Builders of the Program

Chris Johnson

“It is the best form of learning: practical experience.”

chris johnson

Roles at Douglas

Chris came to Douglas College in approximately 1975. He started the Douglas College Sports Institute, the Therapeutic Recreation program, the Preschool Recreation and Leadership program, and the Fitness Certification program.

In the first year at the College, Chris worked half-time as a SPSC (then PE) instructor and half-time with the Douglas College Institute of Environmental Studies. After the initial year, he was granted a full-time contract as a regular faculty member in the SPSC department. Like other early faculty members (such as Gert and Robin), Chris moved around the Lower Mainland to teach his physical education classes.

Later, Chris was granted another half-time release to split his time between SPSC and Continuing Education (which offered development courses to adults in the community). As part of Continuing Education, Chris was in charge of setting up non-credit courses.

“I did things like recreation classes, a program on – believe it or not – training hunting dogs, and…also a course on wildlife mushrooms out [on] the Maple Ridge forestry research grounds…[A] lot of them [courses] were very much night-school classes that were not being offered by adult education [programs] or parks and recreation departments.”

chris, on the non-credit courses he set up

Founding the Sports Institute

Eventually, the non-credit courses Chris set up would morph into defined and recognized programs like the Fitness Certification program, the Preschool Recreation and Leadership program, and the Sports First Aid program (all of which were started by Chris). With Chris as the lead, the department also became involved with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) – a motion which would eventually feed into the creation of the Coaching Diploma. All of these programs would form what is now called the Sports Institute.

The Institute offered these programs to the wider College community, a service which elevated Douglas College’s presence in the region and strengthened its identity as a community college. Since its establishment in 1985, the Sports Institute remains a symbol of Douglas College’s innovation and leadership in sports and recreation.

“Douglas [had] the only sports institute that [had] been so successful in the Lower Mainland. Class ideas did not come from other institutions; they were made solely from [the ideas] of Douglas faculty.”

chris, on the unique identity of the sports institute

Introduction of the Sports Institute in the Douglas College Calendar, 1987-88
Introduction of the Sports Institute in the Douglas College Calendar, 1989-90
Introduction of the Sports Institute in the Douglas College Calendar, 1987-88 (cont.)

Personal Philosophy

On teaching physical education, Chris believes looking at an individual’s innate talent and passion for teaching is much more important than any certificate. His personal philosophy is that “good teachers are born and not made.”

“Teaching has more to do with your heart; you don’t need to know the Krebs cycle…[or] the history of the Olympic Games to be a good teacher.”

Chris Johnson

Chris shares his personal outlook on how physical education teachers should be developed:

…I would ask the school districts to nominate what they call ‘master teachers’ – teachers who are renowned in the school district for their expertise in teaching. …[T]hen what I would do is send my students to [enter into an] apprenticeship with them – similar to carpentry – for three to four years, and afterwards, [have the students] write an exam to become a teacher. …I would much rather see students go out and learn in the field, physically teaching, and then go to school for one year and discuss what they have learned in the previous four years. That’s why the fieldwork aspect is great asset to the [BPEC] program.

“Sometimes I find that we overemphasize that piece of paper [GPA, grades, degree], and in fact, we should be looking at the person and see what they bring to the position and not what a piece of paper tells us. Like I said, [I believe] teachers and coaches are born and not made.”

Chris, sharing his personal outlook on discovering good teachers

Preserving the Ideology

The SPSC department currently offers the Chris Johnson Award of Distinction amongst its array of scholarships and awards.

This award was set up by Chris, who put the fees he received from running weekend and nighttime workshops (when he taught full-time) into a trust fund at Douglas. In reflection of his philosophy above, the award celebrates the intrinsic aptitude an individual has for teaching. The award is meant, as Chris says, for “[A] teacher [who] can [walk] into a room – and the room [would] light up.” Applicants are nominated by faculty, with no regard for GPA.

Chris retired from the College in approximately 2004. The Chris Johnson Fitness Centre at Douglas is named in his honour.

“The SPSC program took off in the last two years that I was there…It is awesome that now the program provides so many different options for students to follow in their own path.”

Chris, on the SPSC program