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Trevor MacKenzie

Man with facial stubble wearing a checkered button-up shirt and sitting on a couch.
  • Category: Emerging Alumni Award
  • UVic degree: Bachelor of Arts in English, 2003; Teaching Certificate, 2004; Master of Education, 2020
  • Current hometown: Victoria, BC
  • Birthplace: Vancouver, BC

About Trevor

Trevor MacKenzie is an award-winning English teacher, author, keynote speaker and inquiry consultant who has worked in schools throughout Australia, Asia, North America, South Africa and Europe. Trevor’s passion is supporting schools in implementing inquiry-based learning practices. He is known for his heartfelt storytelling, kind demeanour and student-first philosophy. Trevor’s graduate research focused on identifying and removing the barriers to implementing inquiry-based learning in the K-12 setting. Currently a teacher with the Greater Victoria School District, he’s written three education-based publications (Dive into Inquiry, Inquiry Mindset Elementary Edition and Inquiry Mindset Assessment Edition).

How did your experiences at UVic shape who you are?

There are three realms to my work and all have some connection to UVic, whether directly or indirectly. One connection is as a practising teacher—I teach at Oak Bay High School in the Greater Victoria School District. This realm was directly sharpened through my time at UVic. The second realm is authorship and consultancy and visiting schools around the world by supporting them to implement inquiry-based protocols, structures, and frameworks. This work has also stretched into the business world and tech sector as I facilitate culture change to be more person centred, equitable, and agency rich. I get to teach students, and I get to teach teachers. The third realm is research and exploring hunches and observations in my work. UVic is the glue that brings all of this work together. When I think of UVic I don't think back to solely 2002 when I received my Bachelor of Arts. I don't think back to my graduate work. When I think of UVic I think that I always come back to UVic, in one way or another, and this space of learning allows all of this beautiful work to come together in a more meaningful way for me and, hopefully, for others. I don’t think I’m done with UVic. As an alumnus, I’m sure I’ll spiral back in some way, shape or form in the future.

What skills or traits are needed to be good at what you do?

In my work of teaching teachers, I often say that we want to “model the model.” What I mean by that is that whatever we want for our students we must reflect on how we, ourselves, can embody these skills and traits for our students. We need to flex these skills ourselves. The traits that underpin my work in education are curiosity, reflection, a certain amount of stick-with-it-ness and buoyancy when we face a challenge, critical thinking, self-awareness, creativity and collaboration. When I think of any skills that I rely on, I think of the skills I'm hoping I am actively nurturing the conditions for my students to flex and sharpen over time.

What’s a characteristic in people that is underappreciated?

One characteristic I deeply appreciate is to truly and actively listen, and not merely listen for our chance to get our two cents in, or to share our opinion, but to be grounded and focused and curious in the conversation. I think that active listening leads to more powerful conversations and more equitable conversations.

What’s your advice to someone who's about to graduate or uncertain about their future?

Don't be afraid to look to your periphery—to look to your left or right. As one graduates, you have goals. You have hopes. You have some steps that you feel like you're going to take. But if we don't look to our periphery, we may miss something deeply valuable or something that has potential… And don't be afraid to say yes, don't be afraid to say, “What would happen if…?”

What do you do to relax?

I meditate. Meditation grounds me for my day. Teaching is a full career. I walk into a building of 1,400 people every day, and it's easy to get off-kilter, and meditation allows certain things to ebb and flow for me throughout the day. I also enjoy cycling, hiking and walks with our family dog, Poppy.

What is a secret talent you possess that might surprise people?

I have no secret talents! I suppose as I reflect on the traits and dispositions that make me who I am, I think I'm most like a big panda bear—I'm a soft, understanding and compassionate person, and these traits surface in my teaching, my parenting, my marriage, and my friendships. It’s not a talent or skill, but it is a disposition that I possess and value.

Do you have a mantra?

Do what you love and love what you do. I'm often asked, how do you do it all? How do you teach? How do you write? How do you research? I have found my passion and purpose. If everything you put on your plate is something that you love, then it's easy to have what others may see as a full plate. For me, it’s rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful.

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

Nominations for the 2024 awards are now closed. Nominations for the 2025 Distinguished Alumni Awards are open through Oct. 18, 2024.