Class Notes | Spring 2015

Marion Kasha, BEd ‘58, sent us a note looking back at her career from her early days as a teacher in the 1950s to the present. She writes, “My training as a teacher and my many experiences while teaching gave me the basis for appreciating my life over the last 81 years.” Marion recalls teaching eight grades of students in a rural Alberta school in the early ‘50s, where “[t]here was no running water, no duplicating machines, not even a phone in the school. A hot plate made it possible to heat food for a hot lunch for the students at noon and multiple carbon papers facilitated production of class sheets. (Phew!)” She was only 19 at the time and had completed one year of Teacher’s College to obtain a temporary teaching license from the government. After another teaching assignment—this time in a small town with a new junior and senior high school where a phys-ed teacher and basketball coach were needed – Marion headed to the University of Alberta’s main campus to obtain a bachelor of education. Soon after completing that degree in 1958, she moved to Minnesota with her new husband.

Marion Kasha

Marion went on to teach in Ontario for 22 years. She chaired a number of groups, served as president of the local Women Teachers’ Union for three years, and later was president and regional director for her local Retired Women Teachers. Marion also travelled with her husband on his sabbaticals – twice in England and once in Australia where she volunteered in a school for six months.

She credits their trips to places such as Japan, China, Korea, India, and Syria with adding to her awareness of “the wonders of the world and … the commonality of people throughout the world.”


Larry Petersen

Larry Peterson, BEd ‘62, MSc ‘64, is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph in Ontario, where he spent his career after receiving a PhD from the University of California.

During his career, Larry received several research and teaching awards and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Since retirement, he has co-authored three books, two of which will be of interest to teachers. The first, Teaching Plant Anatomy through Creative Laboratory Exercises, by R. Larry Peterson, Carol A. Peterson, and Lewis H. Melville (NRC Press, Ottawa), received the Lawson Medal from the Canadian Botanical Association for an outstanding contribution to botany. The second, When Is a ‘Flower’ Not a Flower and Other Intriguing Questions about Plants, by Larry and Carol Peterson, was published in 2014. Written in a ‘question and answer’ format, this book is for the general public, teachers and students.


Dave TjartDave Tjart, BEd ’71, (Dip) ‘71, MEd ‘76, writes, “I graduated in ’76 with an MEd degree, and I retired in 1997 from 26 years of teaching/counselling in the Parkland School Division. Since then, I have volunteered at my church, mainly with hospital visitation. It’s my delight to get together with former school/district colleagues and do the “those were the days, my friend” thing with them. My GP assures me I’ll make it to 100—that leaves me with only 17 years to go!”


Allen RiesNow retired for nearly three years, Allen Ries, BEd ‘74, is enjoying life and says he is trying to keep up with new technologies, but it’s “a constant battle.” Allen writes, “I retired sooner than I planned – a variety of reasons – but looking back I have no regrets.” Allen keeps busy taking care of his mother, now 85, and working on his lawn, among other things. Allen’s tip for keeping weeds at bay on your lawn? Spray them with vinegar.


Moira BuckMoira Buck, BEd ‘82, writes, “The months after convocation found me married and living in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Discovering music everywhere, I was quickly singing in my church choir, auditioning successfully for the travelling choir Timbre!, working as a substitute teacher teaching junior high band and music to elementary school-age students. I established a piano studio offering lessons to 68 students a week.

After joining the Alberni Piano Teachers’ Association, I found myself serving on the executive for years. A divorce in 1990 saw me return to Fort Saskatchewan to raise my son. Twenty-five years in the Fort has given me stints teaching music in school, but Music Is Marvelous Piano Studio is my full-time passion.”

Moira has taught lessons to more than 1,500 children and adults, submitting candidates to the Royal Conservatory of Music exam system for 30 years, culminating with a student winning a gold medal in 2011 for the highest mark in Alberta for her grade.

In March 2015, Moira received the TOPAZ award for her contribution to the arts in the City of Fort Saskatchewan at the International Women's Day celebration. Now she is off to Las Vegas for the National Music Teachers’ Association Annual Convention. “Music is truly marvelous!” says Moira.


Kim BouchardKim Bouchard, BEd ‘86 – formerly known as Kim Borstmayer – completed her studies in the Faculty of Education in December 1986 with a teaching position waiting for her to start in January 1987.

Kim recalls, “My convocation that year was particularly special as I got to graduate alongside one of my best friends: my mom. My degree has taken me on many adventures: teaching in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, creating and operating a Montessori school for 18 years, [and] home schooling my children to facilitate their Irish dancing career at the world level.”

In July 2015, Kim will release her first book, titled Contact: A Dad's Communication from the Other Side with His Daughter. Kim and her family moved to the Seattle area in 2011, where she says they have been “blessed to be living a very full and fulfilled life.”


William Randall RodgerWilliam Randall Rodger, BEd ‘86, writes, “After completing the teacher’s certificate program I ‘subbed’ in EPSB for six months. I accepted a middle-years teaching job in Lloydminster for the fall. It was not until the job interview that I was informed I would need a Saskatchewan teacher’s certificate.”

After a career as a junior high school principal, high school principal, and division office program coordinator in Saskatchewan, William retired in 2010. He convocated from the University of Saskatchewan with a PhD in educational administration in 2013, and the following year he and his wife Deborah (also a retired teacher) moved to Victoria, B.C. He is currently teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria.


Pam Chamberlain, BEd ’96, teaches composition for Athabasca University and lives in Calgary. She recently published her second book, In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters. She is also raising six-year-old twins, and she volunteers for her local community garden and for Calgary Reads.

Eric Jego

“After graduation, I moved to Japan to get in touch with my roots,” says Eric H. Jego, BEd ‘99. “I was intending to only stay for a few years, learn the language, pay off my student loans, and then come back to start my career as a high school biology teacher in Alberta.”

Sixteen years later, Eric is still in Japan, happily married with two kids, and he obtained a master's degree, published a medical English book and got a few publications in the Journal of Medical English Education. He is currently working on his PhD.

Eric writes, “This spring, I’m going to be promoted to Assistant Professor in the Division of Medical Education Planning and Development at Nihon University (School of Medicine), the biggest university in Japan where I’ve been working for the past six years. I’m living the dream, thanks in large part to the fantastic education I got at the U of A.”


Michael BevanMichael Bevan, BEd ‘00, graduated from the Education after degree program in December 2000. “My road from graduation to today has been a circuitous one, but one in which I’ve always endeavoured to maintain an element of teaching,” writes Michael.

After teaching for five-and-a-half years after graduation, predominantly on contracts with Edmonton Public School Board, Michael left active teaching and began to work for Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan, so he could continue to support Alberta teachers, and by extension, students.

While there, Michael completed his Executive MBA (continuous learning!) and moved on to run the Employer Education program at Alberta Pensions Services Corporation, which administered, among other things, the pensions of the support staff and leadership of school boards.

Following that, he writes, “I moved to Alberta Urban Municipalities Association in a position that allowed me a great deal of freedom to build my role and determine how to relate to leaders across Alberta. Finally, I ended up as a contract consultant for Achieve Training Centre, an organization dedicated to providing professional development training and consulting across the country and into the States, where I again get to help teachers and other school staff directly, as well as many other interesting and dedicated professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. This is as close as I have been to teaching as when I was in the classroom, and I have never been happier or felt more fulfilled.”


Elizabeth RamirezAfter graduating with a bachelor of education from the University of Alberta, Elizabeth Ramirez, BEd ‘02, accepted a position teaching Grade 7 math at an inner city school in Manhattan in 2003. She completed a master’s in teaching in 2012 through a global field-based program via Miami University. Apart from a few years teaching internationally in the United Kingdom and Kuwait, Elizabeth continued to teach in high needs public schools in New York City until 2014.

Today, as an instructional specialist for New Visions for Public Schools, a public school support network, she is continuing her work in math education by coaching and supporting teacher teams to strengthen their instructional practices through an inquiry-based approach. She is also part of a team working to produce and curate quality mathematics curricula that align to the United States' Common Core Learning Standards, personally focusing on instructional practices and materials that support struggling learners.


Erin MartensErin Martens Walsh, BEd ‘06, writes, “I am ‘mommy’ to my daughter Andy and my son Nate and ‘wifey’ to my husband Graig. Since graduation, I've worked primarily as a teacher in an outreach setting which inspired me to pursue my master's degree in counselling psychology. I am now pursuing registration as a psychologist, and as a result, I am back on campus taking a few psychology courses. It's been both wonderful and weird!

Finally, I am about to start a new position as a school counsellor where I look forward to merging my two worlds: education and psychology! This is an exciting new opportunity. Looking back, it is important to acknowledge that my professional journey truly began in the Faculty of Education.”


RoseAnn Normand, BEd ‘12, writes, “I am one of those Education grads who decided not to pursue teaching in the traditional sense. When I graduated in April of 2012, I sought a job that would allow me to combine my love of teaching with my communications background. I found a position managing a program called Work Wild, which educates youth about careers in Alberta’s forest industry.

My job has brought me to over 100 schools and dozens of career fairs and conferences in every corner of our province. I also get to exercise my creative side, developing educational resources for teachers to use in the classroom. I have met incredible students and teachers, all while learning a tremendous amount about one of Alberta’s largest industries. The knowledge and skills I acquired while studying Education at the University of Alberta have been invaluable to me in this role.”


Megan BrodeurMegan Brodeur, BEd ‘11, graduated from UAlberta with a BA in 2008 and a BEd in 2011. She writes, “When I finished my practicum, I had no idea how I was going to get a job in such a competitive market of Ed grads. I spent the following year working at a bank as a lender, while I kept on holding onto hope that I would find a job in my field.

I found a corporate training job with the tech company Ricoh, which took me all over Alberta. I delivered training sessions about tech equipment and production printers to professionals in offices. I especially loved teaching teachers at schools! I then moved on to a great position at the NAIT Students’ Association last year, running the student benefit plan. I have designed and will be launching the emergency student loan program for the school very soon.”


Tibetha Kemble

Since completing her master’s degree in Indigenous Peoples Education in the Faculty of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies,Tibetha Kemble, MEd ‘13, says she “spent very little time contemplating my next move along my educational journey.”

Almost immediately after graduation, she joined the Alberta Public Service, where she worked as a liaison between First Nations and the provincial government and advised on policy issues facing Aboriginal peoples in Alberta.

Tibetha writes, “Although this work was challenging and exciting, I grew an increasing awareness of the incongruence between the existing public policy framework and the culturally distinct needs and realities of Aboriginal peoples. Given this exposure through my employment and through my previous research and experiences within the department and the university, I was inspired to further my studies as a means of examining and addressing these challenges within First Nations public policy.”

In the spring of 2014, Tibetha was accepted into a doctoral program in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, and she is now the first PhD student studying Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education. She hopes to critically examine and speak to the existing limitations in Aboriginal educational public policy in Alberta and to work towards effecting meaningful change within this area.

“Although I am interested broadly in K-12 First Nations education, I hope to examine, explore and contribute to the relatively small body of knowledge concerning decolonized approaches to early childhood education for young First Nations children on-reserve,” she writes. “Above all, I am, as an Indigenous woman and scholar, excited and motivated to continue learning in a challenging and exciting environment at the University of Alberta.”


Since convocating last year, Courtney Albrecht, BEd ’14, has been actively involved in education. She writes, “I became a substitute teacher for Parkland School Division for the rest of the school year and worked for the Bennett Centre doing their Grade 6 Science review. In September [2014], I started teaching Grade 5 at Greystone Centennial Middle School.

I have an awesome group of learners who love inquiry and are excited about school. They have built an awesome community and school is a happy place for them. I have learned so much in the last six months and have an amazing group of teachers at my school who have given me the tools and inspiration to make a difference. I’ve realized that my job is so much more than teaching, and I am there to serve my students’ learning and build their confidence.”

Feature Image: RoseAnn Normand, BEd ‘12.