Recipients


Calgary Learns takes great pleasure in honouring the commitment and courage of our award recipients: inspiring Calgarians who have found their own way to make a difference. Click on their names to read their stories.

2017 Life Of Learning Awards (program)

 

2016 Life Of Learning Awards (program)

 

2015 Life Of Learning Awards (program)

 

2014 Life Of Learning Awards (program)

 

2013 Life Of Learning Awards (program)

 

2012 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2011 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2010 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2009 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2008 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2007 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2006 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2005 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2004 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2003 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2002 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2001 Life Of Learning Awards

 

2000 Life Of Learning Awards

 

 


2017 – Adult Learner: Laura Helm
Born and raised in Calgary, Laura Helm was a thoughtful and keen student with her sights set on a bright future. The year was 2007, Grade 12, and the day started like any other. On her way to school that morning, Laura was struck by a motor vehicle and tossed 20 feet, her head taking the force of the brutal landing.After a gruelling and lengthy rehabilitation period, Laura’s prognosis remained grim. She was told by experts that her permanent brain injury would make it extremely difficult for her to continue her studies, get and keep a job, or move through life independently day to day. Not one to give up, Laura took this a challenge. Determined to take ownership of her education, she signed up for the Never Too Late program with Catholic Family Service, a program that provides support to learners who want to complete their GED (General Equivalency Diploma). Despite chronic pain and often crippling anxiety attacks, Laura poured everything she had into her GED studies, proudly graduating in 2016. While continuing with her own studies, Laura is also passionate about helping others. She volunteers weekly with #BeTheChangeYYC, a movement that inspires people to be the change they wish to see in Calgary, and she’s a regular ambassador for the Never Too Late program, sharing her story and bringing inspiration to others.Laura is the best kind of learner – hard working, determined, resilient, and courageous in the face of enormous challenges. Driven to make meaning of her accident and injuries and to live a life of purpose, Laura now aspires to assist others who have been affected by traumatic brain injuries. We wholeheartedly share her optimism for her bright and reimagined future.

Leslie Horton, Laura Helm, Minister Marlin Schmidt

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2017 – Learning Champion: Berniece Gowan
Berniece Gowan learned about adult literacy through volunteering as a literacy tutor. She became passionate about adult literacy when she discovered the work of Dr. Jenny Horsman, research on the impact of violence on learning. Dr. Horsman’s work connected Berniece’s long background as a Social Worker to her new work as a project manager and trainer with Literacy Alberta. Berniece joined Bow Valley College in 2013. She has been involved with adult literacy research and programming and is currently the project manager for the Adult Literacy and Essential Skills Research Institute. Berniece is responsible for developing and coordinating research projects, building partnerships with community stakeholders, and working to support the Literacy and Essential Skills area at Bow Valley College. Berniece is also supporting a team of instructors and staff working with Bow Valley College’s most vulnerable learners, those with low literacy and learning or developmental disabilities.By all accounts, Berniece is an attentive and decisive leader who places the needs of her literacy staff, projects, and learners above and beyond her own. She has a deep empathy for the needs of the learners and has built upon and redesigned programs to best meet their needs. No matter how busy she is, she always has time to personally address any learner’s concern.Her reach extends far beyond the college walls into the adult foundational learning community. She is committed to the development of meaningful community relationships and partnerships. This past year she was instrumental in the development of Bow Valley College’s relationships with Indigenous post secondary’s in Alberta. An avid literacy practitioner, she delivers workshops and supports staff and learners to use the literacy tools she has developed.Just as learners bring their whole lives to learning, Berniece brings her whole self to work and to everything she does. The effect of her work can be felt locally, provincially and nationally through her relationship building, her research, and her authorship of literacy tools such as writeforward. A true visionary with tremendous heart, we’re so pleased to celebrate Berniece’s accomplishments as a model learning champion.

Berniece Gowan (4th from the right) with her mom and Bow Valley College staff

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2017 – Learning Champion: Sade Auger
Sade Makerra Auger has become an invaluable member of the Aboriginal Career & Training Centre, where she has served as an educator/facilitator for over five years. Sade has led the Aboriginal Workplace Learning Circle since its inception in 2012, helping to adapt and strengthen the program all along the way. Today, this unique six-week program blends traditional career planning and job search training with culturally specific tools such as the talking stick, medicine wheel teachings, and Elder visits.Sade places dignity and respect at the heart of all she does. Her clients describe her as patient and caring, a good listener, and readily able to guide others to see their inner strength and self- worth.Sade brings a solid understanding of her culture and traditions, and a facilitating style that incorporates humour and a strong knowledge of adult learning principles and labour market demands. Whether she is working with individuals or small groups, or sharing her wisdom with the larger community, she is both passionate and determined to help remove the barriers that her Indigenous clients face.Her high levels of success have placed the Aboriginal Workplace Learning Circle into the spotlight recently. Other agencies are now asking for Sade’s help with job shadowing or mentoring so that they, too, can establish similar programs for their communities.For many clients, Sade enters their lives when they need to feel supported and accepted. She is gifted in her ability to do just that. As one client states, “Sade’s humour, excitement and celebration of success will forever be treasured.” We completely agree!

Minister Marlin Schmidt, Sage Auger, Elder Vinnia VanOverDyke (front) and staff of the Aboriginal Career & Training Centre

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2017 – Thanks A Bunch: IRCC
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has long been making an impact on the Calgary scene, helping to ensure newcomers are given a fair chance to start a new life.IRCC focuses on low to mid-literacy clients in the areas of language training and employment services. Their funding support has made a huge difference at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA).IRCC funds a number of the CIWA’s vital programs and services dedicated to integrating immigrant women and their families in the community. With IRCC-funded programs that provide employment, food service, and retail training, and benefits like free day care and first language support, barriers are removed and women are able to take control of their Canadian futures. IRCC also funds CIWA’s Learning Support Services, which provides extra help to both instructors and learners who are struggling to learn English.IRCC funding and guidance gives service providers like CIWA the support they need to customize and adapt programs to be the best they can be. This tailored approach is exactly what’s needed to help clients achieve goals.IRCC has been a committed funding partner to so many agencies over the years, including the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, Bow Valley College, the Centre for Newcomers, and the Agape Language Centre, to name just a few. These and other agencies work passionately to address literacy issues for newcomers. Their success is dependent of the receptiveness of funders to advocate on their behalf. Through its generous support, IRCC gets top marks as an exemplary funder in its investment towards building a better Canada for all.

Staff from IRCC, CIWA and ISC

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2016 – Adult Learner: Lloyd Thornhill

Lloyd Thornhill, who turns 69 this year, was born and raised on Brunette Island, a tiny island off the south coast of Newfoundland. Learning was extremely difficult for Lloyd in his all-ages school class. With no supports in place, he spent many a day colouring at the back of the classroom. After struggling to achieve a Grade 6 education, Lloyd led a quiet and sheltered life for the next several decades, living with his parents and working as a janitor in a nursing home.

Fast forward to 2000, when Lloyd moved west to be closer to his siblings. Since living in Calgary, his love for learning has exploded. Lloyd’s action plan to independent living has included non-stop participation in a broad range of programs: literacy, financial literacy, life skills, arts classes, computer training, personal safety and photography, to name just a few.

Lloyd is a hardworking and attentive student. He also serves tirelessly as an advocate for the disability community, joining advisory boards and action groups and clocking hundreds of volunteer hours for such organizations as the Interfaith Thrift Store, Vecova, and CareWest. Lloyd speaks passionately in public forums for the rights of all citizens to be able to access educational opportunities throughout their lifespan.

Lloyd has a dogged determination to reach his learning goals. It has been his life-long dream to be able to read and write, and through persistence and hard work, this dream is now coming true. But he’s not stopping there. In Lloyd’s own words, he’s just getting started. Bravo, Lloyd! You’re an inspiration to us all.

Lloyd (middle) with Bow Valley College staff, Candace, Puja, Debra, Berniece

Lloyd (middle) with Bow Valley College staff, Candace, Puja, Debra, Berniece

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2016 – Learning Champion: Nabila Ghaffar

Nabila Ghaffar is the kind of team member that most organizations can only dream of. When Nabila joined the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association as a teacher assistant in 2012, her bold, enthusiastic talent for teaching and commitment to foundational learners quickly shone through. She was soon promoted to literacy teacher, and she’s been propelling her students to success ever since.

Having immigrated to Canada from Abu Dhabi Nabila knows first-hand of the struggles and stresses newcomers face as they adjust to life in Canada. New students arrive timid and afraid of failing. After a few short weeks in Nabila’s welcoming class, they are comfortable and confident, excited to try out new skills.

Nabila pours her own passion for learning into experimenting with new approaches. She makes learning fun, designing each lesson around practical needs. Her students learn how to phone the doctor’s office or call Calgary Transit to find out when their bus will arrive. They open g-mail accounts so they can chat with other students. They create personalized books with sentences that match photos they’ve snapped in grocery stores. In every case, these new skills make their daily lives in Calgary easier.

Nabila works tirelessly, in and out of the classroom. She recently completed a collaborative two-year action research project aimed at supporting low-literacy learners who experience the most difficulties. She has since shared her work and strategies through presentations, workshops and conferences.

Nabila’s faith in her students’ abilities has shaped her into a truly exceptional learning champion. Nabila’s students have equally high faith in her, describing her as, “The best of all teachers in life… wonderful…special and unique.” We couldn’t agree more!

Nabila (left) with nominator Maria MacMinn Varvos

Nabila (left) with nominator Maria MacMinn Varvos

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2016 – Learning Communities: Humanities 101

Since 2009, the St. Mary’s University campus has been home to Humanities 101. Learners in this unique program have faced poverty, immigration, violence, negative educational experience, addictions, homelessness, and other interruptions to learning. They meet two days a week for four months, where history, culture, and the arts come alive through storytelling and the lens of multiple perspectives. Field trips to the theatre, art galleries and museums—a first visit for many—round out their learning experience.

The Humanities 101 program provides a safe, welcoming and innovative learning approach, all while removing the barriers these students would face elsewhere. Tuition and textbooks are free. Transit tickets are supplied. Childcare is covered. Volunteer tutors are available for extra help. A hot, nutritious meal is shared around a community table before each class.

During celebrations at the end of each semester, student after student comes forward to speak about the life-changing and profoundly positive effects they’ve experienced because of Humanities 101. Graduates have gone on to degree studies, further course work, employment and meaningful volunteer roles.

We applaud the tremendous dedication of Dr. Tara Hyland-Russell, who has been a driving force in creating and sustaining Humanities 101, as well as the St. Mary’s faculty and larger student body that have rallied around the program to ensure it stays. Each year, students raise thousands of dollars, and students and faculty line up to volunteer their time and expertise.

Social change is at the heart of Humanities 101, giving learners real hope for the future. This model learning community is a true cause for celebration!

St.Mary's University staff

St.Mary’s University staff

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2016 – Thanks A Bunch: Calgary Foundation

The Calgary Foundation has provided outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing the issues faced by poverty-stricken adult foundational learners in our community. A shining example of their commitment is their support of Taking Charge, a collaborative initiative of CanLearn and the Sunrise Community Link.

Taking Charge is a multiple-week program that specifically targets individuals experiencing poverty and life stressors. The Calgary Foundation funded the program’s launch in September 2015 and has been a highly supportive partner ever since.

Taking Charge moves past short term solutions to address underlying issues that are rooted in poverty and low-literacy. With funding from the Calgary Foundation, the program provides dedicated facilitators, childcare, program incentives, and a myriad of resources. The Calgary Foundation has been a flexible and encouraging partner every step of the way, allowing adjustments to the original program design and the addition of a second round of the pilot, which started in February of this year.

The nine graduates of the first Taking Charge cohort give the program top marks. For some, it’s the first time in years they’ve been able to leave their house. Others say that after struggling with depression, this program has given them their life back. All participants have found new ways to cope with day-to-day challenges, address conflict, set and achieve goals, and build their sense of self confidence and self-esteem.

This program is a game changer in the lives of long-term clients who have chronically struggled with a variety of issues. The Calgary Foundation, through its generous financial support and willing spirit, has made this possible. Thanks a bunch and then some!

Jason Bates (Calgary Foundation) and nominator Shauna Parks (Sunrise Community Link)

Jason Bates (Calgary Foundation) and nominator Shauna Parks (Sunrise Community Link)

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2015 – Adult Learner: Shala Quinn

“Canada is my sun,” says Shala about the country that has become a home and place of dreams for her and her family. Shala, like many girls in the rest of the world, did not have the benefi t of schooling. She became a child bride and mother in her early teens. In the early 90’s, Shala moved to Canada as a single mother with her children. She taught herself to speak, read and write English by watching television and listening to her children.

Shala first became a student at Bow Valley College in the Adult Basic Literacy Education program. In 2014, she enrolled in the Lifeline to Literacy program. Today, she is a fulltime student in ESL classes during the week and continues with her Lifeline to Literacy program two nights a week. In addition to taking classes day and night, Shala is always searching for part-time employment to support her family.

Shala’s achievements in Calgary are a remarkable testimonial to her belief in education as the key to her empowerment and her future. All of her teachers have spoken highly of her dedication to her studies, her positive attitude and her caring nature.

Despite her very busy schedule, Shala still finds time to volunteer with a number of non-profit agencies in her community. An inspiration to all those around her, one of Shala’s greatest successes is as a shining role model for her children. Her daughter says, “My mother is the perfect example of someone who loves to learn. She reminds us always of the importance of learning and how we can achieve greatness through learning.”

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2015 – Learning Champion: Debbie Wiebe

Debbie Wiebe is a champion of mental health consumers. Specifically, she’s a national leader in peer support and learning for individuals with mental health issues.

During her twenty years at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Debbie has been instrumental in creating and leading Calgary’s Peer Options/Art of Friendship program. This innovative peer-mentoring program teaches foundational thinking and communication skills that help participants make social connections. The model allows participants to transition over time from entry-level learners to peer facilitators and on to reintegration into community.

Recently, Debbie adapted the Art of Friendship peer mentor model to address the social needs of downtown residents displaced by the 2013 flood. Another adaptation serves individuals isolated in long-term care facilities. Yet a third adaptation is aimed at helping mental health clients focus more deeply on recovery and the actions that can lead them there.

Debbie works at many levels to pave the way for learners with mental health issues. She’s in the background renewing the peer mentor model, securing funds, leading and training staff, and managing facility use. She has also served on the national Canadian Mental Health Commission and subsequently as a founding member of the Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada committee.

In the words of a colleague, “Debbie has a unique vision. Fundamentally, she is passionate about seeing someone else find the dignity to become an encourager.” Debbie helps those who are well along in recovery find ways to encourage others who may be at the beginning of their journey.

Mental illness is filled with issues of stigma, marginalizing and isolating individuals. Debbie stands up to that stigma, helping mental health clients learn from each other and become friends.

Debbie Wiebe & Kathy Talon

Debbie Wiebe & Kathy Talon

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2015 – Learning Communities: VESL

Since 2005, VESL (Volunteer ESL Tutor Training Project) has supported the training of volunteer English language tutors across Calgary. This is a collaborative effort of four Calgary ELL service providers: Bow Valley College, the Calgary Public Library, the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and the YWCA of Calgary. Bow Valley College graciously acts as lead partner and fiscal agent for this Calgary Learns funded program.

VESL provides six workshops throughout the year led by seasoned ESL instructors. Workshops are offered free-of-charge to volunteers tutoring English language learners with foundational learning needs. In the past two years alone, VESL has trained 285 tutors from ten organizations.

The program also supports tutors through its website. Vesl.ca contains open-access workshop materials, tutor tips, volunteer profiles and other useful information. The results are rich and far-reaching. Volunteer tutors often play key roles in helping foundational learners identify learning needs and access resources. VESL training ensures learners participate in authentic and relevant learning.

Here’s just one example. “I found idioms to be one of the most difficult topics to explain to learners”, one tutor writes. “Without the VESL workshop on idioms and the inspiration and practical advice that I received there, I would not have had the knowledge or skills to tackle this topic in my ESL tutoring.” As idioms became an increasingly popular tutorial topic, this tutor’s learners began to research and present unfamiliar idioms to their classmates, learning best by teaching.

VESL helps ELL service providers attract and retain dedicated volunteers. VESL in turn builds the capacity and credibility of volunteer-run ESL programs. The tutors are building a vibrant volunteer network while learning side by side. And their learners reap the benefits of it all.

VESL team

VESL team

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2015 – Thanks A Bunch: Rotary Club of Calgary

Over the past 16 years The Rotary Club of Calgary has supported strategic enhancements in Bow Valley College adult literacy programs. Rotary’s Adult Literacy Committee funds new learning materials, volunteer and staff training, specialized computer hardware and much, much more.

Two part-time programs have particularly benefited from Rotary’s ongoing commitment: the SARAW (Speech Assisted Reading and Writing) program and the ABLE (Adult Basic Literacy Education) program. Both programs serve persons with disabilities and ABLE also welcomes non-disabled learners who read at grade 2 – 4 levels. Literacy learners make great strides in these programs. As one learner said, “Reading was a big barricade to me but I’ve conquered it.”

Rotary’s support often has immediate profound impact. Their $500 literacy bursaries are awarded annually to 18 learners at the College. $500 means a lot to these learners, many of whom are single mothers and/or unemployed. A bursary can mean they don’t have to go to the food bank that month, or that they can afford bus fare to get to and from school.

Bursary award recipients say it best: “I’ve already felt something was missing in my life by not finishing high school. Winning this award gives me the extra determination to succeed in my goals. Thank you!” and “This award mean a lot to me because I am trying to be a good example for my daughter.”

Members of the Rotary of Calgary’s Adult Literacy Committee, Dean Gjertsen, Al McMillan and former member Paul Cochrane are the hearts and minds behind this continued support. Their dedication to Calgary’s literacy learners is evident through their timely, vital donations. According to a College instructor, “The support from Rotary has encouraged many to continue with their learning journey.”

Thanks a Bunch, Rotary Club! You ROCK!

Rotary Club of Calgary with Bow Valley College staff Belle Auld and Carol McCullough

Rotary Club of Calgary with Bow Valley College staff Belle Auld and Carol McCullough

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2014 – Adult Learner: Loraine Luterbach

In 1953, when Loraine Luterbach was born, many parents of persons with developmental disabilities were told that their children were unable to learn and grow as “regular” people. That’s not Loraine’s story—her life is dedicated to personal growth through learning. Her passions are self-advocacy, plain language translation and, more recently, financial literacy.

Loraine’s attitude to learning is contagious. She quickly embodies elements of what she learns and demonstrates it with pride and persistence. Loraine regularly takes part in professional self-advocacy activities and has spoken on self-advocacy at conferences in San Francisco, Washington, Alaska and New York. She actively builds her workplace skills, working one day a week at Rocky Mountain Analytical Labs, volunteering at the Picture This Film Festival and more. She also works as a plain language translator on Vecova’s Research Services team. Loraine clearly understands that if she can access written information and learn from it, then so can others like her. After many years on the team, Loraine is now a mentor, helping peers learn the skills to be plain language translators.

Loraine knows herself as a strong learner. This has freed her from stigmas associated with her cognitive disabilities and she continues to use learning to face each new challenge. For example, Loraine has educated herself on how to care for her elderly parents and to manage her own health issues. Currently, she is learning to manage her money, something her mom once did for her.

Loraine has earned the respect of her peers, co-workers and the many professionals who support her—a true inspiration.

Loraine Luterbach accepting the award from Gord Johnston, ADM, Alberta Human Services

Loraine Luterbach accepting the award from Gord Johnston, ADM, Alberta Human Services

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2014 – Community Learning Champion: Roberta Kuzyk-Burton

Roberta Kuzyk-Burton is a specialist in career services at the Calgary Public Library. For more than ten years she has been a tireless advocate for the unemployed and underemployed in Calgary, helping job seekers from many cultures and walks of life. Her efforts have resulted in an impressive array of programs and services, and also in strategic and collaborative partnerships with other agencies looking to help Calgarians improve their employability.

Roberta is very responsive to each learner’s needs. She takes pride in her ability to take complex data and present it in a clear and meaningful manner to a wide variety of learners. In 2012-2013, Roberta participated in Calgary Learns’ Integrating Foundational Learning (IFL) project, which resulted in the development and delivery of new staff training workshops at the Library. Roberta organized the workshops and co-led a workshop on teaching technology to adults. Over 80 Library staff participated, increasing their capacity to serve adults at foundational levels of learning.

A volunteer career coach noted, “So often, Roberta is working behind the scenes to give people more options and avenues to success.” She strives to offer up-to-date learning opportunities based on trends in job search, career networking and the labour market.

Roberta’s extensive experience in assisting people to develop their skills has made the Library’s slate of career programs one of the most comprehensive among large urban public libraries in the USA and Canada.

Roberta Kuzyk-Burton accepting the award from Linda McKay-Panos, President of the Alberta Association for Multicultural Education

Roberta Kuzyk-Burton accepting the award from Linda McKay-Panos, President of the Alberta Association for Multicultural Education

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2014 – Learning Communities: Employment Services Training program (Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre)

The Drop-In’s Employment Services Training (EST) program serves men and women, 16 and over, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and who want to build workplace knowledge and skills. EST has been offering essential skills training and industry certifications since its inception in 2005. The program has grown steadily since then, collaborating with many community partners to increase the diversity and quality of the curriculum. In 2013, EST graduated 144 of 168 students in its core three-week program. Of these graduates, 73% found employment and another 12% went on to further learning—a record success.

The program sees five times more applicants than the Drop-In Centre can accept. Yet, EST continues to reach out to the most vulnerable. A three-week daytime program does not work for everyone, especially those living day-to-day on unpredictable shift work or temporary day labour. EST expanded into flexible drop-in evening hours to reach these individuals. Last year, 1500 learners took advantage of these evening courses. EST staff also participated in Calgary Learns’ Integrating Foundational Learning (IFL) program in 2012-2013. Through IFL, staff found new ways to meaningfully assess and address students’ literacy needs.

Some EST participants arrive feeling very unsure of themselves and nervous. At times they have such low self-esteem that it freezes them from learning. Many come with little or no experience with computers and little understanding of most of the industry tickets they will be getting. Typically, as they begin to learn, they gain momentum and accomplish more than they imagined. EST graduates find they can move on with their lives, equipped with new skills for work and life, valuable certifications and, best of all, renewed confidence in themselves.

Bruno Gagne, Debbie Newman Meaghan Mueller and Valerie Salt from The DI accepting the award from Lorene Anderson (centre), Calgary Learns' Board Member

Bruno Gagne, Debbie Newman, Meaghan Mueller and Valerie Salt from The DI accepting the award from Lorene Anderson (centre), Calgary Learns’ Board Member

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2014 – Thanks A Bunch: Don Bunch
Don Bunch has been a big supporter of Calgary Learns and espcially the Life Of Learning Awards. In his honour, we showcasing a funder (individual or corporation) whose commitment and financial contribution help support the needs of adult foundational level learners. Don was the first recipient.

Don Bunch, Mumtaz Ebrahim, Nancy Purdy

Don Bunch, Mumtaz Ebrahim, Nancy Purdy

 

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2013 – Adult Learner: Roger Hendrickson

Roger Hendrickson’s challenges began early. Coming from a troubled home with few supports, Roger was soon labeled a slow learner. One teacher singled him out as a warning, telling the class they could work hard to succeed or be a ‘turtle’ like Roger. By age fourteen, Roger was living a life of addiction, homelessness and violence. That all changed in March 2006 — the day Roger entered a treatment centre and asked for help. When he found he could not read the centre’s literature, he turned to his peers in treatment who patiently began to teach him. More help came through programs at the John Howard Society. Five years ago Roger joined the staff of Simon House Treatment Centre, using his own story to encourage others. He took classes in Addiction Studies at Mount Royal University while moving up gradually from night client service worker to Senior Counselor at Simon House. His learning path has come full circle now. He returns regularly to John Howard, giving presentations and serving as a peer counselor. Roger is a dedicated advocate for the men in his care, showing them the joy of living a productive and sober life. He also demonstrates his love of learning through his growing computer skills. As his nominator says, “Roger leads by example. He changes lives every day—starting people on their own journey of life time learning.”

LOLA2013-Roger

Roger Hendrickson

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2013 – Instructor/Facilitator: Pamela Boyd

Pamela Boyd has made a tremendous difference in the lives of disabled Calgarians since founding MoMo Mixed Ability Dance Theatre in 2003. Building on years of teaching improvisational theatre and movement, Pamela worked alongside people with disabilities and other members of the professional arts community to design MoMo’s program. They have created a place where people feel safe and supported to discover their own creative voices and develop their craft.  In a collaborative process, MoMo’s participants are developing a distinct genre of performance, telling their own stories and sharing them with the broader community.  As one supporter says, their performance work unfolds “in interesting, compelling and original ways—ways that open eyes, capture attention and change attitudes.” Pamela’s involvement with the global disability arts world demonstrates her love of lifelong learning and her vision for community-building. She leads ongoing collaborations between MoMo and other mixed ability dance companies in Canada. She also brings gifted international teachers to the program and sends MoMo’s teachers out to the world to share and learn. In the words of her nominator, “Pam’s dedication to the arts and to equal rights has demonstrated her humanity and her citizenry, and has made an indelible difference in Calgary.”

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Pamela Boyd

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2013 – Program Designer/Director: Nada Jerkovic

Nada Jerkovic shows a unique ability to innovate and respond to the needs of family literacy learners. Nada began her teaching career 25 years ago in her native Croatia. In her current role as Manager of Family Literacy at the CanLearn Society, Nada is instrumental in creating and directing the organization’s programs while also juggling issues of funding and administration. Nada’s approach to curriculum design creates an interactive learning experience that is socially relevant, engaging and personally meaningful to learners from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. She excels in leading her team in implementing this approach, sharing successes and constantly measuring and evaluating where to go next. Nada shares her skills and knowledge widely. She was asked to be part of the Foundations of Family Literacy online course – the first of its kind in Canada. Now, Nada shares her expertise instructing participants across Canada in this certificate program. Nada is also the regional coordinator for the Centre for Family Literacy’s regional network, providing training and support to local family literacy practitioners and others working with families.  As her nominator says, “It is clear to all who work with Nada that she is a visionary in her field and a true asset to Family Literacy programming in Calgary and across the country.”

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Nada Jerkovic

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2012 – Adult Learner: Jonathan Stel

A lifelong learner who approaches all he does with commitment, persistence and a positive attitude: that’s Jonathan Stel.

Jonathan’s nominator described him as “a truly committed learner, choosing to pursue excellence through learning in his many diverse activities.” ‘Diverse’ is a great way to characterize Jonathan’s learning. He competes in the Special Olympics in Snowshoeing and is a dedicated volunteer and now employee at the Good Life Community Bicycle Shop. His employer describes him as committed, positive and true to Good Life’s vision of helping “others to push themselves and grow beyond what they and others around them knew to be possible.” Additionally in 2011, Jonathan completed a five year audit program at St. Mary’s University College where his instructor stated “Although being an audit student meant that Jonathan did not qualify to receive any University credits…..he completed his reading and assignments with just as much enthusiasm and strong work ethic as each of his peers.” Jonathan has a disability but he has chosen to focus on his many abilities and, in doing this, he is an inspiration to us all.

Honorarium donated by Oilfield Electrical Inspection Ltd.

Jackie Mann & Jonathan Stel

Jackie Mann & Jonathan Stel

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Alberta Association for Multicultural Education 2012 – Instructor/Facilitator: Zalika Adamson

Zalika Adamson helps money make sense for learners suffering from addictions and mental illness. She brings passion and expertise to the Money Matters program at Momentum. She was instrumental in designing, piloting and now delivering this program for people dealing with mental health issues and addictions. Zalika shines as an exceptional instructor in her commitment to meeting the unique needs and challenges of these learners. According to her nominator “Zalika has been innovative in her approach to incorporating mental health issues into financial literacy…. by creating a safe environment where participants can disclose not only their challenges with money, but how their illness compounds those challenges.” It is clear that Zalika approaches her work with creativity and enthusiasm and has a true appreciation for the struggles of the population she works with. According to one of her supporters, “Zalika makes a huge difference to people’s lives. She is an inspiration to those of us who are passionate about adult life long learning.”

Zalika Adamson, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Donna McBride

Zalika Adamson, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Donna McBride

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2012 – Program Designer/Director: Donna Sharman

Donna Sharman is a true example of dedication to lifelong learning and a passionate advocate for her students. She clearly has a passion for her work having been involved in the Transitional Vocational Program (TVP) at Mount Royal University (MRU) since 1996. MRU staff and students value this program as part of their learning community and despite numerous institutional changes; TVP has stood the test of time. TVP has a long history of success in Calgary; providing essential employment and life skills to learners with disabilities. Key to TVP’s great track record is Donna. Her nominator and supporters describe Donna as a passionate advocate who always focuses on what is most beneficial for the students. Donna tunes into the needs of the learners; working with them and their parents to overcome challenges and achieve success. Donna works to continually improve the program and has piloted new components for TVP, including the online math and Safeway Eating Right, Living Right courses. Her nominator summed it well: “Donna has a passion for the TVP program and that is evident in everything she says and does.”

Honorarium donated by Calgary Learns staff and board

Sandie Cheney & Donna Sharman

Sandie Cheney & Donna Sharman

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2012 – Program Designer/Director: John Barrett

John Barrett lives his vision of making the bicycle a point of connection and creating a vibrant and welcoming learning community. The Good Life Community Bicycle Shop supports learning around bicycle repair and refurbishment. However the work of Good Life Bike goes much deeper thanks to the dedication of its founder John Barrett. According to his nominator John set out to create a space that encouraged learners to work on bikes, “build inner confidence and feel like they have control over some part of their lives… this vision is important to articulate because it is was integral in creating Good Life and it lives on to this day as one of the organization’s core values.” Those he works with add that John stays true to his vision by embodying the positive aspects of leadership. “He inspires, motivates, strengthens and informs the organization and those around him with community values, teamwork, and empowerment; while he leaves behind the negative aspects that too often accompany hierarchical leadership.” It is clear that in founding the Good Life Bike Shop John has truly been involved in something special and has enriched the lives of many.

Honorarium donated by Young EnergyServe Inc.

Jackie Mann & John Barrett

Jackie Mann & John Barrett

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2012 – Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal Adult Learning: Lori Villebrun (September 16, 1964 – January 27, 2012)

This year Calgary Learns is pleased to honour Lori Villebrun, an exceptional Aboriginal educator. Although we are deeply saddened by Lori’s passing we are pleased to highlight some of her many achievements and share with you the deep and lasting impression she made upon all who had the joy of working with her. Lori’s lifelong learning path began in her own community through her Dene and Métis heritage. Lori believed strongly in the value of education and was deeply committed to her own education, obtaining a SAIT Diploma, a Bachelor of Arts, and a Master’s degree. Lori worked with many organizations in Calgary and volunteered her time generously in support of the causes she felt passionately about. Lori helped dozens of organizations see things from new and exciting points of view. She shared how special it was to be Dene, and spoke openly of the challenges facing Aboriginal people. Lori had a wonderful twinkle to her eye and exuded a warmth and vitality in all her endeavours; she was a mentor, friend and guide to many in this community and will be deeply missed by us all. At Calgary Learns we feel privileged to have this opportunity to honour her memory with a LOLA to recognize the impact she had had on the Calgary learning community.

Honorarium donated by Calgary Learns staff and board

Marlene Villebrun accepting the award for her sister Lori

Marlene Villebrun accepting the award for her sister Lori

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2011 – Adult Learner: Cindy (Dan) Yu

Cindy (Dan) Yu came to Canada last April and has been learning and volunteering here nonstop. A teacher in her homeland of China, Cindy now shines as a learner in Bow Valley College’s English for Academic Purposes program. Cindy’s nominator marvels that on top of her studies and taking numerous workshops, “Cindy has been volunteering since the second week of her arrival.” She has logged over 200 volunteer hours working at a number of different community organizations, including the Book Nook at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, delivering Citizen Engagement Workshops in Mandarin for clients of the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association and acting as a part-time group leader at the Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth in the after school program. A dedicated mother, Cindy also participates in the Parent Council at her son’s school and trained to be an interpreter within the school district. Her nominator is right, “Cindy is a real treasure to Canada.”

Honorarium donated by Spirit Pipelines

Brenda Xu & Cindy Yu

Brenda Xu & Cindy Yu

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2011-Adult Learner: Brad Henkel

Bradley Henkel changes perceptions of people with disabilities through leadership and learning. Brad Henkel does not let his developmental disability slow him down. Since graduating from high school in 2008 Brad has been active in the Participation in Academics and Career Exploration (PACE) program at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary. Whether taking classes, attending workshops or finding employment, Brad embraces the PACE program which helps young adults develop their career and learning pathways. Many who know Brad say he is helping to change the stereotype of people with disabilities. His nominator explains, “Brad has become a strong leader in different communities he works and learns in simply by setting an example as an active volunteer, responsible co-worker, and equally, always passionate student.” Brad sets a great example of what you can achieve through learning.

Honorarium donated by Oilfield Electrical

Zofia Teresa Zgolak & Brad Henkel

Zofia Teresa Zgolak & Brad Henkel

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2011-Adult Learner: Ana Paula Mullen

Ana Paula Mullen proves how commitment to learning can help you to achieve your goals. Ana Paula came from Portugal as an adolescent and despite attending school in Canada she left without being fluent in reading or writing English. Now she works to improve her skills, taking classes at the library and enrolling in Bow Valley Colleges’ Building Reading and Writing Skills. Ana Paula focuses on her ultimate goal of working in the education field with children with special needs. Those who know her see that she is on this learning path already. Ana Paula is a mother of 7 children, 4 of whom are challenged with learning disabilities. Her nominator says it is because of Ana Paula’s advocacy and passion for learning that all her children are thriving in school and adds that Ana Paula demonstrates to her children, classmates and instructors “that with determination and passion for learning she will achieve her goals.”

Honorarium donated by Young EnergyServe Inc.

Danielle Dore & Ana Paula Mullen

Danielle Dore & Ana Paula Mullen

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Alberta Association for Multicultural Education 2011 – Instructor/Facilitator: Carolyn Reicher

Carolyn Reicher leads the way for learners as an exceptional literacy practitioner. Over the past decade Carolyn has been instrumental in bringing to life many of the Calgary Public Library’s literacy and learning programs. One of her most impressive achievements has been her role in supporting the Library’s Reading Advantage program to help over 400 adult learners improve their reading and writing skills. According to Carolyn’s nominator “her vision for the improvement of the daily lives of literacy learners never falters.” It is this commitment to learners that makes her stand out. On top of her work at the library Carolyn is also a passionate and active community volunteer. A colleague summarizes her strengths “Carolyn is not only a promoter of adult literacy. She is a community animator who helps individuals and organizations connect the dots from the personal, to the local to the global community.”

Heather Robertson, Carolyn Reicher, Emily Robinson Leclair

Heather Robertson, Carolyn Reicher, Emily Robinson Leclair

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2011 – Instructor/Facilitator: Elena Beckwermert

Elena Beckwermert helps women break away from past trauma and addictions. For over 10 years Elena has been a life changing facilitator and counsellor at the Youville Recovery Residence for Women where she delivers programming for mothers entering treatment with their children. Elena is seen as an innovator by her colleagues always working to create a learning environment that is welcoming, nurturing and suiting the individual needs of clients. Elena’s nominators all spoke of her dedication, compassion and “genuine desire to promote self worth and empowerment for the women and children she works with.” And her dedication to creating a nurturing environment is not just professional: Elena’s own twins, born at 24 weeks, are now close to graduating university on the dean’s list! Clearly, Elena’s three decades as a beloved and knowledgeable educator have influenced the lives of many.

Honorarium donated by TD Canada Trust

Cheryll Nandee & Elena Beckwermert

Cheryll Nandee & Elena Beckwermert

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2011 – Director/Designer: Denise Theunissen

Denise Theunissen champions innovations that advance learner services across the globe. Through her work as a learning specialist at Bow Valley College, Denise has contributed to a number of innovative projects involving assistive technologies and learner access. Denise is a passionate advocate of Universal Design principles, which strive to create learning environments that are inclusive and accessible for all. She has even taken her knowledge of Universal Design teaching principles overseas working with instructors in Mozambique, Namibia, Ghana and Thailand. It is clear from her nominators that Denise “goes out of her way to motivate and encourage coworkers….and her dedication to learners is shown through her tireless efforts advocating for Universal Design principles for all students.” Thanks to the efforts of visionaries like Denise learning is more accessible to us all.

Honorarium donated by Calgary Learns staff and board

Denise Theunissen (centre) with Heather Deacon & Erin James

Denise Theunissen (centre) with Heather Deacon & Erin James

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2011 – Director/Designer: Terri Peters

Terri Peters is a passionate and effective designer for adult literacy and learning. Terri has dedicated her life’s work to education and literacy. In her role as a project manager at Literacy Alberta, Terri developed tools such as the Literacy Audit Tool Kit and Health Literacy Audit that are making a tremendous impact in the field of literacy and the lives of literacy learners. Terri is also a sought-after training facilitator and member of several advisory groups. She uses her knowledge, sense of humor and passion for literacy and learning to inspire all those around her. This is clear in the following praise from one of her nominators, “In spreading her enthusiasm and belief in literacy work she leads by example and carries others along with her.” It is clear that through Terri, our community has found a passionate voice for the critical issue of literacy.

Honorarium donated by Calgary Learns staff and board

Elaine Cairns & Terri Peters

Elaine Cairns & Terri Peters

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2010 – Adult Learner: Sufia Chowdhury

Sufia Chowdhury is a wonderful example of learning in action. She is described by her LOLA nominator as “pint sized bundle of energy” who continually sets learning goals for herself and inspires others in her community to attend classes and learn new skills. Sufia came to Canada from Bangladesh five years ago. Although well educated in her own country, Sufia felt very isolated due to her lack of English. This prompted her to join classes at both the Women in Need Society and the Further Education Society of Alberta. Sufia soon blossomed in her new learning environment; becoming a star student and encouraging others in the housing complex where she lives to attend classes with her, Sufia’s nominator notes, “she has become more a dedicated volunteer than a student.” Sufia’s love of learning also extends to her family, she recently helped them to study for and pass their citizenship exams. According to her nominator Sufia comes from a “faith and cultural background where women traditionally do not go out without their husbands.” Her nominator adds she has overcome this challenge by building a great support network where she lives, in turn becoming a role model to her four children three of whom are girls, as she “demonstrates that a woman can observe her faith, traditions and values yet still grow and develop as an individual while being an agent of change in her community.”

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Sufia with Alberta Adavanced Education and Technology’s Acting Executive Director Campus Alberta Partnerships Marg Leathem

 

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2010- Instructor/Facilitator: Linda Faulkner

Linda Faulkner is an engaging and inspiring instructor; who has been working in the Pebbles in the Sand Program at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) for the past six years. Linda’s role at CIWA requires her to engage learners with multiple barriers, including refugee and immigrant women who have never seen the inside of a classroom or held a pencil. Effectively engaging these learners requires a special skill set and according to her nominator “Linda is always looking for innovative methods or materials to enhance the learning in her classroom. She incorporates crafts, music, dance, exercises and everyday activities such as cooking into her lessons.” Linda’s classes however are not all fun and games she shows her learners how to organize binders demonstrating how to keep their materials organized to make these activities meaningful to their literacy learning. Linda, a single mom is an example of lifelong learning herself, completing her Bachelor of Education at the age of forty-two and pursuing literacy education classes while working full time. Linda notes what she loves about her job is “the courage and determination of the women who come to class, even when they don’t feel well or can barely afford a bus ticket.” It is clear that Linda is a wonderful example of both being inspired and being inspirational.

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Linda Faulkner

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2010- Director/Designer: Dr. Tricia Donovan

Dr. Tricia Donovan is clearly a leader in the field of online learning. As the Executive Director of eCampusAlberta, she has played a key leadership role in bringing together a consortium of 15 Alberta post-secondary institutions and developing a revolutionary way of delivering education across Alberta. Tricia has truly garnered the respect of many in the post-secondary community as is clear from the following quote from one of her supporters, “Tricia’s passion for education and the importance of making it accessible to all has galvanized the educational community into creating a portal where prospective students may explore a wealth of educational opportunities.” eCampusAlberta offers more than 400 online classes and 50 online programs, providing learners with a high quality, accredited alternative to on-campus learning. Taking programs through eCampusAlberta allows learners to complete their high school diplomas or earn a certificate, diploma or applied degree while balancing work and family commitments. These learners appreciate this flexibility and the ability to access educational opportunities that otherwise might not be availa ble to them. Clearly Dr. Donovan’s vision and commitment to eCampusAlberta have been a critical part of the success of this initiative. According to her nominators “Dr. Donovan’s belief in online education, her diplomatic skills, willingness to listen to people and dedication to creating the opportunities for students have been the dominant factors in ensuring the consortium’s success.“

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Tricia with our event sponsor Don Bunch of Bunch Projects.

 

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2009– Adult Learner: Patricia Kingsbury

Pat Kingsbury is a learning inspiration. Now in her fifties, she is striving to make her learning goal a reality. Pat has lived in the Bowness area for most of her life; she has worked hard and is proud to have raised 4 kids on her own. However, she has always wanted to finish high school. In 2006 Pat enrolled in the Never Too Late Program. This program helps adult learners study for and pass their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) exams. According to her instructors, Pat worked diligently over the past 2 years to complete her GED and took advantage of all the learning opportunities provided for he r. Pat is well on her way to achieving her GED; she passed all her exams on her first attempt except for Math. Pat’s Math instructor describes her as a “bright and determined student” who has struggled to meet the challenge of learning 7 years of math. He adds that Pat inspires other students, always providing words of encouragement and championing the value of having an education. According to her nominator “I can’t imagine the bravery it must take to come back to class after such a long time and to compete with students half your age and who have had much more education. To be able to take a grade 5 education and complete our GED is an amazing feat, indeed.” Pat Kingsbury’s story is a wonderful example that it is never too late to learn!

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Pat with Cam Stewart, Calgary Learns Board President

 

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2009 – Instructor/Facilitator: Fenna Schaapman

Fenna Schaapman’s gift for combining conventional and creative approaches to learning makes her a truly holistic instructor. Fenna’s own passion for lifelong learning led her to complete a B.Sc with a focus on learning and nutrition as well as classes in educational kinesiology and acupressure and a certificate in addiction studies. For the past 3 years Fenna has led workshops at the Youville Women’s Residence. She uses her education and broad range of skills to help women overcoming addiction build their self confidence and see learning in a new way. Fenna uses traditional and innovative approaches to help women claim their voices and tell their stories. According to her nominator “Fenna’s absolute belief that everyone can learn and achieve leaves the individuals in her groups no choice but to learn and achieve .” Fenna created a series of workshops using her unique skill set which, according to one attendee, helps individuals “make profound changes in their lives be it emotional, spiritual, or in business.” Fenna also expanded her skills through working with her own son. At birth he weighed only 3 lbs and was diagnosed with a major visual perception learning disability. Through a variety of learning solutions and an intense desire to see her son learn and succeed, Fenna helped him find ways to complete school. Today he is applying to the University of Calgary to pursue a degree in music. Clearly, Fenna is a dedicated and caring instructor who is both innovative and intuitive in her approach to helping individuals learn.

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Fenna with Barbara Leung, Director Community Programs Advanced Education and Technology

 

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2009 – Director/Designer: Phyllis Regier

Phyllis Regier seems to have struck the perfect balance between being a strong program administrator and being attentive to the needs of her staff and students. Currently she is the ESL Program Manager at Chinook Learning Services (Calgary Board of Education). Phyllis is a visionary and an in novator in her field. According to her nominators, Phyllis “created, through collaboration, leadership and vision, an ESL program that is respected by adult students and professional educators throughout Calgary.” It is clear that her staff is inspired by her knowledge, expertise and dedication to her work. They appreciate her professionalism, passion for learning and her flexibility. Phyllis receives high praise from the ESL instructors she supervises. Here is an example: “Phyllis sets the banner high for our school by giving us everything we need to achieve our goals. Her leadership is extraordinary: inclusive, open-minded, action-oriented and innovative.” In addition, her staff praise Phyllis for her open-door policy; she welcomes their concerns and ideas. S tudents also find Phyllis to be “a wonderful organizer, caring manager and really excellent professional.” Phyllis is deeply committed to the work that she does and there is no doubt that her openness, leadership, professionalism, caring and knowledge make her a true asset to the adult learning community. She goes above and beyond to create a truly exceptional learning environment for all those she works with.

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Phyllis with Evelyn Tait, Contract Services Coordinator, Community and Business Services Alberta Employment and Immigration

 

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2008- Adult Learner: Rowshon ana Sheuly

Rowshon ana Sheuly and her family immigrated to Canada from Bangladesh six years ago. While she came with a Masters Degree in Philosophy from her home country, she lacked English skills and thus, the ability to communicate. Eager to make connections in the community and alleviate her isolation Rowshon began taking programs such as family literacy classes through a partnership of the Further Education Society and the Women in Need Society. She has never looked back. Currently she works part-time, volunteers, and continues to attend a variety of educational programs while being a mom to three kids. This year she also made the transition from learning to teaching, as she took facilitator training with the Further Education Society, and is now beginning to lead one of the programs she took herself just a few years ago. Rowshon’s nominators are all clearly impressed with her ability to learn but say equally important is that she is “an inspiration and terrific role model”. Another nominator adds to this, stating “it is the genuine interest in community that makes Rowshon so deserving of this award. She not only searches to improve her own knowledge …but she also freely shares what she learns with others.”

LOLA2008-Rowshon

Rowshon (centre) with Donna Weitz Manager, Community Programs Advanced Education and Technology(left) and nominator Sue Phillips (right)

 

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2008- Instructor/Facilitator: Brenda Henley

Brenda Henley has been a parent educator for 8 years and was nominated for her work in teaching and designing unique opportunities for parents through her work at Families Matter. It is clear that Brenda’s colleagues find her to be a gifted instructor who is also skilled as a mediator and conflict resolution teacher. Brenda’s nominators describe her as a flexible, organized, pleasant and dynamic facilitator who demonstrates an incredible passion for her work. Parents who have participated in Brenda’s programs credit her with inspiring them with “a desire to continuously learn and to be a better parent.” Her program evaluations are filled with praises calling her informed, humorous, enthusiastic and helpful as well as thanking her for providing strategies that are both positive and useful for everyday parenting struggles. It is clear that Brenda is a responsive and dedicated instructor who inspires praise and respect from the parents she works with and her fellow instructors.

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Brenda with Barbara Leung Director Community Programs Advanced Education and Technology

 

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2008- Designer/Director: Belle Auld

Belle Auld has been involved with Bow Valley College since 2000; currently she coordinates the College’s Speech Assisted Reading and Writing Program (SARAW) a literacy program for adults with disabilities. Belle has been a literacy advocate throughout her career. Her colleagues at Bow Valley describe her as an ethical, caring and dedicated individual who continues to work on building and improving learning possibilities, form the ground up for adults with disabilities. She has been involved in research and gathering feedback to improve the way services are delivered to learners she works with and is recognized with creating one of the strongest SARAW programs in Canada. Throughout her career there have been numerous examples of Belle being instrumental in helping to keep students interested and excited about literacy and learning. According to one of her nominators “Belle is an outstanding facilitator who knows how to teach and deal with the student bringing light of knowledge in the student’s life.”

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Belle (centre) with her Bow Valley College colleagues

 

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2007 – Adult Learner: Euphema Blake

Euphema’s road to learning was extremely challenging. Her mother died when she was only eight years old and as the eldest of five children, Euphema shouldered many of the responsibilities of raising her younger siblings. “There were so many of us and we never had a chance to learn,” she says. Euphema emigrated from Jamaica in the early seventies and raised a family here. She tried learning on her own but found it very hard. When her kids were grown, she came to realize how limiting her reading and writing skills were. “I had to keep asking my kids about everything,” she explains. “I know they got tired of doing all the reading and writing for me.” Euphema also wanted to sing from a songbook and read her Bible with more ease. So she decided to do something about it. In 2003 Euphema joined the Reading Advantage program at the Calgary Public Library. Now she reads widely and has advanced three grade levels in reading comprehension. Her volunteer tutor Verla Boyle writes, “Never have I taught anyone who has the determined attitude towards learning that Euphema has.” Euphema’s determination and desire to keep learning are boundless and a source of pride and inspiration for those around her. One of her children writes, “My mom has really improved her reading. I’m very proud of her.”

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Euphema Blake with the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Technology Dr. Bob Fessenden

 

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2007 – Instructor/Facilitator: Peter Cutting

Peter Cutting is the best kind of volunteer adult literacy tutor. He’s reliable, engaging, funny, skilled and a passionate advocate for foundational learners. For more than two decades and over many hundreds of hours, Peter has worked one-on-one and in group settings to help learners achieve life skills through improved literacy learning. Beyond his tutoring role, Peter has served on the boards of the Alberta Association for Adult Literacy (now Literacy Alberta) and the Calgary Public Library, and has lent his time to fundraising efforts on behalf of adult literacy. Peter has also demonstrated commitment to his own learning. In the last several years he participated in professional development as a tutor, attending many workshops and conferences on his own time. Currently coaching learners at the Calgary Public Library, Peter shares his enthusiasm through a creative and innovative style of literacy coaching that stems from his commitment to a learner-centred approach to tutoring. Ana Mullen, whom Peter has tutored for five years, sums it up: “Peter is a funny and caring guy. He also makes sure that I understand and pushes me to challenge myself. He makes learning so much fun. He is a great teacher to me!”

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Peter Cutting with the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Technology Dr. Bob Fessenden

 

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2007 – Designer/Director: Diane Hardy

Diane Hardy began her career as an educator in 1993 in Bow Valley College’s ESL and work experience programs. Over the years, colleagues and learners increasingly recognized her skills and contributions throughout the many teaching, tutoring, coordination, research and grant-seeking roles she took on. Now the coordinator of half a dozen ESL programs, Diane continues to identify and address foundational learning needs. Her pivotal work to establish the Bridge Program, a post high school ESL literacy program, resulted in it receiving the 2007 Mayor’s Excellence Award in the category of Literacy Support and Enhancement. Diane’s vision keeps growing. “In the past year, Diane has assumed a leadership role in the area of curriculum development, professional development and online development for the ESL Department at Bow Valley College,” Charles Pankratz, Dean of Academic Foundations at the College writes, “She is already taking an innovative and collaborative approach, having put together a strong team that works inter-departmentally to develop resources that are well beyond the present resources.” He concludes, “Diane Hardy is a highly committed educator who is willing to put incredible effort into serving the educational needs she sees and has an impressive track record in innovation. It must also be said that Diane is a wonderful, friendly, good-hearted person who is highly valued and respected by those who have the pleasure of working with her.”

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Diane Hardy with the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Technology Dr . Bob Fessenden

 

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2006-Adult Learner: Dee-Ann Mercer

Dee-Ann recently lost all of her hearing due to a rare disease. This radical change in her capacity to communicate has been a huge challenge, as she is also visually impaired. Dee-Ann is working proactively to overcome these tremendous obstacles—using her skills of an outstanding lifelong learner. She enrolled in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service’s (DHHS) Family Focused American Sign Language (ASL) course, a new learning opportunity for those learning sign language for day-to-day family communication. From her class notes Dee-Ann created a study booklet that she then shared with her instructor and fellow classmates. The booklet has become a very useful companion study guide for other learners in the course. Suzanne Belisle , Executive Director of DHHS says, “As someone who is still taking baby steps in ASL, I found Dee-Ann’s ASL book to be a wonderfully clear sign review. This book will be a great resource for every current and future Family Focused ASL student.” Dee-Ann champions the learning of others. She inspired her husband, family members and best friend to join her in ASL classes. She also donated her own time and resources so that other families are successful in learning and using ASL. Marilou Toews, Dee-Ann’s award nominator, summed it up well, “Dee-Ann represents the best in adult learners. She overcomes barriers, she gets involved, she provides feedback and she gives back.”

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Dee-Ann making her touching LOLA speech

 

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2006 -Instructor/Facilitator: Jennifer Lippold

For five years, Jennifer was a Financial Literacy Facilitator at MCC Employment Development. She ran ‘Fair Gains’ and the ‘Owen Hart Home Owners Program’. These programs are for low income Calgarians who learn money management skills while participating in matched savings toward the purchase of a house, schooling, starting a business or another major asset. The Fair Gains program is a year-long process for learners – a long time to keep adults actively learning. The transformation of confidence in her students inspires awe in Jennifer’s colleagues.  Jennifer is a passionate facilitator who treats her participants with kindness and respect. Many people talk of her willingness to assist participants during and after class. A Fair Gains graduate described Jennifer’s commitment to her students, “There were many times we saw Jennifer staying behind to help someone with their questions or to give a listening ear.” She draws upon people’s experiences and helps them recognize the strengths they bring rather than focusing on their deficits. Jennifer brings hope for a better future and helps her participants to find their own power. As one student said, “Jennifer was very approachable, clear in her expectations and she helped with explaining difficult material. She helped make the classroom a comfortable environment to ask questions.”Jennifer speaks two languages and has worked and studied on three continents. We are fortunate to have her here, strengthening both the spirit and the capacity of adult learners in Calgary.

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Jennifer accepting her LOLA presented by Calgary Learns ED, Krista Poole

 

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2006 – Designer/Director: Laureen MacKenzie

Laureen brings over 35 years of experience in the education field—as a language arts teacher, administrator, facilitator, counselor, volunteer and program developer—to her current position as co-executive director of the Further Education Society of Alberta (FESA). Ten year ago, Laureen and fellow adult educator Elaine Cairns founded the FESA, an organization dedicated to strengthening communities through family learning. Laureen co-authored FESA’s award winning Literacy and Parenting Skills (LAPS) a program which has been taken across Canada . Over a thousand people have taken LAPS training nationally. Laureen knows—and teaches—that every learner has a story, everyone has something he or she can contribute and everyone’s life experience should be valued. As her colleague Ann McLean says, “Laureen believes in people’s ability to change; to improve their lives. She is committed to that end and to breaking the inter-generational pattern of low literacy. Laureen is, quite literally, part of the solution.”

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Laureen MacKenzie

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2005 -Adult Learner: Greg MacIntyre

Greg MacIntyre, who originates from Cape Breton, has had an interesting but challenging life of learning so far. He has been a coal miner, mortician, emergency medical technician and construction worker and is now a certified life skills instructor. Through the early years of his working life Greg struggled with and overcame various addictions. His recovery brought about an interest in helping other individuals meet their own challenges. Greg has worked as a Life Skills Instructor at MCC Employment Development since 1998 and also teaches at the Mustard Seed. His participants consistently rate his classes among their favourites. His enthusiasm for learning and life impresses students and coworkers alike. In recent years he has become certified in Control Theory, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Quantum Physics as it relates to human relations. This training required hundreds of hours and months of training but this presented no obstacle to Greg, who refuses to let potential barriers like cost, time or travel get in his way. Greg is committed to lifelong learning. As one coworkers put it, “To him, life is about working through the tough times, learning from your mistakes, constantly improving and growing and then sharing your knowledge with others.“

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Greg MacIntyre

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2005-Instructor/Facilitator: Ali Behmanesh

Ali Behmanesh has been a teacher and tutor in Bow Valley College’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit for three years. Ali works with a diverse range of Deaf adult learners, assisting with basic literacy through to preparation for technical training or university. For the higher academic students Ali developed curriculum for a course called ASL for Academic Purposes. This course focuses on Deaf Culture and History while helping students to bridge learning in a hearing environment. Ali is well connected with the Deaf community both locally and provincially and he volunteers for several organizations. In 2003 Ali created, produced and directed a musical dance fundraiser called Rock of ASL. Interestingly, all the dancers, including Ali, are Deaf. The funds raised helped four students visit Gallaudet University in Washington DC, the only university in the world for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. One of these students is now applying to continue his education there. Ali is passionate about teaching but also has a more specific mission. He wants students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing to be proud of their culture and their heritage. A student described the effect of Ali’s commitment to this mission, “Ali has taught me by example, how to be an achiever with my academic goals and aspirations in the Hearing World… He taught me how to be respectful of the diversity of people and boundaries they may set. Ali has also allowed me to increase my self-esteem on a day-to-day level by attending his class about Deaf Culture and Awareness.”

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Ali Behmanesh

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2005 – Director/Designer: Nancy Bain

Nancy Bain has worked at the City of Calgary since 1989. She started out as a Community Recreation Coordinator and from the beginning has been a strong advocate for increasing staff’s capacity through learning. In 1998 she received her Masters degree in Continuing Education, specializing in adult learning in the workplace. An exceptional example of a modern adult learner, Nancy undertook the challenge of being one of the first students in this distance-education master’s program while continuing her work at the City. In 2001 Nancy became the Learning and Development Coordinator for Community and Neighborhood Services (CNS). She immediately began introducing new learning opportunities to staff. Over the next two years Nancy’s persistent advocacy brought about an employee learning program that went far beyond simple training. CNS now leads the way at the City with a learning and development strategy and plan for staff that includes learning opportunities such as Adult Learning Foundations and Powerful Professionals, an annual Learning @ Work Week, and an employee orientation program. Nancy’s colleagues and coworkers sing her praises as they reap the benefits of participating in both e-learning and traditional learning. Here is Nancy’s philosophy in her own words: “ To grow in our jobs and our family lives requires that we keep on growing and learning long after our formal schooling is done. An appetite for continuous learning, in combination with an insatiable curiosity, is what will propel you steadily forward in good times and bad.”

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Nancy Bain

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2004 – Adult Learner: Donald Patterson

Donald has lived in Calgary all his life. He is an active volunteer, donating his time to the Between Friends Association and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Although Donald is a man with many talents, he has struggled because of his difficulty speaking. Late in 2002 Donald decided to learn sign language. This new skill brought more people into his life and gave him confidence; but Donald wanted more. Motivated by his success, Donald built a system for communicating with the broader community by creating a book of visual cues relevant to his life. Donald was now able to introduce himself, ask and answer questions, order his own coffee and participate in conversations. After several months of using and revising this system, Donald had an opportunity to try a Tech II voice output communication device. Just a month ago he fulfilled a life goal of being a public speaker when, using this device, he gave a talk at a Developmental Disability Resource Centre orientation. Since then, Donald has given two more speeches. In the words of nominator Jackie Kimmel, “He is an inspiration to others that struggle to make themselves heard and is a testimony to the power of possibility and determination.”

LOLA2004-Donald

LOLA recipient Donald Paterson along with his family and staff from the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre. Left to right: Doug Tryon (DDRC), Jackie Kimmel (DDRC), Donald Paterson, Carol Taylor, Wayne Taylor

 

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2004 – Instructor/Facilitator: Sharon Christie

Sharon coordinates the Grace Women’s Health Resources Outreach Program. Since she started in 2002, the five-year-old program has almost doubled in size. The Grace’s manager, Mary Bobey explains, “She saw the potential of the program and rapidly began to expand its services.” This past year Sharon facilitated more than 230 health education presentations, reaching 7,000 marginalized women. Workshop topics include parenting, family violence, and cervical health. Sharon takes her program to agencies that serve women at risk: women in poverty, those in conflict with the law, women in shelters, women with mental illness, and immigrant women with low literacy. She connects with these learners, tailoring her presentations to fit different settings and responding to individual needs. In describing her approach, one reference letter reads, “Sharon has not only developed wonderful educational material on various topics, she has honed a unique style of delivery. In a very calm tone she unfolds her knowledge in a powerful and convincing way. The participant leaves fulfilled and content, with important knowledge they can make practical use of at home.” The themes of compassion and creativity weave in and out of Sharon’s LOLA nomination; we are pleased to honour her contribution to lifelong learning through this award.

LOLA2004-Sharon

LOLA recipient Sharon Christie and co-workers. Left to right: Tammy Nelson, Sharon Christie, Mary Bobey

 

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2004 – Director/Designer: Anne Price

Dr Anne Price has been CEO of the Calgary Learning Centre since 1996. She is a leader in education promoting lifelong learning, especially for those with learning disabilities. With a PhD in Educational Psychology (Special Education) and several years as a committed advocate of learning, Anne has developed many resources for parents, counselors and educators and is a passionate supporter of educators in training. Anne participates in several community initiatives such as the Learning Disabilities Stakeholders Group (Chair), United Way Children’s Initiative and Advisory Committee to the Faculty of Education (U of C). Many nomination letters commented on her compassion for learners and for her staff at the Learning Centre, “Her focus is on what the learner requires to be successful.” Over the years she has supported the design and implementation of adult learning programs including Parenting the AD/HD Child, Partners for Learning and Life Strategies for Adults with Attention Difficulties. In the words of another supporter, “Dr. Price’s role as chief prompter, facilitator, teacher, guide and critical advisor is acknowledged and appreciated by all who work with her. Her inquiring questions, encouragement, support and modeling help to build the learning and leadership capacity of all who aspire to become master teachers, competent parents and effective leaders.” Anne’s leadership will be celebrated with this award.

LOLA recipient Anne Price and co-workers. Left to right: Susan Maunula, Kate Reynolds-Braun, Anne Price, Anna Kae Todd, and Carolyn Meier

LOLA recipient Anne Price and co-workers. Left to right: Susan Maunula, Kate Reynolds-Braun, Anne Price, Anna Kae Todd, and Carolyn Meier

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2003 – Adult Learner: Philippe Gagnon

Philippe Gagnon has been working with the Inside Out Integrated Theatre Project since 1999. Inside Out Theatre enables participants with disabilities to enjoy and benefit from the development of and participation in a training program culminating in a theatre production. Philippe has a brain injury which left him with challenges in walking and motor skills in general, as well as difficulty with speech and comprehension. Around the time he joined Inside Out Theatre he was experiencing many other life transitions. Despite this, not once did he miss a beat in terms of rehearsals and performances. Instead, he brought his sense of humour and invaluable life experience to the performances and to the ambiance of the company as a whole. His work educates the public about disability culture and issues. He is a committed, dedicated and responsible actor who gave 100% to the learning, work and the demands of a tour far from his normal environment and supports. He motivated and inspired his fellow actors and connected with other artists to promote Inside Out. He was a huge part of the success of the 2002 Fringe Festival Tour.

Philippe Gagnon

Philippe Gagnon

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2003 – Instructor/Facilitator: Ruth Bieber

Ruth Bieber is the legally blind Artistic Director of Inside Out Integrated Theatre Project. Their work is rich and varied and for 12 years Ruth has worked to develop several programs to facilitate the needs of the participants. Ruth creates an environment that is accepting, challenging and very, very fun. Nowhere else in Canada is this type of work being done. The process by which Ruth creates is first and foremost the physical and emotional safety of the participants. They must believe that they will be supported so that they can do the work that involves trusting and risking. That does not mean they are unchallenged. Each person has roles, responsibilities, and work to do, and regularly has to raise their personal bar. Participants all reach new levels of maturity, confidence and creativity. Society typically views artistic expression as belonging to the very few elite who are able to develop their craft for the purposes of earning a living. Ruth’s vision, and the work of the Inside Out Integrated Theatre Project not only dispels that myth but simultaneously gives participants a taste of that status that few experience. It is an empowering experience that influences all other aspects of their lives. It motivates their peers, surprises themselves and their families, and it changes their lives. The participants become educators, artists and advocates for themselves and others.

Ruth Bieber accepting her award presented by Calgary Learns staff

Ruth Bieber accepting her award presented by Calgary Learns staff

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2003 – Program Designer/Director: Marnie Schaetti

Marnie Schaetti passionately cares about literacy and literacy learners. She has spent many years working in the field of literacy, co-coordinating programs and projects and serving on several literacy boards. In April 2001 Marnie became the Executive Director of AAAL and according to Myra Skerret, long-time staff member, “the organization has experienced incredible growth, excitement and activity under her leadership”. Marnie helped drive the recent and successful merger of the Alberta Association of Adult Literacy and the Literacy Coordinators of Alberta into Literacy Alberta. Now as the Executive Director of this new organization, she continues to support learners in Calgary and across the province. In 2002/2003 Marnie has managed the Calgary Literacy Needs Assessment Project, of which Phase II is currently underway. The results of this research will be instrumental in creating a strategy for effective literacy learning in our city. Marnie strongly believes that literacy and learners need support and opportunity, and her life’s work is dedicated to making this a reality. In support of this dream she’s been involved with BLAST (Bureau of Learners from Alberta Speakers Team), where learners are trained in public speaking and presentations so that literacy students can tell their stories to wide audiences. She also manages the Literacy Helpline, connecting learners and volunteers to programs in Calgary and across Alberta. As Calgarians we are fortunate to have Marnie working, living in and enriching our community.

LOLA2003-Marnie

Marnie Schaetti with Jeannie and Krista

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2002 – Adult Learner: Janice Shaw

As a young adult, Janice faced many barriers. To name just a few, she was a single mother with a severe learning disability and no high school diploma. A deep desire to create a better life for herself and her child brought Janice to Mount Royal College and then to U of C, where she earned her BSW and spearheaded the creation of services for learning disabled students at the university. She is now a counselor at the Epilepsy Association where she continues to be a lifelong learner, mentor and role model for others overcoming obstacles.

“It was amazing to be given an award to celebrate me and my achievements, …… After reading the letters written for my nomination package I never doubted myself again. It gave me pride and self appreciation that to this day stays with me. “

Janice Shaw

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2002 – Instructor/Facilitator: Audrey Gates

Audrey is an intervenor for the deafblind. Working with clients one-on-one, Audrey builds relationships with individuals based on mutual respect and care. She has touched many colleagues and clients with her skill and dedication as she helps the deafblind understand and interact with the world. Continuing in her advocacy role, she works at both an individual and systemic level and as a founding member of the Intervenor Association of Alberta.

Audrey Gates helps the deafblind understand and interact with the world.

Audrey Gates helps the deafblind understand and interact with the world.

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2002 – Program Designer/Director: Celia Osenton

Celia Osenton’s passion is to provide access to quality parenting education for all interested Calgarians. Her dedication and expertise over the last 25 years have been key in helping to design and direct award winning parenting education classes. Celia is also a leader in several groups that promote how strong families can help to build healthy communities.

“The LOLA Award for Designer/Director provides encouragement for all who work in the field, to design such innovative programs.”

Celia Osenton

Celia Osenton

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2002 – Program Designer/Director: Conrad Murphy

Conrad Murphy is passionate about workplace learning. As leader of the Business Development division at Bow Valley College, Conrad is nationally recognized as a community educator, partnership builder, policy influencer and researcher in developing essential skills testing tools and curricula in this vital area of learning.

“I was honoured to receive the LOLA a few years ago. It was the first award that I ever received for the work that we do in the area of essential skills assessment and training. The recognition from peers provided an affirmation that we were on the right track when we developed the TOWES assessment products.”

Conrad Murphy

Conrad Murphy

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2001 – Adult Learner: Roy Pentland

Roy has been an enthusiastic and successful learner in every course the Transitional Vocational Program at Mount Royal College had to offer him. Although he works full time, he is now giving back to the learning community as a volunteer assistant in the TVP driver’s education course. Roy was nominated by Valerie Parrish, Administrator of TVP, a program for adults with developmental disabilities.

Roy Pentland

Roy Pentland

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2001 – Instructor/Facilitator: Geri Marentette

Geri is the coordinator of the Bridges Program at the Elizabeth Fry Society. Working with women in conflict with the law, Geri is personally responsible for helping numerous women make permanent and profound changes in their lives. She is also a strong collaborator outside of her program, creating and sharing with community partners for the good of learners. Jo-Anne Clark and Diane Altwasser, joint agency coordinators of E-Fry, nominated Geri.

Geri Marentette inspiring instructor.

Geri Marentette inspiring instructor.

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2001 – Program Designer/Director: Desiree Lopez

Desiree is the program manager (and designer) for the “Pebbles in the Sand” literacy program at Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. The only one of its kind in the world, this program works with immigrant women facing the highest barriers to learning. Outstanding learning outcomes are well documented and both Desiree and the program are receiving international attention. Desiree was nominated by Allison Kelly, a volunteer with CIWA.

Desiree Lopez designer of CIWA's Pebbles in the Sand Program

Desiree Lopez designer of CIWA’s Pebbles in the Sand Program

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2000-Adult Learner: Candace Soul

Candace Soul has spent her lifetime learning. She has completed coursework in business, fitness and recreation, academics, alternative medicine and family life. Striving for balance, Candace is as likely to study the latest computer technologies as ancient eastern healing practices. Her goal is to pursue learning opportunities that benefit herself and her community, including volunteer training with the Parent Development Centre to assist families in crisis. Candace’s passion for learning is an inspiration to us all.

Candace Soul passionate lifelong learner

Candace Soul passionate lifelong learner

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2000- Instructor/Facilitator: John Johnson

Working with young adults at Motive-Action Training Foundation, John strives to provide the best possible learning experience for his students, many who find themselves at significant crossroads in their lives. Highly commended by coworkers and students alike, John provides an unfailingly disciplined, organized and safe learning environment. An everyday hero, John brings care and compassion to the classroom, accepting nothing but the best from himself and others.

John Johnson

John Johnson

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2000- Instructor/Facilitator: Wilma Rubens

Wilma Rubens is a dedicated life skills facilitator who helps diverse learners build on their strengths and develop their potential. Specializing in conflict resolution, parent education, and life writing, she has the capacity to build relationships with compassion and wisdom. Wilma is a writer and has a story in the anthology “The Story That Brought Me Here – To Alberta From Everywhere”.

“The LOLA awards give valuable recognition to talented facilitators who spend many hours in preparation and are committed to encouraging their students to live to the fullest.”

Wilma Rubens

Wilma Rubens

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