Category: Farewells and Retirements

Hard work and a little luck

Jean Dufresne retired from the University of Regina after a 19-year career.

Teaching was something Jean Dufresne wanted to do from as far back as he can remember. The first university-trained teacher in his family, Jean says, “It started early for me. In Scouts, as a volunteer, even in the Naval Reserve, I was always placed in an instructional role.”

In terms of credentials, Jean’s path to a 35-year career as a teacher and then teacher educator was unusual: “I have a BA with a major in history and a minor in education,” says Jean, who graduated from Université Laval in Quebec City in the 80s.

Jean’s career included teaching social studies and history in both secondary and postsecondary settings, writing French immersion curriculum guides, and teaching in, and finally directing, the University of Regina’s Baccalauréat en Éducation française (le Bac) program. Jean became a specialist in language development and a specialist tutor for French tests. “I always thought I would be a history teacher and I became a French teacher. I was never the best at French in high school. Yet, I was lucky enough to be offered opportunities and flexible enough to give them a try,” says Jean.

These opportunities, Jean attributes to his relocation to Saskatchewan in the fall of ’86 to be with his future wife Anne Brochu Lambert, who was working with Radio Canada (French CBC). “There were 100 people like me in Quebec City. Here, I was special. In Québec, just one among others,” says Jean.

“I also came to see the prospects for becoming a teacher in Saskatchewan.” says Jean. To become a certified teacher here, Jean had to earn an extra 15 credits of French for the equivalent of a French minor. This he did through le Bac, becoming one of the students in the first cohort of the French education program in the final term. He did not know at the time that the longest stretch of his career would be with le Bac.

Jean was hired in ’87 at Dr. Martin LeBoldus where he taught mostly history and social studies until 1994, when he was seconded to the Ministry of Education for a 4-year project in which he wrote the curriculum guides for Secondary French Immersion (10, 20, 30, and Intégré A20 and B20). After this accomplishment, he went back to teaching, eventually returning to LeBoldus full-time and becoming department head in 2000/01.

Three years later, Jean was seconded to the le Bac program. Teaching at the University of Regina was a big transition. Jean says, “In 2003, school divisions were just starting to tighten their purses. The University felt rich by comparison. You could still print what you wanted to print. You were not counting your copies. Work was at another level, dealing more with adults. It was a welcome change. Same with the ministry, I was lucky. I’ve been lucky all my life. I worked hard; the harder you work the luckier you get. But luck is also a factor.”

Still, as a secondment, Jean didn’t know beyond his 2-year terms where he would be next. However, 2 years stretched into several years. As Jean says, “I ended up being lucky for 14 years. I also have my school division to thank for this. They allowed me to stay instead of recalling me, or asking me to resign.”

In 2017, at the 30-year mark with the Regina Catholic School Division, Jean retired and was officially employed by the University of Regina. Two years later, he accepted the role of director of le Bac, where he finished out his career.

The director’s role was challenging in many ways. “I wasn’t expecting to become le Bac director,” says Jean. “The Faculty suggested that I should apply, so I did. What I learned is that it took a lot of me. The price was steep. I really enjoyed the classroom teaching and dealing with my students with le Bac. I was essentially the pre-internship year secondary person, so I was able to teach a few courses with the same students, and be involved in a capacity that I understood: my courses, my old curriculum guide, my resources, my students—that part I enjoyed. Being a director, especially during a pandemic, became very demanding. There are aspects of the job, though it is essentially a program chair, that make it more challenging: For example, we have to budget the Federal Government funding and create annual financial reports.” Added to the situation was the loss of several staff members in le Bac (though since then le Bac has new staff members).

Moving online through the pandemic created another set of challenges. “You teach French education in Saskatchewan in French, so the environment is important. Some students flourished online but I think the majority did not and it did have consequences on language skills a little bit. We see the effect now with the internships; some students are in the classroom for the first time, and they are facing challenges that they haven’t met before,” says Jean.

Yet, the flip side of the challenges was the highlight for Jean: “There’s a good side: I finished my mandate, and my thanks to the faculty who trusted me enough to choose me as the director. That is important to me. It is hard work, but it is important, and I believe the work was done decently. This is certainly a highlight.”

Looking back, Jean remembers other interesting challenges/highlights: “When we did the program review, finishing it in 2006/07 with Bernard Laplante as director, that was challenging; that was interesting. We were looking at courses and programs, we tried to find a perfect mix of compulsory courses and electives and all that. We had language tests. Le Bac had good quality programs and we were growing. By 2019, le Bac had grown from 75 students to 166, but our resources didn’t follow so we had to be a little bit more modest and cap ourselves at 140.”

Reflecting further on the growth and changes he has seen in le Bac over the years, Jean says, “The first cohort of students going through the 4-year elementary French education program started in ’83. They did their second year at Université Laval in Quebec City. From the beginning, that ‘immersion year’ was important. In ’91, we created a secondary French education program. For le Bac, immigration really changed things around 2010. Francophone newcomers who wanted to become teachers came with individualized needs, and we had to adapt the program to help them achieve their goals. There is also a big difference between 2000 and 2020 in our approach to students. Recruiting and retaining students has become a survival issue, and we now do everything we can to recruit and keep students, which becomes a lot of extra work. In le Bac, we do tutorials to prepare students, we have really personalized services, small classes, and a team in Quebec City that follows them during their second year. The director goes to see the students in Quebec City each year and the deans are in touch with each other. We are trying to find alternatives to ensure every student who can be successful, is successful. This is also part of the Faculty’s philosophy.”

What Jean has learned over the years is that what matters in teacher education is “trust and personal contact.” Jean says, “Proper education is a professional relationship between people who are teaching and learning, and trust is important in that relationship. If students know and understand what we are doing and if they are respected, they go accordingly. If there is a lack of trust, and it happens sometimes, then it creates issues. When students first get out of the university they want to be the best teachers they can be; they’re really centered on their subject areas, but they figure out very quickly that relationship is key. There is no teaching without a relationship. Reconciliation helped us understand the weight, the heavy burden, of residential schools because there was a loss, or a lack of trust if there was trust in the beginning. If you don’t have trust, failure is almost certain.”

As parting advice, Jean recommends that the Faculty, “keep an eye on le Bac in the future. Continue to ensure that le Bac is staffed properly. Make sure French services are recognized and appreciated in the future as they are now, and not always seen as a burden even though it is extra work. La Cité is now a Faculty. This is great news; it means we now have La Cité colleagues to help us with faculty resources. However, there is a caveat, let’s be careful. We have to be sure that le Bac students are well-served by both Faculties. I hope the next dean will be able, as Dean Cranston has done, to figure out the role of le Bac program and make sure it has room to grow at the University of Regina.”

Overall, Jean’s feelings about his career are positive: “I’m very grateful to the Faculty, to le Bac program, and to Regina Catholic School Division because they’ve allowed me to grow in the profession. I understand things today I didn’t understand 20 years ago. For example, I understand more about reconciliation because I was part of this Faculty. I’ve had discussions with elders that I would not have had otherwise. I’m very grateful.”

A lifelong search for a good teacher

Dr. Patrick Lewis retired at the end of June, 2022 after an 18-year career with the Faculty of Education. Photo above: The EIC honoured Patrick with a blanket, songs, poems, and comments of appreciation upon completing his term as Associate Dean. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

“The last thing in the world I was ever going to do was become a teacher!” says Dr. Patrick Lewis, who ended up teaching 17 years in elementary school and another 18 years in preservice and in-service teacher education.

While he was a child, Patrick really enjoyed school until Grade 7, when he suddenly didn’t find school that engaging or much fun anymore. In fact, he ended up leaving high school early. But, fast-forward to 1985, and he and his partner Karen had a new little baby girl. “We were living in family housing at UBC, and I was starting graduate work in history for my master’s. I was realizing that I needed to do something more to support my family than fiddle away at graduate research and history, so I went across campus to the Faculty of Education and spoke to an associate dean there.”

Initially, Patrick intended to enroll in the secondary teacher education program because his undergrad degree was in political science and history, but because the associate dean encouraged him to take the elementary program, he made the switch, which turned out well: “The more time I spent in K-3, the more fun I was having. I got quite engaged and comfortable with learning alongside little people. Even during practicums, I saw the enormous growth that could happen with kids that age. So that really intrigued me and I stuck with it.”

After finishing his post-graduate certificate, Patrick was hired at Pender Island School. After teaching for 5 or 6 years, he began to realize that he needed a greater understanding of how to work with kids who struggle, so he returned to university to do his master’s degree. “I thought, ‘There has to be something I’m missing.’ I was working with young children and trying to figure out how to help kids who were struggling with mostly literacy and, to a lesser extent, numeracy skills,” he says.

His master’s research did give Patrick answers, but not the answers he initially expected: “I had an unconscious sense of this, but I developed a conscious sense of the importance of building relationships with learners. So it wasn’t so much about finding new mechanisms for literacy, for teaching and learning, but it was more about kids and the relationships,” says Patrick. In retrospect, Patrick recognizes that what he learned then about building relationships as a way to help struggling kids learn, was about dealing with trauma or complex trauma, something he and his spouse Karen Wallace have been exploring and writing about more recently.

After 10 years on Pender Island, Patrick and Karen decided it was time to pack up and travel. Patrick wanted to do more graduate work around narrative inquiry and storytelling and he was accepted to the University of Queensland in 1997. They sold their acreage and the family of four backpacked through the South Pacific and ended up in Brisbane, Australia where Patrick began his PhD. Having to leave Australia before he finished his studies, Patrick returned to Victoria, BC, to finish his PhD remotely. His dissertation was a narrative inquiry called “Looking for a Good Teacher.” Patrick says, “That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since I started teaching—looking for a good teacher.”

In 2004, the University of Regina hired Patrick as an assistant professor in early childhood education. At the beginning, the position was a ‘test drive’ with Patrick living in Regina while Karen stayed in Victoria to allow their son to finish high school and to continue with her established counselling and art therapy practice. However, in 2007, they made the decision to move to Regina, committing to stay for 5 years. “Five years turned into 18 years (and 14 for Karen),” says Patrick.

Over his time here, Patrick saw the work of the Faculty evolving: “We went through program renewal and through processes of developing mission statements and visions, and our core belief. I got the impression even from the early days that we were moving toward equity, diversity, and inclusion. But, it didn’t always go smoothly.”

Though not naturally drawn to administrative roles, Patrick adopted several leadership roles along the way, such as early childhood education subject chair, co-organizer of the “talkin’ about schools and society” discussion series, Education Indigenous Advisory Circle co-chair, elementary program chair, and the associate dean of faculty development and human resources.

Patrick’s hope in taking on these responsibilities was always that “it would be an opportunity to make programming a more holistic experience for our preservice teachers in preparing them for the children they were going to work alongside in their classrooms. I wanted to open their eyes to the importance of diversity and inclusion, and to become aware of historical oppression, with Indigenous people, Black people, and so-called people of colour.”

The Play, Art, Narrative (PAN) summer institutes that Patrick and Karen taught for many years were also intended to open students’ eyes to the structural and systemic racism in educational practices, in what teachers do. “If I’m to believe the feedback from students, it changed a lot of teacher’s ideas and ways of thinking about teaching, so that was, I think, pretty good work,” says Patrick.

The work we do is “hugely significant,” says Patrick. “Our students will be with kids about 197 days of the year for almost 6 hours per day. It is vitally important that we not only prepare students for this incredibly sensitive and important work, but also that we help them understand the realities of school life, and help them to look beyond the students in front of them to see the lives of those students and understand the importance of developing relationships with them and their families. The importance of this work behooves us to make sure we are doing all we can to help our preservice and in-service teachers become empathetic, authentic, and good listeners.”

Patrick’s advice for the Faculty mirrors what he learned in his search for a good teacher: “Build relationships with people and listen to people—really, really listen to people so they know you heard them. It’s not about whether you agree with them or not. Let them know you heard them and that you understand how they are feeling or thinking about a situation.”

After retiring at the end of June 2022, Patrick says, “I had a very privileged and charmed life. I was really lucky to work with great faculty and support staff. I loved it there. I found everything that the Faculty was doing intriguing. I worked alongside six deans while I was there. In my travels through the committees and programs I was involved with, faculty engagement was really refreshing and hopeful.”

Affirmation of a job well done came in the form of the International Play Association’s Right to Play award which honoured Patrick in October for his career-long advocacy and service promoting the child’s right to play. A former student of Patrick’s, Whitney Blaisdell, who nominated him for the award, says, “Many may agree—this honour is very well-deserved.”

Retirement – Patrick Lewis

Happy Retirement to Dr. Patrick Lewis who retired at the end of June 2022. Dr. Lewis has served in the Faculty of Education in the Early childhood education since 2004. From 2009 to 2018, Dr. Lewis and Dr. Marc Spooner hosted the popular barroom talks, Talkin’ About Schools and Society, which brought in speakers such as Dr. Michael Apple, Dr. Angela Davis, Dr. Zeus Lenardo, and Dr. Patti Lather, to name a few.  He also served on multiple committees including the Education Advisory Circle (formerly known as Indigenous Advisory Circle). Lewis served in the role of Associate Dean of Human Resources Development from 2018 – 2021.  The Faculty celebrated with Patrick on June 23, 2022.


EIC honours member

Dr. Patrick Lewis, who has completed his term as Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Human Resources, and who has been a valued contributor in the Faculty’s Education Indigenous Circle (EIC), was honoured by the group on June 8, 2021. Elder Elma Poitras, Knowledge Keeper Joseph Naytowhow, and Chair Dr. Anna-Leah King presented Dr. Lewis with a blanket, along with songs, poems, and appreciative comments from those who attended.

Retirement – Larry Steeves

Prior to joining the Faculty of Education as an Assistant Professor in January 2007, Dr. Larry Steeves was a public servant for over 30 years in the K–12 education and government sectors. Steeves brought to his Faculty position a variety of experiences as a classroom teacher, coordinator of guidance services, principal and a director of education. As well, Steeves brought his experiences within the Saskatchewan provincial government, including time as Associate Deputy Minister in Government Relations and Aboriginal Affairs, Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs, and Associate Deputy Minister in Learning, including responsibilities as the Saskatchewan representative to the Board of Governors of the First Nations University of Canada.

Steeves says his most memorable experience in his 14 years within the Faculty was the work environment. “I greatly enjoyed my time as a colleague within our Faculty—what commenced as a 5-year commitment gradually extended as new opportunities arose.” As examples of the work environment, Steeves mentions Indigenous research, course development, and the creation of an online Educational Leadership program. The relationships Steeves has been “privileged to develop” are his “primary reason for remaining related to the Faculty,” says Steeves. He values all the relationships developed through the differing settings in his work career: “All provided great opportunities, challenges and relationships. But I have to say that the environment within our Faculty made it easy for me to stay. It was a wonderful place to work—and to make a contribution. I was blessed.”

As advice to Faculty colleagues, Steeves says, “I would only say that our work is important—supporting the development of future teachers and leaders within the K-12 sector is vital. We need to continue this work. As I leave my colleagues for retirement, I know that we face difficult times. I can only say that these challenges occur in any career—this one will be dealt with and will pass. It may leave changes, potentially even profound ones—but the work that we do remains. The work —and the need for it—will continue.”

Steeves is working towards the next phase of his life in a beautiful location: Victoria, B.C. He hopes to have more personal and family time, “but also to continue making a small contribution to our work.” He wishes colleagues the best in coming times.

Retirement celebration

On February 5, 2020 faculty and staff gathered to show their appreciation of Louise Laverdiere, who retired February 14, after 30 years of service to the University of Regina.

Louise has had varied responsibilities during her time at the U of R. She started out her career at the U of R in 1989, where she worked in Purchasing and Accounts Payable until 1997. From there she worked in Payroll for a month, and then moved to a permanent position in Supply Management where she worked doing purchasing, ordering and requisitions until July 2001. For the next nine years she worked in the Faculty of Engineering, where her portfolio included a broad assortment of responsibilities. In 2010, Louise joined the Faculty of Education where she has worked as an administrative assistant, first in the Education Graduate Studies office and then for the last nine years in the PD and Field Placement Office. For her retirement, Louise will be enjoying more time with her five grandchildren, her husband Jeff, and time at their place at Katepwa Lake.

Dr. Garth Pickard

Dr. Garth Pickard is Professor Emeritus at the University of Regina (Faculty of Education) and is currently a Research Scientist with the University of Regina Institute of Energy, Environment, and Sustainable Communities (IEESC). Garth is also directly affiliated with the UNESCO International Network for Re-orienting Teacher Education towards Sustainability and the United Nations University Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development – Coordinator of Sustainable Infrastructure.

Dr. Pickard was the Director for the University of Regina, Office of International Cooperation and Development, the Associate Dean of Education (Program), and the Director of Professional Development in the Faculty of Education. He served as the Director of the Canada, China University Linkage Program, and the Special University Linkage Consolidation Program for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 1992 to 2005 and Director of the Centre for International Teacher Education from 1992 to 2000. Garth has lectured in the curriculum areas of Physical Education, Outdoor Education, Educational Administration, and Sustainability and has taught at Brock University, York University, and the University of Alberta.

Garth’s main research interests lie in sustainability as related to energy, environment and sustainable communities, re-orienting teacher education to address sustainability, organizational problem-solving, policy implementation, and personnel development.

Farewells and welcome

We bid farewell and best wishes to Blair Gullickson, who retired from the position of Manager of Student Placements and Field Experiences May 31, 2019.
We welcome Jill Young-Lee, who as accepted the 2-year term position of Manager of Student Placements and Field Experiences with the Faculty of Education, University of Regina. Young-Lee comes from Prairie Valley School Division and has many years of teaching and administrative experience. Young-Lee left her position as Principal of Montmarte School to join the Faculty of Education on August 6.
We bid farewell and best wishes to Dr. Joël Thibeault who resigned his position with the University of Regina July 31, 2019. Thibeault is headed to his new position at the University of Ottawa. Though he will be missed, we wish him success.
We bid farewell and best wishes to Dr. Cyril Kesten who retired his position as Professor of Business, Technology and Media education  July 31, 2019. Kesten began his well-deserved retirement after 41+ years of dedicated service to the Faculty of Education, University of Regina.

Farewell to Dr. Shauneen Pete

Dr. Shauneen Pete, Photo courtesy of Michael Dubois, Dub Photography

For the past academic year, Dr. Shauneen Pete has been on a leave of absence. Dr. Pete has now resigned her position with the Faculty of Education.

Dr. Andrea Sterzuk says, “Over the years, so many of us have had the very good fortune to work with and learn from Shauneen. Her influence will continue to be felt in the University for many years to come.” The Faculty considers Dr. Pete’s departure a great loss, but we wish her the best in all her current and future endeavors.