Education’s 100: Educators

Denise Clark, BA '94, BEd '95, MA '05

Educator, Denise Clark is a Vancouver secondary school teacher and department head that has helped develop curriculum for students around the province.

Clark obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1994 and a Bachelor of Education in 1995 from the University of British Columbia. She continued her studies a decade later with a Master of Arts in Language and Literacy Education in 2005.

With the Vancouver School Board (VSB), Clark worked with the school’s student council from 1999-2003, helping start the annual school community carnival “Technival” and has served as a grad committee sponsor since 2003. In 2008, she was a workshop creator, leader and co-presenter with Liisa House for the Literature Circles: A Reader Response Approach workshop. She worked with the VSB from 2011-2012 to develop curriculum for the Compassion in Action conference and was a member of its Personal Responsibility and Awareness Competency Development Team in 2015. Currently she serves as VBS inquiry facilitator, assisting teachers at schools around the city, and sits as Chair on the Professional Development Committee.

In collaboration with the B.C. Ministry of Education, Clark developed learner profiles to help define what personal responsibility and awareness meant for students across the province. Clark is currently a member of the Ministry’s English Language Arts Curriculum Development, where she developed a draft for the new provincial curriculum and provided examples for its most appropriate use.

Clark has been a key proponent of the national Poetry in Voice competition and taught two of its first-place winners. She spearheaded the Grade 12 AP English students’ Elizabethan banquet, complete with Shakespearean skits performed in the school’s garden.

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Dr. Egan Chernoff, BEd '01

Educator, published scholar, and popularizer of mathematics education, Egan Chernoff has made outstanding contributions to the research, advancement, and promotion of teaching and learning math.

Chernoff graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education in 2001. During his time at UBC, he joined the Secondary Mathematics Integrated Project, which provides math resources for high school teachers, tutors, and students. He taught for five years at Lord Byng Secondary and Killarney Secondary in Vancouver, before returning to UBC in 2008 as a sessional instructor. He was later appointed to associate professor in mathematics education at the University of Saskatchewan.

Since receiving his doctorate in 2009, Chernoff made a sustained contribution to fostering public interest and discourse in his field. For the past seven years, he served as the provincial representative for the Saskatchewan Mathematics Teachers’ Society, as well as an affiliate editor for the society’s journal. He currently serves as a member on multiple committees for mathematics education, including one on curriculum revision for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education and the Saskatoon School Board’s Strategic Committee for K-12 Mathematics.

Chernoff published over 90 articles and book chapters, contributing to the study of math and pedagogy within eight years. He is an editor of the Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, and co-edited three published and two forthcoming books, including Probabilistic Thinking: Presenting Plural Perspectives. Chernoff received multiple awards and scholarships for his research, including several grants and a doctoral fellowship awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Greg Quan, BEd '98, MEd '04

Music Educator, Greg Quan is admired and respected by both students and peers for his dedication to sharing the joy of music as artistic director of choirs and orchestras at Vancouver’s Magee Secondary School.

Quan graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia in 1998 and received his Masters of Education in music in 2004. He has been teaching music in the Vancouver and Richmond school districts since he finished his undergraduate degree in 1998. His Magee music program consistently receives top honours in the city and in the province. In 2012, 2014, and 2015, the Magee Chamber Choir won both the provincial Performing Arts BC competition and the citywide Vancouver Kiwanis Choral Festival. Each of those years, they also represented BC at the national Federation of Canadian Music Festivals, usually placing within the top 3 in Canada.

In what he calls his “choir family,” Quan fosters mindful, humble students who are both musically knowledgeable and passionate, challenging them with creative and difficult repertoire that inspires them to achieve beyond what they believe possible. With an understanding that setting can profoundly enhance the learning experience, Quan travels each year with Magee music ensembles and the chamber choir to perform in historically and culturally important international venues. Committed to helping to build the choral community, Quan creates many learning opportunities for hundreds of young musicians, not only from across the lower mainland, but nationally and internationally, by bringing choirs together in non-competitive “song sharing” concerts many times a year. He also creates professional development opportunities for his musical colleagues; for example, inviting them to participate, complimentary, in retreats that he sponsors with world class clinicians. He is also in demand as a choral clinician, adjudicator, and has given workshops at the BC Music Educators Association conference. From 2006 to 2007, Quan was regional director for the BC Music Educators Association Honour Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He also was director for the VoiceStream Youth Choir from 2004 to 2007 and the Richmond Youth Honour Chamber Choir from 2006 to 2009, both in Richmond, BC. Since 2014, Quan has also been on the board of directors for the BC Choral Federation.

In 2009, he was commissioned to write and perform, with a massed choir, a piece to commemorate the opening of the Olympic Oval in Richmond BC. In 2014, an award was endowed at the Faculty of Education in Greg’s honour. The award recognizes a student of the Bachelor of Education program that has demonstrated a passion and extraordinary capability for music education with youth in a group environment.

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Harpreet Dhillon, BEd '00

A leader by example, Harpreet Dhillon inspired students to create positive social change in both their local communities and around the world.

Earning her Bachelor of Education from University of British Columbia in 2000, Dhillon taught sixth grade at Cindrich Elementary School in Surrey, BC. While coaching volleyball, basketball or track and field, she also undertook several initiatives to enrich her students’ lives, and to show them the joy of enriching the lives of others.

In 2009, Dhillon started Cindrich Elementary’s WE team, part of the comprehensive service learning program We Act. The program empowers students to participate in local and global issues. Each year, Dhillon and twenty students in the sixth and seventh grades adopt a village in a developing country. They have raised thousands of dollars to improve the lives of those in their adopted communities, through education, health, sanitation, and alternative income projects.

Dhillon was also a driving figure behind Cindrich’s Kindness Project. She designed “kindness cards” and, along with her students, began surprising staff and community members with random acts of kindness. In total, over 500 kindness cards spread throughout the school, the community, and internationally. The cards were individually numbered, and the journey of each card continues to be tracked on Dhillon’s blog.

Additionally, Dhillon organizes the annual “Kids Change” program at Cindrich through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Students work year-round earning money to help grant a special wish for a sick child. Despite being classified as an inner city school, Cindrich students raise thousands of dollars for the foundation each year.

In recognition of her efforts, Dhillon was awarded the UBC Alumni Teacher Award in 2013. Dhillon was also recognized by the Surrey Food Bank for leading Cindrich Elementary to Top Fundraising School in 2012, and in the same year, the Surrey-North Delta Leader awarded her the Community Leader Award of Top Honour Teacher. Dhillon currently serves as a member of the UBC Faculty of Education’s External Advisory Board to the Dean.

Dhillon now works at Goldstone Park Elementary where she is part of the team creating the school culture for the brand new school. She has implemented a WE team and has found opportunities for her students to connect with local organizations such as the Surrey Food Bank and Oak Avenue Neighbourhood Hub. She continues fundraising for her Team goal to build a school in Ecuador.

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Janey Lee, BA '94, BEd '95

Award-winning elementary school teacher, Janey Lee has made her mark in the classroom, in the playground and in the volunteer world.

Lee received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia in 1994 and a Bachelor of Education in 1995. A kindergarten teacher at Thunderbird Elementary in Vancouver , Lee works with ESL students from diverse backgrounds to promote cultural exchange and peer learning. Worm farms, organic vegetable gardens and up-close investigations are the tools she uses to engage students as they learn to count, read and be socially responsible. In 2013, Lee was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Lee developed a community partnership with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) to teach her students about food security. Together with a high school technical teacher and the entire student body, she built a school garden that became an outdoor classroom and a source of inspiration for math, science and language arts. Lee helped to establish a successful school breakfast program to ensure that students were adequately prepared for their days in the classroom. Media coverage of her inner city advocacy inspired private citizens to provide matching funding for the program. The funding has also allowed students to participate in the Backpack Food Program and bring food home to help their families.

A leader in the field of primary education, Lee developed a Kindergarten Phonological Awareness Program for Vancouver teachers, and was part of a collaborative effort to develop the BC Early Numeracy Project for the Ministry of Education. Lee’s community service includes being a mentor with the YWCA, being a member of the the Anti-Poverty Committee with the Vancouver Elementary School Teacher’s Association, serving on the board of CLICK (Contributing to Lives of Inner City Kids), and fundraising over $30,000 for a playground at Thunderbird Elementary by holding workshops for teachers over two summers. Every year, she also helps to coach Cross Country, Volleyball, Basketball and Track and Field at her school. In January 2013 Lee was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in recognition of her significant and meaningful contributions to the community and teaching profession.

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Jeff Stewart, MA '94

Innovator in technology and education, Jeff Stewart has served as principal in BC public schools for 20 years and created internationally-recognized distance education programs.

Stewart received his Master of Arts in Educational Studies from the University of British Columbia in 1994. During this time, he was a practicum supervisor and sessional lecturer in the Faculty, and worked with UBC's Dr. Charles Ungerleider on a pilot project for curriculum integration.

Stewart later founded the BC School Centred Mental Health Coalition to address mental health in children and youth in the provincial school system. Serving as chair, he was a leader in province-wide conversations on connectedness in school communities, advancing groundbreaking research on the topic. He advocated for education that was sensitive to the diverse ways students learn and school practices that promoted inclusiveness. While vice-principal of Maple Drive Junior Secondary, Stewart brought together district officials, educators, parents, and elders in a First Nations Learning Group to strategize on improvements to academic achievement of First Nations students.

Stewart is currently in a unique position as district principal of the North Island Distance Education School (NIDES). The school, located in the Comox Valley, serves over 3,000 students across Vancouver Island and BC through distance education. Enrollment includes students K-9, adult learners, and more than 1,400 secondary students.

NIDES combine online distance learning with “face-to-face” instruction via video conferencing and virtual classrooms in a blended learning model. The model offers the flexibility of traditional distance learning and homeschooling, while building bonds between students, educators, and community.

At the helm of NIDES, Stewart collaborated with over 100 families in a partnership between educators, parents and students on innovative blended learning. He stewarded the creation of three new programs: I-Class, the Fine Arts eCademy (FAE), and the Engineering Technology and Robotics (ENTER) program. In 2014, ENTER received the Innovative Blended and Online Learning Practice Award from iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

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John David Nicks, BEd '98, MEd '02

Educator specializing in gifted learners and drama, John David Nicks earned both his Bachelor of Education in 1998 and Master of Education in 2002 at the University of British Columbia.

Nicks’ interest and research in gifted education has enabled him to change lives in the classroom and enable life-long success in the lives of his students. Nicks co-founded the Hamber Studium Libertatis, also known as “the Studio,” a non-traditional curriculum geared toward gifted students. The program seeks to empower and assist students, and provide mentorship. Since its inception, the Studio’s students came in first place provincially and seventh place nationally in the academic quiz competition Reach For The Top; earned second and first place at Vancouver Writers Fest in 2013 and 2014, respectively. They have competed against university students in programming competitions, studied nanotechnology alongside UBC researchers and created a student trustee position with the Vancouver School Board.

Nicks’ investment in empowering his students to love learning and see the value they have in their communities is building community leaders each year. Testimonials from students are lengthy and numerous speaking to the success that he has enabled in their lives. Accolades for Nicks are seen in the awards and success of his inspired students.

Nicks teaches senior theatre, and is the driving force behind each year’s musical production. He invests himself in every part of the show, coaching students in acting, stagecraft, and even assisting with the accompanying orchestral arrangements. He was a recipient of UBC Faculty of Education’s Alumni Teacher Award in 2015.

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Justin Borsato, BHK '99, BEd '00

Engaged leader in working with First Nations and at-risk youth, Justin Borsato is an elementary school teacher in east Vancouver whose work is recognized widely, including by his alma mater. Borsato graduated from University of British Columbia’s Bachelor of Education program in 2000 after completing a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in 1999. Currently an educator with Vancouver’s Britannia Elementary School, he teaches Grade 7. In 2012, Borsato was selected from among 40 nominees to earn the first-ever UBC Alumni Teacher Award for his work in the Vancouver community and his “commitment to giving students every possible learning opportunity.”

Inside the classroom, Borsato engages students using a variety of unorthodox academic techniques and innovative projects. He has engaged students in projects where they design their own civilizations, complete with maps, climates, economic systems, governments and religious beliefs. Another innovative teaching technique included creating a “Greek newspaper,” which featured Letters to the Editor, crosswords, horoscopes, obituaries and classifieds.

Outside the classroom, Borsato has dedicated his own time to chaperone weeklong trips for students who had never left their home town. He raised over $10,000 annually for various charitable efforts and coached the HEROES hockey program, which offers free hockey to underprivileged kids in east Vancouver. Borsato worked with UBC students during their reading weeks to pair them with his own students as part of a successful mentorship program. Finally, he developed and maintained a partnership with the DAREarts charity program in Toronto to encourage student interest in the arts, and championed efforts at Britannia for LGBTQ rights.

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Kimberley Ondrik, BEd '88

Educator, Kimberley Ondrik is a Vernon-based public school teacher who has spent her career building a supportive and caring classroom environment inclusive of all learners.

Ondrik earned a Bachelor of Special Education from UBC in 1988. While working at Brentwood Park Elementary in Burnaby, BC, Ondrik piloted the full inclusion of students with special needs into her classroom. She later became a district resource teacher and worked alongside the director of special education, teachers and parents to develop a system of best practices to meet student needs.

Ondrik designed and taught courses at Kwantlen University College and Douglas College examining the emerging challenges of increasingly diverse classrooms, and teaching budding educators and educational assistants on how to best meet them. Most recently she co-authored chapters in two books on inclusive education, participated in education think tanks with UBC Okanagan and is a member of the BC Ministry of Education’s Innovation Partnership Development Team. Ondrik helped establish two innovative public school programs and one independent school with curricula designed by teachers and the students themselves. She is co-founder and teacher at the Vernon Community School in the Vernon School District while writing her master's thesis on "lived curriculum" at UBC Okanagan.

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Kit Krieger, BA '72, Professional Ed. Cert '73

Educator, union officer and administrator, Kit Krieger has worked for more than four decades. He graduated with a BA (History) from UBC in 1971 and with a professional certificate in secondary education in 1973. Krieger taught Social Studies in West Vancouver schools from 1974 to 2000 with intervals spent serving as president of the West Vancouver Teachers’ Association, on staff with the BCTF and as President of the BCTF (1997-99). He was awarded Honorary Life Membership in the BCTF in 2008. From 2004-07 Krieger served on the Council of the BC College of Teachers and was the fourth and final Registrar of the College from 2009 to 2011. He was a relentless advocate for teacher professionalism and the right to professional self-regulation. During his time with the BCTF, he was involved with international programs supporting Cuban educators. In 2012 he assumed the position as Executive Director of the BC Principals’ & Vice-Principals’ Association, which advances the professional interests of the province’s 2,400 school-based administrators.

Krieger received the Meyer and Gita Kron Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. Over more than three decades he has spoken to thousands of students and educators about the Holocaust. Krieger’s other passion is baseball. He pitched for the Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League in 1968 and is the founder of Cubaball He is known for his support for veteran Cuban ballplayers and his advocacy on behalf of Conrado Marrero, to receive a major league pension.

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Patricia Shields, BEd '76, MEd '87

Educator, librarian, administrator, and consultant, Patricia Shields is known for her leadership and dedication to public education during her 30-year career with the Vancouver School Board.

Shields received her Bachelor of Education in 1976 and her Master of Education in 1987 from the University of British Columbia. She pioneered a leadership development program for the Vancouver School Board that became a model for BC school districts.

As the provincial manager of The Learning Partnership’s Welcome to Kindergarten program, Shields supports kindergarten children on their path to educational success. The program engages parents to make early learning a priority in the home to prepare children for their first year of school. With her guidance, the program has grown from a Vancouver pilot project to an established program in 29 school districts in the province.

Her commitment to supporting youth and literacy extends far into the community. As a founding member and chair of the Big Sisters Educational Advisory Committee, she assisted in the initiation of the Study Buddy program to match girls with tutors and mentors. Approximately 200 girls are currently building skills and gaining self-esteem with more on a waiting list for matches. For her contributions, Shields was made an honorary board member of Big Sisters of the BC Lower Mainland.

Shields has also made a contribution to the YMCA, setting up their Education Advisory Committee and collaborating to create their Grade 7 after-school programs Welcome to My Life and Boys 4 Real programs.

Blending her passion for education and music, she serves as chair of the Education Advisory Committee for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and sits on the board of the VSO School of Music. She spearheaded the Vancouver Opera Society’s “Music! Words! Opera!”, an education program that has since expanded to six school districts. Shields is also a member of the education sub-committee of the Telus Vancouver Community Board which provides grants to grassroots charities that support local youth.

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Patricia Wakefield, MEd '69

Educator and leader in her field, Patricia Wakefield impacted English-language education at UBC and in British Columbia.

In 1967, Wakefield served as the first president of the Association of BC Teachers of English as an Additional Language (BC TEAL). She completed UBC’s first Master of Education in English Education, TESL (teaching English as a second language) specialization in 1969. Later, she was appointed head of the TESL department at Vancouver Community College, and in 1975 became the Vancouver School Board’s first TESL consultant.

At UBC’s Faculty of Education, Wakefield taught the ESL teacher education course and supervised the practicum. She pushed for improvements in instructor education, student programming and testing procedures. In her role as special assistant to the director of the UBC Child Study Centre, Wakefield worked with colleagues in BC educator programs to develop pre-school ESL. She co-authored many books and articles on the subject, including Teaching the World’s Children: ESL for Ages Three to Seven; Early Childhood Education for a Multicultural Society, ESL for Young Children, K-12; and a number of curriculum guidelines for the BC Ministry of Education.

At the time of her retirement in 1985, the BC TEAL established a scholarship in cooperation with the British Council to honour Wakefield’s long service to the English-language education. She remains active and engaged in the community, and created training programs for docents of the Vancouver Art Gallery engaged with students learning English.

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Scott Ormiston, BEd '82

Esteemed educator and coach, Scott Ormiston is well-known and well-respected for his work with Aboriginal and Special Education students.

Ormiston graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia in 1982. In the decades since, he devoted himself to developing the potential of students, colleagues and young athletes in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows communities. In October of 2014, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Achievement. In his current role as an aboriginal resource educator in School District 42, Ormiston is part of a two-teacher team that increased the district’s Aboriginal graduation rate to nearly 75%, one of the best rates in the province.

Senior administrators at Garibaldi Secondary School, where he taught for 20 years, note Ormiston’s devotion to the needs of Special Education students. In particular, Ormiston created an award system for graduating Special Ed students, who are often overlooked academically. Resource departments at other schools turn to Garibaldi’s Special Education Department as a model of excellence, developed under Ormiston’s leadership. His colleagues, the students and their parents note his energy for many popular projects, including a Terry Fox run, fundraising for scholarships, and an annual Christmas party.

The Canadian Red Cross recognizes Ormiston, a long-time swim coach, as an instructional innovator whose training techniques improved swimming programming across Canada. He also coached community soccer and helped with community basketball and lacrosse teams.

In 2014, Ormiston received the UBC Faculty of Education Alumni Teacher Award.

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Wendy Lim, BSc '82, MA '93

In her 30-plus years with the Richmond School District, Wendy Ann Lim has been dedicated to developing student leaders through mentorship, community engagement, and environmental stewardship.

Lim earned both a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from UBC and a Diploma in Education in 1982. She later returned to her alma mater ten years later to complete a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction in 1993.

Lim has been a classroom teacher, district administrator, vice principal, and is currently assistant superintendent of schools for the Richmond School District. As a secondary school teacher, she established a district-wide student leadership program to foster conflict mediation skills. Later as a K-12 district administrator, she implemented an environmental stewardship policy throughout the district. This included the training and mentoring of students to participate in Idle Free campaigns and as ambassadors in the federal government's One Tonne Challenge, which ran from 2003 to 2006.

In 2008, Lim oversaw a student organization known as TABLE 38, where student leaders met monthly across the district's ten high schools. Students shared ideas and developed action plans to realize the community building goals they had set for themselves. The same year, Lim won a Richmond Outstanding Community Award for her commitment to inspire, mentor, and improve the lives of youth.

In 2009, she was one of two district administrators tasked with coordinating a district-wide K-12 student leadership development program. Through the program, students learned problem solving, critical thinking, and the importance of positive community engagement.

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