By Zinah and Maryan
Welcome to the third post of Humans of Queen E, where Queen E’s community can share their stories and experiences in a judgement-free, welcoming environment. Mr. Lytviak is an alumni and math teacher at Queen E. His teaching style greatly reflects his love of mathematics, which enables him to share more meaningful knowledge, and creates a better learning experience for students. He never fails to see the potential in his students, and truly believes in every one of them. Through optimism and understanding, he uplifts his students daily. He’s truly made an incredible impact on our lives and taught us that there’s so much more to life than our test scores.
It’s not easy to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, especially as a student fresh out of high school. Surprisingly, Mr. Lytviak had not always seen himself as a teacher but rather an engineer; achieving an electrical engineering degree at the UofA. Eventually, a variety of factors led him to make a switch to education.
“I have always had an appreciation for the arts and humanities, but my strengths were always in the math and sciences. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an engineer and everything I did in school was in preparation for that. When I was taking engineering I found that I spent a lot of time in front of a computer and I was usually very isolated. Although I found some of the work interesting, I was never really excited by it, which ultimately left me unfulfilled. I decided to complete my engineering degree as a backup, but I knew about halfway through that I wanted to pursue something else. I don’t remember what drew me to education exactly, but I come from a family of teachers (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles) and I’m sure that had an influence. The teachers in my family always had great stories and most of them found the work rewarding. I was excited by the idea of working with younger people and I felt that maybe I would have something to offer. Even after 20 years I still find a lot of joy in this profession, so I guess I made the right choice. It can be tough some days, but it is definitely never boring.”
When asked what he would say to his younger self and how his perspective on learning has changed over the years, he responded:
“I would tell myself to work towards things you are passionate about, regardless of the money or the prestige. It might be cliché, but money isn’t everything. It is better to pursue a career that you can find joy in than be stuck doing something that makes you unhappy. I don’t think my perspective on learning has changed that much but there are definitely more tools available to us now. Technology has opened so many new doors and has allowed me to diversify my teaching. It also allows me to reach students in ways that were not possible when I first started teaching. That being said, I still find most students prefer a pencil and a lot of scrap paper when solving math problems and I don’t think that will ever change. I am still a little resistant to calculators being used as a learning tool, especially at younger ages. I have always preferred mental math as much as possible with technology used where it makes sense and in moderation. I have always felt that teaching/learning is a collaborative effort and if anything it has become more so over the years. The things I valued when I was younger, like hard work and positive attitude, are still the most important things to me today.”
As a Queen E alumni and someone who currently teaches alongside former students of his, Mr. Lytviak has seen Queen E evolve and flourish over the years.
“It makes me feel old, but I love it. I run into many former students out in the community and I always enjoy hearing about what they are doing and how their lives have changed. For those that I now get to work with, it’s a lot of fun. Most of them still call me Lytviak. The thing I remember most from when I was a student at QE is how diverse the population was back then. Thankfully that hasn’t changed over the years and if anything it is even more diverse now. Being a part of such a culturally rich community is the best thing about being a student or a teacher at QE”
Aside from being a math teacher and department head, Mr. Lytviak does many things in his spare time besides answering desperate students’ emails at 12 am.
“I’m a huge comic book nerd and have been collecting comics for the last 30 years. I am currently working on a business with a couple of friends with the hopes of opening up our own shop one day. I love art and I love music. I used to be a DJ and I have a little music studio in my house. When I was younger I would mix and produce music, but now it’s more of a hobby. I also have a huge appreciation for art and I am currently helping my dad set up an online art gallery. I also watch a ridiculous number of movies. Under normal circumstances I would go to a movie once or twice a week, but obviously the pandemic has affected that. I really miss going to the theatre and can’t wait until things are back to normal.”
We’re all hoping things go back to normal soon as well. In the meantime, you can catch Mr. Lytviak entertaining his math students with one of his countless stories over in the Purple Zone.
For more stories about Queen E students, staff, and alumni, keep an eye on The Knight’s Post every Wednesday. As well, make sure to follow Queen E on Instagram at @queenelizabethhs
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