Alumna Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth MEd’01 is recipient of the U of R Professional Achievement Award
Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth has been a leader in education for 30 years as a teacher, a principal, and a Director of Education. She is an advocate for First Nations language and culture and a role model for many, including those in her northern home community of Wollaston Lake.
Rosalie has overcome many obstacles to become the respected trailblazer she is today. She is a Residential School Survivor who was taunted and forbidden to speak her language, yet persevered. She defied cultural expectations with her education and career path, paving the way for other women in her community and beyond.
Rosalie has served as the Director of Education at Hatchet Lake First Nation, as the Chief of her community, and most recently, as Associate Director with the Prince Albert Grand Council. She has received numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Citizenship Award, the Awasis Award, the Role Model Award, Women of the Dawn Award, and the
Lieutenant Governor’s Award.
In May 2019, alumna Heather Faris (formerly Haynes) got the news that she was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence in STEM. Regina-raised Faris’s first thoughts were, “It’s just what I do! Talent is from God. I have a wonderful opportunity in this school to get to be the off-beat, artsy-thinking teacher. I’m like, get an award for it?! I did not expect it and it was such an honour!” Faris adds, “When my principal told me that she was working with a group of people to nominate me, it brings a person to tears, it’s so humbling…but at the same time affirms that this is what I am built and born to do.”
Surprisingly, Faris wasn’t always headed for the teaching profession. She had an interest in biology, which began with dissecting earthworms in Grade 7 and with a love for the outdoors: “Just being outside on the farm with my Grandpa, walking in the fields, gardening, and knowing that I loved being outside in a way that not everybody did.” Thus, her first year at the University of Regina, after graduating from Sister McGuigan High School in 1989, was spent studying biology with the goal of becoming a vet. “My art teacher, Rand Teed, had set me up in high school with the Regina Animal Clinic,” she explains. Then, because she would “pass out every time they started to operate,” Faris decided some hands on experience at the Humane Society would help her and it did.
However, two years of working with animals at the Humane Society had given Faris a clearer view of what she wanted to do: she decided to become a teacher. “I was that kid who had the classroom set up in my basement and corrected work. I found it really fun then,” she laughs. In 1995, Faris graduated with her B.Ed. After travelling a bit, she then came back to teach as a substitute in Regina Catholic schools. After only two days of subbing, she was interviewed and given a short term contract at St. Augustine Community School to teach Grades 5 to 8 science. Then she was hired full-time at Archbishop M. C. O’Neill High School. Thus began her, at this point, 22-year teaching career, including teaching science at Dr. Martin LeBoldus and currently senior science teacher at Miller Comprehensive High School.
When asked what qualities she thinks make for excellence in teaching, Faris responded, “There are a lot of qualities that make a good teacher that I possess but others don’t necessarily possess. And others possess qualities that make them good teachers that I don’t necessarily possess. So we are not all the same, we are very different. But a quality that makes me a good teacher is that I’m creative. I love creating, I wake up in the night because I realize how I can re-imagine that lesson and make it better. That’s one of my strengths.” Faris believes that all scientists are creative beings, pointing to Leeuwenhoek, DaVinci, and Bacon.
A second quality that makes for excellence is being observant. Faris’s science teaching has been inspired by what an art teacher once told her: “Draw what you see, not what you think you see.” For Faris that means, “Observe what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, what you touch. Not what you think you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.” One can achieve this, she says, “by really being in the moment. I tell my students to walk through life with their eyes open. That means don’t put in the headphones, or put up the hoodie. Look around and ask, ‘Why does grass not grow under a pine tree but it grows under the deciduous trees? Why do these trees have seeds and those trees do not? Trust in yourself to hypothesize as to why.’ It’s the synthesis of life when you walk with your eyes open.”
Passion for learning is a third quality that Faris thinks is important to demonstrate. She is a model of active learning for her students as she continues to learn. As an example, she says, “All my students know I have guitar lessons on Tuesdays at 3:30.”
Faris’s passion for learning extends to her craft in teaching biology. In 2010, Faris returned to the U of R to do a Master’s in Education. Through her research, she tested her own hypotheses about teaching and learning biology. She knew the follow-the-recipe approach to labs had to change for science to become richer and more engaging for her students. Following a set of instructions and modelling the steps was not giving students an understanding of why the experiment worked or didn’t work. She developed a new lab procedure, which she now calls an investigation or inquiry rather than lab: “I called it turning labs inside out. Push the bottom to the top. Leave the middle out, get there how you want to.” In their investigations, students are given an endpoint, for instance to create osmosis diffusion, and they are given all the materials they need to achieve the endpoint. No instructions are given. Students then spend one day in the library to discover how the materials work and what they do. Then they are given five days to play. They work in teams and can consult with other teams, but not her. At the end, students do photo write ups. “The story takes us on paths of things that didn’t work and things that did, to the end point. So much of science is what didn’t work. Like cancer research is not a direct path to success. The students told me it taught them to stick with it and not to give up. And about how big small successes were when they had a hypothesis about something such as how Benedict solution works.” The research validated what Faris was doing and hearing from her students about how they were engaged.
Excellence for Faris has also developed through participating in curriculum development with the Ministry of Education, through research opportunities such as an NSERC CRYSTAL project, and through seeing connections within the science curriculums, such as biochemistry and its connection to the health sciences and body systems.
Faris sees her role as being effective because of her care of students, more than a love for science: “I don’t just teach my students science. Science is my vehicle. At the end of the day, it is not about these facts of science. At the end of the day [it’s about] if I can teach them about the love of learning, about being their awesome selves, and about being where they are. They come here to learn about who they want to be in the world.” Faris considers her students the wind beneath her wings: “When they come in and say this is my favourite class, I say, really? We haven’t even done anything cool yet.”
As Faris considers her future steps, she says, “I’m just walking and things unfold. We will have to see how it unfolds. I’ve never experienced a change I didn’t like better.”
Congratulations to Brianne Urzada, BA/BEd’12 (with distinction), recipient of the Humanitarian and Community Service Award, University of Regina Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards.
At the age of 23, this art educator’s life was turned upside down when she received a diagnosis of stage three Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Now cancer free, Brianne is using her experience and talents to improve the lives of others with cancer in the community. Brianne is the founder of Arthouse, a program that offers free art classes to cancer patients and survivors. The inspiration for the program was Brianne’s own experiences during cancer treatment and the power of the creative process, especially during a time when so much is out of one’s control. Arthouse is a place where the therapeutic and meditative qualities of art are shared. It offers patients opportunities to unwind and connect with people going through similar experiences. She has also hosted many fundraisers to showcase her art, including the incredibly successful 5 Stages Art Show which raised $63,000 for the Allan Blair Cancer Centre.
Congratulations to Dr. Joanne Weber, recipient of the Spring 2019 Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement by a graduate student. Weber is receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a grade point average of 89.83 per cent. Weber completed her course work, project, and dissertation within four and a half years while also working full-time for the Regina Public School Board as the only deaf teacher of deaf students in the province. Supervised by Dr. Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, Dr. Weber’s PhD dissertation is titled, “Becoming Deaf in the Posthuman Era: Posthumanism, Arts-based Research.” Her defense was so outstanding that she was offered a position with an international research consortium housed at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Nick Forsberg, Professor of Health, Outdoor, Physical Education (HOPE), was the inaugural recipient of the Jack MacKenzie Career Service award, which was presented at the Saskatchewan Physical Education Association 2019 Conference,”Celebrating Diversity,” held May 9 and 10, 2019.
Saskatchewan Physical Education Association Conference is committed to supporting teachers of Physical Education throughout the province in their implementation of the curriculum. Celebrating Diversity will be structured for our delegates to engage in sessions that will help them meet the ever-changing, diverse needs of their students in physical education.
An honour to recognize Nick Forsberg as the inaugural recipient of the Jack MacKenzie Career Service Award winner at SPEA 2019. pic.twitter.com/cKlgGSq3Jn
Once a month the PHE Canada Research Council selects one of its members to profile as Researcher of the Month. Whether it’s a university level teacher, academic, or graduate student, whoever is advancing research centered on topics and issues in physical and health education the Council wants to highlight. Do you know a PHE Canada Research Council member who’s professional ideals & service strengthens the physical and health education sector? Whose research & writing drives change forward? Who’s commitment and dedication to the field?
Researcher of the Month
Dr. Alexandra Stoddart is an Assistant Professor in the Health, Outdoor and Physical Education (HOPE) subject area in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. Before joining the U of R as a faculty member in January 2018, she completed her Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan. Alexandra currently teaches HOPE undergraduate courses in both the Elementary and Secondary programs. She enjoys the opportunity to see her students learn, grow, and thrive as they engage in their pre-internship and internship experiences.
“I don’t teach in a box, and I want students to take risks, too. I want my kids to become healthy risk takers.”
How does one go from a struggling student in math and sciences to an award winning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) teacher? For Carla Cooper it took finding her way past failures and obstacles and learning to teach outside of the box.
In May, Carla Cooper (BEd ’08), a teacher at Lumsden High School and graduate student doing her Master’s in Education at the University of Regina, was informed that she was a recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM.
Cooper, who grew up in Moose Jaw, went back to school for a semester after graduating from high school to improve her marks. “I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences but I struggled in the sciences and math, quite badly. Fifties weren’t going to be good enough for me, so I spent a semester at Vanier, thinking a change might help. It was a huge help.” The change, or possibly a new maturity, Carla speculates, gave her success at Vanier, and from there, she went to Red Deer College to become a geneticist. However, life got in the way and before she finished, Cooper left college, moved home, got married, and began her family.
Not long after, Carla started in a new career direction: She had always been drawn to teaching. “I was that kid who had a chalkboard in my bedroom. I was always pretending, playing school. I love being in school: the atmosphere, being around the staff and students, the smell of the school; it’s weird. I love the sounds, the feel, the buzz.” Cooper was working as an Educational Assistant when Dr. Sandy Kitz observed her teaching math. Carla says, “Afterwards she pulled me into her office. I thought I was in a lot of trouble, but Dr. Kitz said, ‘What are you doing here? You need to go back to school. You need to spread your wings and fly.’ That was the push,” says Cooper. The next step in 2001, was to enroll part-time in Science, while waiting for admission to the Faculty Education at the University of Regina. Cooper took the required sciences for the Science Education program and in 2004, she was accepted to the Education program, in which she chose a double major in biology and chemistry, and moved to full-time studies.
By that time she was a busy single mom, and her memorable moment is not a very positive one: “It was the first year I was accepted into the Faculty of Education, and my first time back at University on a daily basis, and I got my first Biology mark back…it was horrible. I had really high expectations of myself but I realized that just because you’re mature, doesn’t mean you are going to succeed.” But Cooper pushed past this initial failure. From there, she says, “I improved and improved and improved and I figured out how to be a mom and a student.”
Recalling this experience led Cooper to a more positive story of her undergrad experience in her third year, when she found the science ed group “very accommodating.” At the time, Carla was feeling concerned because her youngest son was at home recovering from surgery, and a big project presentation was due. Her instructor, John MacDonald, had said, “Just bring him in.” Carla recalled, “My son just had his appendix out, but he said ‘bring him in’ and so I brought him in, and John had a lab set up with a whole bunch of laser activities for my son to do. John kept an eye on him while I did my presentation. Nobody in my class thought ‘there she is bringing her kid in.’ It was the opposite…I was celebrated for going back to school.”
Learning from both of Cooper’s memorable experiences can be seen in her current teaching philosophy. Cooper says, “I’ve had students coming back to school with babies; it’s just, like, babies cry…” So Carla recalls that on one lecture day, she told the student mother to let her hold the baby, and she says, “I just rocked that baby and taught and said, ‘no mom, you do your thing. Let me just hold him.'” Her role model, she says, is John MacDonald. “He is number one! I want to be John,” says Carla. What makes John special is, Carla says, is “his excitement, and his belief that you can do this. If you can’t figure it out this way, let’s find another way. He is so accepting of everybody,” says Cooper. “I can call him up for anything…I never want to lose the connection.”
Since her time as an undergrad student, Carla has had many other experiences that have contributed to her success as a teacher. Working for a time as Acting Vice Principal, gave Carla the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the administrative side of education. Though she likes to teach, as she says, “outside of the box,” she also respects the administrative process. “Having admin experience has made me a better teacher. I understand the Division’s vision. I try to keep up on what’s been changing with the Division. I want to abide by my Division’s philosophies. I don’t want to step outside their vision. They allow me to expand the bubble a lot.”
Carla also attributes the experience of working on the writing team for the Health Science 20 curriculum with her new understanding of teaching outside of the box. Through this process, she realized, “We don’t have to teach a prescribed curriculum. We have to teach the outcomes, but the indicators can be taught in the way that we like them, or grouped together with indicators from other units, or you can make up your own.”
For Cooper this understanding has unleashed her creativity, which she realizes through the incorporation of arts-based projects. For instance, she decided to model her human anatomy unit after Grey’s Anatomy. Students are placed in resident groups, and each group is assigned a fictional celebrity patient, those Cooper has assessed as being a match with certain types of health issues, such as Will Smith whom students will diagnose and treat for sickle cell anemia. Using the Diagnosis for Classroom Success program booklet, which is a book of labs to be worked through in a week or two, students “delve deeply,” working through the book over four months. Cooper says, “We weren’t learning about the human body for the next few weeks, we learned about a patient, learning through the eyes of a patient.”
Cooper allowed for the ethical and diagnostic conversations that developed, pushing the students to deeper learning. She says, “At that point I didn’t know what deeper learning was, but the deeper questions students were asking, we just ran with.”
Because this wasn’t a Grade 12 course, the final assessment was not a test. Instead, students were asked, “Did their patient live or die? How did they treat? Was their treatment ethical? Did they do invasive or non-invasive? What secretions did they evaluate, and why? What was the chemistry breakdown of that? And, how did the physics work for the cat scan? They had to do a peer review and self-review.” Carla created a rubric to go with the project and students marked themselves on the rubric. “These simulations have helped students either enter a science-oriented career, or decide against it. It has also helped prepare them for their post-secondary classes,” says Carla.
When she first received the news in May that she was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching STEM, Carla wasn’t sure if the letter was for real. She sent it to her husband, asking, “Am I reading this right?” When she finally processed what was happening, she felt humbled and thought, “What makes me different? I am no different than any other teacher. But I’m just realizing that I do things a bit different.” Carla is excited, by the new connections and opportunities to pass on her curricular understandings to others, including preservice teachers, generated by this recognition.
When asked what excellence in teaching looks like, Cooper says, “I don’t even know if I am excellent, yet. I feel like I’ve done excellent teaching when I’ve excited students by allowing them to be who they are. We have student-directed study and I don’t put any constraints on that. I don’t teach in a box, and I want students I take risks, too. I want my kids to become healthy risk takers. If something flops, it flops. I’ve adopted the phrase fail forward. We are F-squareds in C-squared rooms.” As Carla continues to envision what teaching outside of the box looks like, she finds her focus moving towards a new kind of box: a sandbox. She says, “My whole focus is practicing real world science and getting kids back in the sandbox. At recess the kids are playing, communicating, problem solving, building, and doing the six big Cs in education. Why are we not doing that? I take them to the playground, to the teeter-totter, if there is one. So in the last few years, I’ve been working to bring the students back to a metaphoric sandbox, but I hope to have a real sandbox in the classroom as well.”
Congratulations to the following extraordinary Faculty of Education Alumni/Alumnae:
Dr. Allan Bonner BEAD ’78 (Business and Language Arts)
Distinguished Professional Achievement Award
As a journalist, educator, political advisor, mentor, author, and lifelong learner, Allan Bonner has tackled some of the most controversial and public issues of our time. Allan began as a journalist locally and then nationally in Canada and the US, and now holds graduate degrees in political science, education, business administration, law and urban planning.
Allan has worked with peacekeepers, international diplomats, oil, gas and chemical companies, and other blue chip clients on five continents. He is the author of eight books on communication, leadership, urban
planning, and crisis management.
Amy (Mickleborough) Moroz BEd’98 and Andrea (Gottselig) Ward BEd’00, MEd’10
Dr. Robert and Norma Ferguson Award for Outstanding Service
Amy (Mickleborough) Moroz and Andrea (Gottselig) Ward are best known as award-winning athletes in the U of R Cougar Womens’ Basketball program. Both graduated with education degrees and now work in Regina schools as teachers and coaches – lending their skills to the next generation of young basketball players.
In March 2018, they applied their collective energy and leadership skills to host of the U Sports Women’s Basketball Championship at the University of Regina. Together with an ensemble of Cougar and University
of Regina alumni, they delivered events and hospitality to eight teams from across Canada. The 2018 Cougar Women’s Basketball team captured the bronze and the championship weekend was among the most successful U Sports tournaments in the University of Regina’s history.