Steve Anderson is a man with boundless energy. He’s a dynamic, engaging and popular teacher at Chilliwack Senior Secondary and for as long as I’ve known him; I’ve always respected the time and dedication that he gives to his students and to our community.
Steve is quite the accomplished musician. He began playing the drums at the age of five and traveled with the Whitespot Highland Pipe Band to Montreal for Expo ’67. “I’m Danish on my father’s side and Italian and Scottish on my mother’s side. I guess I picked up on the Scottish part because I began wearing a kilt when I was five,” he chuckled. He also played with the Seaforth Highlanders, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Pipe Band and the CP Air Pipe Band. “In 1976, I traveled with the CP Air Pipe Band to Scotland to compete against other bands and for the first time since the 1700s a band outside of Scotland actually took first place. They were so upset,” he said with sheer delight.
Steve was an average student in school when it came to the arts and sciences but he excelled at what he refers to as the techy and trades. “I wasn’t focused enough. I was a hyper kid. All of the teachers loved me but hoped that I wasn’t a student in their class,” he laughed.
All through his senior year, Steve was gainfully employed. “I owned three cars and I had to pay for them somehow. I worked at Denny’s; I was a parts driver and worked construction. I did whatever I had to do,” he said. He owned a ’57 Chevy convertible as well as a 124 Fiat Spider that were completely overhauled. “My buddies and I did everything from the body to the engine and upholstery and anything in between. I also had a Vauxhall for driving in the winter. This thing was a total beater,” he chuckled.
While Steve had never had a lot of focus in his life, he met his future wife in his graduating year and she was a major focusing agent. “Cathy was a gorgeous, smart young woman and she was so focused,” he said.
He was also approached by one of his teachers who bluntly told him the way that it needed to be. “I’ll never forget this man. He was physically huge and he told me that I needed to get focused or he’d kill me,” he laughed. Steve began to get involved and started to organize many of the social aspects of school life. “I quickly found that it was something that I enjoyed and that I was good at,” he reflected.
Construction was something else that Steve was good at and he went on to own his own company. Still, his mother often told him that he’d make a good teacher, although he brushed her comments aside. Then, in the late eighties, quite of few of his friends began telling him the same thing. He decided to call BCIT to enquire about the possibility. “It’s funny. My construction company was so busy that I was up to my eye balls in work. To my surprise, they called and said that they’d created a seat for me in the program. I farmed out as much of the business as I could to other companies so that I could make it work,” he said. For one year, he commuted to BCIT and then went on to attend UBC for another five years to receive his teaching degree. Several years later, he decided to continue his education and received a Masters in Administration.
For many years, Steve was heavily involved in our community and was part of the Bongo Boys, a group that presented a variety of large scale, local events. Today, his main focus, aside from his family, continues to be his teaching career and the young people that he has the pleasure of working with. “The kids are special and I’ll do anything for them.”
Another one of his passions is working with The Wanted Children Foundation which was started by his daughter Courtney back in 2006. “She worked with a Christian organization called WYAM in Nigeria. When she returned to Canada, the need to go back was too great,” he said. The foundation works to provide a better life for some of Nigeria’s approximately 18 million orphans and vulnerable children who are going without the most basic needs of life itself. “Extreme poverty, lack of water and food, disease and a high incidence of HIV/AIDS leaves millions of children sick and alone. Many of these children are sold into slavery, forced into child labour or are recruited to be soldiers in armed groups. I recently heard that approximately 85 % of Nigerians earn just enough not to die. Through the work that our foundation is doing, we prove to these children that they are wanted and that the world does see and care,” he explained. If you’d like more information on the foundation or to donate online go to www.thewantedchildrenfoundation.org