Class Notes | Fall 2014

Gwen Molnar, BEd ’49, has enjoyed exceptional success in recent years with the publication of several works of poetry for children, teen mysteries and, most recently, a book about Edmonton history.

Published in October 2014, At Home in Old Strathcona (Dempster + Craig Books) is an account of her family's 120-year history of living in and helping to create Edmonton's Strathcona district. This family memoir was preceded by Just Because: A collection of light verse and nonsense (2012), Hate Cell: A Casey Templeton Mystery (2009), and its follow-up mystery, Old Bones (2014), both published by Dundurn Press. A picture book, Hazel’s Rainbow Ride, illustrated by Barbara Hartmann, was published by Dempster + Craig Books in 2013. Copies of Gwen’s books are available at Audreys Books in Edmonton.

Sidney Rodnusnsky, BEd ’66, sent us this update: “I am nearing the half-century mark since I graduated. In the interim, I completed five more degrees and a fair amount of additional coursework. I am teaching a combined Grade 5- 9 classroom in an isolated fly-in community in the Northwest Territories. I am also the principal. Snow fell today (September 5), and we are getting ready for another long winter. It is better than the forest fires of last spring and summer.”

“I enjoy teaching just as much as when I started. It is nice to be with children. They are still much the same, although iPods seem to have replaced hula hoops and marbles. Otherwise, much seems to have remained the same—although teaching techniques seem to have been relabelled as new “21st century thinking” instead of new “20th century thinking.”

Ed FergussonEd Fergusson, BEd ’68, also has a C.T. (Carpentry), is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialiimgst (CSCS), and a Level 3 Canadian Weightlifting Coach. After obtaining his BEd in May 1968, Ed taught in several Edmonton high schools, including Victoria Vocational High School (1963-67), Eastglen Composite High School (1968-70 and 1978-85), M.E. LaZerte Composite High School (1970-77 and 1985-95), and the Kennedale School in the Edmonton Young Offender Centre from 1995 to 2000.

He moved to Parksville, B.C. and still coaches weightlifting at four different facilities in the area. Says Ed, “I currently hold the Canadian record for men [ages] 75-79, 94 kg category in Masters Weightlifting and plan to increase the Canadian record for men [ages] 80-85 in the 85 kg category in February in Port Alberni, B.C. as I turn 80 in 2015. I still love teaching and teach a special class about every two weeks on weightlifting technique.”After retiring in 2000 at age 65, Ed continued doing small carpentry jobs and coaching weightlifting while setting up the equipment for the World Masters Weightlifting with the aid of ex-student Kevin Zimmerman, who took over his club in Edmonton (now located in the O’Leary Fitness Centre). Ed also competed in weightlifting at the World Masters Championships and won a bronze medal.

After spending five years working with students in the upper elementary grade levels, Elizabeth Cabezas, BEd ’77, enjoyed being back working with primary school-aged students during the last school year. “I continue to work with Grade 2 and 3 students who are struggling with reading, but it is very rewarding to see them progress and to see some children with enough growth in their skill levels that they can manage in their classrooms without the extra instruction.”

Evelyn KeithRecently retired and now living in Vancouver, Evelyn Keith (Deys), BEd ’79, traveled to Burundi, Africa, last winter with her husband Rod Keith, where they volunteered at Burundi English School (BES). Supported by Edmonton-area teachers and schools, this private school follows the Alberta curriculum. The local teachers at BES have had no formal teacher training, and Evelyn and Rod spent 10 weeks lesson planning, unit planning, modeling best practices, organizing professional development opportunities, and just being “native English speakers.” Evelyn describes the experience of working with this group of teachers and students in one of the world’s poorest nations as “life-changing.”

Gertjan Zwiggelaar, BEd ’82, began teaching secondary fine arts in 1978. While working as a teacher, he also wrote plays and painted. One of his plays won a literary award from the Edmonton Journal in 1982.

Gertjan left teaching in 2001 to pursue artistic endeavours. His first novel, A Pirate's Tale, was published in 2008 and found its way into the Rutherford Library. In 2009, his second novel, Into the Game, was published. Gertjan describes it as “a cyber-fi set in Red Deer”—“cyber-fi” being a term he coined for fantasy fiction concerning computer games. Last November, his science adventure novel, A Journey to the Underside, was published. The novel begins in Edmonton and the University of Alberta.

This past February, Gertjan’s horror pirate novel, Marty & Me, was published. He is presently working on finalizing the first book he ever wrote, which he describes as “so large, I've been holding this one back.” Says Gertjan, “Life is interesting when one knows how to read, write and think. I learned some of that at the University of Alberta and am always grateful for having [completed] one of my degrees there.”

Lorelei LoveridgeCurrently a life, leadership and business coach with her own practice, Lorelei Loveridge, BEd ’90, teaches high school English in Manchester, England. Prior to that, she spent two years teaching personal, social and health education (PSHE), service learning and leadership to expats and members of the royal family at Qatar Academy (QA), Qatar Foundation (the highest ranking school in Qatar). Lorelei was sponsored by QA to undertake her second Master’s degree, now underway, in IT/multi-disciplinary studies for educators from the State University of New York.

She is also completing her Master’s degree in arts and cultural management with the University of South Australia while penning a memoir about her life, teaching career and adventures in the Middle East. In 2013, Lorelei produced the Chorlton Coffee Festival in Manchester—one of a handful of coffee festivals in the world. She also volunteers in suicide prevention. Lorelei can be reached by old friends and enquiring minds at

Margery Barnard, BEd ’92, has had to deal with some challenging health issues recently, but is happy to report she’s doing better now.

She writes, “I'm looking forward to 20 more years and [to] returning to my teaching position next fall. I am so grateful for the medical science, research and technology we have today. The red blood cell disease myelodysplasia was discovered in the 1970s, and it is now known that a stem cell transplant can usually eradicate the high-risk form that I had. The search for a donor … took some time, but those stem cells are raising my blood counts to beyond what they've been for years. I have to admit it feels a bit strange—like ‘is this really my body?’ Anyhow, I'll be glad to be with the students and the variety my job provides for me.”

Jeannie Charrois, BEd ’99, writes, “Back in 1999 there was a demand for online practice exams for students studying for their provincial exams in Alberta. As a teacher at the time with the Alberta Distance Learning Centre, my husband and I created a website that allowed students to study online. It has grown to the point of offering practice exams for students from K-12 based on the provincial curricula in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.”

“We also expanded to offer practice for 17 Red Seal trades and apprenticeship programs. Currently, 85 per cent of Alberta schools use Exambank with their students. Over 3 million practice exams are written each year in Alberta alone.”

Christopher Jackson, MEd ’02, BSc ’77, Dip(Ed) ’75, BEd ’73, writes that since retiring more than 10 years ago, he has completed a Master’s degree in Education and assisted with the Field Experiences program as a University Facilitator—that is, a liaison between the University of Alberta and its school partners. He also recently travelled to the United Kingdom and Tunisia.

Chris will be returning to the U of A and assisting with Education’s Field Experiences program, supporting Education students taking their Introductory Field Experience (IFX) and Advanced Field Experience (AFX) courses. He is also taking the online Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology course.

Randy Williams, J.D. ’02, MEd ’01, BEd ’97 (with Distinction), B.P.E ’91, BA (Special) ’82, BA ’79, is a Canadian recording artist, known as “Geologist”, and the owner of label/publisher Archaeology Communications and Petrified Wood Recording Studios. In September 2014, he released the album Neolithic Nights on iTunes. He produced, mixed, mastered, and performed vocals, keyboard/piano, guitars, bass, and a number of other instruments on the album. Eight of the 12 songs are his original compositions. In Randy’s words, “There are numerous ways to be a teacher.”

From 1998-2012, Randy worked as a teacher on substitute/temporary contracts. In 2013, he became a co-director of a federally incorporated IT company registered in Alberta.

Jennifer Tupper, PhD ’05, BEd ’94, has accepted a one-year term as Acting Dean, Faculty of Education, at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. She has been on faculty since 2004 and served as Associate Dean from 2011 to 2014.

Kris WeeksKhris Weeks, BEd ’06, finished her Education degree through the Adult Education route. Since then she has been teaching adult upgrading classes mainly in English and Social Studies at Grande Prairie Regional College.

“Taking the online program was a blessing to me, as I could complete my degree while still working at my full-time job,” says Khris. “Additionally, I did not have the stress of physically moving to the city while still raising my family. I found the professors to be most helpful, and I am so grateful for their encouragement and assistance while I was a student.”

“My life has had many twists and turns,” says Jasmine Brown, BEd ’07. After graduating in 2007, Jasmine lived in Japan for a year and worked as an English teacher. She then returned to Canada to teach Grade 4 in Edmonton on a temporary contract. Then she took a leap into the world of politics.

Jasmine was hired on by the Prime Minister of Canada’s Office as a special assistant, and later pursued a Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Calgary. Following graduation, she worked for the federal Minister of Finance as his advisor and principal secretary. Jasmine is now a contributor for the Sun News Network and a political consultant.

Jasmine writes, “Through the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Education program, I developed skills in teamwork, communication, leadership, perseverance, and organization. I became assertive and confident. These skills proved essential for every position I took on thereafter and became the base for my successes. I will be forever grateful.”

 Heather LarsonFollowing convocation, Heather Larson, BPE ’07, BEd ’07, spent six months in Australia before accepting a teaching position at an international school in the Philippines. Over the course of two years, she put her physical education (PE) major to good use, teaching the aquatics units for all PE classes from K-12 and coaching competitive swimming (including a new varsity team that she started) every day after school. She also got to use her English minor, teaching Grade 10 English to a diverse group of students.

“After two years of full-time teaching, I decided it was time to be a student again,” writes Heather. “So I applied and was accepted to begin a Master’s degree in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation here at the U of A. I was happy to discover that my Education degree increased my opportunities for teaching assignments at an undergraduate level, and within the first three years of my graduate studies, I was a primary instructor for five semesters (two different courses), and a teaching assistant for three semesters (three different courses).”

Heather looks forward to starting a PhD in sport psychology and continuing to grow as a university instructor. She will also continue to coach competitive swimming and, as always, will enjoy staying active in the pool.

Shannon Hopley, BEd ’10, is “thrilled” to be starting her fifth year teaching junior high French immersion in Stony Plain, Alberta.

Shannon writes, “I’m looking forward to another great year of teaching math, coaching volleyball, and laughing and learning with my fabulous students. I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent my entire career so far in the same, amazing school. I’m also proud to say my first homeroom class is beginning their Grade 12 year! I couldn’t be prouder of the great young people they’re becoming.”

Nick MoskaluSince graduating in 2010, Nick Moskalu, BEd ’10, has been working as a teacher for the Calgary Board of Education both as a physical education specialist and now as a classroom teacher, teaching Grades 2 and 4.

“I am passionate about teaching children about the importance of being a global citizen,” says Nick. “One of the ways I hope to do this is by showing them that anyone can start a movement/cause, so I have started a soccer ball charity [through] which I hope to deliver soccer balls to children who don't have their own ball, both locally and [globally]. One of my goals is to have people bring soccer balls themselves while they travel or volunteer abroad.”

After graduation, Stephanie Boychuk, BEd ’11, moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia. She works as a learning technologies support specialist in the teaching and learning centre at Vancouver Island University and helps support faculty and students in their use of technologies to enhance learning opportunities.

Stephanie writes, “Supporting faculty is very rewarding, as I am not just supporting them, but all of their students as well (indirectly of course). I have also recently taken over the student orientations to our learning management system, which has allowed me to design learning opportunities for students. My Bachelor of Education degree opened the door for me to pursue a position blending technology and teaching, which has encouraged me to continue my learning journey. This year I will be continuing coursework in pursuit of a Master’s of Education.”

Upon graduating from the U of A, Nicholas Valcourt, BEd ’12, wanted to explore the world. He researched opportunities for teaching abroad, as he had heard of many people doing this and loving it. About six months later, he had completed a TESOL course and was teaching English in South Korea.

Nicholas Valcourt“I have been teaching English to students nine to 10 years old for almost two years and have not regretted this decision for a minute,” says Nicholas. “This experience has shaped me as a person and has broadened my perspective on another culture and on a more global scale. Teaching an audience whose primary language is not English is a challenge for any teacher who doesn’t know the native language, and I definitely was not fluent in Korean before coming to Korea! Many educational philosophies, teaching techniques and practices that one would normally apply in a classroom after completing education courses can pretty much be thrown out the window when you are teaching math, science and language arts to students who can’t fully comprehend the words you are saying, let alone what you are teaching. Also, this culture is hugely driven by competition in the adult world, so competition in the classroom is very evident through the children’s behaviour. I will never forget my time here and would recommend this kind of experience to anyone with an interest in teaching.”

Cerina Lee, BEd ’14, is now pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at the U of A, where she is specializing in health promotion and looking at research on play and physical activity in preschool children.

Cerina writes, “My after degree in Secondary Education has been a big stepping stone into my future aspirations of becoming a public health practitioner and advocate. As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ I have always been inspired by those dedicated to teaching and inspiring others through the power of education. I couldn’t be more thankful to the Faculty of Education for creating the mosaic of learning experiences that prepared me for the next step of my academic journey. My incredible professors, thought invoking discussions in class and, of course, my intense field experiences have all become a united stronghold for my passion in chronic disease prevention and education.”

Cerina Lee

Katy Morrie, MLIS ’14, graduated this year with a Master’s of Library and Information Studies degree, and within two months she landed her dream job as the information specialist for a nonprofit organization in Edmonton.

“My work at the Alberta Legal Information Society is a perfect mix of research, information organization, and user experience design,” says Katy. “Our team of seven is working to create a website that will be the first point of access for public legal information in Alberta, a site that will simplify the labyrinth of provincial and federal legal information available online, and will empower Albertans by increasing the accessibility of legal information. We hope to roll out the first phase of the website, which will focus on family law, in early January 2015. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply my new degree on such a worthwhile project.”

Feature image: Shannon Hopley, BEd ’10