While hundreds of Faculty of Education students convocated Wednesday, June 12, three of them earned special honours as recipients of the Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock Medals and the Dean’s Medal for Education.
The Dean’s Medal for Education was presented to Richard Armacinski in the Teacher Education program for academic and professional excellence. Armacinski also received the Distinguished Graduating Student Award – Concurrent Intermediate/Senior.
Spirit of Brock medals — given to students who demonstrate the spirit of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock — were presented to undergraduate student Lauren Saly and graduate student Kimberly Radersma.
Community has been part of Saly’s Brock experience since her first visits to the University.
“After touring the campus, I knew Brock was where I wanted to be. I liked the community feel of the campus and Brock had lots of clubs and opportunities for me to become involved in the community,” said Saly, who graduated from Concurrent Teacher Education and also received the Distinguished Graduating Student Award — Concurrent Primary/Junior.
“The biggest highlight of my time at Brock has been getting involved in the Brock community and greater Niagara community.”
Saly has been a member of the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society (BLCS), through which she led three annual events that raised more than $60,000 for bursaries to support students at DSBN Academy.
With a passion for supporting children and adults with disabilities, Saly has volunteered in this area through Brock clubs and Niagara organizations.
For the past four years, she has been part of the Brock Best Buddies Club, which partners with Community Living St. Catharines and builds friendships between Brock students and adults with intellectual disabilities in the Niagara Region.
She has also served as a childcare volunteer with Pathstone Mental Health and as a literacy tutor with the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara Region.
Saly’s fourth-year thesis sparked an interest in research. After graduation, she will be working on a Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology and Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Over the summer she will be continuing her role as a Research Assistant at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto.
Radersma’s shares a similar dedication to the University community.
“I’m deeply honoured to even be nominated, of course, and incredibly proud of earning it. I love Brock and have been proud to be in this community and to be a part of Brock,” she said.
Originally from Toronto, Radersma grew up in California and earned an undergraduate and master’s degree at schools in Michigan and Colorado, respectively.
She also taught high school English for 15 years before entering the PhD in Educational Studies program at Brock six years ago.
The PhD was an opportunity to bring together her professional experience with a desire to study racial injustices she had observed in the education system as a teacher.
“It turned out to be really fortuitous because I love teaching and I was very grateful to remain in the field and continue teaching while pursuing some questions I had been intrigued by,” said Radersma, who taught courses for the Faculty of Education while completing her PhD.
As a high school teacher, Radersma was disturbed by a lack of attention paid to racial discrepancies in schools.
“I found there was a lot of misunderstanding and fear around how to talk about this,” she said. “I resented the fact that as a teacher, I wasn’t getting education about how to talk about this topic and how to support my racialized students in schools where they clearly weren’t valued as much as their white counterparts.”
Radersma’s PhD research explored the need to equip teachers in Canada, particularly white teachers, to be anti-racist in their teaching practices and to address these conversations constructively.
“In my PhD work, I wanted to lean into how we can do this kind of learning in a way that’s deeply transformative and hopeful in a way that doesn’t scare people away and anger them, but invites them into an honest reckoning with our past and an honest grappling with ways we can move forward that are truly inclusive.” she said.
While doing her PhD, she was invited to more than 30 schools across the GTA to discuss her research, work with teachers, run professional development sessions and speak on panels.
During her research, Radersma has relied on the help of her peers and her supervisor, Associate Professor Dolana Mogadime.
“I couldn’t have done this work without her,” said Radersma. “She was incredibly supportive and is deeply knowledgeable about these issues in Canada.”