Meet Gurpreet Kaur Bains, a dynamic educator with over two decades of experience in Surrey. She’s not just a devoted wife and mom; she’s also a prominent figure in the South Delta and Surrey community. Gurpreet serves as the Languages Department Head at LA Matheson Secondary School and holds expertise as a Science, Special Education, and Punjabi language teacher.
But that’s not all. She’s a trailblazer in promoting diversity and inclusion, having collaborated with the Ministry of Education and the Museum of Surrey to develop South Asian curriculum. Gurpreet’s accolades include the 2016 Academic Excellence award from the Shakti Society of BC and the 2017 Mayor’s Award from the City of Surrey for her work in fostering civic responsibility and social justice in youth. Currently, she is nominated for the Prime Minister’s Teaching Excellence Award by her fellow colleagues and community organizations.
In 2022, she was crowned “Teacher of the Year” by Surrey Now Leader and Black Press Media under the Community Leader Awards . In addition another groundbreaking achievement for Gurpreet was featuring Gurmukhi Punjabi and Mentorship through Identity on the front page of the BC Teacher Magazine for the first time. She is also the visionary behind the Punjabi language program, Punjabi Mustang, and a keynote speaker at the BC Association of Teachers of Modern Languages Conference in 2019. She helps mentor language educators using the Iceberg of Culture. As a Science teacher and School Associate for SFU she has trained many educators who are now working in the Surrey School District.
Her passion extends beyond the classroom as she actively supports mentorship programs, youth literature prizes, and community initiatives, raising funds and awareness for various causes. Gurpreet firmly believes that academic excellence goes hand in hand with community involvement, and she’s a strong advocate for collaboration between educators and local stakeholders. With a commitment to student well-being and parent involvement, Gurpreet is a force for positive change in her community.
I grew up with a passion for learning and a deep desire to make a positive impact in my community. The Sikh values of hard work and selfless service, instilled in me by my parents from an early age, have shaped my life’s path. I always found joy in helping my peers and younger ones with their schoolwork, and it was during my own educational journey that I was inspired by master teachers who served as remarkable role models. Their unwavering commitment, dedication, and kind-heartedness drew me towards the teaching profession.
From day one, I could see the lifelong impact that a teacher can have. When I moved to Canada, my family supported me in becoming a BC Trained educator. Being part of an Early settler Punjabi pioneer family, with roots dating back to 1906 in Canada, eased my transition, sparing me many of the typical challenges immigrants face when settling in a new place. I’m forever grateful for the unwavering support I’ve received from my family, friends, and the community. It’s a reminder that we owe a debt of gratitude to our ancestors who paved the way for us and sacrificed for our success.
As an immigrant from Punjab, I faced significant underestimation of my skills and abilities. Stereotypes and judgments about immigrants were all too common, even within our South Asian community. It’s important to remember that our own parents and grandparents once faced racism and discrimination, battling against white privilege. Some individuals continue to exclude based on narrow-minded opinions about immigrants.
My greatest strengths have always been my higher education and unwavering work ethic. I remained true to myself, adapting to a new way of life without compromising my core beliefs and values just to fit in. Over time, I connected with like-minded individuals who shared my passion and drive, providing crucial support.
I firmly believe that the Creator is always guiding and protecting us on our journey.
I would encourage them to build authentic relationships in classrooms and with colleagues. You cannot succeed alone and always need a team to support the work you do. In education, you continue to learn and hence a growth mindset is very important. Learn from everyone and anyone. Always encourage a voice and choice in your classroom. When students feel heard, loved and cared for, they will go an extra mile for you. Also connect your students with the community. Grades or GPA’s alone do not always make great citizens, it is the kindness and compassion that makes a big difference. Finally, find a mentor who can help you grow into your best version.
It means that I can help fellow women realize their potential, a sense of self-worth, feel confident to pursue their real passions and bring a social change that improves their quality of life and add to the strength of a thriving community. I have done this by supporting fellow women and especially young girls with self-esteem, body image, mental health and lending my skill sets to find compatible career paths and volunteer opportunities. Mentorship through identity is very important and hence I have been able to help many by transitioning their journey of identity from within themselves to the outside world. Positive decision making, study habits and preparing for bigger educational tasks are few more where many have sought support. Just being there for them and connecting them with the right supports is my biggest way of empowering others.
That you are enough and beautiful. You do not need to change yourself to impress others. Not everyone is meant to be your friend and it is the Creator protecting you and guiding you. You are unique and no one is like you and continue to believe in yourself.
My personal mission or motto comes from Sikh Ardaas (prayer) where we say “ Matt Uchhi, Munn Neeva” ਮਨ ਨੀਵਾਂ ਮੱਤ ਉੱਚੀ meaning lower your ego and elevate your thinking and intellect. This helps you live with humility, destroys selfishness and helps serve others. This has helped me in all aspects of my life and holds so true to its real meaning in essence.
Spirituality is important to me. Love reciting Guru Granth Sahib Ji and understanding the embedded meaning. Reading spiritual and mindfulness books are my favourite. Volunteering for non-profits is my calling too. We are blessed with so much I feel giving back to others is my responsibility. BC Children’s Hospital, Options, PICS, Shakti Society, BC Cancer Society are a few that I have supported.
Cooking, trying new recipes and sharing them is also a great interest of mine. Cooking is a life skill not a gender role. I enjoy cheering on the San Francisco 49ers during football season, spending time with family, friends, my puppy and traveling makes me happy.
This is the big challenge for many professionals. I strongly believe in allocating responsibilities at home and at work. We cannot do it all and by ourselves. I am selective about projects/volunteer opportunities. The biggest asset in balancing life is saying “No” to things you cannot fully support. Always make time for family. You are replaceable at work but not at home. Our families need us, and we need them to thrive. I have somehow managed to balance and I’m getting better at it.
I am super excited for the upcoming Non-Profit “Be the Light Society”. It aligns with the philosophy of empowerment, education and giving back. I am honored to be asked to serve as an Advisory board member.