Category: Alumni Stories

Faculty of Education Alumni Crowning Achievement Award recipients

Guy Vanderhaeghe BEd’78
Lifetime Achievement Award

Vanderhaeghe is best known for his trilogy of award-winning literary westerns. His honours include three Governor General Awards for Literature, a Faber Prize in Britain, the Lieutenant-Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and the Order of Canada. Book lovers around the world know him as an exceptional storyteller, but for many in the University of Regina alumni community he is also an admired educator, cherished friend, and someone who is as humble as he is talented. Read more

 

Dr. Margaret Dagenais BSc’71, CVTED’87, BVTED’91, MEd’97, PhD’11
Dr. Robert and Norma Ferguson Award for Outstanding Service to the University of Regina and the Alumni Association

Dagenais has served the University of Regina Alumni Association as a board member, committee member, on the executive and as a representative to the University of Regina Senate. She has also shared her considerable expertise through her work on the CIDA funded University of Malawi Polytechnic Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education Training Reform project. Read more:

Enseignants en français: la nouvelle génération

Kya Kokott et Mallory Horn, deux futures enseignantes de français de base et d’immersion. Photo : RADIO-CANADA

Two new graduates of the Bac program are interviewed on Radio-Canada

What are the challenges of future teachers of French in the province? The Daybreak team invites you to discover the journey of two new graduates of the University of Regina who will teach French in primary and secondary levels in the next few months.

Qui sont ces jeunes qui enseigneront le français langue seconde à nos enfants en Saskatchewan? Quels sont leurs parcours et leurs aspirations?

Pour mieux connaître ces jeunes enseignants qui dirigeront bientôt les leçons de français dans nos écoles, nous avons rencontré 4 futurs diplômés de l’Université de Regina.

Ce matin, écoutez la première entrevue avec deux d’entre eux, Mallory Horn et Kya Kokott, au micro de Point du jour

Alumna Receives Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Early Childhood Education

13221558_10154296490360649_4909691318457982158_n
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Lindsay Stuart at the Prime Minister’s Awards For Teaching Excellence in Early Childhood Education
IMG_1651
A selfie with the Prime Minister

Alumna Lindsay Stuart (B.Ed. 2009; M.Ed. 2015) found her passion in the very field she had never wanted to work in: Early Childhood Education.

On May 12, her work with children was recognized at the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in Early Childhood Education, which took place in Ottawa.

Stuart is employed with Regina Public Schools, at Henry Braun, as a Kindergarten teacher.

She graduated from the U of R with a B.Ed. in 2009 (Pre-K – 3). This was her second degree; her first was a U of R degree in Human Justice (2000), which followed a Diploma in Criminology from Mount Royal University in Calgary. Then, in 2015, she graduated from the U of R with her M.Ed. The title of her project was Relational Reverberations: A Narrative Inquiry Into the Interconnected Lives of Children, Families and Teachers.

Looking at her early educational choices (Criminology and Human Justice) it is clear that the B.Ed. after degree was an afterthought. Stuart says she actually never wanted to be a teacher. She explains,

I grew up in a family of teachers and saw firsthand how rewarding, but yet, personally draining and all consuming it could be. In fact, when I graduated from high school, my family told me they would help me through university, but if I went into education I was on my own. It wasn’t that they wished they had chosen differently, or they didn’t see me as capable, they were worried and protective due to their deep understanding of the increasing demands being placed on educators.

After graduating with my initial degree in Human Justice, I spent my 20’s working and travelling. It was by happenstance that I ended up in Japan with a teaching contract. I remember before leaving saying I would be all right as long as I didn’t have to work with young children! FAMOUS LAST WORDS!!! It was there that I found my passion and calling to education. I haven’t looked back!

The following is an interview with Stuart regarding her experience as a student in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina; her experience of becoming employed as a teacher; of being a novice teacher; and what it is that she is doing as an Early Childhood Educator that has caused her to be recognized with this award.

How (and how well) did your B.Ed. and/or M.Ed. program equip you for the work that you are now doing?

My undergraduate degree provided me with a strong base with which to begin my teaching career. My Master’s empowered me to ask critical questions and begin viewing things through a new lens. It helped me to delve deeply into my own life and view not only myself but also my profession and the world in a different way. Essentially, my B.Ed. gave me the “what” (to do) and the “how” (to teach), but my M.Ed. has provided me with the “why.” It truly gave me a new way to look at myself and my teaching.

What was a highlight for you while a student at the University of Regina?

Without a doubt, the highlight was the Summer Institute in 2014, “Play, Art and Narrative,” facilitated by Dr. Patrick Lewis and Karen Wallace. Although I anticipated that these courses would provide me with a stronger knowledge base about early childhood education—and they did—that was not the greatest takeaway. During three intensive weeks, I learned more about myself than I could ever have imagined. This learning has made me a better friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and person. I am forever indebted to Patrick and Karen for creating a space for this to take place.

Are there any (other) professors who helped shape who you personally/professionally? How so?

In addition to Patrick and Karen, who found ways to both challenge (in critical but safe ways) and support me, I was so fortunate and blessed to have Dr. Janice Huber as a mentor, project supervisor, advocate and friend. Janice introduced me to narrative inquiry, which has woven its way into my being. It has become an integral part of who I am in the world.  She was always there to listen and to wonder with me, and she empowered me to believe not only in myself, but also in the important work I do with children and families.

What happened after you graduated with your B.Ed. degree?

I finished my degree right after my internship in the fall of 2009. I was interviewed and hired by Regina Public directly out of internship. I remember being surprised in January, on the first day school resumed, that I was called to sub. I was to split my day between EAL (English as an Additional Language) in the morning at Judge Bryant and DPS (Discovery Pre-school) at Henry Braun in the afternoon. It is kind of ironic as both of these positions ended up becoming permanent for the rest of the year! The DPS position was open right away due to the fact the teacher had left early on maternity leave. I accepted the half time position and remained subbing in the morning until in early February a half time EAL contract opened up at Judge Bryant School. I was interviewed and received that position. To my good fortune, the 50% Kindergarten teacher at Braun was retiring that year, and I was able to shift into a permanent role at Braun as 50% K and 50% DPS. I worked extremely hard during this time, but I was also in the right place at the right time.

What did you find difficult about being a novice teacher? What or who helped you through?

I found everything difficult being a novice teacher!! From the mundane things such as finding out where supplies are kept and how to work the photocopier, to critical things such as creating and sustaining relationships (students, families, community, colleagues), classroom layouts, classroom management, designing and setting of routines, appropriate assessment techniques, etc… perhaps most important was knowing how to find a balance between professional and personal time. Looking back now, the best thing I did as a new teacher was admit what I didn’t know, and search/ask for help. I found a mentor in my building, an experienced teacher, who assisted me through all the ups and downs. I was open to learning from all those who surrounded me (administration, educational assistants, speech and language pathologists, educational psychologists, outside agencies etc.). I think the gravest danger facing new teachers is in believing they need to know everything, and thinking that admitting they don’t, will reflect negatively. The secret is learning you will NEVER know everything! Being a teacher is a constant journey of becoming.

What is it that you are doing differently that has caused you to be recognized by the PM Award for Excellence in teaching ECE?

There are many terrific teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms who are just as deserving as I. I was lucky to have colleagues, families and administration take the time to complete the incredibly long nomination process on my behalf. The process included providing the selection committee with detailed curriculum vitae, several letters of recommendation and a lengthy essay that demanded exemplary evidence of support for the development of children, innovation in practice, involvement with parents, families and community, and commitment and leadership in the field.

Imagine entering a space and before you, you see several students gathered around a ladder discussing the ways in which force and friction are inhibiting motion in their construction designs. Over in the corner there are three students using FaceTime on their teacher’s phone to ask a local expert questions about the garter snake they found in the playground. You can overhear another student reading and when you turn around you notice she is filming it herself and when you ask what she is doing, she tells you she is uploading it to send to her mom. Three others are in the hallway taking pictures to create their own books, and finally, in the library, one student is busily searching for information about birdhouses using QR codes. Now, imagine these students are only five years of age.

Technology is shifting the landscapes of early learning environment and in turn redefining my pedagogy and the learning taking place within my classroom. My teaching challenges the notions that I am the sole knowledge-keeper and that learning is always teacher-led. In my classroom, technology, the outdoors, and the community are all effective tools in student-directed, process-based, inquiry-driven learning.

Recognizing that families lead busy lives, technology—from e-portfolios and blogs to Skype, FaceTime and texts—has opened the doors of our classroom by allowing family members to stay in touch and become active participants in the classroom. E-portfolios enable students to independently document, share and reflect daily learning. Parents are able to view and comment on the experiences taking place in their child’s school life, all but replacing traditional and static report cards. The classroom has also become open to the community through the use of ‘expert panels.’ Dozens of community leaders and industry professionals have consented to have their contact information stored on every young learner’s iPad, which can used to be contact them in real-time. If they are able to take the call, these professionals will engage with the students and help them with their self-directed inquiries.

The applications utilized in our classroom are thoroughly vetted, used only as appropriate tools and never substitutes for learning or engagement. It is not about simply using technology but rather about providing opportunities, spaces and relationships for children to compose their learning and lives in unique, safe, and developmentally appropriate ways.

I am an unyielding advocate for the power and potential of ‘little people’, and I am guided by a belief in their inherent capabilities. I feel it is my responsibility to challenge the notion that Kindergarten’s purpose is to “prepare students for Grade One.” Rather, I believe Kindergarten has its own focus and goals. As my pedagogy has evolved, I have shifted away from traditional “theme-based” teaching, and started to design overarching year plans around key concepts and ideas. I continually ask myself, “What exactly am I teaching children? What skills are they acquiring? Will they be able to use this information? Will this information help them become life-long learners? Will this information help them become better citizens? Shifting away from the ‘what’ of teaching, I spend a great deal of time reflecting on the ‘how’ of teaching. More specifically, “How do I believe young children learn?”, “Where do I believe they learn?” and “What am I doing to support the ways in which they are composing their lives?”  It has been through answering these questions, that I have found ways to engage the natural curiosities of children and empower them on their own unique learning journeys.

What do you love about teaching?

What do I love about teaching? EVERYTHING!!! If I had to name one thing, it would be the amazing relationships I have blossoming around me.

What was it like, receiving this award for Excellence in Teaching?

Receiving the award was both exciting and humbling. It was exciting to have a chance to travel to Ottawa, tour the national capital, and meet the Prime Minister. It was humbling because I know of so many amazing teachers who deserved to be there alongside me. In addition, it was humbling knowing the reason I was there was because colleagues and families of the students in my room nominated me.

What was the highlight of this experience?

There were two highlights of the trip. The first was a best practice round table sharing session. Each award recipient gave a brief presentation about the work taking place in his/her environment. It was phenomenal to learn alongside such innovative and passionate individuals. The second was receiving emails, texts and letters from colleagues, and former/current families with words of congratulations and kindness. These touched me more than anything!

Video: If These Hills Could Talk – Day of Education for Reconciliation

Early in her artist residency at the University of Regina, Daya Madhur was invited to support the preservice education students on their professional development field trip to Fort Qu’Appelle where the history and beauty of the valley inspired her creative journey.

Daya says,

“As I reflected upon the landscape I often sought to personify the hills and question what they have seen and heard. When creating this performance piece I wanted to portray the complexity of the residential school experience in Lebret and Fort Qu’Appelle. Throughout the creation process I visualized layers as seen from my perspective, historic documents, the students’ lived experiences, and Elder Starblanket’s narrative, soundscape recordings of the river valley, movement, and even the narrative told through the fabric in the dance. My heart lies in the interdisciplinary and I wanted to include all aspects of the fine arts in this project. The initial performance consisted of a dance/drama piece that interacted with the narratives and projected images.”

The video below is a curated adaptation of the performance piece performed on April 14, 2016 at the Walking Together: Day of Education for Truth and Reconciliation hosted by the Faculty of Education, University of Regina and the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).”

Angels Corner Project Engages Students and Community

Angels Corner Project and students
Angels Corner Project and Scott Collegiate students involved in its construction

Two teachers at Scott Collegiate, Alumna Tamara Smith (Ryba) and Alumnus Ian Temple received overwhelming support and engagement for the Angels Corner project they initiated at Scott Collegiate.

While travelling in the Maritime provinces in the summer of 2014, Smith was moved by an Angels Corner she came across in St. John’s, an installation to commemorate female victims of violence, intended to raise awareness about this important and ongoing issue. The idea originated in Iqaluit, Nunavut a few years ago as the Angel Street Project and has since been taken up across the country , with Angel streets, squares, corners, crescents, and even bridges being dedicated to honour and remember female victims of violence.

Earlier in 2014, Temple and Smith had been approached to by Scott Collegiate’s administration, Shannon Fayant (Principal) and Chris Beingessner (Vice Principal), about co-teaching a project-based course in the fall of 2014. The course would integrate curricular outcomes from ELA A10, Construction 10, and Math 10 (Foundations and Pre-Calculus). They were encouraged to engage the community through the project.

When Smith saw the Angel Corner, she knew it would be perfect for the course. “I was in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland when I noticed their Angels Corner, a very visible display on the corner of Prescott and Duckworth streets. As I read their plaque and looked at the space they had dedicated to raising awareness of violence and abuse against women, I was thinking, ‘This is perfect. Our students can totally do this and this is an important issue in our community!’ says Smith. Temple adds, “Both of us like to teach through a social justice lens, [so] it seemed like a good fit for our class.”

To make it happen, Temple says, “We first approached our administration about it and then spoke to our superintendent to see if we could put it on school property. Both were in favour.” The next step was to consult with Elder Noel Starblanket. Smith explains, “We arranged a meeting with Elder Noel Starblanket [and] presented him with tobacco and asked for his assistance. We sought his advice on how to carry out the project in a good way, a way that honours the community as well as Aboriginal cultures and ways of knowing.” The next step was to gain student support. Temple says, “We also approached our students about the idea before getting far into the planning because without buy-in from them, it would never have been successful.”

Students constructing the benches and garden boxes for the Angels Corner project
Students constructing the benches and garden boxes for the Angels Corner project

The project found great support from administration, students, and community alike. Students engaged enthusiastically with the research, design, and construction of the project. Temple says, “Our students spent time looking into existing Angels Corners as well as issues of violence and abuse against women and MMIW, locally, provincially, and on the national level. Students designed the layout of the space, built the benches and garden boxes, and led the unveiling upon completion of the space.”

Elder Noel Starblanket brought support and assistance. Smith explains, “Once the materials to build the benches arrived at Scott, [Elder Noel] helped smudge them and prayed for us as we took on this important project. He spoke with the students about the traditional roles of women in Aboriginal cultures and of the importance of honouring and respecting women. On the day of the official unveiling of the Scott Angels Corner, Elder Noel also smudged the auditorium and luminaries before the guests arrived and said a prayer to begin the program.”

Because the majority of the students in the class were male, Temple appreciated the emphasis that Elder Noel Starblanket placed on the issue of violence against women. He says, “I believe that one very significant point that came from this project stemmed from what was emphasized for the class by Elder Noel – that violence against women is not a women’s issue. Rather, it is society’s issue; it is everyone’s responsibility to address it and given that the majority of violence against women comes at the hands of men, it is especially the responsibility of the male population to stand against it. I believe that this was a very powerful project for our male students.”

angels corner edited plaque
Angels Corner Plaque

Local businesses also supported the project; Smith says, “We contacted PLS Graphic and Design and asked them to help us make the plaques. Grant Findlay … offered design services for free and paid a large portion of the cost of the plaques.…Our education partner, SaskTel,…generously donated $500. Our school community council funded the remainder of the cost of the plaques. Finally, Winroc Regina donated several gallons of paint for the benches.” Both Temple and Smith feel humbled and thankful for the support that they received.

20141125_145941
Oath to end violence against women

The official unveiling of the Angels Corner intentionally took place on November 25, 2014 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and allowing them to participate in the White Ribbon Campaign (http://www.whiteribbon.ca ). Smith particularly appreciated the message that guest speaker, Brenda Dubois brought: She says, “Her message was that it all starts with tending our ‘home fires’ and taking care of our families.” She continues, “We were also thankful for Jason Littletent and the Scott Collegiate drum group for their performance of an honour song to honour the women who have experienced violence and abuse and those who have lost their lives to it.” All the guests were asked to wear a white ribbon to show their support. They also signed an oath to end violence against women.

Lining up to sign the oath against violence towards women
Lining up to sign the oath against violence towards women

Smith says many students voiced positive feedback regarding the project: “The students expressed a profound sense of pride in what they were able to accomplish and share with the community. Several students said things like, ‘Look what we can accomplish when we work together!’ Many of them voiced their personal experience and connection with the issues of violence and abuse against women. One young man, who recently lost his mom, said ‘I know my mom would be proud of me’ and that meant the world to him.”

Smith feels confident that the “learning that came from this project is the kind of learning that will stay with students for the rest of their lives.” Temple expressed, “a great sense of pride, witnessing this group of young people become engaged in such an important issue, develop their ideas and share what they had learned and accomplished with the larger community.” Smith was “moved by the pride expressed by students and of their sense of connectedness, as a class and as a part of the larger community. The talking circle was a very emotional experience for all of us; I think both the students and teachers were surprised by how much Angels Corner meant to us.”

Smith and Temple were deeply impacted by the project and felt it was valuable. They were surprised by the engagement of students and community, and hopeful that the project will have a lasting impact. Temple says, “At the beginning of the project, I wouldn’t have guessed that it would have been anywhere near as successful as it was.” Smith says she hopes the experience, “inspired youth—both those who participated directly and those who hear about the project.”

Smith states, “Youth need to know that their voices matter and are valued. And, we hope that the community saw Scott Collegiate’ s dedication to ending violence and abuse against women. Hopefully, when people walk past the Angels Corner, they are reminded that we are all responsible for creating positive change.”

For the future, the teachers plan to continue to maintain the benches and garden boxes. They also plan, as a school, to participate annually in the Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Smith says, “Hopefully we can also continue to use the Angels Corner space to engage the community. It is intended to be a space for reflection on the past and hope for a better future, so hopefully it is utilized for many years to come.”

Smith graduated from the Faculty of Education, University of Regina (U of R) with a B.Ed. in 2007 and an M.Ed. in 2014. She credits the U of R with helping her to develop a critical consciousness and a passion for social justice. Major influences in her life are Florence Stratton, Shauneen Pete, Val Mulholland, Carol Schick, and Jennifer Tupper. Smith says, “They taught me the importance of actively resisting injustice and inequality; they helped me to develop a skill set and vocabulary to take that passion in the classroom.”

Temple began in the Faculty of Arts at the U of R, then transferred to the Faculty of Education, graduating with a B.Ed. in 2012. Temple credits the U of R, both the Arts and Education programs, for where he is today: “I would not be at the point I am today in my career without the support of these amazing people,” he says. Two lessons he took away from his studies at the U of R are “the realization that I always have something more to learn and the importance of critical reflection.”

Alumna Nicole Unrau Recipient of 2015 Saskatchewan Athletics Female Coach of the Year Award

(L-R) Bob Adams and Nicole Unrau Photo courtesy of Nicole Unrau
(L-R) Bob Adams (Bob Adams Foundation Creator) and Nicole Unrau (nee Breker) B.Ed. 2011
Photo courtesy of Nicole Unrau

Alumna Nicole Unrau (B.Ed. 2011; nee Breker), a math teacher at Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) with Horizon School Division is the recipient of the 2015 Bob Adams Foundation Saskatchewan Athletics Female Coach of the Year Award, which she was honoured with on October 24 at the Saskatchewan Athletics Annual Awards Banquet. Unrau grew up in Muenster, Saskatchewan where she attended school, and was influenced by her physical education and math teacher, and track and field coach, Marvin Renneberg. “He inspired me to go to track and field camps and to get more involved with the sport. He also inspired me to become a math teacher,” recalls Unrau.

While a student in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Unrau enjoyed competing for the U of R Cougars. It “was always a lot of fun. It taught commitment and dedication towards things you love doing,” says Unrau. This experience with the Cougars, “Inspired me to want to give back to the sport through coaching,” she says.

Immediately after graduating from the Bachelor of Education (secondary) program with a major in math and minor in physical education, Unrau was hired to teach in St. Brieux. “This was an awesome opportunity as it allowed me to gain teaching experience in a small community atmosphere,” says Unrau. “The community and school were very supportive of my teaching and coaching strategies.”

After two and a half years teaching in St. Brieux, Unrau transferred to Humboldt Collegiate Institute, where she currently teaches. What she loves about her teaching is her work with students and athletes. “I love seeing them dream big and reach goals,” she says.

When Unrau heard she had been selected to receive the Female Coach of the Year Award she felt surprised and honoured. The award recognizes her success in coaching athletes who have been successful in competition, and who have been selected for Saskatchewan and university teams. Unrau coaches cross country and track and field for HCI and she founded the Quill Plains Track Club three years ago. “The club began as an opportunity for youth to get more involved in the sport, outside of the very short high school season. It quickly grew to a club of over 50 athletes, three coaches, and numerous volunteers. The club has had some very successful athletes, some of whom are now entering university programs and attending Provincial/Western meets,” she explains. Before joining the Quill Plains Track Club, the athletes had “very little exposure to the sport. Now, they are dreaming to reach the next level.”

The creation of this program is what makes Unrau feel proud. “A program was needed in our rural area. We serve athletes from a 100 km. radius around Humboldt, giving athletes opportunities that they would have had to travel to Saskatoon or Regina for, otherwise,” says Unrau.

Coaching extends to Unrau’s role in the classroom where she focuses on building positive relationships with her students, helping them to become more inspired to achieve both inside and outside of the classroom.

Unrau plans to continue in with the program, and hopes to help more athletes reach university team levels.

Alumna Miali Coley Featured in Degrees 27(1), 24

Miali ColeyAlumna Miali Coley is featured in the U of R Degrees magazine.

“Our cover story is a glimpse into the life of alumna Miali Coley who, after finishing an education degree at the University of Regina, is teaching in her hometown of Iqaluit,Nunavut. Coley left Iqaluit in 2010 and travelled south to Regina to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Though living in Regina was trying at times, she persevered, dedicated herself to her studies, and used the entire experience to become the best teacher she could imagine. Her story begins on page 24.”

Link: http://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/assets/docs/pdf/degrees-magazine/dm-ss2015.pdf#page=26

Alumnus Adam Ward: CBC Future 40 Winners Circle for Giftstone Project

Adam Ward, U of R Alumnus, Teacher at Sacred Heart Community School CBC Future 40 Winners Circle

Every year Adam Ward heads the Giftstone Project for our school at Christmastime. In December, students from Grades 4 to 8 at Sacred Heart Community School write a letter to Santa. Next, Adam sends out a letter to the Regina community requesting funds and then, unbelievably, personally shops for every gift requested by over 200 students. A beautiful thank you video, produced by Adam, is given to every Giftstone donor.

Adam does nothing for personal gain and his humble manner is an example to us all. Adam always says it is a privilege to teach in North Central and we say it is a privilege for our students, parents, and staff to work with him. Adam does all of this because he cares deeply about the students at Sacred Heart Community School. Adam is a blessing to our school, our students, and our community. Adam makes North Central a great place to learn, work, and play!

Repost from http://www.cbc.ca/sask/features/future40/

See http://www2.uregina.ca/education/news/?page_id=531 for Success Story