Sean Lessard refers to his return to Edmonton as a kind of homecoming, even though he hails from the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Maybe it’s because Lessard, who joined the University of Alberta Faculty of Education’s Department of Secondary Education this January, has a knack for creating a sense of community wherever he pursues his research and pedagogy involving Indigenous youth.
It is my pleasure to share the fall issue of our faculty magazine with you, our community of Education alumni located all over the world.
With 2016 just around the corner, it is natural to look back at the past year—a year of successes and transitions—while also looking to the future.
Anike Bult was 10 years old when his parents were killed by soldiers in the Congo. He spent the next five years of his life homeless and fighting to survive. Some days, he was forced to get by on a single dollar. Others, he had to chop down trees by hand and burn them for charcoal to sell on the roadside, just so he could afford to eat.
In 2009, Bult was contacted by his uncle, who helped him escape his homeland. After three years in a Zimbabwean refugee camp, he journeyed across the Atlantic to reach safe harbour in Québec.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen the artwork of education alumnus Jason Blower (’03 BEd).
Well-known for his illustrations of Edmonton landmarks, Blower’s work has graced the pages of magazines such as Avenue, Alberta Venture, and Today’s Parent. He’s provided the visual flair for promotional campaigns for organizations such as the Alberta SPCA, and he is also the creative mind behind the new Lululemon storefront in Edmonton’s Southgate Centre mall.
Every weekday morning and afternoon, Randy Wimmer laces up his runners and does the 35-minute walk between downtown and the University of Alberta campus on the south side of the river.
Summer or winter, rain or shine, it is a ritual the thoughtful educator cherishes. “That’s my time—sometimes it’s my only time,” says Wimmer. Since taking on the role of interim Dean of Education on July 1, 2015, the former vice dean’s calendar has become increasingly busy—hence the importance of those daily walks to and from work.
To say Kristopher Wells (’94 BEd, ’03 MEd, ’11 PhD) is a busy man is quite an understatement.
Co-director of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) and assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, Wells is a leading researcher and advocate for sexual and gender minority youth across Canada.
Now more than ever, his expertise is in demand.
As a child, Mary Pinkoski (’99 BA, ’06 BEd) didn’t know she was going to be a poet when she grew up. She didn’t compose couplets in her journal, didn’t write rhymes in her head, but she was always putting pen to paper.
“I’ve always done writing of some sort,” says Pinkoski. “In high school, and when I was doing my bachelor of arts degree at the University of Alberta, I wrote for the Sherwood Park News. I’ve always been interested in telling people’s stories.”
Edmond Levasseur’s (’67 BEd) lifelong philosophy has been to engage completely and give himself over to the causes about which he cares the most. That’s been reflected in his dedication to both his teaching career and his volunteer work.
Levasseur graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education in 1967 and had a long career as a teacher before going into private consulting. He spent much of the latter part of his career working on language education policy and second-language education in schools across the province.
Growing up in rural Germany, Vera Caine (’98 BScN, ’02 MN, ’07 PhD), was inspired by her mother—a kindergarten teacher—and her aunt, who worked with the many refugees arriving in the country.
Giving back to the community was a family value, and Caine carried it forward at an early age. When she was just 13, she worked in a nursing home, and then at 17 she took a year off school to volunteer in a psychiatric hospital.
“It’s not easy to change the inertia of an education system,” says Frank Jenkins (’66 BEd, ’71 MEd, ’87 PhD).
It may not be easy, but the Edmonton chemistry teacher, textbook author, and science education advocate has devoted his 45-year career to doing just that.
It all started with baking soda
Frank discovered his preference for practical chemistry in high school, learning about the chemical industry, how blast furnaces produce iron, and how baking soda can be used to make cookies, extinguish fires, or clean people’s homes.