The Faculty of Education Convocation ceremonies on June 12 celebrated the achievements of the Faculty’s newest graduates.
During the ceremonies, Spirit of Brock medals were awarded to an undergraduate and graduate student who have demonstrated the spirit of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock, the University’s namesake. Kimberly Radersma was awarded the graduate Spirit of Brock medal for the Faculty of Education.
“I’m deeply honoured to even be nominated, of course, and incredibly proud of earning it. I am proud of Brock. I love Brock and have been proud to be in this community and to be a part of Brock,” said Radersma.
Originally from Toronto, Radersma grew up in California. She completed an undergraduate degree in English and Secondary Education at Calvin College in Michigan and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction (MACI) at Colorado Christian University.
Prior to starting the Joint PhD in Educational Studies at Brock six years ago, Radersma taught high school English for about 15 years in California and Colorado.
After returning to live in Canada with her husband, Radersma found herself without a teaching position and in need of new challenge. When she found the Joint PhD in Educational Studies program, it seemed like a perfect 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 continuing teaching while pursuing some questions I had been really intrigued by and curious about for years,” said Radersma. She 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 a lot of fear around how to talk about this,” Said Radersma.
“I resented the fact that as a teacher I wasn’t getting education about how to talk about this topic and how to negotiate 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 really wanted to lean in to how we can do this kind of learning in a way that’s deeply transformative and hopeful,” said Radersma. “In a way that doesn’t scare people away and anger them but rather invites them into an honest reckoning with our past and an honest grappling with ways we can move forward that are truly inclusive.”
Advocating for equity and preparing teachers to tackle these issues is a priority for Radersma. While doing her PhD, she was invited to more than 30 schools across GTA to discuss her research, and 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, 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.”
Radersma has also had the two special cheerleaders in her children, now 12 and 15 years old, who have watched their mother take on a significant goal in completing her PhD.