- High School
How well do you know the teachers at Seisen? We spend 8 hours at school with them every day, which is probably longer than the time you spend with your parents after school. But do you know anything about teachers outside the regular classroom environment? Have you ever wondered why Mr. Cabiles became a Biology teacher, not an astronaut? Have you ever been curious about whether the teachers have unique hobbies? If you have, reading this article will help you get to know five teachers at Seisen: Mr. Hatch, Mr. McDonlad, Ms. Kotowich, Mr. Cabiles, and Ms. Silvia. Each teacher was interviewed with nine identical questions.
Could you introduce yourself?
Mr. Hatch, who teaches history, is from Ireland and this is his 9th year teaching at Seisen. He loves to talk with students and his favorite sport is karate, which he teaches after school! Mr. McDonald, a math teacher who was awarded the PAEMST (Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching), was new this year, but unfortunately, he had to leave school early due to personal matters. Ms. Kotowich is an art teacher from Canada and she joined Seisen last year. She is running the Duke of Edinburgh program with Mr. Skulmoski and is very excited to interact with more students! Mr. Cabiles, a Biology teacher and head of the science department, is also from Canada. His favorite movie character is Spiderman and you can find many interesting Spiderman goods in Lab 2. Last but not least, Ms. Silvia, from Zimbabwe, is a new English teacher who is very excited to make lots of special memories with students, teachers, and faculty members.
Mr. McDonald Ms. Kotowich Mr. Hatch Ms. Silvia Mr. Cabiles
What was your motivation to become a teacher?
Some teachers knew that they wanted to become a teacher from the beginning, but some did not. When Ms. Kowtowich was in art school, she wanted to become a professional artist. However, she soon realized that she preferred helping others with their artworks and found it more fun to work on group projects, rather than working individually. Ms. Kowtowich added that “Switching to teaching was probably the best choice I’ve ever made.”
On the other hand, Mr. Hatch realized that he wanted to become a teacher quite early. He was raised in a relatively poor neighborhood that had limited educational opportunities. In grade 11, he learned the importance of education in our current society and was thus inspired to pursue a career as a teacher.
3. Was being a teacher your dream job from the first? If it’s not, what was your dream job?
Do you know how little kids always say “I want to be an astronaut or a president”? Well, Mr. Cabiles was one of them. As a kid, he always wanted to be an astronaut. However, he realized that he could not be an astronaut since he did not have 20/20 vision, which is needed when navigating through space. His dream did not come true, but it definitely allowed us to meet an amazing science teacher.
Ms. Kowtowich had unique dreams as a child. She wanted to become a cartographer, a person who walks around and draws maps for cities, mountains, coastlines, and patterns over the Earth’s surface. However, as satellites were invented, the field gradually faded and unfortunately, now we cannot find any maps with x marks that indicate a hidden treasure.
4. What was the most unforgettable memory of your teaching career?
What’s the first thing that comes up in your mind when you think about unforgettable memories? Your very first birthday party with friends? Getting a good score on a test? For teachers, your small acts of kindness may turn into an unforgettable memory in their careers. On Ms. Silvia’s first day as a teacher at her previous school, she was having trouble finding the right classroom. She said, “I was feeling lost and overwhelmed.” However, at that moment, a few students approached her, introduced themselves, and invited her into their classroom. This helped Ms. Silvia feel welcomed and thus became an unforgettable memory for her.
Ms. Kowtowitch’s unforgettable moment occurred during a hiking trip in India. She was supposed to go around the lake with her students, but the maps she got were out of date and a 5km hike turned into a 25km hike. Half of her students disappeared, some were injured, the local guides were lost, poisonous snakes were falling down from trees, and they were all running out of water. Ms. Kowtowich said, “At one point in the hike, I was like, That’s it. I’ve killed them.” Fortunately, she found all her students safe. She added that it was the only time students ever heard her raise her voice because Ms. Kowtowich was scared that she’d lost them all. When she finally found them, she yelled, “Line up! Count off!” and they responded, “Yes, ma’am!”
Furthermore, it is difficult to know that sometimes, major events remain in the teachers’ hearts for good. Some teachers answered that losing students to accidents or suicide is the most unforgettable memory they have because they feel pain and great despair, knowing that there were a lot of wonderful things they could have experienced if they lived longer.
5. What was the hardest moment of your teaching career?
When Mr. McDonald was a young, new teacher, he had a student who used to come to school late every day. At that time, he did not have enough experience to understand the most appropriate way to treat students. One day, he took her outside and told her slightly aggressively that she needed to start coming to class on time. However, she responded that if she came to school on time, she would have to leave her little sister alone and that their dad would abuse her. Thus, the student leaves home later to make sure she is the only one sexually abused, not her sister. As a teacher, it was mandatory for Mr. McDonald to report this issue. However, the student got mad at him and thought that Mr. McDonald had ruined her life. It was painful for him to do the right thing, knowing that it would break her heart.
For Mr. Cabiles, the hardest moment of his teaching career was leaving his old school, Canadian International School, where he worked for five years. Because he had good relationships with students and teachers, it was strange for him to leave them behind. He missed them a lot, but staying in touch made it easier to cope. He also said that getting to know the students and teachers at Seisen has been more than enjoyable and that he is excited to make more memories with them. Mr. Cabiles added that CIS is where he met Mr. Beven, Mr. Mitchell, and Mr. Bucklaschuk so it was nice to reunite with them at Seisen.
Mr. Hatch, Ms. Kowtowich, and Ms. Silvia had similar responses. They replied that watching students go through a tough time is the hardest thing for them as teachers. Ms. Kowtowich said, “Whenever I have students that are struggling with personal things that I can’t help them with, I find it really difficult.” She added that when students come to teachers and talk about their personal problems such as their friend and family issues, all she can do is listen because not all teachers are trained to be counselors. Ms. Kowtowich said in sorrowfulness, “Those are the students that I stay up at night thinking about because I wish I could help them more.”
6. When was your proudest moment as a teacher?
Mr. McDonald shared that when he worked in the US as a teacher, he had a student who went to jail for carjacking. When the student got out of jail after two years, Mr. McDonald helped him catch up in mathematics without giving up. A few years later, they happened to meet each other at an airport in LA. The student was getting married so he introduced his fiancee to Mr. McDonald and told him about all the great things that happened in his life. The student then called his mother and once she arrived at the airport, she gave Mr. McDonald a big hug, crying while saying, “You saved my son’s life.” After they got married, the couple even named their son after Mr. McDonald’s first name, Patrick.
7. If you win the lottery, what do you want to do first?
"Open a school,” is what Mr. Hatch answered. He wants to bring his two worlds together: the world he grew up in and the world he is currently working in. For instance, he hopes to introduce the benefits of private school to students who live in poorer neighborhoods and are unable to access education, like where Mr. Hatch was raised. He thinks that private schools support students to have diverse visions and be passionate about their learning by providing the best environment possible. By opening a private school, Mr. Hatch wants to help maximize the students’ potential to do their best and develop important skills in the future.
8. If there is a Time machine, when would you like to go back and why? Is there an event you want to turn back? Is there anyone you want to meet?
Mr. Cabiles, who came up with a creative response, exclaimed, “I want to go back and see the dinosaurs such as ankylosaurus,” which is his favorite dinosaur. He expressed excitement over wanting to witness famous events, such as the first time a man set foot on the moon or when humans first discovered fire.
9. Tell us about your talents or special hobbies.
When Ms. Silvia has free time, she loves to read interesting books and poems. She also enjoys cooking and occasionally makes cakes, with her most popular dishes being carrot and lemon cake.
Mr. Hatch’s hobby is karate, a sport he has been doing for 33 years. Since Mr. Hatch had a lot of questions about martial arts, he came to Japan and first started karate when he was 21 years old. One of the reasons why he loves the sport is because it helps him maintain focus and remain calm while learning how to organize his thoughts. In order to further his knowledge, he even did research about ‘kata(shape),’ the form of karate.
Mr. McDonald, however, shared what he is the worst at. Although he enjoys food, he claims that he is ‘the worst cook’. He has only ever cooked once in his life and always goes out to eat. For example, when he bought eggs to make an omelet, it did not go well as he had hoped. He said, “I had seven eggs left and they all went bad because I never cooked again after that incident.”
Learning something new about someone is always interesting and it can allow us to develop a better relationship with the person. If, for instance, that person is a teacher with more experience, you can learn life lessons and understand what the world might be like from their perspective. In addition, it is incredibly fun and intriguing to get to know a teacher as a person with passions and dreams, not only as an educator. Since many of the students spend more than 40 hours a week at school, why not make every day enjoyable by laughing with teachers and forming relationships?