AlumniED Newsletter - Spring 2017 Convocation Issue

Dean's Message from Dr. Harry Janzen

Greetings and welcome to the latest Convocation issue of our AlumniED newsletter. The newsletter serves to keep our Alumni and teaching colleagues up to date with news from our Education programs and our program graduates. Convocation offers an opportunity to reflect on our students' successes and to congratulate our deserved graduates.

Our January 27th Convocation celebrated the success of our Post-Baccalaureate Education program graduates. 82 enthusiastic grads are eager to begin their teaching careers after 18 months in our Bachelor of Education program.

Last Fall, 70 schools in 19 districts, (12 were out-of-area school district placements, including Haidi Gwaii and the Yukon) supported our student teachers on practica, program-wide. Thanks to our 220 sponsor teachers, along with our faculty supervisors and district colleagues, who collectively help our student teachers achieve their career and personal goals.

Along with our undergraduate programs, 21 graduates from our Masters of Education in Educational Leadership (MEDL) degree program were formally recognized for their accomplishments including nine students from our OLTD/MEDL degree program. Our Post-Degree Diploma in Special Education Teacher Specialty (SETS) also welcomes seven new graduates and our Online Learning & Teaching graduate Diploma (OLTD) program congratulates one new program grad.

Our graduate diploma and degree programs offer AlumniED partners the opportunity to continue their pursuit of life-long learning opportunities. Information on all of our graduate offerings.

VIU Education Program grads continue to support student success in our schools locally, nationally and internationally. Congratulations to all our graduates-- past and present.

Dr. Harry Janzen, Dean, Faculty of Education

January 27 , 2017 -- Convocation Celebrations

Convocation recognizes the culmination of an academic journey.  Surrounded by friends, family and their faculty classmates and professors; students in regalia crossed the stage at Nanaimo's Port Place theatre on January 27th. Convocation is held twice yearly.

VIU Chancellor, Louise Mandell, offered words of congratulations and encouragement in her opening address to the graduates.

An Honorary Doctorate of Laws was awarded to reknowned, local artist Robert Bateman (above.) Mr. Bateman, whose artwork has raised money for countless conservation and environmental causes, was nominated by Education faculty member Heather Pastro, who spoke most eloquently regrading his life-time dedication to environmental issues.

As well, Bachelor of Education graduate, Kairis Ann Gingerysty, delivered the traditional Valedictory address to honour and encourage her fellow graduates.

The latest Convocation web cast is available from the archives.

Photos are available on VIU's Facebook page.


VIU Graduate Programs- The Journey Continues...

Graduate programs with VIU's Faculty of Education are well known for providing personalized learning through a cohort model. The cohort model is an important factor in building community and offering a support network for you as you work through a graduate degree program.VIU's Faculty of Education is also well known for supporting rich connections between our students and the communities in which they work and live. With responsive, knowledgeable faculty and supervisors, our students are able to leverage a variety of rich learning opportunities toward successful completion of their Master of Education.

The Faculty of Education is proud to offer these exciting graduate programs-- both diploma and degree offerings-- to meet the needs of educators wishing to pursue further education at a graduate level.

  • Graduate Diploma in Special Education (SETS) -- ladders into MEDS degree
  • Graduate Diploma in Online Learning & Teaching (OLTD) -- ladders into MEDL degree


Featured Graduate: Christopher Bridge is Going "Rural"

(L-R) myself (Grad 2017) and fellow VIU grads Anna Geddert , Chris Backhouse (Grads 2015), Cordell Ware and Raj Gill (Grads 2016). We are standing in front of Kager Lake.

I left for Burns Lake on the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving 2016. The night before, I had packed my car, kissed my two-year old daughter and my wife good-bye, and left before the sun had fully risen. I certainly won’t pretend I wasn’t worried, scared, hesitant, or any other combination of terrified adjectives. I had committed to leaving my family a solid 12-and-a-half-hour drive away for a shot at my final practicum teaching in rural British Columbia, in the Nechako Lakes’ School District #91.

I had tried hard to research the area ahead of time, plotting ridiculous Google Maps adventures through the town’s streets, calling prior VIU members about their experience on practicum in the same school, researching local events and cultural groups to give me the most preparation possible for a 9-week working stay. Even though I had seen the pictures of the (very large and extremely modern) school, and had attempted to unearth any information on the town, I kept facetiously imagining that I would be teaching in a two-room school built in the 1920s. I didn’t know what to actually expect, and my imagination ran only to extremes.

Within one hour of arriving in Burns Lake, I was invited to a Thanksgiving meal hosted by my sponsor school’s Principal, the Principal of two schools in the area, and three VIU graduates who all found work the prior year. My first day in the school was filled with excitement and warm welcomes wherever I went -- I never was made to feel estranged or foreign, only ever a part of a wonderful staff, even when visiting other schools in the area. My roommates -- two former VIU B.Ed. graduates -- made me feel welcomed, showed me great hiking locations, and the remoteness of my placement was surprisingly never made an issue -- Burns Lake had all the amenities that I could need to stay engaged outside of practicum.

My class sizes ranged between 16 and 28 students but always filled with diverse and intriguing personalities. Every classroom I entered had been equipped with a Smartboard, and every class I taught was outfitted with coloured node chairs -- like the ones in VIU -- which offered me a wealth of activities and options in the classroom. During our Professional Learning Community meetings (PLC), the staff included me in a number of staff-pursued inquiry projects designed for maximizing the potential learning offered throughout the school. I left Nanaimo thinking that I had a relatively strong understanding of assessment, and yet, when I learned of the school’s efforts to globalize the core competencies as the primary, direct attributes for assessment, my perspective was completely flipped. I learned such an incredible amount by watching the cutting-edge pedagogical shifts and adaptations from this wonderful school that I find myself still at a loss for words. I’m truly honoured that they welcomed me into the process, and even offered me an opportunity to teach a PLC group of my own.

The learning opportunities and the potential for employment that rural schools offer is an outstanding opportunity that I cannot overstate. I am proud to write that the amazing school district that I took a chance on for my practicum has offered me a full-time position for the following semester, just as they did for the previous two student-teachers from VIU and several other VIU students in recent years that I have had the incredible pleasure of befriending in the community.

If you feel you’re truly serious about becoming a teacher, I can think of no better opportunity to learn, to grow, to raise a family, and to cement your own identity other than taking a chance teaching in a rural context.

Note: SD#91 Nechako Lakes will be here on campus on March 14th to conduct interviews. Watch the AlumniED Digest for further details.

Central Okanagan School District #23 Is Hiring VIU Grads!

John Simonson, Director of Instruction - Human Resources at School District # 23 (Central Okanagan), is keen to welcome VIU Education Program graduates to his district. The SD#23 anticipates a need for at least 150 new teachers for September 2017!

This video features Education grad (2013) Jeff Saunders who is now teaching choir and band for the district and "lovin' it!"

For more information on teaching opportunities with Central Okanagan please visit Make a Future.

Visit The Latest VIU Magazine

The latest issue of the VIU Magazine shares Alumni success stories, campus news, and "where are they now" features. The twice-yearly produced magazine is mailed free of charge to registered Alumni. Not getting yours? Update your mailing address and contact information.

We would also love to hear about what Alumni are up to! Please submit items (2-5 sentences; photos optional) on work successes, travels, marriages, family additions, or other accomplishments with the subject "Class Notes" to the Advancement & Alumni Relations Office.

Maxwell Cameron Award Winners

The Maxwell Cameron Award for educational excellence was awarded this semester to Shannon Ward graduating from our PB Elementary cohort and Alistair King graduating from our Secondary cohort.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation grants this award to students completing the final year of a Bachelor of Education degree in Secondary and Elementary teaching who, in the opinion of instructors in the Education faculty, are outstanding students in the graduating class. Congratulations Shannon and Alistair!


Masters of Education Research Conference

You are invited to attend the 6th annual VIU Masters of Education Research conference. The event features current and graduated Master’s students from our Masters of Educational Leadership and Masters of Special Education programs. Several students who have laddered from OLTD to the MEDL will also be presenting and attending this event is a great opportunity to see what’s involved in graduate studies and research.

The conference is on Saturday, March 4, 2017 on VIU¹s Nanaimo campus.

Registration is free and includes lunch.

Email for more information.

WestCAST (Western Canadian Association for Student Teaching) is an education conference held annually by the Faculties of Education in the Western Provinces of Canada. Now in its 30th year, the Faculty of Education at Vancouver Island University will be the conference host on Feb. 16 & 17, 2017. Our conference will bring together over 300 Education Faculty and Teacher Education Students for two days of conversation and engagement on topics that are relevant in today’s world of teaching. Our Theme for WestCAST 2017 is:

Engaging Conversations in Sustainability, Creativity,
and Technology in Education

Our conference will take place at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, conveniently located in the heart of beautiful downtown Nanaimo.


Recent Hirings

Well over two thousand students have graduated from the Faculty of Education since our inception in 1989. If you are one of them please contact us to update your employment status and be added to our growing list of graduates teaching in schools locally, nationally and internationally.

Teaching overseas? We would love to share your story too!

Be sure to update your contact Information via VIU's Alumni Relations department to stay ConnectED.

AlumniED is published twice a year by the Faculty of Education. If you have stories, job updates, photos or information you would like to share with fellow graduates please contact us.

Faculty of Education
Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC, Canada V9R 5S5
Phone: 250-740-6221
Email: or