Born and raised in Summerland, Blaze Smith is happy to be back in his hometown with his new job.
“I’m super excited to move home and be close to friends and family,” Smith said. “Every place I go, I’m always telling people about the Okanagan, and how beautiful it is here. No matter where I go, this is the most beautiful place in the world.”
Smith had started planning to return to the Okanagan a year and a half ago, and at the time had heard that Unisus was just opening up in Summerland. Seeing an ideal opportunity to set himself up with work at home, he contacted the school, and now a year later he’s back to teaching, this time in B.C.
After graduating in 2010, Smith traveled to teach abroad, beginning at a British Columbia offshore school in Bangkok, Thailand for three years. His last job was at a Canadian international school in Singapore, where he spent the last four years covering a wide range of subjects.
“It was not just teaching English,” said Smith. “It was elementary, homeroom teaching. Teaching the inquiry-based system that the B.C. education system has transitioned too over the last four years.”
With a dearth of teaching positions in the Okanagan at the time, Smith found that he had the choice of either moving up north to find work, or go overseas.
“I decided to go for the warmer weather than the colder weather,” Smith said with a laugh.
Back in Summerland for this first time in seven years, Smith has settled into teaching his Grade 4 and 5 class. As an elementary teacher, he teaches combined social studies and science through the Units of Inquiry, math, English, and health and PE. The second school-year for Unisus has given him smaller classes than he was used to, but it’s not something he’s complaining about.
“My last school had over 2,500 students across two different campuses. So it was like university in size, it was just massive. My experience in Thailand was smaller, similar to this, at the B.C. offshore school. That was a small structured school that’s developing and growing.”
Now that he is back in Summerland, Smith is looking forward to the future at his new school. He hopes to bring what he learned overseas back home, and to help Unisus grow into a bigger school.
“It’s great, I mean, coming home, and having the opportunity to be the start of something fresh. With all the experience that I’m bringing back from around the world, I have a lot to offer. A lot of insight into how we can develop things here,” said Smith. “And having that local connection and history really bodes well.”
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