Spring 2013 | Class Notes

Jeannine Abrams, BEd ’09. Jeannine graduated with her Bed degree in 2009 and was able to secure a FT job with the Evergreen Catholic School Division within 9 months of graduating. “They offered me a permanent position the following year and that’s where it started 4 years earlier. I have taught grade 1 my first interim year and then was offered permanent in grade 2 for the past 3 years (with the exception of 10 months maternity leave that I just returned from in January). Love my school, staff, classroom and students and feel very fortunate to be in this position!”Jeannine Abrams

Sylvia Malo, ' 86 BEd, '10 MEd “As an '86 BEd graduate, I have been working in the East Central and Northeast Central portion of our province for the past 27 years. I have taught Grades 1-9 and over the past 12 years my subject area specialty has shifted from Language Arts to Mathematics.

My current position is that of Math Coordinator/Consultant for the Learning Network (East Central Consortium). My role involves assisting teachers' awareness of current math research, curriculum, and instructional changes within mathematics for the purpose of improving mathematics instruction that promotes student learning of mathematics conceptually, rather than through rote learning. I also work in connection with the Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia (ARPDC) to help coordinate professional development opportunities for K-12 math teachers, administrators and curriculum leaders under that same context.

I was very disappointed to see that the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) project funding in our province has been eliminated, as this program was the catalyst that sparked an awareness and personal interest in mathematics that ultimately resulted in my going back to the U. of A. for a MEd (2010) in Elementary Mathematics. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been able study within the faculty of Elementary Education at the U. of A., as well as the ability to choose such a specialized area of study for my Masters Degree.

Since 2010, I have also had the two opportunity to teach EDEL 316 and EDEL 415 as a sessional instructor within the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) offered off-campus through the U. of A., both at Portage College (Lac La Biche & Cold Lake) and most recently at Blue Quills First Nation College in St. Paul. I applaud the U. of A. for continuing to support satellite campus locations such as these that give rural students an opportunity to pursue a post-secondary degree, without having to move to a large urban centre. 

Johanne Berger, '98 Dip(Ed), '05 MEd, “I am a French speaking individual. I was born and grew up in a village of approximately 200 inhabitants, 3 hours east of Quebec city. I am third in a family of seven siblings. I financed my studies with student loans.

I have two years of Biology, a bachelor degree in Chemistry, a certificate to teach at college level, a diploma to teach at the elementary, and a master's degree to teach English as a second language.

I have been teaching overseas, in English, since 2001. I started my international career at Sunway College, Malaysia, where I taught Algebra and Geometry to international students. Then, I went to Kuwait and taught Pre-Algebra, Algebra, pre-calculus and Calculus for one semester.

In February 2003, the war in Iraq broke out and all foreign teachers were evacuated. I finished the school year and completed a new one at an International School in Bahrain. There, I taught English to sixth grade students. I am presently teaching Zoology/Botany, AP Environmental Science and Wildlife Photography at the Karachi American School, Pakistan.

As hobbies, I take care of 45 small birds, take wildlife photographs on school campus, which I use to enrich my classes, and use the rest of my spare time for learning Urdu, Spanish and the accordion.”

Maurice St. Denis, '03 BEd,  tells us that after graduation he spent the next three years teaching high school English Language Arts. “It was during this time I began exploring the different avenues within education.

In 2006, I applied for a position as a Jr/Sr high guidance counsellor at R.F. Staples Secondary School in Westlock. I began pursuing graduate studies in the summer of 2007 and graduated in the Fall of 2009 from the University of Alberta with a Masters in Educational Psychology (School Counselling).

It's been a natural transition moving from teacher to counsellor. I strongly encourage all young educators to explore the different career opportunities within education.”

Adam CavanaughAdam Cavanaugh, '06 BEd (left) “I'm now a Senior Lead Recruiter for the world's largest EPC company, here in Edmonton. I recruit for everything from Professional Engineers to Construction Managers and Planning Specialists. My education in the sciences and my ability to analyze behavior and attitudes has allowed me a very successful career. I may not be a teacher, but I use my education almost every day!"

Janis Irwin, '06 BEd, tells us she finished her B.Ed. in December of 2005.  “Immediately after, I left the big city of Edmonton to take a position teaching mostly senior high social studies at Bawlf School in the not-so-big community of Bawlf, Alberta. I taught there for about 4 and a half years before taking on the position of Vice Principal at Forestburg School in Forestburg, Alberta. In the fall of 2011, I was seconded to Alberta Education, where I’m presently the Senior High Social Studies Curriculum Manager."

"In addition to my work life and my teaching, I have aimed to ensure that I have remained a life-long learner. I have found that life has made what seems to be a circle, and now, ten years or so after entering the U of A as a first-year undergrad, I am back at the University of Alberta, but this time, pursuing my Ph.D. in social studies education through the Department of Secondary Education.

This term, I have had the opportunity to teach EDSE 374, a course for B.Ed. students who are secondary social studies minors. I have gained a great deal from my experiences at the University of Alberta and I continue to do so, and I feel quite fortunate to be in a position to hopefully be creating great experiences for a new generation of students.

Lesley Bajzar, '07 BEd  “I graduated with a BEd from U of A 5 1/2 years ago and immediately started teaching with the Edmonton Public School Board. In September 2008 I was hired as a full time Grade 1-2 Teacher at Calder School. The next year, I taught at Westglen School as a full time Kindergarten teacher and the year after as the afternoon Kindergarten teacher, who also taught Grade 6 social Studies, Balanced Literacy Centres to 18 grade 1 students, and grade 2 Math small group classroom support for 6 students.

I received my permanent contract with EPSB and began to teach at Sherwood School as a full time full-day Kindergarten teacher. The job has been challenging and I really enjoy working with the children in a full-day kindergarten program. The classes are large, at least 25 students each year and many are students that have special programs. The small group of teachers I work with are dedicated to meeting the individual needs of our students' and challenging them to succeed at a rate they can manage. They have been a great resource as I develop as a teacher.

This is also the 4th year I have been the Alberta Teacher Association school representative for my school, and I am beginning to take on some leadership roles at my school, specifically for professional development in a peer sharing network with 7 other school's kindergarten teachers. This year I am mentoring 2 student teachers from U of A for the first time on their 2013 winter term IPT placement and I am thinking it might be time to return to the U of A (part time of course) to complete a master's degree in Education.

I am really interested in how children learn to read and in developing more ways that we, as teachers, can reach the children that struggle with this. I believe that literacy is the best predictor of future success and vow to instill a love of reading in each and every child that crosses my path. My time at U of A and the classes I took there helped me to reach my goal to become a teacher. I think I have the best job in the world.  Everyday I get to look at the eager faces of my students waiting for me to show them the next amazing thing that they are capable of doing.

Thanks - I was able to find my "dream job" right here in Edmonton.

Deanna Iwanicka with her team

Deanna Iwanicka, '07 BEd (above) completed her Ed degree in December 2007. At which time she attended the education career fair at the butterdome and was later called and offered a job in Cold Lake, Ab. A temp position for the final 3 months of school: April- June. Prior to this she had a small contract with parkland, teaching one elementary outdoor class. “In cold lake I was assigned quite the profile- 7,8,9 math and industrial ed, 7 science, 4,5,6 computers.”

Deanna is now the women's hockey coach at NAIT. She started there as a full time coach in July of 2008. “ I enjoy being involved in sport, especially the one I enjoy most. I started playing hockey at age 12, after playing ringette previously. I continued on to play at MacEwan and then at U of A for two years while completing my degree.

I enjoy getting to teach and build relationship with people. To work towards a common goal together and enjoy the results. Currently I'm enrolled in my masters at U of A as well.”

Justin HawkinsJustin Hawkins, ’07 BEd  Since graduating from the University of Alberta Justin moved back to his home province of British Columbia.  Within a month of graduation he had employment teaching in School District No. 57 Prince George, his hometown of Mackenzie. 

“I spent a very short period of time on the teacher on call list before I received my first contract with become a continuing contract fresh out of University.  I taught in Mackenzie from February 2007 until June of 2009 teaching Social Studies and Physical Education. That summer in 2009, I got married, quit my job, and moved to Victoria on unemployment so she could pursue her education to become a Registered Nurse. 

It will always be home.

Again I returned to the school I left, but teaching English, Physical Education, Visual Arts Media, and a Career and Planning class this time around.  It was this past summer in 2012 that I was presented with an amazing opportunity.  I was offered the position of Principal of the high school I was teaching at.  I accepted, and since August 2012 I have been the principal of Mackenzie Secondary School. 

The same school I graduated from, started my teaching career at, and returned to after leaving. 

To my knowledge I am the youngest Principal in my District, and one of the youngest in the province of British Columbia.  It has been a bit of a ride going from being on unemployment in Victoria in September of 2009, to Principal of the school I graduated from in August of 2012.  I am grateful for all that has happened, and thankful to the U of A for preparing me to reach the point I am at.  I am not sure what the future holds, but I am excited to see what it brings!

Thank-you for the opportunity to share my story.

Roopa Patel, '07 BEd, completed her degree in 2007 prior to which she was working as a pastry chef.  “The chef's career had provided me with the opportunity to travel and work in Europe,Asia,the Middle East, and more recently in North America. Trades are offered to students in high school as options,which was a perfect fit for me allowing me to share my hands on skills with youth.Acquiring a BEd from the U of A has allowed me the opportunity to share my knowledge in the trades with students in the Calgary Board of Education. Students here are very fortunate to have such great opportunities!”

Laina BalserLaina Balser, '09 BEd (above), graduated in 2009 with her secondary education degree with a major in Spanish and a minor in English Language Arts.

Following graduation she was accepted as an auxiliar de conversacion for the Spanish government.

“I lived in a rural town about 4 hours south of Madrid. There I taught English to children ages 3 to 12 through their physical education and art classes. It was very different from what I had expected -- I didn't think I would be working with such young children, especially since mandatory schooling in Spain begins at age 3.

However, the experience was invaluable because when I came back to Edmonton in 2010, I was hired to teach at Escuela Mill Creek in the Spanish bilingual program for Edmonton Public schools. I love having the opportunity to speak in my second language all day. I teach Math, Health, Art, Phys Ed and Spanish Language Arts in the morning in Spanish and all other subjects in English in the afternoon.

Last summer I received a bursary from Alberta Education and the Government of Spain to return to Spain for the month of July and study with other bilingual teachers from all around the world at the University of Salamanca. While there, I not only improved my language skills, I also took the opportunity to begin learning Flamenco dance, an activity I am very excited to share with my students for our annual Fiesta dance at the end of May.” Olé Laina!

“They offered me a permanent position the following year and that’s where it started 4 years earlier. I have taught grade 1 my first interim year and then was offered permanent in grade 2 for the past 3 years (with the exception of 10 months maternity leave that I just returned from in January). Love my school, staff, classroom and students and feel very fortunate to be in this position!”

Phillip Ferzli, '09 BEd  “Hello Fellow Educators!  Over the last four years I have had the privilege to be a part of an educational reform within the public education of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has attempted to improve the level of teaching in Math, Science and English and I have been a part of the reform by teaching English in the public high schools.  ADEC has implemented several sweeping changes to the public schools, including the curriculum and the educational focus; all with the hope of become a world leader in education. 

While this is a daunting task ADEC has implemented strong educational practices and student centered learning as its focal points for change.  The first of these changes saw thousands of native English speaking teachers recruited to Abu Dhabi and asked to deliver a project based student-centered curriculum to non native speakers of English.  While this project would be difficult for native speakers of English to handle the challenge were put forth for non-native speakers and myself.

Within this educational reform I have been responsible for teaching English and I have done this in three different Abu Dhabi high schools: Khalifa Bin Zayed Secondary School, Mohammad Bin Khalid Secondary School and currently at Abu Dhabi Secondary School.  Some of my contributions to the school include: teaching and coordinating grades ten through twelve, coaching soccer and cross country, school photographer and I have also organized a games clubs.  I also helped create an environment that the public schools had not seen before.  In the past, student centered learning and differentiation were seldom used in the public schools so I have been contributing to a whole paradigm shift in the last four years.

The last four years has shaped my profession as an educator as I’m a product of my environment.  As a result I have learned three main things: strong classroom management, differentiation and strong organizational skills.  I have developed great classroom management skills as I implement a firm but fair structure in my classroom. I believe in student accountability and I’m a strong advocator of academic integrity.  So, for the last four years I have shaped my classroom management skills. I have also become extremely confident in using differentiation in almost all of my lessons as I have had to teach a number of students with a wide range of English ability.  While I used to be intimidated by differentiating lessons it has become second nature to tailor the activity to meet the student’s needs.”

Ashley Karman-Tisdale

Ashley Karman-Tisdale, '09 BEd (above).  Ashley writes in that she graduated from the University of Alberta in December 2009 with her degree in elementary education (social studies minor).

“I am currently living in Okinawa, Japan where I work for the U.S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS). The cultural differences are quite extreme whether it is working with students who do not raise their hands to answer questions (in Japanese culture it is considered rude and a form of "bragging" to volunteer an answer) or colleagues who do not offer their honest opinions about something (in Japanese culture there is are 2 "faces" people wear: honne, which are their true feelings and tatemae are the feelings their display in public).

Although it was frustrating, I have learned to incorporate different strategies for dealing with my frustrations and, luckily, have even come to view their culture as my norm.

During my time in Japan, I have continued to grow and build upon the foundation established at the U of A and I completed my Master's of Science in Education (reading and mathematics specialization) in December 2012. While I would like to continue to stay in Okinawa, my time here has, sadly, come to an end. I am departing for the state of North Carolina in April where I hope to obtain a full-time elementary position.”

Kieran Block

Kieran Block, '10 BEd (above) “Since I graduated from the Faculty of Education in the spring of 2010 I have been very busy. After graduation I was fortunate enough to get a position at the school I did my APT, I was an academic advisor for a hockey academy at St. Francis Xavier High School. I had a short stint there and the following September I began as a supply teacher with the Edmonton Catholic School District.

I also started playing a new sport – Sledge Hockey - and along with starting my new career I was looking to embark on a new sports career. I had played with the University of Alberta Golden Bears varsity hockey team until I had a career ending accident after my first year…or so I thought it was career ending.

In February I was given the same job with the hockey academy at FX, and was beginning the process towards making the National Sledge hockey team.  It is a paralympic sport and the team will be competing in the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. I trained hard that summer and committed myself to my new goal of making the team and did the following September. Since then I have been competing with Team Canada’s National Sledge Hockey team, while maintaining a job in Edmonton as a supply teacher.

I also started with a motivational speaking group called the Esteem Team, sharing my story of overcoming adversity. I have been traveling for sledge hockey competing in tournaments all over the world. Some of the places I have traveled to include Nagano Japan, Hamar Norway, Stockholm Sweden, and all across Canada. This April I will be competing in a World Championship in Goyang South Korea from the 12-20. I will continue to play with the team indefinitely, as I have the ability as a supply teacher to take the time off necessary to travel, and I have recently bought a Condo in Edmonton and am settling into my new life.

Follow me on Twitter @kieranhc23 for news and updates

Clay Creasy, '10 BEd, '10BSc "I am a combined Science and Education graduate from 2010. I am currently teaching my first semester at Hughenden Public School in Buffalo Trails Public School District.

I am also currently working on continuing my career as a professional rodeo competitor.  I grew up on a family farm, which I have since moved a home onto to work from. I have rodeoed since I was 12, and was a five time college rodeo during my time spent at the University of Alberta. I've competed at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in the Saddle Bronc Riding, which is my main event that I compete in. I am preparing to compete professionally again for the upcoming season while working at Hughenden Public School at the High School Math teacher. 

I enjoy staying involved in the University community as an alumnus of FarmHouse Fraternity just off campus. 

Kylie Balfour, '11 BEd Since graduating from the Faculty of Education in the spring of 2011, Kylie has returned to her home town of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.For the past two years she has been teaching grades 5 and 6.

“Although the Saskatchewan teachers federation and Lloydminster public school division is awesome to be a part of, it is my hopes to return to Edmonton this fall and hopefully find a job in or around the city with my two years of experience.”

Bianca Bertolin, '11 BEd Bianca tells us that “upon graduating from the U of A combined BPE/BEd degree in April 2011 I accepted a full time assignment in Three Hills, AB teaching grades 1-9 in a variety of subject areas but primarily focused around Physical Education. One project from my Social Studies 7 class which involved student made "Fakebook Pages" for explorers was showcased across the district for integrating assessment for learning and technology.

When my contract ended in June I interviewed with Edmonton Public Schools. Over the summer I toyed with the idea of teaching abroad before I got on with a big urban district like EPSB. By the time hiring rolled around at the end of August I had made my decision to opt for the supply list instead and aim to be working abroad for early 2013.

Since supply teaching in the fall I have relocated to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to work at a Private Language institute teaching English on a one year contract. Now that I am in Asia I hope to make contacts in some International Schools so I can have that experience as well.

Carly BarichCarly Barich, '11 BEd  (above) After graduating from the U of A with her BEd degree Carly moved to Calgary and found her career path working in social media for a small marketing firm. She now assists with seminars and training sessions instructing adults (primarily business owners) on how to leverage Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, and more to increase their brands online exposure and further connect with their customers.

Apryl (Hewlett) Evans-Bill, '11 BEd  Apryl tells us, “Last year I started to build my resume. I sent it out to all school boards beginning in January, and then constantly, annoyingly, sent out updates as I had them. The recruiter from Lakeland Catholic School District said that it was my constant updating that helped her recognize my name when it came to filling a music position. It really was a dream position for my first year out of University. I was teaching my major and minor, full time, from grades 5-10, with no other random subjects thrown in. Essentially, my comfort zone.

I immediately started subbing in Bonnyville with Lakeland Catholic in May and June, taking over classes for the teacher who was leaving for Maternity early. I was given the temporary contract to teach the entire year that fall, and moved to Bonnyville that summer. It was terrifying. I had only ever lived in Edmonton, I had never driven on the highway, and I was leaving the final wedding preparations in the hands of my fiancé who needed to stay in Edmonton for his work.

Carefully plotting, I reserved my two personal days with the district to bracket the weekend I would be married in May. As the date to my wedding drew closer, I was driving in to Edmonton more and more weekends. I updated my file with Edmonton Public and was called in for an interview. So many great things were happening at once! On the last day of school, I was offered an interview with a principal in Edmonton. It wasn't full time, but it would be a probationary contract, and all music all the time. I was also offered another probationary contract teaching high school English with Lakeland College. It was great to feel wanted. In the interest of my new marriage and our future, I accepted the job in Edmonton where I have been teaching ever since.

It's a tough crowd some days. K-9 music makes me feel sometimes like I have a split personality - teaching music appreciation and playing games with the little ones to some serious practice in the upper grades and mountains of apathy in the middle years. Nothing worth doing was ever easy. I have known since I was very young that I belonged in a classroom, and I'm grateful every day that I have a job.

At present, my continuous employment has allowed me to purchase a house, and things are looking good for next year to work towards a full 1.0FTE on my probationary contract. Following through on some crazy dream, I'm still pursuing higher education learning a new language during night courses and signing up for Open Studies in the summer. Always a learner, only recently a teacher, my B.Ed degree was the best investment I've ever made in myself.”

Bessie Vrom Ellis, '71 MEd  “Attending the University of Alberta, School of Graduate Studies had a profound effect on my life.   Graduating with a Master of Education Degree in Elementary Education (1971) with specialization in the teaching of reading, broadened my horizons and enhanced my teaching experience.

Upon retiring from teaching, the skills developed while writing my thesis enabled me to write a series of books on the social history of southwestern Alberta.   My books to date are:  The Vrooms of the Foothills:  Volume 1, Adventures of My Childhood (Trafford, 2006); Volume 2, Cowboys and Homesteaders, Trafford, 2008; Volume 3, When the Work’s All Done This Fall, (Trafford, 2011); and Volume 4, Ranching, the Real West (FriesenPress, 2013).”  Bessie has included photos from the collections of descendants of early settlers and homesteaders of SW Alberta ranging from the years 1840 to 1940.

Tanice JolyTanice Joly, '12 BEd "HI, I decided to go back to school at 34 years old.  I was fortunate to enroll in a college that had u of a transferable courses and complete 20 courses in one year in order to apply to the atep program through the U Of A.  During this time I had numerous obstacles in my way becoming a single mother of four, and running a dog grooming business to help with everyday life costs, but one thing that was very supportive and kept me getting up each morning was that I was part of a university program that I truly enjoyed and knew would keep me running on the right track."

"I graduated June 2012 and have obtained a full time position as a grade one teacher near my home town.  I am very proud of myself for accomplishing my goals and proud to have been a part of the University of Alberta."

Brent D. Bradford, ‘00 BEd, ‘08 DipEd, ‘10 MEd, PhD Candidate (present), taught elementary and junior high school with Edmonton Catholic Schools during the 1999/00 – 2008/09 school years. As a school teacher, he was recognized for his teaching in Physical and Health Education (e.g., ’01 HPEC Letter of Commendation; ’03 CAHPERD Young Professional Award). In 2003, Brent was one of three Alberta teachers to be selected by Health Canada and Ever Active Schools to develop and teach the “Motivators in Motion” Program. In 2009, he returned to the University of Alberta to pursue graduate work and to teach higher education. In 2011, Brent was recognized as an award-winning Teacher Educator at the University of Alberta. In addition to his life in education, the former Golden Bear hockey goaltender (‘99 CIAU Championship Team) owns and operates two businesses in Western Canada (Bradford’s Goal Academy: www.BradfordsAcademy.com & FITIVITY: www.FITIVITY.com. In 2010, Brent co-authored a Hockey Resource Book called Goaltenders are not Targets: www.GoaliesAreNotTargets.com. The book has sold consistently throughout Canada and internationally (e.g., Australia, Japan, Russia, USA). “I owe much to the University of Alberta and to my professors who supported me along the way! It is those professors who truly took the time to get to know me who are the ones that filled me with inspiration!”