Mastel has worn many hats over eight years with Brightview: Social and language arts teacher; curriculum coordinator; teacher librarian; French teacher, for which he travelled to Montreal and Paris to better his fluency; reading intervention teacher; and assistant principal.
“Kids need to see themselves in books,” Mastel says, citing diverse books he brings to school for read-aloud moments or for students to borrow about the LGBTQ2+ community, reconciliation and inter-national cultures. They encourage inclusion and empathy amongst his students, staff and parents.
“I use creative ways to meet the needs of families and promote literacy and reading,” Mastel says, recalling how he and a co-worker brought Boris, a life-sized stuffed bear, into Brightview’s library as a mascot for students to correspond with via handwritten letters. Mastel secretly responds on Boris’s behalf.
“There’s a cycle of poverty, and education is a path out of it for [students] ,” he says. “I just want them to think big.”
A core belief of Mastel’s is that anything is possible, and he shares that optimism with students through Boris. Mastel cut open the back of the mascot one day, wedged himself into it, and walked out the school doors during Christmas break. Boris “walking” out of the library was later featured in a CTV News report and was even put up on YouTube. Boris then “walked” back into the gym months later during a school assembly. Jaws dropped; hope soared.
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This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.