A local teacher was nationally recognized with a prestigious award from Justin Trudeau.
Oak Bay teacher Scott Alexander received a Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence Certificate of Achievement.
“We are so thrilled for him. Scott is a passionate educator and he is a very caring, enthusiastic teacher. He makes history come alive,” said Oak Bay High principal Randi Falls. “We are so fortunate have him.”
Alexander, who teaches Social Studies, Planning, History, and Scholarship Prep at Oak Bay High School happened to be in Ottawa at the time of the announcement. He was there for his work with the Teachers Institute on Parliamentary Democracy which works to bring a better understanding of parliamentary democracy and political process into the classroom. This seems fitting as he won the award based on his teaching philosophy that learning happens at the intersection of relevance, relationship, and rigour. He is passionate about connecting his students to the world they live in.
His time in the House of Commons inspired him to encourage students to apply for the Page Program, where 40 students a year from across Canada are chosen for the highly sought-after positions to work with Members of Parliament in the House of Commons Chamber. With Alexander’s support, Oak Bay has had students successfully chosen for these hard-to-get spots.
“I get to work with fantastic families and students that allow me to express my full range of skills as a teacher. I work with amazing kids who want to learn. And I work with a community that really supports it,” said Alexander. “You can’t do the things I do without that support. I’m surrounded by fantastic educators. I’m really, really lucky to work at Oak Bay.”
His guidance in scholarship applications has led to a very high success rate for Oak Bay students – including a recent Schulich Leader scholarship win, one of the largest and most prestigious academic awards given to top high school students in Canada. Social Studies 11 students consistently achieve results significantly higher than the provincial average; Grade 12 students are recipients of numerous university scholarships, including prestigious, high-value ones, thanks to Scott’s help during the application process.
“Mr. Alexander is one of the few, special teachers I have met that invests his full time and attention into his students. He makes them feel valuable and recognized. As he reads scholarship and university applications his true passion for his students and who they are shines through,” said Karlee Zaruk, winner of the Schulich Leader scholarship. “What I find most admirable about Mr. Alexander is how he is there for his students academically and personally, giving his students the type of well-rounded support that inspires them to go further into their discovery of what they are capable of.”
Alexander has also been involved in organizing life-changing and character-changing experiences for Oak Bay students.
To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Alexander recruited 11 Oak Bay students to go on a trip to France. They were joined by 8,000 other kids from Canada who went to the ceremony at Vimy Ridge as part of an EF (Education First) tour.
“Mr. Alexander gave me this opportunity, this chance to go outside of the Victoria bubble I live in, and walk in the middle of history,” said student Rachel Kinahan. “He gives students endless opportunities to be their best selves, and is genuinely invested in every one of their futures, the best quality a teacher can have. I’m a better person for having known him, and he deserves all the recognition we can give him.”
“I am incredibly grateful for the impact he has left on my life, and I’m sure countless others would say the same. I know that, even after my years at Oak Bay High come to an end, Mr. Alexander will have played a very important role in helping me become a brighter student, but more importantly, a better person,” said student Marek Gorman.
Alexander is also an avid technology user, always seeking out new ways to use it to enhance learning.
He has created a website for educators and students with lessons and resources that has had more than one million hits in the last decade. He enlivens lessons by incorporating technology such as having students pin significant events on a real time Google map for Second World War battles so they can connect the location to its historical significance.
“Mr. Alexander prepares students for the world by teaching them how to cope amidst changing technology, by providing confidence and self-knowledge through mentorship, and demonstrating how to live a life rooted in one’s personal values,” said David Macauley, a former student who is now attending Harvard Law School.
Giving back to the community is another important aspect of Alexander’s teaching philosophy.
He brought Youth in Philanthropy to the school, which sees students work to spotlight local charities and win $5,000 to donate to an organization of their choice. Students have raised thousands of dollars to support community efforts.
“There are so many more things I could say about Mr. Alexander, but the legacy he is leaving behind speaks for itself,” said Gorman.