It’s safe to say that Caelan Thomson and his family are quite familiar with Winnipeg’s largest school division.

Thomson’s father, Bob, was a Winnipeg School Division (WSD) teacher for 35 years and his mother taught in the same division for 11 years.

Thomson attended WSD schools for all grade levels and went on to work as a grounds keeper for the division in both high school and university. While obtaining his education degree, he began coaching basketball in the division and then substitute teaching. Today he’s a phys-ed teacher at Wellington School.

“Growing up in a household with two teachers, it was hard to not go into teaching,” Thomson said with a laugh. “I always wanted to be a teacher right from the start, and I always wanted to be a phys-ed teacher.”

Bob said he and his wife are very proud of their oldest son for following in their footsteps.

“He really transmits to his students just that love of learning,” Bob said, adding he doesn’t know of too many people whose whole life has revolved around the WSD. “We realized he was in a pretty unique situation because he had not only gone through all of the school levels … but he also had worked to pay his way through university by working for the division.

“We’re proud and we know that he’s proud that he can look back and say ‘I’m a Division 1 guy.’”

Thomson said many of his own teachers had such a positive impact on him that it led him to purse a career in education. For him, WSD “kind of feels like home” after so many years and he plans to stay put and carry out his career there.

“As the division has changed, I have also changed,” he said. “Creating a welcoming environment at all schools is just something that’s carried out.

“We have such amazing and respectful kids and being across the division you get to see just how great it is.”

Although this school year has been a challenging one due to the pandemic, Thomson says he’s amazed at how his colleagues and students have been able to adapt.

“We tried to plan ahead a lot in the summer, but no amount of planning could have prepared us for this school year,” he said.

Thomson says he’s been learning along the way with his students. He’s been trying to incorporate physical activity as much as he can virtually with his students via Google Meet.

His class has also spent more time working on mindfulness, yoga, dancing as well as the importance of their overall wellbeing during this stressful time.

“We did touch on that stuff before but it was brought forward a lot more this year. I can’t imagine how hard this would be being a student going through all of this,” he said. “It’s important to just take the time to slow down and check in with each other.”

Thomson says he credits coaching basketball with helping him get his foot in the door with the WSD.

“Coaching was a great way to get involved early and helped me build connections with those school prior to graduating.”