Elevating student success is the common bond among this year’s Selkirk College recipients of the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Awards.
Created in 1978, NISOD is a consortium of community and technical colleges from across Canada and the United States that share a commitment to supporting excellence in teaching, learning and leadership. This year’s recipients from Selkirk College include Allison Lutz, Lareena Rilkoff, Marian Lowe, Christopher Hillary and Terri MacDonald.
Recognized at a recent ceremony on the Castlegar Campus, the Selkirk College’s 2021 NISOD Excellence Awards winners include: (L-R) Lareena Rilkoff, Marian Lowe, Allison Lutz and Christopher Hillary, seen here with President Angus Graeme (right). Missing from the photo is Terri MacDonald.
“It takes a team of people passionately committed to learner outcomes to make regional post-secondary a valued component of our communities,” says Rhys Andrews, Vice President of Education at Selkirk College. “This year’s award winners are a diverse group that really illustrate what a strong foundation of knowledge, skills and kindness we have at Selkirk College.”
Allison Lutz: An ‘Amazing’ Mentor
A veteran instructor in the School of Environment & Geomatics and dedicated community volunteer, Hydrology/Geography Instructor Allison Lutz is an adored teacher. Modelling a growth approach to her courses, Lutz is always working to improve her classes and the experience of students. Selkirk College alumni who have benefitted from her knowledge and approach can be found in meaningful careers locally and across the Canada.
An instructor in the School of Environment & Geomatics, Allison Lutz has mentored students at Selkirk College for 25 years.
A Selkirk College faculty member since 1997, Lutz’s work outside the classroom has provided learners additional mentorship through her passion to improve communities. An active member of many college committees and provincial organizations, she was the chair of the Environmental Sustainability Committee that was instrumental in creating the first sustainability action plan. Much of the current work being done on Selkirk College campuses to ensure a more sustainable future can be traced back to Lutz’s forward thinking and hard work.
“Her knowledge of and passion for the subjects she taught were immediately evident,” stated one of her former students in the nomination. “She ensured her curriculum was up to date and was always well-researched. Allison was, and I’m sure continues to be, a highly regarded and respected instructor among her students. Her teaching style caters to many learning styles and she always makes the effort to ensure her pupils get the support they need. To be frank, everyone loves her, for she is amazing.”
Lareena Rilkoff: Beyond the Numbers
The backbone of the college outside the classroom is most often invisible to learners. But without behind-the-scenes toil and leadership excellence, remarkable post-secondary is not possible.
A Selkirk College alumnua, Lareena Rilkoff helps today's learners by ensuring that the institution is on solid financial ground.
Executive Director of Finance & Risk Management Lareena Rilkoff arrived to Selkirk College in 2017 and was immediately thrust into a massive project of changing over and implementing a new finance system. As she provided steady leadership with helping Selkirk College transition into the future, a worldwide pandemic threw budgets into turmoil. A humble leader who never wavered in her optimism, Rilkoff has set new benchmarks while being vital in guiding the college through the darkest days of the global crisis.
“Lareena is positive, professional and results-driven, consistently providing superior leadership, empathy and problem-solving skills to her team and colleagues,” stated one of her nominators. “She is passionate and extremely dedicated to our college and students. Lareena is a trusted go-to for many of her colleagues due to her ability to think strategically and provide consistently reliable feedback and advice.”
Marian Lowe: Visual Expansion and Excitement
A creative force inside the classroom and out, Digital Arts Program Instructor Marian Lowe’s innovative spirit, commitment to work integrated learning and interdisciplinary collaborations across schools has elevated the ability of Selkirk College graduates to reach their goals. Packing more than two decades of visual communication and graphic design experience, her industry-relevant mentorship prepares learners for today’s job market.
Arriving to the Selkirk College Marketing Department in 2011, Lowe developed and implemented dynamic design brand standards for the institution. While a member of the team, she was the lead designer on the 200-page hardcover book celebrating Selkirk College’s 50th anniversary in 2016—Journey’s Taken: Selkirk College - The First 50 Years.
Starting as a part-time instructor, Lowe transitioned out of the Marketing Department and into a full-time faculty member where she has helped expand and develop innovative curriculum in the Digital Arts, Digital Fabrication & Design and Web Development programs. Her leadership and work with the student-run literary journal the Black Bear Review has helped learners bolster resumes with workforce-ready skills.
“As a mentor to both faculty and students, Marian exhibits endless patience and guides others through the complexities of design work with expert instruction,” stated one of her nominators. “Her work inside and outside of the classroom has strengthened Selkirk College’s place as a post-secondary institution that offers learners the opportunity to work with outstanding individuals who bring career-relevant experience to their teaching.”
Chris Hillary: The Human Side of Innovation
In a profession that requires continual adaptation and fresh skill acquirement, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program Instructor Chris Hillary has spent his career taking on new challenges. When he transitioned into teaching at Selkirk College a few years back, he dedicated himself to professional growth by continuing to learn and understand ways to engage students in a manner that is student centred and student focussed.
WIth a career of diverse experience, Bachelor of Science in Nursing Insturctor Chris Hillary provides valuable insight and helps further the skills of students in the Castlegar Campus simulation lab.
Hillary’s passion for technology, innovation and pedagogy has enabled the implementation of multiple teaching and learning strategies that can be applied beyond the Nursing Program to serve multiple schools within Selkirk College. He has been instrumental in the expansion of the BSN simulation program on the Castlegar Campus though innovative program development using various technologies such as high-fidelity manikins, video capture and debriefing modalities. He is currently the lead support person for faculty development in simulation.
“I've had the pleasure witnessing Chris make profound contributions both in and out of the classroom,” states one of his nominators. “His service to students and colleagues is motivated by a strong sense of professionalism and compassion, which he informs through a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of nursing, pedagogy and the basic tenets of human relationships. I can say with confidence that Chris is one of the most caring, respectful and principled educators I've ever had the pleasure of working with in my years at Selkirk College.”
Terri MacDonald: Opportunity Taken to the Next Level
With boundless energy and visionary leadership, Director of Applied Research & Innovation Terri MacDonald has helped propel Selkirk College onto the national stage. Under her guidance, Selkirk Innovates entered the list of Canada’s top-50 list of research colleges in 2019 where it currently sits at number-39. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment for a small rural college nestled in the mountains.
Under the leadership of Director of Applied Research & Innovation Terri MacDonald, Selkirk College has become a major force in the area of research and innovation over the last decade.
Last year, Selkirk Innovates was involved in 97 projects working with private industry, business, government and the non-profit sector. With more than 100 engaged partners, the annual budget for Selkirk Innovates has gone from $1.2 million in 2017 to $3.9 million in 2021. While undertaking tangible and leading-edge research for clients, 54 students were employed in work integrated learning internships that resulted in $540,000 in wages.
“Terri excels at successfully competing for significant research grants and meeting the deliverable requirements to grow our research department while leading a group of innovative individuals fearlessly through change and new opportunities,” says one of her nominators. “These new projects have directly led to new programs across Selkirk College which has paved the way for new jobs and student positions. Terri’s positive attitude and willingness to move forward have led to lasting positive changes in our institution and regional community. Terri is an inspiration for so many and truly embodies determination.”
NISOD Excellence Award winners were honoured at a special ceremony on the Castlegar Campus in early-May.