hempel believed her students were capable of an Emmy. She gives her students the confidence to succeed in life, well helping them find their creative sides. 

I almost went to Vancouver Film School because of her inspiration. She volunteered many hours after school for people like me to practice for dinner theatres, which kept many teens out of hostile activities. For my final project in grade 12, Madame Hempel let me write a play that included all three high school grade levels. It was a musical soap opera where two feuding gangs were rapping for territory.  She allowed me to be creative through her creativity.

 The first class of my first day of junior high was Mr. Holland’s social studies class. I had been anticipating this class for years as I heard many rumours that the social class used to be run by a very vocal (my professor now took over Mr. Keestra’s job, shout out to Brent Galloway)! This teacher used to teach students about the Holocaust and later would become mayor of Eckville. Mr. Holland would set the tone right away about his expectations of us and the respect he would give us as he expects it back.

I would not describe it as Nazi strict; instead, it helped condition us to go to college/university one day. Even the most challenging students were always on their best behaviour for this class. Mr. Holland got us to read our textbooks, take notes most of the course, do assignments in class and outside of class, made politics fun by encouraging us to go through newspapers and finding political cartoons, read about what is going on and write a short piece based on what it means to you.  It was his teachings that would gain my interest in history, political science, and jeopardy. He is the reason I will be a social studies teacher and a major contributing factor to why I enjoy educating people.

 I enjoyed Mr. Danbrook’s biography class based on short stories of his life. Mr. Dsanbrook’s stories were too fun for my ADHD brain to pay attention to what class I was in. I believe these experiences were the bulk of the ingredients that formed my passions, interests, and how to treat people properly with kindness. His sense of humour reminded me of a lot of my family, and he encouraged his student to use tags (term comedians use by adding extra jokes to the main point).

I think I picked up and now hold some of the significant aspects that make up what it takes to be a  positive influencer. All of my favourite teachers had patience, a sense of humour, demonstrated collegiality, had flexibility like my double-jointed limbs, and empathy and respect for students. I believe they had excellent self-care by the levels of happiness that radiated off them well, maintaining high energy-based classes.

 I believe it takes a lot of patience and empathy that I have learned from helping raise my girlfriend’s two daughters and lots of meditation and yoga I learned and have been practicing since 2013. I picked up and will use a sense of humour to keep students interested. I will use personal fun stories like Mr. Danbrook to keep them hooked, like the whitefish my friends and I used to catch off Mr. Danbrook’s boat Sylvan Lake (it was the most whitefish in one trip, I think any of us had ever seen).  I will use creativity and imagination to help other students to use theirs. I will bring my tech knowledge to social studies class to wake up those students who usually see this course as “nap class.”  We will go on virtual field trips back in time to when Canada first united and became a country in 1867, or back to when my relative Jacques Cartier made three epic voyages from France to Canada in the 1500s.

I will become the same role models that shaped me into who I am today. I will view students like my own children and provide everyone with an equally fair opportunity no matter the background. I will be integrating my Metis and Mi’kmaq heritage to teach students and the community about residential schools. The biggest takeaway from being a social studies teacher from Eckville is that you cannot believe everything you read in your textbooks—that’s that humour thing coming into play.

Studies and polls have shown next to executives, teachers have the most satisfying jobs, and they ranked as the most trusted people out of any profession.

“I am not here to build a business; I am not here to build a corporation; Not here to build Schools; I am not here to build churches—I am no Mother Theresa. 

What I will do, though, is—lead a legacy.”

– Dean Mathers


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