Tom Kertes lives in Prince Rupert, in the territory of the Ts’msyen. He is a teacher with a focus on literacy, debate, and drama. Tom was a community organizer in Atlanta, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Vancouver before moving to Northern BC in 2015.
Tom has over fifteen years of teaching experience – working with students from preschool to college. He currently teaches Grade 7 and Drama 8 in Prince Rupert. He also taught high school English and Drama at GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay in Daajing Giids, Haida Gwaii.
Tom coaches the Rainmakers Debate Team at the high school and the Grade 8 Debate Team at PRMS. He co-advises the Drama Club and Grade 8 School Play at PRMS.
Tom is the volunteer Executive Director of Reader’s Way Learning Centre Society, a not-for-profit tutoring centre that will start offering tutoring in 2023.
Before moving to Daajing Giids in 2015 and then to Prince Rupert in 2018, Tom was a preschool teacher at UBC Child Care in Vancouver. He was a college instructor of Early Childhood Education at Seneca College in Toronto and a policy advisor to Ontario’s self-regulatory College of Early Childhood Educators.
Before becoming a teacher, Tom was a community organizer with the faith-based poor people’s economic human rights movement to end poverty. He worked with a network of community organizations committed to securing everyone’s economic human rights by advancing the values of respect, dignity, and the sanctity of human life.
Tom helped organize a living wages campaign at Baltimore’s Camden Yards from 2005 to 2009. After three years of organizing for better working conditions, stadium clean-up workers announced that they would start a hunger strike on Labour Day 2007 – unless the publicly-owned stadium agreed to a living wage for all of the cleaners. On the eve of this worker-imposed deadline, Maryland’s Governor announced that the demands would be met. The hunger strike was subsequently called off.
Tom later worked as a community organizer for the Liberation Learning Project in Vancouver. This campaign helped organize the Child Care Equity Campaign at UBC, calling for gender equitable wages and a 20% “wage correction” for early childhood educators at UBC. The target date for achieving the pay correction was by International Women’s Day 2012. The already unionized child care professionals at UBC (members of the BCGEU) successfully met this goal by uniting educators, families, and the labour movement around pay equity for early childhood educators.
Tom is an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Prince Rupert. He serves as a Trustee of the North Coast Labour Council and is past President of the labour council. He is currently Labour Liaison for the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union (PRDTU) and was Vice President of the PRDTU from 2020-2022. Tom served on the board of the Early Childhood Educators of BC Society (ECEBC) and the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children (WAEYC).
Tom has a M. Ed. (Educational Leadership) from VIU, B. Ed. (Indigenous Perspectives in Education) from SFU, B.A. (Psychology) from the University of Washington, and Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Langara College. He also studied Human Development and Applied Psychology as a graduate student at the Ontario Institute for the Study of Education (OISE), University of Toronto.
Tom and his now husband Ron immigrated to Canada from the United States in 2007. He is now a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. Tom was born in the territory of the Kittitas, who are now part of the Yakama Nation, in Ellensburg, Washington. Tom’s great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland, Hungary, England, and Germany. Tom grew up in Cheney, WA, a small college town outside of Spokane, WA. Tom’s parents and in-laws live along the West Coast in California, Oregon, and Washington.