Class Notes Fall 2021

And the winners are...

Here are the names of all three winners of our Teachers—Everyday Heroes Contest, which was open to all Education alumni working in Alberta K-12 classrooms, in recognition of the tremendous resilience, adaptation and creativity teachers have shown during the pandemic.

  • First Prize (​​$125 Audreys Books gift card and Faculty of Education swag): Margaret Currie - Edmonton
  • Second Prize ($75 Audreys Books gift card): Amber McGinn - Barrhead
  • Third Prize ($50 Audreys Books gift card): Kira Romans - St. Albert

Thanks to all the everyday heroes who stayed in touch and entered!

Some thoughts on supporting learners from diverse backgrounds

Melissa MaduroIn response to our question about how Education alumni are supporting diverse learners in their classrooms, educator Melissa Maduro (‘10 BEd) had this to say:

“Given the ever-increasing population of families immigrating to Canada, the voices and faces of our classrooms are very diverse. In our efforts to teach not only with equity and cultural sensitivity, but also with empathy and inclusion, there are many ways educators can ensure every student feels welcome.

“A few examples: When teaching English Language Arts, I choose different genres of texts written by authors of many different cultural backgrounds. I have a calendar in my classroom that includes celebrations and events of the many cultures of the world. Social studies includes current events from around the globe. In addition, a clear understanding of the needs of English Language Learners is paramount in order to support their social and academic needs.

“Our classrooms are diverse communities within themselves. The more educators acknowledge and celebrate this diversity, the greater the success students will experience in their education journey.”

Welcome, new Education alumni!

Class Notes is proud to share stories of three people who recently joined the ranks of U of A Education alumni—a BEd graduate, a PhD graduate, and an MD who just added an MEd to her list of credentials.

Alicia CardinalAlicia Cardinal (‘21 BEd): Alicia not only knew from an early age that she wanted to become a teacher, but knew where she would go to school for education degree. Her father, a U of A education alumnus, teacher and principal, would bring her to North Campus as a small child to show her the buildings where she would go to class and study. Mental health struggles and the tragic loss of her father just as she was about to start university put her aspirations in doubt, but Alicia credits the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) with providing her the support she needed to thrive in a post-secondary setting and complete her bachelor of education. Upon graduating in spring of 2021, she accepted a teaching position in the hamlet of Little Buffalo in northern Alberta but after gaining some classroom experience, she hopes to return to university to pursue graduate studies. Read more of Alicia’s story.

Michelle LavoieMichelle Lavoie (‘21 PhD): Upon completing her MFA in printmaking at the U of A, Michelle found herself interacting with trans and non-binary young adults in various capacities as a studio art instructor, artist-in-residence at Camp fYrefly and community arts program coordinator. She noticed a shortage of adult education research to support these young people, who don’t always feel safe or fully included in formal educational environments. Her graduate work in Educational Policy Studies used the methodology of visual narrative inquiry, which involved inviting participants to work alongside her in a series of printmaking workshops. The resulting images formed the basis for poems, short stories and even a play that reflected on participants’ stories of experience. Michelle says she was able to translate this co-creation into a series of journal submissions focusing on the possibilities of artmaking in narrative inquiry to create spaces of participant engagement; developing relational research by learning alongside participants; and how trans and non-binary young adults use artmaking, storytelling, and counterstories to make space for themselves and build communities of difference. Michelle’s research earned her the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for highest academic achievement at the graduate level, one of the most prestigious academic awards a Canadian student can receive. Read more of Michelle’s story.

Lillian Au (‘21 MEd): When Lillian Au, ’91 BSc, ’95 MD, ’21 MEd, walks across the virtual stage this week to accept her master’s in health sciences education (MHSE), it will be her third degree from the University of Alberta. This has been her academic home since the late 1980s, the place where she completed her Bachelor of Science, her MD, and her residency training in family medicine. It’s also where she works as a faculty advisor and undergraduate program director in the Department of Family Medicine and, as of August, the director for longitudinal themes for the MD program, a newly redefined role in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “I saw [the MEd program] as an opportunity to be a better educator, to do my job to its full potential,” Lillian said. “It’s a complex role and I don’t know if I’ll ever do it justice, but this will help me provide a better education for our future physicians... I use the things I learned in my master’s program every day.” Read more of Lillian’s story.

Feature image: Lillian Au ('91 BSc, '95 MD, '21 MEd)