November 1, 2018 - 4:00pm
Hamish Thomson, the cooking and nutrition teacher at the High School at VIU, has spent a large part of his life at the Nanaimo campus starting from when he was a toddler. Thomson was first introduced to VIU when he attended the Malaspina Childcare Centre’s preschool program. After finishing high school in Port Alberni, he returned to the Nanaimo campus to enroll in the Culinary Arts program. Five years after cooking in restaurants, he hung up his apron to pursue a Fisheries and Aquaculture degree at VIU, which he later switched to a Philosophy degree. Thomson then pursued his teaching degree through the VIU Education program, before landing his career at The High School.
“It’s great to finally be paid to be here now,” he chuckles.
Thomson now teaches Foods and Nutrition to students, along with other courses like English Language Learning (ELL) and Math. The High School at VIU welcomes Grades 10-12 students from all over the world. Hamish was happy to answer questions about his journey as a teacher and his views about education.
If you could do something different than teaching, what would you do?
I would open my own restaurant here in Nanaimo. I have a bunch of ideas that I never pursued as once you own a restaurant that becomes your whole life. I try to use my passion for culinary arts in other ways that are less time consuming than owning a restaurant. Being able to teach students how to cook for themselves is really enjoyable. Cooking is definitely a valuable skill to have and it helps me every day of my life.
What trait do you admire most about yourself?
I have the ability to talk to just about anyone. This is an especially useful trait when connecting with students and making them feel more welcome on campus.
One of VIU’s core values is access to education. What does this mean to you?
Access to education means giving everyone the opportunity to learn and treating them as equals. Students from around the world attend our school. Some may have a language barrier, but that doesn’t mean they are not smart or should be treated differently.
At The High School, we don’t rush students through; rather, we give them the support and training they need to be successful long-term in their studies. Access to education isn’t just about providing information to students, but ensuring that they can meaningfully apply the knowledge.
What encouragement would you give to a student struggling academically?
I would tell them that they don’t have to rush. Some students want to push through their studies due to the pressure of finishing with their classmates, but moving forward when they are not ready won’t set them up for success. The best thing they can do is move at their own pace and seek additional support when they need it. If they try to rush before they are ready, it can really discourage them from future studies.
What impact do you feel you have on students?
I always try my best to make everyone smile and feel welcome. I like to say hello to students I don’t know and wish people a “Happy Monday.” For this small amount of effort, it usually gets a smile out of even the most tired or grumpy student.