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Meet the Team: Mike Irving, Language & Literature Teacher

Meet the Team
Mike Irving
What made you want to be part of the GNS community?

There are many reasons. It’s hard to know where to begin. Based on my first impressions, I liked the continuity of having a single, unified school experience from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The campuses are beautiful as well. I appreciated the focus on students’ lives, both in and out of the classroom. The school’s values also resonated with my own—”Truth and courage in learning and in life.” The emphasis on co-curriculars also caught my attention. I think it’s a great way to create a sense of community and to provide a place for students to connect through their various interests. The community I’ve found here has been beyond even my lofty expectations. Both students and staff have been incredibly welcoming. Suspiciously so, to the point that I think I might be in a Truman Show-type situation.

How did you choose teaching as the right path for you?

Arriving at teaching was a long process for me. My own experience as a high school student was traumatic, and therefore it took me nearly twenty years to consider coming back to the secondary school environment. My time studying at university was wonderful, however, and when it was over I realized I would be able to provide my students with the parts I enjoyed most—sharing ideas, exploring my interests, and flexing the academic muscles I was discovering. I wanted to provide a different experience than what I had by bringing what I loved to the classroom. It was also very much a process of elimination. I have had a broad employment history in support of my education over the years and knew from experience that most industries outside of education weren’t for me. I knew teaching was a fantastic fit the moment I stood in front of students and began a journey of learning with them.

What are some of your interests outside of school?

Anything artistic gets me fired up. I’m rarely happier than when I get to talk about and create artistic expression in its many glorious forms. From music to movies, poetry to painting, I love it all. I spend my free time reading, writing and getting outside with my incredible partner Laura, who is the other source of delight in my life. She would be blushing at my mentioning her, but she knows I can’t help myself. 

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I love bugs, though I’m no entomologist. I know shockingly little about them, don’t know any of their Latin names, and have done no research about them at all. Still, insects of all varieties delight me. I like the way they move, the way they interact with their environments, their little worlds in the grass, plants, dirt, and other creatures. I think they’re awesome. Except for arachnids. Spiders are terrifying.

What do you like about living and working in Victoria?

I came to the Island to get my teaching degree at UVic and intended to stay only as long as it took for me to receive my degree. I didn’t expect to love the place as much as I have. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I like the air and the fact that, at any time when I’m in Victoria, I can be at a lake or beach within ten minutes.

What made you become a Language & Literature teacher?

I honestly believe there’s magic in words and sharing that magic makes me happy. My passion for the written word, the way it bends or resists my will, like something alive. The way it can connect or divide, how it transcends time, place, and even life and death, is what made me become an L&L teacher. It’s what got me through my Masters’s degree, keeps me up late reading, making Google Slides for my classes, and thinking of ways to empower others through words.

Do you have a favourite piece of literature? What is it? Why? 

I have many (MANY) pieces of literature that are favourites for different reasons. Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 has my favourite opening pages of any novel, ever. “It was a pleasure to burn” is the opening line. I’ve read it a million times, but it still gives me chills. My favourite book is Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her ability to create a stunningly beautiful piece of art while writing about her traumatic childhood is inspiring. I believe John Steinbeck is the greatest novelist and East of Eden is his best novel. Science fiction is my favourite genre and I will forever be grateful to The Hobbit for introducing me to the joy of reading. As you can see, I struggle to pick favourites.

Thank you Mr. Irving for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions, and to allow the community to get to know you better! Students all enjoy your energetic and cheerful personality in the classroom.