Carihi Mirror reporters Greta Hamilton, Larissa Melville and I were in Carihi teacher Nic Pisterzi’s writing class last semester, a class that inspired creativity and technique, and launched us into the world of journalism. I talked to him about working at Carihi, balancing family time with work, and the Carihi Mirror.
Tara Warkentin: How do you view Carihi? How does it compare to other schools you have taught at?
Nic Pisterzi: Carihi is a school that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness, which fits nicely into my style of teaching. Though I’ve only taught at one other high school in Victoria, Carihi has been an excellent place to grow as a teacher. Comparing the two schools is too difficult because they both have different cultures.
TW: What is your favourite part of your job?
NP: This one is easy. It’s seeing the students each day. The way I view teaching and how I structure classes is driven on building relationships and community. When I first started years ago, I didn’t know this. I was heavily focused on delivering curriculum entirely. Now, it’s different. Now I find it rewarding when I’m able to establish a connection with each student, and I take the time to do that almost everyday.
This is what’s important to me and is also my favourite part! Each student has their own story, and I find it rewarding to discover what they have to share, where they come from, and where they want to go next in their life.
TW: What classes are you teaching/have taught this year?
NP: I teach the writing program at Carihi which is inclusive of grades 9-12. I had three blocks of writing this year. I also teach English and Planning. And lastly, I support Aboriginal students at Carihi in an Aboriginal Support Block that incorporates cultural activities along with academic support.
TW: Which ones are your favourite to teach?
NP: I wouldn’t say I have a favourite type of class to teach. To be honest, I went into teaching to build relationships with students, so what I teach is secondary to that. I find teaching both a joy and a challenge.
TW: Which ones are the most challenging?
NP: Challenges come everyday in teaching. There usually isn’t a dull moment, so one challenge I find is managing my time when teaching full-time.
TW: Where do you see your career going in the future?
NP: Now that I just finished my Master’s degree, I think I need to take the time now to focus on my family. It’s been a long two-year journey, but the learning I’ve done has greatly impacted my teaching. In the future, I may pursue a school leadership position, but time will tell.
TW: You have three young children. Is it difficult to balance your family life with teaching?
NP: It can be challenging to strike a balance with both. When a teacher has a full-time teaching load, it can be incredibly busy and can certainly impact their personal life. So this is something that I strive to achieve.
TW: Is being with teenagers a big contrast from being with your kids?
NP: It is a very large contrast. I view teenagers as young adults and they come to class each day as I said before with their own story. I try to listen and be as supportive as possible. When it comes to my own children it’s a different world! We have three children under the age of four. Sleepless nights and diapers rule our life right now, but my wife Carly and I couldn’t be more happy.
TW: How did the Carihi Mirror start? What was your role in getting it going?
NP: The Carihi Mirror started as a partnership with our school and the Campbell River Mirror. Dave Hamilton, the Mirror’s publisher, approached me in search of a few passionate writers. He knew of Carihi’s writing program so contacted me. That’s where you three came in. Greta, Melissa, and yourself have shown tremendous dedication and effort. You three jumped into the process head first and we knew the three of you would be successful. We couldn’t be more proud of the three of you after winning the award!
TW: Where do you hope it goes?
NP: I think that a future partnership with North Island College, the Mirror, and Carihi may be the next step. Bridging a three-way partnership where students can get their feet wet in the world of journalism in high school, receive real work experience at the Mirror, and study journalism to complement their craft, would surely make for an original program.