A local RCMP officer has been visiting the Whistler high school weekly — to co-teach science classes.
Since school resumed in the fall, Constable Afzeel Yakub and Whistler Secondary School vice principal Nolan Cox have teamed up to teach one block of Grade 10 Science each Thursday. The partnership began when Yakub approached Cox about the possibility of getting more involved with the school.
“I happen to be both a teacher and an RCMP officer, and I already teach at schools,” said Yakub on why he originally sought out Cox.
Yakub said that part of his duty as an officer is to meet with school administration and get to know kids in different ways. This proves harder for high school students than elementary school students, since there is no specific program in the Whistler high school to allow RCMP officers to interact with students. The D.A.R.E. program, on the other hand, gives elementary school students a great opportunity to get to know officers.
And so far, Yakub said his experience with the school has been positive.
“It has worked out really well, and I can definitely see a change in the comfort level of the kids. The first day, the students were very focused on my uniform and eyeing my gun. Today, those things really aren’t an issue,” said Yakub.
He added that this is not the type of relationship that can be built by simply popping into a school every once in a while.
Cox agreed that he is happy with the teaching arrangement. He called Yakub a “real asset”, outlining the officer’s dedication to the project and his ability to make a connection with the kids.
“He understands both sides of the coin, both the law enforcement side and the teaching side,” said Cox.
“In the time I’ve been an educator, this is the first opportunity I have had to work with an RCMP officer in this capacity. It has been a very neat experience, especially for the kids,” he said.
Cox added that it is important to build a bridge between schools and the RCMP, especially in small communities like Whistler.
“Kids are very inquisitive, and this gives them an opportunity to ask Afzeel questions that may be related to being an RCMP officer,” he said, adding that Yakub has never tried to recruit students.
Yakub’s list of current jobs does not stop at being a full-time RCMP officer and part-time science teacher. He also commutes weekly to Victoria to work with at-risk students and volunteer at a psychiatric hospital for kids.
Despite his busy schedule, Yakub maintains that he has not had problems balancing the workload of four jobs to date.
“I am not a fan of the traveling. But I enjoy all my jobs so much, so it isn’t a factor that makes or breaks anything.”
Yakub was trained and worked as a teacher for several years before becoming an RCMP office. He has taught all grade levels but specializes in high school science.