Q: What subjects do you teach at this school?

A: I have taught here presently science and English and biology. I also teach chemistry and math. So you never know, you can catch me in all subjects at all times.

Q: How long have you taught at MCGI?

A: This is only my second year, and truthfully I was on mat leave for one of the years, so I’ve only been here for a total of five months.

Q: What inspires you to teach?

A: I really like teaching. I really like the interaction between the students and the teachers. At this level in high school you actually get students who have opinions about things, who are actually informed on some things, and can challenge you on things, and I like that. By having a different group of students all the time means every day is different. Every day is interesting. I really like that. When I was in school and I was doing my science degree, I really liked science but I didn’t want to go further with that.  I wanted to do something that still included science, and always liked kids, so I thought teaching would be a good fit for me. And it has been.

Q:  If you could be any teacher in this school, who would it be and why?

A: I would be Ms. Paveling because she works with the food all day. I love food, and that would allow me to snack continuously for the day. And make awesome cupcakes.

Q: Have you ever stolen a pen from work?

A: Yes! Anyone who says no is lying.

Q: What’s a pet peeve that you have?

A: I have so many pet peeves, I could answer this question all day. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you go to a fast food restaurant, and someone takes 10 minutes to order. Are you kidding me? The food hasn’t changed! McDonald’s has the same stuff every day, don’t lie and tell me you want something different. Just get out of my line. Just get your food and get out.

Ms. Balkissoon . Photo courtesy of Zaid Baig.

Ms. Balkissoon, standing in the back row on the right . Photo courtesy of Zaid Baig.

Q: You really like food, don’t you?

A: I’m all about the food.

Q: What’s your favorite food?

A: Ice cream and cheesecake should totally be a food group by itself. But for an actual main course? That’s hard. I think I’m going to go with the old chicken alfredo, let’s go with that.

Q: What do you want your students to take away from your lessons, especially in a non-academic context?

A: Critical thinking skills. As in, learn how to solve a problem. It doesn’t matter what the problem is or what the answer to the problem is, but learn some sort of thought processes to get you through it. Figure out what you’re trying to find out and then find out a way to get it. Think outside the box, something creative. That’s what I want them to get out of it.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?

A: If I say chocolate, are we back to the food again? (laughs) No, I got a bookmark. The bookmark was carved, it was out of a polymer, or acrylic or something. And it had my name on it, the school I was working at, and it had all these cool little biology designs. It was really nice, it was personalized, and it was a unique gift so it was really nice.

Q: Would you rather have a pet kangaroo or a pet llama?

Definitely the kangaroo. Kangaroos are cool. They can bounce, they can kick, they can fight, they put their babies in their pockets and they run around with them. A llama is just going to spit at me all day. And the babies are called joeys, that’s just fun!

Q: Of the places you’ve visited, what was your favorite trip?

A: I went to Rome when I was in university. Even though I was doing my science degree, I took Italian as just one of those random credits that you take. And I was really, really good at it and I learned to speak it really well. Our class was only five people, just because of the timing, and we went to Italy for reading week and it was really, really fun. I guess it was because I was on my own, and at that time when you’re youngish you can do whatever you want. I took my younger brother with me; he was an art history buff and he knew all the museums to go to, and we did whatever we wanted at any time. And because we had a youngish teacher she knew all the cool spots to take us- she was from there- it was really good.

Q: What’s an unexpected talent that you have?

A: I play the piano and the trumpet.

Q: How do you describe your taste in music?

A: I like lots of types of music. Hip-hop and R&B would probably be the main thing I listen to but a lot of other things too, like funk, jazz, and classical. Not too much pop unless you’re going back to the 80s. Give me 80’s all day every day, I’ll have it. But no country! Please, no country.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: I’ve always wanted to fly, but I don’t think that would be a good superpower, because if wanted to fly I would go in an airplane. I think the rogue superpower is the coolest one, where you can touch somebody else and take their superpower, because then I could get any superpower.

Q: Are you a night owl or an early riser?

A: Oh my god, I’m a night person! A hundred percent! Don’t speak to me before noon, please. I never want to get up, I never want to come to school at 8:15 to teach first period. I’m always awake from midnight until whenever I can stay up. School needs to start after lunchtime for me.

Q: If you could give a piece of advice to a Garneau student, what would it be?

A: Be true to you. Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy. And I’m hoping that doesn’t include smoking drugs and skipping school. What I mean is that when you choose your courses, don’t let others influence you too much, like this is the best course for you. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you know what it is you that you like and where you want to go. The same thing with university and college: do what you think is going to be the best thing for you. I know it’s hard for you guys to choose on your own when you’re so young. But I feel like a lot of people get pushed in the wrong directions and then they end up being unsuccessful, and that’s not our goal, right? We want every student to be successful in whatever it is they want to do.