Class Notes | Fall 2013

Alvin Anderson, ’67 BEd, ,  ’70 MEd, ’79 PhD tells us, “I taught elementary education in Edmonton (1967-69) then went North to Beaverlodge, AB as a VP of an elementary school, from there my wife and three children went to Lahr, West Germany with the DND. Upon return I assumed a Mathematics Consultant position with Alberta Education. My last years were as a Superintendent of Schools, where I was able to continue a passion which continues even into retirement. It is research into improvement practices regarding learning. Our vision in Twin Rivers SD in Drayton Valley (1987-89), "Education for Tomorrow Today", with a Systems Plan for improved student learning futures was a highlight. Continuous learning is a critical component to my passion. I have recently completed my ThD through Newburgh Theological Seminary, a culmination of my publishing of five theological works. I am ever thankful for the challenges and opportunities that U. of A. education has afforded me.”

Anne Letain, ’71 Dip (Ed) ,’74 Dip(Ed), “I have taken my passion for my "calling" as a Teacher-Librarian many, many places. It has provided me with geography and experiences that many can only dream of - including five  years in Europe and six years working as a consultant in Southern AB, as well as a year in Texas. Today, I consider myself very fortunate in being able to continue to inspire others to teacher-librarianship through my role as an Instructor in the TL Diploma Program at the University of British Columbia.”

Allen Ries, ’74 BEd, is retired after 22 years working for Canada West Insurance Company in the accounting department.  His passion for math led him to his education degree.  “Although I know it is a difficult subject for many people I believe there is a fundamental beauty in understanding math. Although most people only learn to add multiply subtract and divide I believe that an understanding of  the subject can benefit anybody who can master it.” Though he only did one year of teaching in a classroom Allen never gave up his passion for teaching math, “much to the annoyance of those did not want to hear my stories of math theory or an explanation of how I solved one of their problems.”

Mary Anne NealMary-Anne Neal, ’75 BEd, “Lessons I learned at U of A have served me well for almost 40 years.  After earning my B.Ed. (with distinction) in 1975, I employed Tyler’s four classic tenets of curriculum planning to engage senior high school students for almost twenty years.  I then moved to BC and found that the pedagogical principles that worked with adolescent learners are equally valid for college and university students. Majoring in Intercultural Education equipped me with understandings and methodologies that have enabled me to successfully work with teachers and principals of schools in Kenya, Australia, Vietnam and China.  Though the lessons were valuable, my enduring memories are of sitting on the grass in the quad with new-found friends, discussing various concepts under the blue sky, with orange autumn leaves all around us.”

Beverly Biggeman, ’78 BEd, tells us she graduated in 1978 and has worked as a teacher ever since.  “My last 25 years was spent at Olds College until I retired two years ago. While at the College I completed a Master degree in Instructional Design, an area I am still passionate about. I  loved helping instructors develop curriculum and make decisions about their  classroom instruction.  My favorite activity was teaching instructional skills workshops every Tuesday and Thursday night.  I am sure I am still referred to as Lesson Plan Bev, a moniker I am very proud to accept.”

Gulistan Hasham, ’78 BEd,  writes in, “I have led a very exciting and satisfying teaching career. I came to Canada from Uganda, East Africa as a refuge in 1972  and registered in the faculty of Education where I graduated in 1979 after a few years off with a major in early childhood. My first teaching position was in a kindergarten class in small farming community east of Edmonton in Vermilion. Being a new immigrant to Canada, living in a small community gave me an opportunity to be immersed into Canadian culture and teaching styles which included learning centres and hands on activities. I taught in vermilion for 17 years and was a finalist for excellence in teaching in 1996 where I taught grade one in the public school system.

My family moved to Sherwood Park and I taught grade one, two, early literacy and special needs in Spruce Grove with Parkland School division at Millgrove school. The highlights of teaching at Millgrove were the involvement in technology especially the benefits of a smart board, visual presenter and technological programs that assisted special needs students. The school is an early years school and the program was based on balanced literacy. I retired last year from my teaching position and volunteer my time teaching seniors basic computer skills once a week, storytelling to young students and help as facilitator for a parenting program in the mosque that I attend.”

Ross Marian, ’80 MEd, “Hi Folks, since graduation with a BED ,I taught mathematics at the senior high level with Edmonton Public for 34 years at Ross Sheppard, M E Lazerte, Queen Elizabeth, Bonnie Doon and Victoria School.  I completed an M.ED in Ed Admin in 1980 at the U of A as well.  This is my 10th year working with the Dept of Education, first as examiner and now for  the last 5 years as Exam Manager for Pure Math 30 and Math 30-1 in the Assessment Sector. This has allowed me to put my classroom experience into good use to develop quality exams for the subject that I love and work closely with teachers for the benefit of the students of Alberta. Cheers.”

Marion Barker, ’81 BEd, who graduated in Secondary Ed, studying art and business studies has been helping learners for the Toronto District School Board since 1998.  Currently a Curriculum Leader of Student Support at Thistletown Collegiate Institute and a Guidance Counsellor.  “I enjoy reigniting the lamp of learning in students and others while helping to care for their needs.  Still working beyond my retirement date because my work is so rewarding.  I make a difference in the lives of students daily along with my colleagues.  Cheers Marion”.

M. Jennie Frost, ’82 BEd, loves Latin and taught it to grades 5 – 12, undergraduate university students, and adult Extension students until 1995. Since 1996 she has been telling stories professionally. She’s had prizewinning poetry and short stories published in literary journals and anthologies. Her narrative poem The Courtship of Hippodameia won Honorable Mention in the 2002 Mellen Press Long Poem Contest so was published as a book (Mellen, NY, 2005). Jennie has told stories to audiences of all ages, preschool – seniors, in 8 provinces and 1 territory. Storytellers of Canada – Conteurs du Canada (SC – CC) chose her as the 2013 StorySave teller (  SC  - CC records one Canadian storyteller each year to preserve his/her unique voice and repertoire for Canada’s oral heritage. Jennie launched her 3-CD StorySave set Across 5000 Years: Stories from Ancient Greece and Modern Literature in Ottawa in July, 2013, and will launch it in Edmonton on November 22, 2013, 7:00 p.m. at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

David MensinkDavid Mensink, ’82 MEd, ’87 PhD, wrote in, “I have been working as a psychologist at Dalhousie University since finishing my Post Doctoral Fellowship at the Developmental Disabilities Center, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta.  I have been counseling individuals, couples, and groups at the Counseling Center, Dalhousie University.  I am fortunate for learning from such gifted and talented professors in the Department of Educational Psychology from 1978 to 1988.  These U of A professors instilled a passion for learning and teaching and counseling in a broad spectrum of disciplinary areas.  Today I am fascinated with interpersonal neurobiology created by Dan Siegel and the practice of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy created by Habib Davenloo.  My background and training has taught me a lot and I continue to learn from my grandson!  Here is a picture of him and me.”

Bridget McAndrews, ’83 BEd, tells us that “It was in April of 1983 that I graduated from the U of A with a B. Ed.  I was hired two months prior to teach at Vanier Community Catholic School, a brand new school opening up in Edson in September.  My first few weeks involved teaching while construction workers finished my classroom.  I am very proud to still be a teacher in this school.  It has been a great place to work, and it is quite interesting now to teach children of students I taught. I enjoy teaching all subject areas.  Being an upper elementary teacher for the majority of those years gifted me with teaching a classroom rather than a subject; however, Math, Language Arts and Religion have been favorites.  Two years ago, I graduated with a Graduate Degree in Religious Education from Newman Theological College and this June, I completed my Masters in Religious Education."

Pamela Currie, ’84 BEd, “I am currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  As I am not active in the classroom one day I decided to downsize my study and I found boxes of books and ESL materials from my education courses at U of A.   I was fortunate enough to be able to donate several boxes of teaching supplies to some of my friends who are volunteer teachers at a few centres for teaching Burmese CHIN refugees and their children.  Some of these centres are sponsored by the UNHCR and others by church groups.  I was pleased that the materials could go to a good cause.  Many of the teachers are expatriates with no teaching experience so any donations are very welcome.

It is very inspiring to listen to these volunteers who teach children who are so grateful for any chance to learn.  It is motivating to see the children attend classes with few supplies in non-air conditioned classrooms.  Many of the groups are quite mixed with children of varying levels of English and skills.  The volunteers work selflessly to make a difference.”

Janet Burke, ’85 BEd , “When asked what inspired me to teach, I would have to say it was books. I read a short story by Somerset Maugham called "The Verger" when I was about twelve. It struck a chord in me and I knew that education and literacy or lack thereof could be life changing.  A well spun tale can take a reader's mind from any background, any socioeconomic level of any age to a new place : a place that may be unreachable in the physical world. I decided that I would be the person to read books  and encourage others to do so.  I have watched my students, listened to them and matched them up with books that I guessed they might like. When a young 'non-reader' told me that he had stayed up all night to finish a book, I knew I was on the right track!”

J. Kevin Leeman, ’85 BEd, “Hello fellow U of A  BEd alumni! I graduated from the U of A  in 1985 from secondary education with a major in History/Geography and Physical Education. My how the time has flown.  Over the course of my 28 year career I have had a number of teaching experiences but the focus of my career has always been physical education. I have gained additional qualifications in special ed behaviour as well as qualifications in guidance counselling. I have expanded my teaching to involve upper elementary in addition to my high school qualification.My career has never been boring. My wife and I ( who is a Queens' BEd recipient) have both taught in private schools as well as in the Ottawa Catholic school board . We have taught internationally with stops in Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Presently we are teaching within the Saudi Aramco Oil Company school system located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

I truly enjoy teaching physical education but when I return to Canada I am hoping that I can eventually get back into teaching and who know maybe I can put my assistant principal qualification to work!!!!

As far as profs I will have to say that I have three that I enjoyed and from whom I learned a lot about myself and my attitude toward the student I have had the pleasure to teach. Drs. Terry Carson, Parsons (education faculty), and Andrea Borys (PE faculty).”

Marie ReedMarie Reed, ’90 BEd, fore graduate Marie Reed, 2013 has been a year of exciting writing accomplishments.  Her debut novel And Not to Yield was released this March by Friesen Press; a biographical fiction that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride to juxtapose the emotions her family experienced, following several tragic events in 2008 .  The story takes the readers on a journey of parallel lives; her husbands’ in heaven and her families’ on earth.

She is an acting member of the Edmonton Writers Group, having recently published the short story "Slowly and Patiently That’s How We Roll" as part of the anthology i>Don’t Chew On The Sharp End of the Pencil prepared by her writing group, available  at; and most recently, her poem On Wings of a Dove which was selected by the Poetry Institute of Canada to be published in the upcoming anthology: By the Cerulean Sea.

Jason Blower, ’00 BEd, graduated with a B of ED degree and continued his education at the Alberta College of Art and Design, B of Des ’08. “Having graduated with an Art major from the U of A, I wanted to make sure that I was qualified to teach Art as a career, so I continued my education at ACAD.  Since graduating I have been busy build a commercial client list, creating works for myself and taking on commissioned work.  I have done a few seminars at schools and working on building a full artist in residence program so that I can work with all education levels in order to inspire some of the younger creative souls to peruse the arts as a viable career. More information can be found on my website

Robert GardenerRobert Gardner, ’00 MEd, ’86 BEd, shares with us that he is currently teaching Social Studies at McNally High School in Edmonton. Co-author of Exploring Nationalism and Exploring Globalization, he is particularly interested in global opportunities available to high school students and serves as Department Head of International Partnerships.

Through the Alberta Teachers Association Gardner has developed a project whereby students from McNally have worked with students from Seinäjoki and Turku, Finland, to raise funds and donate computer equipment and Internet access to students at Kinoni school in rural Uganda. The first three-way communication took place in September this year.

Other partnerships include student exchanges to Miranda de Ebro in Spain and Yantai Middle school in China. The purpose of these partnerships is not simply “educational tourism” but meaningful curriculum related between students and teachers.

Gardner is also intimately involved in a “high school redesign” pilot project that aims to give substance to the goals of Alberta Education’s Inspiring Education. The redesign seeks to tear away the constraints of time and place so that students may learn at “any time, any place, any pace.” If students or teachers are away from their classrooms for days or weeks at a time, could assignments and teacher-student contact continue through internet? Could students choose means other than conventional classroom assignments to demonstrate their learning? One of Gardner’s grade ten students shot a short video about global culture instead of writing an essay in class. She noted the pervasive use of English while in Amsterdam and Helsinki.

Gardner continues to be associated with the Faculty of Education, sometimes being a guest speaker for pre-service classes and frequently engaging in research or writing projects based in Secondary Education. “Although teaching is no doubt more complex and demanding than in past, it is also more interesting and engaging than ever before.”

Nicole BeartNicole Beart, ’02 BEd,  Nicole Beart is the founder of Memory Catcher Inc. (, a boutique production company specializing in personal history and legacy videos. When you see a biography on A & E, or the history channel, that’s what Memory Catcher does for regular people.

After graduating with distinction from the University of Alberta, Nicole taught elementary school for several years with Edmonton Public Schools, before spinal injuries sustained in a car accident required her to reexamine her career path. With a background in the film industry, and a love of meeting new people and learning their stories, Memory Catcher Video Biographies was born in 2010.

Nicole is a member of the Association of Personal Historians, an international organization committed to preserving individuals’ life stories for future generations. Through her work, Nicole focuses on helping both seniors and those with terminal illness capture their stories, and messages for their loved ones, while empowering them to choose the legacy they will leave behind.

Memory Catcher creates professional videos for personal autobiographies and video memoirs, as well as tributes for special events such as milestone birthdays, retirement tributes, wedding and anniversary "Love Stories," and end of life celebrations. They also produce corporate video biographies for websites, fundraising, or staff training that celebrate the story of your successful business or organization.

With a passion for community and an understanding that legacy extends beyond simply the monetary, Nicole is actively involved in Edmonton through her volunteer work with Make A Wish Northern Alberta, and several other organizations. She also recently launched of a non-profit foundation called The Tale Treasury. Inspired by the power of family storytelling, and the benefits for seniors and youth alike, The Tale Treasury is an oral history curriculum which rolled out in local schools in the fall of 2013, with the aim of facilitating meaningful connections between our elders and our youth. She invites any fellow B.Ed. grads interested in implementing The Tale Treasury curriculum in their classrooms to visit for details.

Steven GreenSteven Greene, ’06 BEd, tells us that after he graduated he wasn't sure what he wanted to do or where he wanted to teach.   “Instead of going right into my field here in Alberta I moved to Taiwan and worked for six months as an English Teacher. I followed my heart and the love of my life back to Edmonton and looked for work. I was picked up right away by a very small school in Southeast Alberta called Altario. This k-12 school of 64 students was such a fantastic, albeit short, experience for me. I left after two years equipped with the Edwin Parr Award and a much more desirable resume. It still took another six to ten months to be noticed by Edmonton Public Schools. I spent six months of that time teaching Adults GED preparation. Finally, though I started work at Westlawn Jr. High in Edmonton, and I have since then become the curriculum coordinator at Westlawn teaching a fantastic group of adolescents strategies for becoming lifelong successful and productive learners.

I am currently working on balancing a number of important life roles. My work, of course, but I am also raising two ten month old boys with my wife, and I am working on my Master's of Business Administration at the University of Alberta.

In the six years since I graduated I have always kept myself open to the experiences that have presented themselves. I didn't wait for a dream job, or the perfect placement. I took what was offered with gratitude and enthusiastically worked at doing my absolute best in every assignment. I have developed a strength in educational technology that has helped me immensely, but in my current role I am finding that behind the ed. tech. that research based best practices is the necessary tool for becoming a better teacher. People seem to notice whenever I use skype to develop a project, and anybody who is working to improve the academic achievement of FNMI students in Alberta schools will also find an opportunity to do meaningful and important work.

When educators are dedicated to helping students become excited about learning (learning anything), they will get noticed. They will find success, and their students will admire them. It goes back to an often used, but still very relevant, saying that my graduating class had printed on t-shirts, Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire

Lynne Kostiuk, ’11 PhD, ’03 MEd, writes in about her life after graduation. “ Graduate life was full of deadlines, forward thinking & planning, and learning, learning, learning! In these ways, life hasn’t changed much since I completed my Masters or PhD in Counselling Psychology at the University of Alberta. Perhaps where the difference lies is within the scope of my learning. My life is now full of learning how to balance motherhood, my romantic relationship with my husband, our life goals and my business pursuits.

Lynn KostiukMy husband and I were blessed with a daughter, who was born in 2008. Around the same time, we decided to invest our resources, values and energy towards opening up a unique psychological private practice, Aspirations Inc. Aspirations Inc. is located in the heart of Old Strathcona in Edmonton, AB in a romantic century old brick house with an inviting front porch and nestled amongst old picturesque trees. Our values for continuous learning, community investment, and quality client care are woven into every level of our services and operations. We are unique in that we are the only private practice in the city who offers on-site child care services to our clients.  We pride ourselves in offering a quality training program to practicum students and Provisional Registered Psychologists who are interested in delivering therapeutic services within a private practice setting. Our success is largely due to holding true to our values despite the economic world around us and our flexibility with our business model to stay attractive to clinicians and clients alike. In our short 5 years of business, we have already serviced over 2000 clients and continue to build strong relationships in our community.

Personally, I have been honored by the recognition I received from the Worldwide Who’s Who Organization for my role as owner and operator of Aspirations Inc. I have also been successful in having my doctoral dissertation published with Lambert Publishing Company, which is now available for purchase. I have successfully navigated the launching of my daughter into the public school system, as she is attending Kindergarten this year! My family is making renovation plans to our abode, so we can plan for my mother to join our family full time within the next 5 years.

As you can read, my life is still busy with deadlines (although I do get to choose some of them), much forward thinking and planning, and learning, learning, learning! So as many times as I might have complained that I was too busy during my graduate years, I do believe that they prepared me to balance the fast pace of our profession with my many other life pursuits! "

Dawn Deloris Browne-Jackson, '80 BEd, writes in from Trinidad. "Since I graduated I have had a very interesting and enjoyable Iife.  I have taught at many High Schools throughout south Trinidad, part-time at the University of the West Indies (South Campus), and have travelled extensively to the United States, Canada, Curacao, Aruba and to Jamaica.

I have been instrumental in establishing two Kindergarten schools and one Elementary school, have written several articles for an educational magazine, have authored a booklet on Etiquette for Students and have worked as Co-ordinator of a Business Department and now as Head of Department (Business) at a prestigious High School whose students continue to receive scholarships towards University study.

I am able to teach all of the Business subjects, but find myself drawn towards Economic, Entrepreneurship and Law – although we have not yet introduced Law and Entrepreneurship into our Curriculum.

I have a passion for life-long learning and I am now pursuing an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies, having completed Certificate programs in Human Resource Management and Adult Education.

The University of Alberta continues to provide a sterling education for persons in all fields and we were pleased to see the addition of the Faculty of Multi-Disciplinary Studies during our visit to the Campus in 1997.

Thank you for a job well done."

Teachers Inspiring Teachers… We asked-

Tell Us About A Teacher Who Inspired You or What Subject You Are Passionate About Teaching

“My name is Dr. Joanne C. McNeal, M.Ed. UAlberta, 1982. My passion is teaching Art to future teachers, which I am still doing at the U of A. So few student teachers have much art experience, and they really light up when they see how wonderful art can be to themselves and to children. It is both a challenge and a joy to show them how inspirational art can be, teaching other subjects in and through art. I learned this first hand from artists in the Canadian Arctic, which is where I did my doctoral research, for my Ph.D. from UBC. I never tire of passing on this passion and joy.”

--Joanne McNeal, ’82 MEd

“Dr. Dale Bent probably had the most lasting and transforming influence - providing a reading course in  "Systems Theory" that altered my worldview in many ways.  Our company provides process improvement, Lean Manufacturing, and Lean Healthcare training to clients worldwide. These courses ­ in many ways ­ are an embodiment of Systems thinking.  “Systems thinking” also strongly influences my non-fiction and fiction writing (Salvaging Capitalism/Saving Democracy, The Corporation).

The strong statistics background provided in the doctoral program (science education - Drs. Kass, Hakstian, and Hunka) also contributed to my ability to analyse the diverse information that is part of the modern world”.

--Bob Abell, ’83  PhD

“Looking back on my teaching career helps me remember my great teachers.  A favorite was my grade three teacher, Miss Justina Murray.  Miss Murray devoted much of her adult life to caring for her students and her mother.  She helped us to enjoy learning and made it an adventure.  Best of all was her love of Edmonton and Edmonton's history.  Who could ever forget the annual grade three Christmas production of "Christmas in Fort Edmonton".  I  believe it is because of her that I learned to love  teaching Social Studies, love learning history and love reading about history.”

--Wayne Madden, ’74 BEd

“My high school Physical Education teacher inspired me.  Mrs. Wolfgang taught me the joys of Creative Dance and Rhythmical Gymnastics with after-school performance clubs and competitive teams.  After a degree in Physical Education and graduating with a PD/AD, I taught Physical Education; only ending after-school clubs and coaching to raise my three sons.  I am now retired after 30 years and continue competing with my husband in Ballroom Dance.  We train at the Championship level to represent Canada in World competitions for Senior III Standard and Latin categories.  Thanks Mrs. Wolfgang,  for inspiring my career and this competitive dance passion.”

--Betty Susan Dickie (Rutter), ’76 BEd

“I wanted to become a zoologist, and started off in Science, but when I met my future husband I wondered what I would do with a zoology degree in small town rural Alberta.  I switched into education in my second year and never regretted it.   I taught Junior High science for 27 years. My inspiration to become a teacher was my grade three teacher, Miss Lolo Mabey. My father died that year and she was so loving and kind. I now still sub throughout the Public and Catholic schools in the area and enjoy seeing the children grow up and graduate.”

--Erika Foley (Foerger), ’73 BEd

“My passion for Social Studies had its genesis in personal reflections on rule of justice, global citizenship, intertwined humanity, empathy for the ‘wretched of the earth’ – untouchables, blacks and indigenous peoples.  Trained in the pedagogy of Western humanism, and humanistic education, my heart couldn’t rest until I taught students to think critically. My enthusiasm as a social Studies specialist blossomed when we raised issues of peace, just society, and world as one-tribe. Under my guidance a U.N. club was formed, and it galvanized students for social action.  The pursuit of this passion turned me into a philosopher in mature years.”

--Prem Kalia, ’64 BEd

“Based on my 44 years of teaching experience, I am passionate about teaching Cree Language Immersion to young Indigenous youth. It’s intended to empower them to be the best they can be; it is to help elevate the consciousness among Indigenous youth regarding the sacredness of the Cree language and how it can help enrich and sustain self-identity. Twenty-first century Indigenous education must realize and seriously address the lost tremendous potential in Indigenous youth; we as educators must act upon doing something relevant to resurrect Indigenous youth construct of self-identity.

Cree Language Immersion philosophy is to help create Cree speakers live the language; it is a living language, while we still have speakers left. The philosophy embraces the concept that Cree language is an endangered language.

The work is urgent, collectively, we, as leaders, must work immediately within a five-year window, to turn the tide of language decline so that Cree language becomes a vibrant component of everyday life in Cree language communities.

Immersion is to adopt a format that can justify a program of teaching that would be an end result of rescuing a near lost language of a given area. A qualifying statement towards languages is once a language has a community retention of less that 5%, the language can be considered a dead language; once the Elders are gone  so is the 5% retention. The make-up of a community generally is rated on a 5% Elders base, the keepers of the language, in western ideology reference is given as co-localism `` based on local dialect``.”

--Marjorie Dressyman-Lavallee, ’78 BEd, ’96 MEd, ’06 PhD