Maxwell Cameron Award in Secondary Education
FitzGibbon. PHOTO: Crystal Bergeron
By Crystal Bergeron
For Gamelle FitzGibbon, this year’s recipient of the Maxwell Cameron Award in Secondary Education, teaching excellence runs in the family.
As a youngster growing up in Oak Bay with educator parents, teaching was the last thing on her mind. She was set on becoming a dermatologist or a travel writer. “I was always fascinated with skin and loved to read medical books,” explains FitzGibbon. “I also really loved to travel and had the privilege of living in several different countries over the years while my parents were teaching overseas.”
After graduating from high school in Venezuela on a Rotary Exchange Scholarship, FitzGibbon chose to major in journalism and Spanish while attending university in Spain. It didn’t take her long to miss Victoria, and she returned home a year later to ponder her next move.
While dining with her mother one evening, “something happened,” she said. “I didn’t really know what to do next with my life. I knew I loved art and Spanish. I was getting A-pluses all the time in both subjects, but was confused about my career path.” Her mother, former UVic Faculty of Education professor Dr. Paula FitzGibbon, suggested she follow her passion for art and Spanish and consider teaching.
Today, FitzGibbon graduates from the five-year BEd program with a near-perfect 8.5 GPA. A winner of numerous UVic scholarships and bursaries, she will be certified as a secondary teacher with teaching concentration areas in art and Spanish.
“My international experience makes me a better teacher because I understand simultaneously what it means to be the outsider, the new person, the person with the second language. As a teacher, it’s given me empathy and perspective of different people’s situations, cultures and parental expectations,” FitzGibbon says.
When asked about her time at UVic, her eyes light up. “UVic is just so beautiful. I love the surroundings. I love the lifestyle. I love the people. I love working with students and faculty who are the cream of the crop.”
FitzGibbon is currently on the teacher-on-call list with the Greater Victoria School District. “My dream is to have my own classroom soon,” she says. “I’m ready now and excited to be finished. There’s a whole world out there with endless opportunities and I’m going to take one of them.”