Deborah Berrill
Trent University

“In my initial year as an undergraduate I thought Deborah Berrill was superhuman. How could someone be such an incredible human being and such an amazing teacher?” Many scholars have mastered the complex theories of education, but only a few can translate their profound meanings into concrete teaching and learning. Starting with strong theoretical foundations, Deborah still keeps students—as human beings—at the focus of her teaching. For Deborah, teaching means “recognition, legitimization, and valuing of student’s identities,” “a sense of belonging in their communities.”

At Trent University, as Director of Education and Professional Learning, Deborah is in charge of the[...]

“In my initial year as an undergraduate I thought Deborah Berrill was superhuman. How could someone be such an incredible human being and such an amazing teacher?” Many scholars have mastered the complex theories of education, but only a few can translate their profound meanings into concrete teaching and learning. Starting with strong theoretical foundations, Deborah still keeps students—as human beings—at the focus of her teaching. For Deborah, teaching means “recognition, legitimization, and valuing of student’s identities,” “a sense of belonging in their communities.”

At Trent University, as Director of Education and Professional Learning, Deborah is in charge of the overall direction and management of the Bachelor of Education K-12 program. Her responsibilities require not only a comprehensive knowledge of the University’s various faculties, schools, and boards, but also a thorough understanding of the standards and structures of teacher education in Ontario.

A role model, Deborah has been one of the main contributors to the Trent University Interactive Learning Center. She has given more than 50 presentations and workshops on virtually every topic related to teaching and learning. Deborah has won several awards in two different universities. Although it might sound far-fetched, Deborah’s students regularly rate her as almost perfect in their teacher evaluations. “Deborah has shown me how to be kind yet ambitious, how to have fun and be academic. Deborah’s influence on me has demonstrated that the sky is the limit, and that, truly, one teacher can make a difference.”

Robert Burk
Chemistry, Carleton University

“I used to hate Chemistry. Thanks to you, I have not only enjoyed the course, but I learned a lot by understanding, not simply memorizing.”

Robert Burk’s 13 years of teaching expertise has been applied to all levels of Chemistry courses. He has devoted most of his efforts to first year introductory Chemistry—known to students worldwide as “Killer Chem.”

In 1992, Bob began teaching “Killer Chem” on instructional television, Carleton’s cable TV channel. It takes a particular talent to teach an effective Chemistry course in a televised format, and to foster learning for science and non-science students alike. Yet, using[...]

“I used to hate Chemistry. Thanks to you, I have not only enjoyed the course, but I learned a lot by understanding, not simply memorizing.”

Robert Burk’s 13 years of teaching expertise has been applied to all levels of Chemistry courses. He has devoted most of his efforts to first year introductory Chemistry—known to students worldwide as “Killer Chem.”

In 1992, Bob began teaching “Killer Chem” on instructional television, Carleton’s cable TV channel. It takes a particular talent to teach an effective Chemistry course in a televised format, and to foster learning for science and non-science students alike. Yet, using the various technologies, a live lab on-screen, Bob thoroughly engages the hundreds of students in his course. He even allows his Chem 1000 course to be pod-cast, opening his classroom and his teaching to anyone who wants to view it.

His students and colleagues respect him, giving him the praise his teaching and innovative methods deserve. In ten years, Bob has received nine teaching awards. As one of his many students said, “You are the best first year teacher at Carleton.”

Gweneth Doane
Nursing, University of Victoria

“I have never felt so seen, acknowledged, and encouraged. Her exemplary teaching is etched in my memory.” This sense of connection is central to Gweneth Doane’s success as an educator. Students describe her as an exceptional teacher whose “connectedness” to her classes comes from her compassion, communication, and care.

Gweneth’s colleagues are equally impressed by the seamless way she connects research and teaching, especially in the area of ethical practice in nursing. Gweneth’s contributions are more than impressive: co-designing the overall nursing curriculum adopted by ten BC institutions, consulting widely on educational technologies, co-developing interdisciplinary courses, and serving in a[...]

“I have never felt so seen, acknowledged, and encouraged. Her exemplary teaching is etched in my memory.” This sense of connection is central to Gweneth Doane’s success as an educator. Students describe her as an exceptional teacher whose “connectedness” to her classes comes from her compassion, communication, and care.

Gweneth’s colleagues are equally impressed by the seamless way she connects research and teaching, especially in the area of ethical practice in nursing. Gweneth’s contributions are more than impressive: co-designing the overall nursing curriculum adopted by ten BC institutions, consulting widely on educational technologies, co-developing interdisciplinary courses, and serving in a number of administrative positions, including chair of the undergraduate program. A pioneer in the development of distance education, she designed a framework that has been adopted by almost every course offered in the Faculty of Human and Social Development.

No wonder her nominators describe Gweneth as dynamic! She has published and presented nationally and internationally; she helped develop the Family Health Center at her university; she is currently involved in projects on internationalization, graduate supervision, and developing critical thinking in nursing students. An innovative, enthusiastic teacher, role model, nurse, and scholar, Gweneth has won numerous teaching awards, including the University of Victoria’s prestigious Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and the very first national award for excellence in Nursing Education.

It is through teaching, however, that she remains connected—as one of her many student nominators said: “Dr. Doane values the idea that who she is as a teacher is inseparable from who she is in the world.”

Susan Drain
English, Mount Saint Vincent University

“I am a teacher of writing, not because I love red ink, but because I love precision, or the endless struggle to approximate it.”

For Susan Drain,“writing is as important to university study as health is to productive, enjoyable lives.” This passionate, influential professor sees the teaching of writing as the best teaching one can do, and her students and colleagues have recognized her as one of the best in the Atlantic region, honoring her with the Association of Atlantic Universities Instructional Leadership Award.

Susan says her teaching comes down to two central points: helping her students to interpret the[...]

“I am a teacher of writing, not because I love red ink, but because I love precision, or the endless struggle to approximate it.”

For Susan Drain,“writing is as important to university study as health is to productive, enjoyable lives.” This passionate, influential professor sees the teaching of writing as the best teaching one can do, and her students and colleagues have recognized her as one of the best in the Atlantic region, honoring her with the Association of Atlantic Universities Instructional Leadership Award.

Susan says her teaching comes down to two central points: helping her students to interpret the world and to ask “So what?”

Ask “so what?” about Susan’s teaching and leadership, and the answers are clear. Innovative—her students describe in words exhibits in the art gallery so that their peers can identify them on the wall. Inspiring- colleagues from every discipline at Mount Saint Vincent University look to Susan for guidance in writing, assessment, and other aspects of teaching. They attend her frequent brown bag lunch sessions, read her Bright Ideas Bulletin, and look to her as a mentor.

“When I think of Susan,” says her nominator, “I think of her garden. No ready-made dependence on a professional landscaper. Susan works on her hands and knees to prepare the soil and then plans carefully to determine just what blend of textures and colors will bring her creative vision to life.” Her students, like her plants, flourish under her care.

Frédéric Gourdeau
Mathematics and Statistics, Université Laval

Mathematics is often seen as a dry and totally abstract subject. Yet it is through his experiences of international cooperation and community involvement that Professor Frédéric Gourdeau draws his inspiration for teaching mathematics. A concrete example of the humanistic foundation of Professor Gourdeau’s work: he recently launched a Mathematics and Peace discussion group with the aim of making future teachers aware of the possible links between mathematical knowledge and major social and planetary development issues.

Frédéric Gourdeau is a specialist in the didactics of mathematics who works mainly in secondary school bachelor of education programs. This is an absolutely strategic[...]

Mathematics is often seen as a dry and totally abstract subject. Yet it is through his experiences of international cooperation and community involvement that Professor Frédéric Gourdeau draws his inspiration for teaching mathematics. A concrete example of the humanistic foundation of Professor Gourdeau’s work: he recently launched a Mathematics and Peace discussion group with the aim of making future teachers aware of the possible links between mathematical knowledge and major social and planetary development issues.

Frédéric Gourdeau is a specialist in the didactics of mathematics who works mainly in secondary school bachelor of education programs. This is an absolutely strategic field for the future of both national education systems and scientific training. Professor Gourdeau has introduced several innovative pedagogical practices that leave room for a more intuitive and qualitative approach to the language of mathematics, especially in the field of dynamic geometry.

Of course, Frédéric Gourdeau is without a doubt an excellent teacher since he has already won numerous awards both within his own institution and outside the university. However, beyond the quality of this professor’s achievements, what remains most striking about him are the transfers he has been able to make from his approach of reflection in research to concrete applications in his own teaching. We therefore salute the exemplary qualities of this mathematician who will inspire university teachers from all disciplinary backgrounds.

David Kahane
Political Science, University of Alberta

“One of the greatest rewards of teaching and academic leadership is that, building spaces to support my students and colleagues to bring about learning, I get to inhabit these spaces myself.”

His ability to draw others into dialogue is at the heart of David Kahane’s success as an undergraduate teacher and an institutional leader. His passion for conversations about teaching and learning, his humor and energy, his conviction that Philosophy matters deeply, all help students discover and deepen their own motivations to learn. Students, therefore, work very hard, yet they appreciate the process: “The best part of the course is[...]

“One of the greatest rewards of teaching and academic leadership is that, building spaces to support my students and colleagues to bring about learning, I get to inhabit these spaces myself.”

His ability to draw others into dialogue is at the heart of David Kahane’s success as an undergraduate teacher and an institutional leader. His passion for conversations about teaching and learning, his humor and energy, his conviction that Philosophy matters deeply, all help students discover and deepen their own motivations to learn. Students, therefore, work very hard, yet they appreciate the process: “The best part of the course is that my prof and my TA are passionate about what they’re teaching. It makes it much easier to learn.”

David works the same magic with colleagues and graduate students. His energy opens spaces for conversation about committee work, or mentoring, or the act of teaching. And it draws attention to the values underlying decisions.

David’s compelling conversations about team teaching in his Philosophy 101 Supersection have brought recognition in the University of Alberta and beyond. In 2003, the Philosophy Supersection teaching team won the University of Alberta’s Unit Teaching Award and the STLHE Alan Blizzard Award for Collaborative Learning. As the Provost describes him, “David is an outstanding, innovative teacher who has developed a highly successful set of approaches to teaching and incorporated these into a range of courses from introductory to advanced levels, taught solo and in teams.”

Anthony Lau
Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, University of Alberta

“Looking back, most of us can point to a decisive moment in the past, when a special teacher changed our life for the better. For me, that teacher was Dr. Tony Lau.” So begins one of the many nomination letters for this extraordinary researcher and teacher from the University of Alberta.

In over 30 years as a mathematics teacher, Tony has transformed the lives of hundreds of students who have enrolled in his jumbo mathematics classes, sat in on his upper year courses, or had the privilege of being in his graduate seminars. Math for many of us is an[...]

“Looking back, most of us can point to a decisive moment in the past, when a special teacher changed our life for the better. For me, that teacher was Dr. Tony Lau.” So begins one of the many nomination letters for this extraordinary researcher and teacher from the University of Alberta.

In over 30 years as a mathematics teacher, Tony has transformed the lives of hundreds of students who have enrolled in his jumbo mathematics classes, sat in on his upper year courses, or had the privilege of being in his graduate seminars. Math for many of us is an incomprehensible language, but this is the language Tony’s students learn. He is the model of a teacher who, by his respect for students’ thoughts and feelings creates a personal experience of mathematics. It is not surprising that Tony has won five major awards for teaching and research at his university.

Being a mentor is at the heart of Tony’s work. He gives his students advice, encouragement, and inspiration. As one of his students says, “Tony’s teaching is great, not because of mathematical details, but because of his ability to awaken young minds to their own potential.” He offers an open door policy, and students are always welcome in his office. There, he patiently explains difficult concepts and encourages them to explore the subject more deeply.

Great teachers can be fountains, or guides, or parents. Tony, as mentor, fosters vigorous growth in his students.

Heather Smith
International Studies, University of Northern British Columbia

Hats and hearts . . .

A tireless educator, Heather Smith admits to wearing “many hats”—program chair, researcher, teacher, and professional development coordinator of UNBC’s fledgling Teaching and Learning Centre—still a single goal unites all these roles: to be genuine and true. Heather’s heart tells her, “I am a teacher and I carry that with me as I weave my way through my various commitments.”

Heather’s rare enthusiasm and energy have won praise from her colleagues and students. She provided other professors with resources, support and expertise after the tragic events of 9/11. Students in her Foreign Policy, Security, and[...]

Hats and hearts . . .

A tireless educator, Heather Smith admits to wearing “many hats”—program chair, researcher, teacher, and professional development coordinator of UNBC’s fledgling Teaching and Learning Centre—still a single goal unites all these roles: to be genuine and true. Heather’s heart tells her, “I am a teacher and I carry that with me as I weave my way through my various commitments.”

Heather’s rare enthusiasm and energy have won praise from her colleagues and students. She provided other professors with resources, support and expertise after the tragic events of 9/11. Students in her Foreign Policy, Security, and Globalization classes deal with complex and challenging issues—yet this inspiring teacher receives top ratings. One of Heather’s goals is to lead her students “beyond their comfort zone,” but, even in classes of 100 or more, she still manages to create personal and connected experiences that influence students’ day-to-day lives and help them to find and follow their own paths to learning.

Heather says, “I hope my students see my efforts as genuine and real.” They do! As one said, “She is without a doubt the best prof I’ve had in my five years here. We are lucky to have her at UNBC.”

This exceptional professor has made a genuine impression on the hearts and minds of her students and colleagues alike.

Robert Summerby-Murray
Geography and Environment, Mount Allison University

Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, says a student, “has a natural way of inspiring greatness.” The essence of Robert the teacher, the colleague, and the citizen is that he talks the talk and walks the walk.

A Geography professor from Mount Allison University, Rob is one of Canada’s leading academic geographers, “devoted to merging geographic research with teaching and the scholarship of teaching,” says a colleague. “He has been a major force of change in academic geography in Canada, developing a coherent whole of teaching, research, and learning at the undergraduate level.”

Dean, Professor, Mentor, Coordinator, Secretary of the Senate, Chair of[...]

Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, says a student, “has a natural way of inspiring greatness.” The essence of Robert the teacher, the colleague, and the citizen is that he talks the talk and walks the walk.

A Geography professor from Mount Allison University, Rob is one of Canada’s leading academic geographers, “devoted to merging geographic research with teaching and the scholarship of teaching,” says a colleague. “He has been a major force of change in academic geography in Canada, developing a coherent whole of teaching, research, and learning at the undergraduate level.”

Dean, Professor, Mentor, Coordinator, Secretary of the Senate, Chair of the Performing Arts Series, Rob Summerby-Murray is not only involved in teaching leadership, he embodies that spirit of leadership and volunteerism. The summary statement of his teaching philosophy shows what he brings to his students and his discipline.

Rob’s passion for teaching extends beyond his classrooms. In the last five years, across the country, from Alberta to Newfoundland, he has made a score of presentations on teaching, and he has published a similar number of papers and books on university teaching.

His students would have given him a national award years ago. “His investment of time and responsibility in me, though I was a B average student, opened the doors to higher levels of excellence and education that I had not previously dreamed of.”

Rob is “a whole person.” And he has a Performer’s Diploma in Pipe Organ!

Susan Wurtele
Geography, Trent University

Students flock to Susan Wurtele’s courses at Trent, regardless of the subject she is teaching. As one student said, “You have to love a course you’re going to miss attending.” What is so special about Susan’s teaching? According to her students, she is an “engaging speaker,” making even “potentially dry and boring material interesting and thought-provoking.” Using “humour and practical examples to engage students,” she knows her subject and teaches with passion. She varies the techniques she uses to make sure all her students learn, from use of mind maps to her course web sites.

As an urban geographer and[...]

Students flock to Susan Wurtele’s courses at Trent, regardless of the subject she is teaching. As one student said, “You have to love a course you’re going to miss attending.” What is so special about Susan’s teaching? According to her students, she is an “engaging speaker,” making even “potentially dry and boring material interesting and thought-provoking.” Using “humour and practical examples to engage students,” she knows her subject and teaches with passion. She varies the techniques she uses to make sure all her students learn, from use of mind maps to her course web sites.

As an urban geographer and an active citizen, Susan takes her students into the community to do meaningful research in the real world. She was a founding member of Trent’s community-based education project, where she shared her drive to bring together students and the community to make a difference. In a recent project, students’ prepared an actual transportation plan to ensure the safety of children walking to school.

Whether hiking with students from farm to farm in Northern Ireland, or driving with them in a van to Ottawa, Susan is always teaching. Her students say she “transformed the way I thought;” her course was “life changing.” As winner of Trent’s university-wide teaching award, she is called “an exceptional teacher, able to instruct, challenge, and inspire her students.” From the classroom, to the web, to the farm, Wurtele’s “magic” is evident in all she does!

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