Jim Crescenzo - Templeton Secondary School

Year: 2017 – Province: British Columbia

Transcript—Jim Crescenzo Video

[Jim Crescenzo speaks to camera, with the Parliament buildings as a backdrop behind him]

[Photos of Jim and his students are displayed on screen throughout his interview]

[Upbeat music plays softly in the background]

Alfonso James Crescenzo, but I get called Jim because I grew up in the east end and Alfonso was very different for a lot of the other kids in my neighbourhood, so I got Jim.

[Text on screen: Jim Crescenzo , British Columbia]

Winning this award is a tremendous honour, but it's also really humbling. And I also feel very fortunate. Primarily I work with at-risk kids. What makes me proud, more than anything else, is the fact that I've been able to make a difference in somebody's life. And as a young man growing up, I lost my father when I was eight years old. But I was fortunate enough to be mentored by some teachers that took me under their wing when I went through that very difficult time. And I had this one lady by the name of Geri York (ph). She said you know what, Mr. Crescenzo? Someday you're going to make a very good teacher. I never even thought about being a teacher. She said to me mark my words. She told me a quote that Mother Theresa said, and it went like this. It's difficult for the comfortable to comfort the afflicted unless the comfortable have been afflicted.

When I went and I started my first day back at the old high school that I went to as a kid, and I was 22 years old, and it was tough because these kids were 17 and 18 years old and I was seeing them in the streets. They still knew who I was by Jimmy, not Mr. Crescenzo. But they let me in once I got down to their level and I became empathetic. And empathy is not sympathy, where you feel sorry for someone, but empathy is I feel your pain. How do you – how do you feel my pain? I lost my dad when I was a kid. In high school I made the wrong choices. All of a sudden they knew that I was for real. So I had some street cred on the emotional stuff.

This has been a out-of-body experience in so many ways for me. I was able to look at my family and say you know what, I hope that this is a gift to you for all the nights

[Video footage of Jim receiving his award from Justin Trudeau is intercut]

and the after-schools that I wasn't home and that you saw it as a calling for a teacher. Thank you to all of the kids that I've taught over the last 36 years.

Student: For me, he's such an inspiring figure. The energy that he puts into all of his students here is truly inspiring, and you can really tell, whenever he talks about whatever he talks about, he's always really passionate about anything that he does.

[Canada wordmark]

[Music ends]

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Jim Crescenzo

Templeton Secondary School
727 Templeton Drive
Vancouver, British Columbia V5L 4N8

Principal: Aaron Davis
School telephone: 604-713-8984
School website: http://go.usb.bc.ca/schools/templeton

Subjects and grades taught: Grades 11 and 12, Acting and Theatre

Once an aspiring actor, Jim Crescenzo chose teaching over a rising career in show business. The centre of a whirlwind, Crescenzo plays the role of a facilitator, a technical advisor, a writer, a director and even a janitor as a simple classroom becomes a multi-disciplinary studio where students are the stars of the show.

Teaching approach

An advocate of the “three point triangle”, a teacher-parent-student construct where parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom, Crescenzo embraces a student-centered approach and is able to engage even the most disheartened student. He adapts himself seamlessly to each situation and student, while collaborating with other colleagues and keeping curricular goals in view.

Outstanding achievements

  • Conducts extensive community outreach and fundraising activities to build multi-media classroom spaces with stages and studios for film, television and theatre. Partners have included Lions Gate Entertainment, Vancouver Film Studios, Thunderbird Films, and even the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Started a career preparation program with companies like North Shore and Mammoth Studios, who fund over $25,000 in apprenticeships for at-risk youth. How many teachers can say they have a student with a re-occurring role in Van Helsing?
  • Has led students to develop PSAs for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, which were used for Road Safety Clubs and played at national film festivals where they won many awards.

Rave reviews

“Jim Crescenzo understands the importance of our heritage and he has for many years adapted lessons to include our students in a safe and accepting learning environment. This model has kept Aboriginal students engaged, in school and on a path to graduation.”

Colleague and Head of the Aboriginal Program

“The program at Templeton is the most important program that North Shore Studios supports. We fund this program for the one reason and that is the exceptional work that Jim does to make a different in these students’ lives for the betterment of the community.”

President, North Shore and Mammoth Studios