Congratulations to Chris Luff, one of our two Madeline Korfman Memorial Scholarship recipients!
After growing up in Enderby, Chris moved to Abbotsford where he developed a passion for cycling, recreationally and as a commuter. With only one vehicle and a growing family of three boys (now age 9, 14 and 16), he became really good at biking while hauling added weight.
“We like to say, life is an adventure,” says Chris. “Everything we do, we try to align with that. Whether it’s going camping, hiking, a bike ride, or even how we approach opportunities or unfortunate events — how can we solve this problem, or turn this event into something positive?”
Likely not a surprise to those that have met him, Chris has a very positive attitude. This was noted by his nominators. What was additionally mentioned was his love of learning and teaching; as seen in class, his coursework and in interactions with his peers.
“I am so grateful, and feel very honored to have received this award,” says Chris. “Over the last 10 months, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of the people in the program— and they are all incredible people that are very talented and hardworking. So to stand out amongst a group like that, means a lot. I always try to push myself to be the best that I can be, and I’m very passionate about teaching, so I wanted to give this program my all. And any time your all is acknowledged is an amazing feeling.”
Looking ahead to after graduation, Chris is already planning his next big journey. He plans to cycle across Canada over a month and a half to raise funds and awareness both locally and nationally. Nationally, he would like to provide support for meal plans for children and youth. Locally, he’s looking to support an organization that seeks to provide outdoor activities and sports for underprivileged youth.
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH CHRIS
Why did you decide to enter the field of teaching?
I have always loved working with youth. My first career was a youth pastor, and I worked at the same church for 11 years. Every day I was trying to inspire and empower students while having a lot of fun. I also worked in schools as a coach, tutor and with an after-school program. I really loved being in the schools. During that time, I had several teachers that would ask me, ‘when are you going to become a teacher!’? At the time, I really had no intention of becoming one.
When I moved to West Kelowna, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I became a fireman. I served at some beautiful wineries. I really enjoyed both those things, but it didn’t quite fit what I was looking for. I decided to sit down and I made a list of exactly what components of a job I wanted to do. That’s when I noticed what many people over the years had been trying to point out — the career I was looking for, was being a teacher!
What has been a favourite memory or experience so far in the program?
It has been an incredible program and journey so far. For those of us who were in school during COVID, we didn’t have opportunities to become as close with our classmates, and I missed having that. It’s what made starting this program and being able to form relationships really impactful.
One of my favourite memories, or series of memories, has been watching a group of 130 people bond. Seeing these table groups become little families. Being a dad, and being a little older than some, I like to care for the whole group; but 130 people is a lot of people! I’ve tried as best as I can to get to know everyone, but I found myself wondering, what can I do to show I care? I had the idea of hosting a social luncheon together. I talked to some peers and we finally held the event in April. There were so many people that wanted to help and make this event happen. We had this really fun lunch, and played volleyball and field games. We had this long table and we crammed as many of us as we could on there.
During the event I paused, and looked around and thought, ‘this is so cool!’ I loved watching these smaller groups bond as a larger group. It’s this really special memory for me. It’s part of the reason why I can’t wait to get into the classroom. I look forward to helping my students create those bonds, build those relationships and make memories together; because when you make positive memories, people want to be there.
What advice do you have for prospective Bachelor of Education students?
It’s important to be flexible. Going into this program, and even the profession, there are going to be things that don’t go exactly as planned. You won’t be able to control these moments, but you can control your perspective. Try, as best as possible, to look at everything with a positive outlook.
As aspiring teachers, there is that realization that we’re not always going to have those big “aha!” moments when we’re teaching. Those moments where the students are blown away by our creativity and everything goes according to plan. We have to give grace to ourselves, and also remember that during the program. There are a lot of amazing things about the program, and you’ll see them better when you have grace and patience.
Celebrate the little victories along the way. Have fun, make memories and enjoy the journey in the process. I very much wanted to be a teacher already, but I’m glad that I paused enough to enjoy the process and reflect on the awesome learning and amazing friendships.
Lastly, I think it’s important to understand that there are limits to our mental capacity. There will be times where you find yourself full, and you need to be mindful in those moments to store those resources or lessons away for future use.
About the Madeline Betty Korfman Scholarship
This scholarship has been endowed through a bequest by Madeline Betty Korfman to honour her love for teaching. Madeline Korfman taught school in southwestern Saskatchewan before relocating to the Okanagan in the mid-1900s. This scholarship is awarded to two teacher candidates who significantly demonstrate a “love for teaching” based on the recommendation of Okanagan School of Education faculty.