This morning, the union representing B.C. teachers will choose its next president at its annual general meeting in Victoria.
This person will have some very big shoes to fill.
That's because the outgoing president, Glen Hansman, has been a magnificent public voice for the profession for many years.
This dates back to when he represented Vancouver elementary school teachers.
Hansman will wind up his third one-year term at the helm of the BCTF at the end of this school year.
One of his great accomplishments has been to make B.C. schools far more welcoming for all minorities, including LGBT kids.
He knew firsthand how tough it could be for queer kids when he attended school in northern Ontario.
"I landed on education because I wanted to make sure that school systems did better, not just for youth like me but for any student, Indigenous and others, [who found] that the school system was not a great place,” Hansman told the Georgia Straight's Carlito Pablo in 2018.
Hansman previously worked on antihomophobia programs with the Vancouver school district, which is an international leader in this regard.
Hansman has also been a vocal defender of SOGI 123—so much so that he was sued by Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld, who's claimed that this trans-friendly policy is based on a "biologically absurd theory".
Despite being sued, Hansman has continued to stand his ground.
In addition, Hansman has been a relentless advocate for students with special needs, calling on the Ministry of Education to provide appropriate funding to ensure proper supports are in place.
Not only that, he been a great ally of Indigenous communities, working behind the scenes to have recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada implemented in the education system.
And he was president of the BCTF when it won its greatest court victory in 2016.
At that time, the Supreme Court of Canada overruled a 4-1 B.C. Court of Appeal decision and restored language on class size and class composition, as well as staffing levels for specialist teachers.
Hansman has also focused a great deal of attention on how to improve the recruitment of teachers to B.C. school districts in the wake of that decision.
He presided over a period of labour peace and growing support for public education, which was reflected in the NDP's narrow victory in the 2017 provincial election.
A new modernized curriculum was introduced in B.C. when he was BCTF president. This provides greater flexibility for teachers to help students pursue their passions and reflects the latest research in pedagogy and neuroscience.
It's attracted international attention, as has the province's leadership in countering bullying in schools.
Few have been as active on this front as Hansman.
Moreover, the BCTF played a significant role in persuading the B.C. Investment Management Corporation to take climate change more seriously when investing public pension funds.
In the future, the manager of public pensions will conduct physical climate-change risk assessment for all private investments and integrate climate-change-scenario analyses across client portfolios and asset classes.
All in all, it's an impressive legacy.
B.C. has been fortunate to have been home to many great educators over the decades. It's why our students have fared so well in comparison to those in other provinces and countries.
But in recent years, B.C. has also distinguished itself for the humanity of its public schools. Hansman has played a central role in this evolution.
He knows that students who aren't bullied will be better learners.
He recognizes that students who aren't made to feel awful about their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression are far less likely to commit suicide.
He understands that students who learn emotional self-regulation in classrooms grow up to be better citizens.
He realizes how poverty-reduction programs help students succeed in school and how equality is advanced when girls from low-income families are given access to free feminine hygiene products.
He gets that Indigenous students who are provided with culturally sensitive approaches can blossom to become community leaders.
Hansman has always been on the side of these learners.
It's why his name needs to be included on any list of outstanding B.C. educators.More