Life changed for Craig Andrews when he landed a job teaching History at Selkirk College in 1968. And for the 31 years that followed, the innovative and energetic educator made an impact that helped change the lives of all the people he touched.
At the Selkirk College Graduation 2016 Ceremony on Friday, Andrews will be honoured for his tireless work with students, colleagues and communities across the region when he receives the Distinguished Educator award.
Over a 31-year career, retired Selkirk College instructor/administrator Craig Andrews made a significant impact on post-secondary learning in the West Kootenay-Boundary. At the Graduation 2016 Ceremony on Friday at the Castlegar Campus, Andrews will be given the honour of Distinguished Educator. Andrews is pictured here with his wife Trude at a recent Selkirk International Program reunion.
“The opportunity I got to be at Selkirk College was the biggest moment of my career because everything flowed from there,” Andrews says. “I’m a hugely lucky man to have had an opportunity to work at such a place.”
And Selkirk College was hugely lucky to have Andrews’ passion for post-secondary education over a diverse three-decade career.
“Craig welcomed and respected students, recognized their challenges and achievements, engaged and empowered them, and appreciated their contributions to the college,” wrote nominators Denise Chernoff, Carol Andrews and John Armstrong. “An educator of educators, Craig always empowered others, creating opportunities for his teams to learn and in doing so, laid the foundations for the future.”
A Different View on Education During Times of Change
Andrews grew up in Victoria and was a member of the second class to graduate from the University of Victoria in 1962. He then attended the University of British Columbia where he earned his teaching qualifications and quickly landed a job teaching Social Studies in both Trail and Rossland.
It was the mid-1960s and Andrews was in his mid-20s. Though he enjoyed the task of providing knowledge and challenging students to think, it didn’t take long for Andrews to grow restless with the public education system.
Andrews (middle right) at the Graduation 2016 Ceremony is pictured here with Selkirk College President Angus Graeme (left), Selkirk College Board of Governors Vice Chair Danica Lee (middle left) and Selkirk College Vice President of Education & Students Neil Coburn (right).
“Teaching high school was hard and there were a lot of constraints that I wasn’t really agreeing with,” he says. “There were big changes blowing in the world in the ‘60s and I was being affected by that, but I didn’t see those changes in the school system. I didn’t feel at home with the way kids were treated, I wanted a freer kind of world.”
In an effort to dive deeper into a different way of looking at education, Andrews decided to take a break and pursue his master’s degree at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.
Andrews’ changing view on teaching History was influenced by a lecture he took in while living in Trail by John Munro, Selkirk College’s first History instructor.
“History teaching is not so much imparting the stuff, you can read that in a book,” says Andrews. “It’s imparting the notion of exploration and discovery and research. If you can teach young people to want to inquire, that’s what a historian should do. I started to pursue that idea and that was a real freeing experience for me, it was a revelation.”
Fittingly, Andrews’ graduation from WSU coupled with Munro’s exit from Selkirk College. He was hired in the summer of 1968 and joined the faculty at the Castlegar Campus for what was the third full year of classes at the regional college.
“It was an exciting time,” says Andrews. “Most of the faculty were all the same age, in our late-20s. There was lots of talk about pedagogy and ideas. There was a tremendous amount of hopefulness, we had this dream of being a great college and we had high standards... it was tremendously exciting.”
New Challenges and New Directions
The courses Andrews taught quickly became one of the most coveted selections for students.
“He truly enjoyed engaging in discussions that evoked critical thinking and was marvelous as a motivator,” says Corinne Postinkoff, one of Andrews’ students in his early days of teaching at Selkirk College. “He consistently, invariably and enthusiastically provided the platform and spring-board for investigative learning in a manner that was comfortable, respectful and genuine. Students knew he cared and that he was keen to facilitate their educational journey.”
Andrews taught a variety of history courses and by his third year helped develop a local history course. Working with other instructors, Andrews started to collect vital archival material and put together invaluable resources that are still used by today’s Selkirk College educators.
After a decade in the classroom, Andrews took on a new challenge in 1979. As the coordinator of Continuing Education, Andrews took his zeal for lifelong learning and help spread it through educational offerings in Castlegar, Nelson, Trail, Rossland, Grand Forks, Kaslo and Nakusp. It was there that he touched even more lives throughout the entire region.
“I met all kinds of people in those communities who knew so much about their communities because they lived there and their connections were deep,” says Andrews. “That is one of the reasons I did so well at that job because I was genuinely interested in those stories.”
In 1985, Selkirk College leadership could see the world shrinking and the importance of international education became a focus. Andrews was appointed to lead the college’s international education initiative as director.
It started with a trickle that saw three international students in the first year of the program, but the primary goal for Andrews and his team was to build relationships and connections across the world. Today, there are more than 300 international students from a multitude of countries studying English and enrolled in a variety of programs.
A Fulfilling Journey
Though his impact on today’s Selkirk College is massive, former Selkirk College President Leo Perra says it’s Andrews’ passion that stands out the most.
“Craig always had a gleam in his eye and he always brought enthusiasm and energy to his responsibilities,” says Perra, who was president at Selkirk College for 20 years between 1980 and 2000. “He is a caring individual and he took an interest in his staff, students and colleagues. He took on new activities willingly and carried them out with diligence and passion.”
Craig Andrews (left) made an impact on Selkirk College in a variety of ways. He is seen here with Calvin Wharton who joined Andrews as co-editor of the book The First 25 Years which pulled together stories about the first half century of learning at Selkirk College.
Always one to shy away from the spotlight, Andrews never imagined he would end up on the stage at graduation as a Distinguished Educator.
“I never thought for a minute that I would ever get nominated, you just go along and do your job,” says Andrews. “I’m really honoured and tremendously proud to be amongst a group of people who have been nominated who I think are some of the greatest people that Selkirk College had.”
Andrews impacted countless lives of learners, educators and community members over his 31 year career at Selkirk College. During that time, Andrews says there was never a day where he didn’t look forward to sharing his passion for learning with others.
“I never looked that far down the road, I just take life as it comes,” he says about his legacy. “I didn’t have a strategic plan for myself, I simply loved what I was doing.”