Category: Spotlights

Change maker: Transforming schools and society

Grad student and teacher Keilyn Howie (BEd’19) is a change maker. Keilyn’s lived experiences have given her a drive to make schools and society safe for racialized minorities.

Growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 90s with a White family taught Keilyn what it feels like to be different. “I come with my own privileges because I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, but in a lot of ways as I was growing up I was made to feel very different, and it was quite obvious I was very different, and I was treated differently,” she says.

Following an initial unsuccessful attempt at university, Keilyn moved to Regina in 2011 where she met a Black professor who encouraged her to go into education: “I was helping her out at Footlocker, where I worked, and she said, ‘You would make a really great teacher! You should go into education.’”

Though Keilyn couldn’t envision herself as a teacher at the time, she was still drawn to the field of education because she had a younger brother with autism, and she had witnessed her mother’s impact as an advocate for him and his needs in the public school system. When Keilyn took a job with the Autism Resource Centre, she was motivated by their requirements to work on her Educational Assistant (EA) certificate.

Later, in 2014, while working with Regina Public Schools (RPS) as an EA, Keilyn had the privilege of working with a teacher who inspired her to become a teacher: “I was with an amazing educator who was so inspirational, just the way she worked with students. I was so touched and moved and I thought ‘I want to be like that.’ She encouraged me to go to university to get my education degree.” The RPS community school she was working in also affected Keilyn: “Education looked different in a community school, just the impact you could have as a teacher. I felt that I could contribute something, just through the relationships formed with students. Teaching is so relationship based, especially in a community school. I felt that who I am and my experiences and lenses would fit well in a community school setting.”

With all this encouragement, Keilyn finally decided to become a teacher. She entered the Elementary Education program at the University of Regina and found the experience life changing. “The first class was BAM, so eye opening;” Keilyn says, “Dr. Carol Schick’s class gave me the language to describe my experience. Growing up in Saskatchewan, we didn’t really talk about race and racism. Especially when I was growing up in the 90s, there wasn’t a lot of diversity; it was a pretty lonely world. I learned the language for the world around me, to name, recognize, and address oppression and racism in different forms. I’ve been drawn to this work in this field ever since.”

Reflecting further on Dr. Schick’s class, Keilyn says, “My identity was being validated in that class—to learn that this is how society is and that it needs to change. Before I had thought it was just me that needed to change. Even for the other students in the class to learn the language of anti-racism and anti-oppression … it wasn’t only my introduction to this language, it was also new to my peers. I remember another person in the class making sense of intersectionality and binaries, saying, ‘So if you’re a woman and you’re Black, it’s like a double negative?’ It was so jarring for me to hear that, but at least he was trying to make sense of it, and he was realizing that somebody who looks like me has a lot more to overcome than somebody who looks like him. Even with moments like that, as hard as they are to hear, there is hope: people are still learning, and people are changing, and it gives me much hope for the future.”

In her third year of university, Keilyn experienced her first Black professor, Dr. Barbara McNeil, who had encouraged her while she worked at Footlocker: “I think that shows how important representation is. I had lived my whole life with White teachers who never told me that I could be a teacher or that I would be a great teacher. I didn’t feel seen when I was growing up, didn’t see myself reflected in the classroom. I didn’t see Black kids in books or hear Black voices. It inhibited my identity growth for a long time.”

After graduating in 2019, Keilyn began her teaching career in a community school. Just one month later, she was challenged by the pandemic and the movement to remote teaching. The pandemic, she says “really opened my eyes to some of the inequities that community schools face, so I really wanted to become an advocate for these communities. That’s been driving me ever since.”

To make the changes that are needed, Keilyn is active with her Division’s Diversity Steering Committee and an Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive Advisory Committee. “All of these experiences over many years have put me in a place to speak and advocate for people in these communities, to advocate for the change that is so desperately needed in our Division, not only in community schools. The necessary conversations are being shied away from and I really want to be the voice to open those doors and make it seem less daunting to talk about what’s right, justice and equity, even with my young students.”

Now in her third year of teaching, Keilyn brings all of her personal and professional experiences, to her classroom of Grades 1 and 2 students at Thomson Community School in Regina. “I just love it here. Being a person of colour is really helpful in a community school. The demographics in a community school are diverse and representation is so important. With my experiences, I feel I’m able to connect with these students and even their parents who might be new to the country, or who might have some generational mistrust of schools.”

In her master’s program in education, Keilyn is planning her thesis and anticipates exploring anti-Black racism in Saskatchewan. “It’s such a big void, but it’s something I still personally experience and I’m from Saskatchewan so I can only imagine what other people are experiencing.”

Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model, Keilyn says, “First there needs to be truth so we can get at what the issue is, how deep this issue is, what we even need to address, and then working on the action pieces to follow: How can we create these changes? How can we create more safe and inclusive spaces?”

With her work to make change in education, Keilyn hopes we can “re-imagine education. I think we can use education as a tool to transform schools and societies. [see K. Kumashira’s anti-oppressive model]. We can make sure that kids don’t go through what I went through when I was younger.” Keilyn summarizes with a quote by Ivan Fitzwater, saying, “The future of the world is in my classroom today.”

Keilyn’s Recommendations for Safe, Inclusive Classrooms

A foundation of belonging. Creating a classroom climate where kids feel safe and have a sense of belonging is important for them to learn. Keilyn says, “I’m intentional about making sure they all see themselves in the classroom. Even little things like this board on wall (see photo left.) My students love it. It builds that community.” This sense of belonging is fostered by several aspects in Keilyn’s teaching:

Conversations guided by great literature. Having a great selection of books with diverse topics and characters is Keilyn’s top teaching best practice suggestion. She says, “I don’t use a lot of pencils and papers, or worksheets. I teach through conversations, started with high quality literature. We have amazing conversations. Books are so important. I aim for three read alouds every day. I look for a books that match what I want to achieve. I don’t just read the book and move on. We talk about it. I ask them ‘What are your questions?’ which is more inviting than ‘Are there any questions?’ I am honest when I don’t know the answer to their question and we research it together.”

Responsive teaching. Part of creating a sense of belonging is being guided by the interests of students and their identities. Keilyn says, “I try to be culturally responsive. I use that globe all of the time because we are always talking about who we are as people and how we are all connected on this beautiful land. If I get a new student, we pull out the globe and look at where they come from and what languages they speak. If they are comfortable, they tell us about that, and we learn some of their language. It’s really important to me to let the kids be leaders and to introduce them to as many viewpoints as possible.”

Flexibility. Flexibility with daily plans is another aspect of Keilyn’s responsive teaching. “I’m very flexible–I have my day plans, if I veer from that, it’s okay. Listening to students and where they are at and what they are wondering might be the most important thing you do that day. If something negative happens, such as an experience of racism, stop your lesson to address what is happening because that will be the most important lesson of their day. We want students to feel seen and validated, so if we brush off their experiences or the things they are feeling, that’s not going to help them, the classroom climate, or the world. We have to address these things as they come up.”

Critical self-reflection. Keilyn adds that critical self-reflection is another important piece of developing a culture of belonging: “Teachers need to keep educating themselves about, for example, anti-racism. This is a pretty new field for a lot, especially in Saskatchewan. Teaching is so influential because were not just teaching the curriculum but also the hidden curriculum. If you don’t take the time to address your lenses or biases that you might be bringing, you might just be perpetuating those norms.”

Decolonize and Indigenize. Keilyn is working to decolonize and Indigenize her classroom as well. Walking into her classroom, one immediately sees the bundles of wild sage hanging on the door, which were gifted to her class. The next thing you might see is the classroom treaty that she and her students develop at the beginning of each year. Keilyn explains this activity is “a simple way to talk about treaty and historical context.”

Using the resources she finds through the School Division, Keilyn develops new opportunities to start conversations about what people have experienced, what they did historically, how newcomer settlement affected their lives, and how to get back to learning on the land. “I invite a lot of guest speakers into the classroom and I have the school Elder come in once a week to spend times with kids.”

Alumnus positively influencing change

Alumnus Christian Mbanza (BEd’17–Le Bac) is currently a French Immersion Educator at École St. Mary Elementary School in Regina. You may have seen Christian in the news recently regarding his work to bring Black history into prairie classrooms.

Christian has a passion for history and it is one reason he became a teacher: “I have a passion, not only about important events throughout history, but the people who were able to influence society. I had a history teacher in high school who would always tell us that ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,’ and that continues to echo in my mind. I see how true that is throughout society today.”

Black history is a particular focus for Christian, who says, “I believe that teaching Black history is often misrepresented or ignored in general and has created a negative image and perception around Africans/African-Canadians. In order for the perception to change, we must first know the history and properly teach the history. When students, Black or White, learn about the positive contributions of Black people, whether it be in science, art, law, and so forth, they are able to gain an appreciation and a new understanding. To ensure that Black history is being implemented, I encourage teachers to use resources by Black authors, writers, artist, and refer to famous Black scientists and mathematicians and incorporate primary sources into reading lists.”

A second passion for Christian is people, especially youth, which is another reason he became a teacher: “An educator can positively influence and change the course of a person’s life and that has always been my goal in becoming an teacher,” says Christian.

After 5 years of teaching experience at the elementary level, Christian has had the opportunity to define and refine his teaching philosophy. He says, “Experience is the best teacher. I have learned that effective teachers allow their students to make connections between content and acquire new knowledge that transforms into new ideas. That is why teachers have such a crucial role in the advancement of the community. Further, I am a firm believer in the power of relationships. Strong, positive relationships between teachers and students in the classroom are fundamental to promoting academic and overall student growth.”

Christian values the B.Ed. program he took with the Faculty of Education, “The B.Ed program has shown me the importance of challenging students to be the best that they can be so that they can positively influence our community.” Earning an education degree was, says Christian, “One of the proudest accomplishments of my life… I gained a passion and found purpose in education. Education has allowed me to gain problem solving abilities from multiple perspectives and, in my opinion, it has always held an important role in shaping the future of our society.”

Offering shout-outs to former professors, Christian says, “I had some very influential professors like Clay Burlingham, who changed my entire perspective on how history was taught; Dominic Sarny, who was instrumental in teaching me about cultural pride; and Jean Dufresne, who showed me how to implement my passion into what I teach and how I teach it. A lot of how I teach has really come from my education at the University and these professors especially.”

The most memorable experience Christian had as a French le Bac student was his experience at Laval University: “As a French education student, in order to develop our skills in French, second-year students spend two full semesters in language and cultural immersion at Laval University. This experience allowed me to grow as a person, student, and a teacher. By far the most memorable experience!”

Christian has now decided to work on his master’s degree with the Faculty of Education. “Pursuing a master’s will allow me to grow as a person, and I believe that it will help me create an inclusive classroom in a diverse world, while learning and growing my passions. As an educator I believe it is very important to continue to create the necessary changes in your life and in your classroom to impact our youth and our community.”

Why become a teacher? To be a role model

A story can be told about each of Education student Nahanni Evelyn Rose (Adams-Lindberg)’s names, which is not surprising when you consider that she was named by her mother, Carol Rose GoldenEagle, the 9th poet laureate of Saskatchewan. She was named after the Nahanni River located near Yellowknife, in Canada’s beautiful North West Territories (NWT). Yellowknife is where Nahanni spent her early years until the end of Grade 6, when her family moved to Saskatchewan. “Nahanni” is a Dene word that means “strong rock,” referring to a large rock that juts out of the Virginia Falls on the Nahanni River. Nahanni herself is a mix of Cree and Chipewyan (Dene). Her middle name, Evelyn, was given to her after the Evelyn Falls in the NWT. Given the meaning of her names and a childhood lived out in Yellowknife, it is little wonder that Nahanni loves to spend time in the outdoors and to hike.

Nahanni feels little connection with her current last name Adams-Lindberg. Adams is the name of the family who raised her mom after she was scooped in the 60s. And Lindberg is the family name of her father, who left when she was very young. “I still have a close relationship with my dad, but my name has no significance to me; that is why I want to change it to Rose, which has more meaning.”

Rose was name of the family’s first pet dog, adopted when they relocated to Saskatchewan. The significance of the name Rose, says Nahanni, “is that there are four letters in the word and there are four people in our family. Roses are beautiful but they have some thorns, like we have.”

Rose, the pet, brought their family together through the hardships they experienced after moving away from Yellowknife and through the difficult financial and emotional time while Nahanni’s mom, Carol, transitioned from being a journalist with CBC to a full-time artist/writer. Carol had been working on her first novel, Bearskin Diary, on top of her regular job and single parenting while the family lived in Yellowknife. But after a friend who had deferred his dreams until retirement passed away, Carol decided not to put off working on her art.

A year or so after settling down at Regina Beach, Carol left her job with CBC to establish herself as an artist. Nahanni says, “We ended up getting poorer at first. I know what it is like to grow up without money. But it all paid off in the end.” Nahanni points to the struggles faced by their family as showing, “what it’s like being raised by a single mom from the 60s scoop.” The difference being, “My mom ensured we grew up with a loving mom, something she never grew up with, a mom. I am living a happy life regardless of the obstacles my family has faced—we always make it out strong.” This outcome aligns with the oft-repeated family mindset of “Everything is going to work out.” And it has. Carol is now a successful published novelist, poet, playwright, visual artist, and musician and Nahanni is on her way to her chosen profession: teaching.

Growing up in Yellowknife was a great experience for Nahanni: “I loved it! I grew up with my brothers, grew up on the back rocks, playing outdoors, in the bush.” Nahanni is the twin sister of her younger brother (by 11 minutes) Danny, and the younger sister of Jackson. “It was like growing up with your best friends. They really looked out for me and made sure I was included,” says Nahanni.

Comparing her schooling experiences in Yellowknife to Saskatchewan, Nahanni says, “In Yellowknife, the students were mostly Indigenous. We didn’t see each other as colour; we saw people as their personalities. We were also taught Indigenous culture in our curriculum with activities like sewing class and a hunting class where teachers and Elders would take us out to the bush to learn how to snare rabbits and to dry meat. When we moved here, I felt like it was Danny and I, probably two out of the five Indigenous people in the school. It was hard making friends here. I’m just happy that I had Danny, he was kind of my best friend. I felt like I didn’t get bullied a lot. It took adapting to a new environment to learn who I am and I am happy in my place in life. I didn’t experience racism the way my mom did, but I felt that people did judge me by my look and not my personality.”

A couple years after moving to Regina Beach, however, their family became accepted as “locals” in the small town, and life became easier. “Now I work at the Beach Bar and I’m a local and everyone knows me,” says Nahanni.

When the time came for choosing a career, Nahanni couldn’t decide. “When I graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all,” she says. It wasn’t until she turned 21 that Nahanni took steps towards deciding on a career. She made a pros and cons list for a variety of career options, and education was the option that stood out for her. “It checked off all the boxes: I’m good with people, love kids, and I want to be a good role model. I want kids to grow up with someone who actually cares because I feel like I’ve had teachers in the past, where some cared and some didn’t. I could see myself as a teacher who cares. Something inside of me spoke to me: ‘Be a teacher.’ You just get those gut feelings.”

While many of her family and friends affirmed and encouraged her choice to become a teacher, Nahanni remembers specifically one of her Lumsden high school teachers, Ms. Winter, who was a great influence on her. “She was the one who paid close attention to me; she built that student-teacher relationship. She made me feel seen and heard. Ms Winter would say, ‘Your mom raised you well’ and ‘You’re a good kid.’ That made me feel seen as an individual who is capable, able to do things, even if I didn’t understand something right away.”

Nahanni considers her older brother Jackson a role model as well because he tutored her throughout high school in math: “Jackson was patient even when I was frustrated. He would calm me down and encourage me.”

Being a role model is why the teaching profession is so significant; Nahanni says, “We are the educators that need to be there for students, not just as a job, but as they develop. A teacher should be someone that students look up to for the rest of their lives. Someone who is a role model. I want to be a role model.”

Nahanni chose the University of Regina (U of R) for her elementary teacher education program for several reasons: She wanted to stay in Regina because it was close to her mom and her twin brother. Nahanni adds, “I thought it would be a great place to study. I had heard from friends and friends of friends that this education program is the best in Canada.”

Her experience at the U of R has been positive. Nahanni says, “I love it. I was first accepted into the Faculty of Arts. I didn’t get into the Faculty of Education, I think maybe because I was a bit late sending in forms. I took three classes in the Arts program that all transferred over into my education program.”

The next year Nahanni was accepted as a transfer into the Faculty of Education. “I was so happy. It was the best thing ever. I called my mom and my dad and I cried and danced. It was a lot of emotion. I was alone in my house. I am really happy. It all worked out. That mindset of when I was a kid—I stay true to that today. Everything will work out,” she says.

A major obstacle Nahanni had to overcome to go to University was her tendency toward procrastination. Nahanni says, “I kept making excuses and putting it off, telling myself I was going to apply. Mom and Jackson kept saying, ‘Just apply!’ Jackson on a daily basis asked ‘Have you applied yet?’ One day I just did it because I didn’t want him asking me anymore. The next time he asked, I could say, ‘I did it already.’”

As advice to others considering becoming a teacher, Nahanni says, “Just put in your application. Don’t make excuses and see where it goes. Who knows, it might change your life. If you’re nervous or scared, that’s the point where you push yourself a little, because you know you want to become a teacher. I was nervous, too, afraid I wasn’t good enough to be a university student. Now I don’t think that at all. I know I can do it.”

Spring 2022 Education News

Click image to access the animated copy of Education News.

In this issue:
A note from the Dean….. 3
Change maker: Tranforming schools and society….. 4
Alumna envisions schools as environments of empowerment….. 10
Why become a teacher? To be a role model….. 16
Alumnus positively influencing change….. 20
Le Bac student helping to preserve Indigenous languages….. 22
Teaching hard truths in a positive way: Kâsinamakewin….. 24
De/colonising Educational Relationships….. 29
Study informs services and supports for South Central Saskatchewan newcomers….. 30
Equity, diversity, and inclusion research partnership agreement announced….. 32
Successful defences….. 34
Funding and awards….. 35
Published research….. 36
New book….. 38
Long service recognition….. 38
New staff|New position….. 39
Student fundraising….. 40

Alumni Spotlight: Christian Mbanza

Alumni Spotlight: We’re shining light on Christian Mbanza (BEd’17–Le Bac), currently a French Immersion Educator at École St. Mary Elementary School in Regina.

You may have seen Christian in the news recently regarding his work to bring Black history into prairie classrooms. https://www.cbc.ca/newsinteractives/features/bringing-black-history-into-prairie-classrooms

Christian has a passion for history and it is one reason he became a teacher: “I have a passion, not only about important events throughout history, but the people who were able to influence society. I had a history teacher in high school who would always tell us that ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,’ and that continues to echo in my mind. I see how true that is throughout society today.”

Black history is a particular focus for Christian, who says, “I believe that teaching Black history is often misrepresented or ignored in general and has created a negative image and perception around Africans/African-Canadians. In order for the perception to change, we must first know the history and properly teach the history. When students, Black or White, learn about the positive contributions of Black people, whether it be in science, art, law, etc., they are able to gain an appreciation and a new understanding. To ensure that Black history is being implemented, I encourage teachers to use resources by Black authors, writers, artist, and refer to famous Black scientists and mathematicians and incorporate primary sources into reading lists.”

A second passion for Christian is people, especially youth, which is another reason Christian became a teacher: “An educator can positively influence and change the course of a person’s life and that has always been my goal in becoming an teacher,” says Christian.

After five years of teaching experience at the elementary level, Christian has had the opportunity to define and refine his teaching philosophy. He says, “Experience is the best teacher. I have learned that effective teachers allow their students to make connections between content and acquire new knowledge that transforms into new ideas. That is why teachers have such a crucial role in the advancement of the community. Further, I am a firm believer in the power of relationships. Strong, positive relationships between teachers and students in the classroom are fundamental to promoting academic and overall student growth.”

Christian values the B.Ed. program he took with the Faculty of Education, ” The B.Ed program has shown me the importance of challenging students to be the best that they can be so that they can positively influence our community.”

Offering shout-outs to former professors, Christian says, “I had some very influential professors like Clay Burlingham, who changed my entire perspective on how history was taught; Dominic Sarny, who was instrumental in teaching me about cultural pride; and Jean Dufresne, who showed me how to implement my passion into what I teach and how I teach it. A lot of how I teach has really come from my education at the University and these professors especially.”

The most memorable experience Christian had as a French le Bac student was his experience at Laval University. “As a french education student, in order to develop our skills in French, second-year students spend two full semesters in language and cultural immersion at Laval University. This experience allowed me to grow as a person, student and a teacher. By far the most memorable experience!”

As advice to students, Christian says, “Obtaining a university education is more competitive and challenging than ever and it may not be easy but it is important to enjoy the process. Preparation is key. Immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It is important to set your goals and see them through despite how long it may take and the challenges you may face along the way.”

Spotlight on Dr. Andrea Sterzuk, Director of the CERCD

Today our spotlight shines on Dr. Andrea Sterzuk who has been a professor of Language and Literacies Education with the Faculty of Education since the fall of 2007. In January 2021, Dr. Sterzuk took on a new role as Director of the Centre for Educational Research, Collaboration and Development (formerly SIDRU).

The Centre for Educational Research, Collaboration and Development (CERCD) is a research unit based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. CERCD supports educational researchers and research communities in conducting educational research and development projects that are meaningful to, and serve the needs of, diverse communities in local, provincial, national, and/or international contexts.

In her role as Director, Dr. Sterzuk says, “I support faculty members in their research efforts and I also co-ordinate research projects with external agencies. I work closely with the Dean and Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies to support faculty members in their scholarly and creative contributions and knowledge mobilization endeavours.”

As highlights of her role, Dr. Sterzuk points to the CERCD Lunch & Learn series that her team is hosting with communications experts, designed to help researchers learn to share their research stories with the public. The research unit’s new website is launched and the renovations on the CERCD’s office space are nearly complete. Dr. Sterzuk adds, “There are also several external research projects underway. For example, Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson (Associate Dean, Student Services and Undergraduate Programs) is the principal investigator on a project that investigates the continual professional learning and currency of practice for registered teachers in the province of Saskatchewan. This project is a partnership with the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board and is supported administratively by CERCD.”

Exciting news will be released soon about a new partnership. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Fall 2021 BEAD Convocation Prize | Thor Stewart YNTEP

Thor Stewart graduated from the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP) with Great Distinction and was the recipient of the Fall 2021 Bachelor of Education After Degree (BEAD) Convocation Prize. The Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP) offers a University of Regina B.Ed. (elementary education) in cooperation with Yukon College in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

While a student, Thor was also a recipient of the Academic Silver Scholarship (2020 Fall). Early in his adult life, Thor began working with youth and building community through skateboarding and this turned into working with diverse groups of youth at summer camps and guiding outdoor pursuits. In 2012, Thor completed the University of Manitoba’s Inuit and Environmental Science field course in Pangnirtung, Nunavut and in 2019, Thor returned to Nunavut with some high school friends and climbed Mount Thor, an experience documented in the film “Ocean to Asgard.” (Source: Thor Conquers Thor). One of the goals of this expedition involved engaging with the community in Pangnirtung and taking some local youth on a day of rock climbing on the cliffs that overlook the town.

While studying at Yukon University, Thor worked as a substitute teacher, giving him opportunities to apply the skills he learned in the classroom. Thor provided constant academic support to his classmates in the YNTEP program and would go out of his way to ensure his peers would thrive in the classroom. Thor has fond memories of teaching the program supervisor how to ‘ollie’ for a special skateboarding Phys-Ed class!

Following his graduation, Thor is continuing to substitute teach in Yukon and BC, acquiring experience in all kinds of classrooms.

 

Alumni Spotlight | Bushra Kainat

Bushra Kainat graduated with Distinction with her Baccalauréat en éducation secondaire and was the Fall 2021 recipient of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Award.

In today’s spotlight, we’re recognizing the student achievements of a new member of our alumni family, Bushra Kainat, who graduated in Fall 2021 with distinction with her Baccalauréat en éducation secondaire.
 
Over the course of Bushra’s program, she was the recipient of the Centennial Merit Plus Scholarship (2017 Fall), an Academic Silver Scholarship (2020 Fall), and an Academic Silver Prize (2021 Spring/Summer), and finally the 2021 Fall Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation award recipient.
 
Bushra wanted to become a teacher because she says, “During my schooling, I met many educators that inspired me, and I wanted to be that inspiration to others. I have a passion for the French language and I wanted to share that passion with the next generation. I highly value education and learning, and wanted to encourage the same passion in the next generations.”
 
Among her University experiences, Bushra says, for her what was most memorable, was her second year in the Bac program, “which I spent at Universite Laval, where I got to experience the French language and the French culture first-hand.”
 
In terms of on campus experiences, Bushra especially enjoyed “having the opportunity to have some amazing professors!” Three of her professors were especially influential: “I really enjoyed Laurie Carlson Berg’s courses, as well as Stephen Davis’ courses. These two professor’s showed me the impact the educator has on the content being taught. They were very involved with their students’ progress and learning. Lucie Anderson was also an amazing educator. She gave us some of the best teaching advice I have received.”
 
From her experiences as a student, Bushra offers the following advice to current and future students: “My number one advice would be to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Join the club, apply for the award, participate in conferences, volunteer with an organization, etc. It will go a long ways! Not only will it help you gain experience, but you will develop many skills on the way.”
 
Bushra says, “The most significant aspect of earning her degree with the Faculty of Education was that “through this degree, I was able to gain a variety of experiences that helped shape me into the educator that I am becoming. From the variety of in-classroom experiences to the exposure to various learning and teaching environments, it all helped me build my skills as a teacher.”
 
Bushra began teaching with Saskatoon Public following her graduation, and she looks forward to returning to University of Regina for her master’s in education in the near future.

Vanier Scholarship Candidate | Jessica Madiratta

This week we are shining light on Jessica Madiratta, currently in her second year of a Doctor of Philosophy in Education program with the University of Regina. Jessica recently received the good news that she has been selected as a University of Regina candidate for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships–Doctoral Awards 2021-2022 competition. She will find out in spring if she has been successful in the national competition. For her dissertation, Jessica’s proposed research is a critical participatory action research project which she hopes will improve teaching practices through professional development in culturally responsive pedagogy. “This project challenges educators to build deeper relationships with their students, to bring in authentic learning experiences for students, and to explore social issues happening around student lives,” says Jessica.
 
Living up to her maiden name “Wesaquate,” which means “sharp as a whistle,” Jessica’s been a non-stop student on campus since 2006, earning her BEd from SUNTEP Regina in 2010, her MEd (C&I) in the Faculty of Education in 2015, followed by a BA in Indigenous Studies from FNUC in 2019. Jessica’s been working as a teacher with Regina Public Schools since 2010. Beginning in 2018, she took on the role of Indigenous Advocate Teacher at Kitchener Community School in Regina.
 
Jessica’s fondest memories come from her favourite MEd course, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, which she took with Dr. Angelina Weenie (FNUC): “This class showed me the importance of decolonizing and indigenizing my classroom practices and shared the power of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogies. It had a huge influence on my PhD research topic. Someone should take this class if they are looking for ways to engage their diverse student population,” she says.
 
In Dr. Weenie’s class, Jessica had the opportunity to attend culture camp: “It was completely dedicated to Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being. I had the chance to learn from many elders, participate in a sweat, and to be on the land,” says Jessica.
 
Jessica, who grew up in Regina, and has roots with Piapot First Nation, considers the most significant aspect about earning her degree from the Faculty of Education, “is the opportunity to learn in my traditional territory with learnings connected to the Regina area.”
 
As advice to students, Jessica says, “Connect with other students. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions and learn from the experiences of those that have already started their schooling journey.”

Alumni Spotlight – Joanna Sanders

Our spotlight today is shining on award-winning alumna Joanna Sanders (BEd’05), Director of Professional Learning for Let’s Talk Science, “a national, charitable organization that has been providing educational experiences to educators and their students at no cost to them for over 25 years.” In her role as director, Joanna leads a national team, that, “provides professional learning opportunities in STEM education to thousands of Canadian educators every year.”
 
In her career, Joanna has also served as the Consultant of Digital Fluency at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education and as a French Immersion Teacher with Regina Public Schools. She is a Google Certified Innovator, a YouTube Star Teacher and an Apple Teacher with Swift Playgrounds recognition. She is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2011), and a Saskatchewan Ministry of Education recipient of the “Excellence in Education Award for Student First/Citizen-Centred” (2017). She was recognized in 2016 as a CBC Saskatchewan “Future 40.”
 
Looking back on her time as a student in the Baccalauréat en Éducation program in the Faculty of Education, Joanna feels she was well-prepared to teach, lead, and learn in the variety of educational roles she has served in: “The Bac program gave me the skills, confidence and knowledge to be a leader in my field in two languages. I learned how to be an innovator in my classroom so that I could support the best learning environment possible for my students. This has led to opportunities to become an educational leader at local, provincial and national levels.”
 
The most memorable experience for Joanna was her internship: “I got to put everything together that I had learned during my studies and put it into practice over many months in a real-life situation. After completing my internship I had much more confidence in my skills and abilities as an educator and I felt equipped to take on my first class as a new teacher the following year.”
 
Joanna recommends the Bac program, which she considers unique in that it is “led by a small team of professors who supported our growth in different classes. …Being known and supported by this team allowed me to customize my educational experience to fit my unique needs and goals as a student, while still following a core program of courses in my second language.”
 
As advice to new and future students, Joanna recommends our Education program: “This program is special. Having four years to learn, practice, reflect, and grow as an educator provided a solid foundation to be able to start a new career with confidence. It also instilled an appreciation for life-long learning as an education. Being a good learner is essential to being a good educator.”
 
What is most important to Joanna about earning her B.Ed with us is that, “The Faculty of Education at the University of Regina has a strong commitment to social justice. The learning experiences offered through this Faculty helped me grow my own worldview and perspectives and further solidified my life-long commitment as an advocate for equity and inclusion for all.”