Fostering knowledge, equity, and a true sense of belonging

Chuks Imahiagbe’s professional resume outlines a long list of responsibilities and activities. Teacher, mentor, Science Department Head at St. Joseph High School in Barrhaven, founder and co-chair Black Educators Network of the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), Coordinator of its Black Student Forum, to name a few. Add in coaching the St. Pat’s HS soccer program to championships, convening soccer tournaments to raise funds for sports, leading black history month/career workshops, etc., and one cannot help but be impressed by this teacher’s extraordinary commitment to education and his community.

Chuks was born in Nigeria into a supportive family of faith with a deep belief in the power of education to transform lives and the world at large. He completed undergraduate studies and teacher training at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria before pursuing a Master’s degree in Computing & Information Technology at the University of Bedfordshire in England. Chuks first experienced the rewards of standing in front of a classroom in 2003 at Luton Sixth Form College in England where he taught Mathematics and Chemistry.

Upon becoming certified as an internationally-trained teacher by the Ontario College of Teachers, Chuks joined the OCSB team in 2008. It was a turning point for him when, in his words, “a lifelong dream to pursue a career of service to humanity and my passion for teaching and learning was fulfilled.” He considers it a privilege to have taught Sciences, Chemistry and Mathematics at Immaculata, St. Patrick’s, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph High Schools. Chuks’ accomplishments in the classroom led to promotion as head of the science department at Holy Trinity and St. Joseph’s. His intellectual rigour as an educator has greatly contributed to his practices in the classroom.

“My teaching is rooted in differentiated instruction, inquiry-based learning, and leveraging technology that provides the best possible educational experience for students in a dynamic and nurturing learning environment,” Chuks says. He developed an appreciation of data-driven decision-making to inform a departmental culture where all learners are valued and seen as capable of achieving desired outcomes. “I learned to actively listen and build relational capital which helps with arriving at consensus around common goals within the science departments.”

Chuks Imahiagbe feels a genuine sense of responsibility to his country and local community of neighbours and educators. He refers to Jean Vanier’s book, “Becoming Human,” as an inspiration, particularly the insight that individuals “do not reach true humanness in a solitary state. We discover it through mutual dependency—through belonging.” That concept was partly behind Chuks’ proposal to form the OCSB Black Educators’ Network as a platform upon which teachers could connect, support and mentor one other. As Co-Chair of the Network, he works in close collaboration with the OCSB’s Equity and Diversity Advisor and the ‘Leading and Learning’ team to improve opportunities for black educators and to foster a more diverse workplace. Chuks also serves as one of the coordinators for the OCSB Black Students Forum.

“I value building trusting relationships and engendering desired classroom and school practices,” Chuks shares. “I am motivated by a caring ethos that focuses on the promotion of the dignity, self-esteem, enrichment and full development of the total person. This inspires me to support school programs that add value to overall student experiences.” The inspiration a Catholic faith, and his vision for a just and equitable society, goes beyond the walls of Chuks’ classroom. Building thriving communities is a core motivation of his life and work, as a mentor to young leaders, and as the President of the Nigerian Canadian Association Ottawa, which works to support a thriving African diaspora in Canada.

Chuks proudly shares some good news. “I have recently been appointed as Vice Principal at the OCSB and very much looking forward to the new challenge as a school administrator.” His students and colleagues will no doubt benefit from the resilient faith and professional attributes of this dedicated educator.