Spencer Edwards always found himself moving to pursue a better opportunity in his life and, by a twist of fate, ended up in a small town in northern British Columbia.
Edwards, 49, found various opportunities to take him around the world, ones that eventually brought him here to Kitimat. Edwards was born in South Wales and spent much of his young life in the region. He attended Penybont Primary School before moving on to Brynteg Comprehensive School.
Like many teenagers, Edwards held jobs on the shelves of local supermarkets. He also spent a summer working at a milk bottling plant which, despite looking unremarkable, was actually quite interesting. Stacks of milk crates were coming down the conveyor belt and it was his job to put them in the cart and every once in a while it didn’t go as planned.
“You had to time it right, you know, if you didn’t pick it up at the right time, everything would fall apart, it would happen multiple times, every newbie would be covered in milk,” Edwards said.
After finishing high school, it was time to move on to the next chapter in life and Edwards decided to head to the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England where he would study chemistry.
“It’s a great university, it was renowned for being forward-thinking in environmental policy, some of its professors have made major contributions to UK environmental policy and the climate change agenda,” said said Edwards.
“Part of our chemistry degree, a big part was environmental science, we got to talk to these guys and learn what was going on.”
While at college, Edwards found himself rock climbing and spending time in the climbing club. It was a good connection as Edwards got a job in outdoor education, mainly teaching elementary school children a variety of outdoor activities.
“I absolutely loved it, but we were paid £40 a week, it’s not a lot, all our accommodation and food was provided, but still,” Edwards said.
This particular job lasted about a season before he realized it was time to find something else. Edward’s father informed him that Lancaster University offered a course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
“After that, because I had taken this course and had a degree in the UK, I was able to go to Greece to teach in a private Greek language school, the place I entered was a village called Trikala,” Edwards said. .
Edwards found himself appreciating Greek culture which was much more relaxed than in the UK. His own enjoyment of the outdoors found himself spending some of his free time exploring the area as well as the mountains.
Realizing that once again it was not a long-term career for himself, Edwards embarked on the next chapter of his life, teaching in Japan.
“I stepped it up a bit, went to Japan, teaching English again, but this time at a more established company called Nova,” Edwards said.
He started working in Nagasaki and was given a tour of the area. Edwards found himself not in an apartment but in a full house halfway up the mountains. This chapter of his life lasted four years and he enjoyed the way of life in Japan. The job was also fairly well paid and allowed Edwards to travel throughout Japan.
He also met a girlfriend whom he almost married while in the country.
“We had been together for about three years and I liked living in the country and the Japanese culture, so I thought it might work. I think she was quite in love with me because most Japanese men in her experience are more [about] the traditional relationship,” Edwards said.
Once again he realized that teaching English as a second language was not a career and when his relationship ended he moved back to the UK.
This time he wanted to become a high school teacher and spent a year studying at Swansea University.
“I was living at home, which I didn’t like very much, it made it a bit easier for me to commute to Swansea every day, which was about 30 to 40 kilometres,” Edwards said.
The class was intense but he found himself finishing it and looking for his next opportunity. This time, Edwards traveled to Watford in north-west London to teach at Westfield Academy. He rose through the ranks teaching science and eventually became the head of the science department.
After a few years, he found himself hiring a new teacher for the department, a native of Kitimat, British Columbia.
“One of the contestants was from Canada, someone named Rachel DeSousa, who is now my wife,” Edwards said.
When DeSousa arrived at Watford, she and Edwards worked together at the school for almost seven years and their relationship developed so that they moved into a small flat together. As any relationship becomes more serious, the question of marriage has arisen. Edwards intended to ask for her hand in marriage at Clevedon Manor, however, there was a slight hiccup in the plan.
“I took Rachel there one night and we were in the store looking for the little pamphlets to show you around the place and for some reason she brushed against my pocket or my thigh and she could smell the box in my pocket and knew what it was,” Edwards said.
“She said ‘are you going to ask me to marry you’. Well not now, she knew that and there are no surprises now.
Of course, the two got married, and the proposal happened shortly after that moment, slightly unsurprisingly. They were later married at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church in Rickmansworth, UK.
There would be another leg in their journey before they finally arrived in Kitimat. They spent four years teaching in Qatar and their son and daughter were born there.
Wanting more family ties, the couple moved to Kitimat where DeSousa began working at St. Anthony Catholic School while Edwards looked for work. Edwards also had to re-certify as a teacher, first having to take English 101 and 102 courses at Coast Mountain College. Eventually, he got a permanent position at Skeena Middle School in Terrace. Edwards would later receive a two-year special education degree from the University of Victoria. They are both now at Kitimat City High (KCH).
“We call ourselves resource teachers, she mainly teaches English and physical education, students come here and they ask you for help based on their needs,” Edwards said.
Edwards is also the outdoor education program coordinator at KCH.
Edwards has completed her Masters in Educational Leadership and DeSousa is currently doing her Masters in Counseling. Edwards continues to enjoy exploring the outdoors and has spent time volunteering with Marine Search and Rescue. He retains his never-say-never attitude when it comes to moving out, however, he now has more than himself to consider if he wanted to make the move.