A passionate educator whose award-winning research into improving language and literacy learning for culturally diverse students was rooted in her experiences teaching in First Nations schools, Dr. Lynne Wiltse retired from the Faculty of Education on June 30. Wiltse completed her MEd (1995) and PhD (2004) at the U of A and taught at Thompson Rivers University before joining the Faculty as associate professor in 2009. She was promoted to full professor in 2020.
Dr. Jerine Pegg, professor and former Chair of Elementary Education, says Wiltse’s love of learning and commitment to creating equitable classrooms for all learners inspired students and colleagues alike.
“Dr. Wiltse’s entire career has been devoted to improving education for all students. Her scholarship and teaching are driven by a desire to ensure that teachers are well-prepared to support the diverse students in their classrooms and a belief that education can and should play a role in creating more equitable and just societies,” Pegg says.
“Dr. Wiltse’s career contributions have had significant positive impacts on the elementary students she has taught, the preservice and in-service teachers she has inspired, the colleagues she has supported, and the literacy education community that has benefitted from her research.
“Although we will miss Lynne’s laugh echoing down the hallways, her inspiring classes and workshops, and the caring way she supported all members of the Faculty of Education, we are happy to congratulate her on a successful and impactful career, and wish her all the best in her retirement.”
Award-winning research and teaching
Recognition for Wiltse’s scholarly works extends back to her graduate studies, including the 2005 International Qualitative Dissertation Award for her dissertation “This is Me in Grade 9, Baby”: Social Relations, Discourse Practices and Identity Positions. Her SSHRC Standard Research Project, Creating Third Spaces for Minority Language Learners in a School-University-Community Research Collaboration, which examined ways to merge the out-of-school literacy resources of Aboriginal students with the school literacy practices to improve content area literacy, won the 2013 ATA Educational Research Award. In the same year, she received a Research Fellowship from the Canadian Centre for Research on Literacy. Her paper Not just ‘sunny days’: Aboriginal students connect out-of-school literacy resources with school literacy practices, published in the international journal Literacy, won the prestigious UKLA/Wiley-Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Award in 2016.
Wiltse’s teaching has been recognized with the Faculty of Education Undergraduate Teaching Award (2017) and the Teaching Excellence Award at Thompson Rivers University (2007). Professor of elementary education Dr. Linda Laidlaw says students and peers know first-hand that Wiltse’s accolades are well-deserved.
“Dr. Lynne Wiltse is deeply valued as a supportive and engaged colleague, and who stands out for her contributions to teaching and research in literacy and children’s literature as well as her willingness to participate in administrative roles and faculty committees,” Laidlaw says. “Her support for undergraduate students has been acknowledged through the Undergraduate Teaching Award, and she has been a strong mentor to graduate students and sessional instructors. As her students have stated, ‘Lynne is a fantastic and passionate educator.’ She has also been a fantastic colleague and we hope that she will continue to keep in contact as she pursues further interests through retirement.”
Leading with heart
Communications associate Kateryna Barnes recalls how Wiltse’s kindness extended beyond her professional commitments.
“Lynne Wiltse always led with heart and care with everyone and on every project, and outside of work. It was Lynne who delivered groceries when my household was in a two-week quarantine, saving us from a giant UberEats bill,” Barnes says. “Congratulations on your retirement, and best wishes on this adventure.”
Elementary education professor Dr. Jennifer Branch-Mueller echoes the sentiment. “Lynne’s laugh, hugs and love for teaching are legendary,” Branch-Mueller says. “She is the kindest person I know and she will be missed.”
Feature image provided by Kateryna Barnes.