Seaquam Secondary teacher Michael Iachetta is always willing to boast about his student’s accomplishments.
But the social studies teacher and environment club sponsor is modest when it comes to his own, which this year includes being nominated for the provincial government’s inaugural Excellence in Education awards.
“It’s kind of the ‘I’m going to kill these kids’ surprise,” Iachetta said about finding out he was a finalist.
“Obviously just to be named alone is an honour, and I was really shy about it at first,” he continued.
“I look around and there’s so many educators doing just incredible work, particularly here in our own district and school. It’s like, oh my gosh, why did they select me?”
Iachetta is one of three B.C. teachers nominated for the social equity award, which recognizes teachers who have helped students develop a sense of social responsibility and tolerance for others, as well as helped them engage in complex social or environmental issues beyond the classroom.
For Grade 12 student Abhay Sachal, who is part of the environmental club and one of the people who nominated Iachetta for the award, that’s exactly what Iachetta brings to the classroom.
“I remember in Grade 8 walking into Mr. Iachetta’s class as a really nervous Grade 8, and just feeling like this was such a welcome environment where I was able to learn about things in ways that were actually personal to me,” he said.
“The way that Mr. Iachetta engaged all of us by talking about real world issues and how it impacts our real lives. The why behind it. That was kind of the biggest thing.”
Sachal has felt the impact of Iachetta’s teaching style personally.
During his time at the school, he’s created the student-led non-profit Break the Divide as well as presented at several conferences locally and internationally.
Last March, Iachetta travelled with Sachal to Florida where the teen presented on Break the Divide at the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance conference.
Iachetta’s work extends beyond the classroom, as he’s the teacher-sponsor for Seaquam’s environmental club, the department head for the leadership team and a volunteer at Be The Change Earth Alliance.
“To me, it’s all about … trying to empower our youth to reflect, understand and take action on not just environmental but social challenges that are facing our planet as young change makers,” he said.
Finalists for the Excellence in Education awards have been invited to an awards ceremony at Government House in Victoria on Oct. 5. The winner in each category will receive a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning, as well as a $2,000 bursary for professional learning at their school.