Selkirk College is fortunate to have remarkable educators with a passion for teaching that provides learners opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills and training for success.
The Selkirk College Faculty Association's (SCFA) Standing Committee on Professional Excellence (SCOPE) Awards annually recognize outstanding instructors who inspire students and their colleagues through work in the classroom, on campus and in the community. This year’s awards go to Jonathan Vanderhoek, Brendan Wilson and Almeda Glenn Miller. Nominations are accepted each spring. On Wednesday, December 1 at 5 p.m., this year’s honourees will be celebrated with an online event. Instructor James Nicol is hosting the SCFA organized event.
“During these unpredictable times, we are so pleased to keep up this valuable tradition of celebrating excellence among our team at Selkirk College,” he says. “It’s an honour to teach alongside so many amazing professionals.”
Jonathan Vanderhoek: A Contagious Energy
Jonathan Vanderhoek is a philosophy instructor and coordinator for the Rural Pre-Medicine (RPM) Program. He is also a valuable contributor to the Law & Justice Studies Program having even developed a new philosophy course in part to serve this program.
A philosophy instructor and co-coordinator of the Rural Pre-Medicine Program, Jonathan Vanderhoek is known for his openness, flexibility, work ethic and effective communication style.
His colleague Takaia Larsen, who co-ordinates the RPM Program, describes Vanderhoek as open, hardworking and flexible. He is student-centred—inspiring students to rise to the occasion and think differently about the world.
“Jonathan inspires his students to work hard and enjoy the learning process, while building their skills as future academics and professionals,” says Larsen. “He is also a key support person for students who reach out to him for advice, support and guidance as they make important decisions in their lives and career choices. I can understand why they feel this way. As I often reach out to him for similar reasons. His openness, flexibility, work ethic and effective communication style have made even the most difficult situations manageable.”
Olivia Bailey, RPM alumna says: “Jonathan is someone that lights up any room he walks into. His energy is contagious and his drive and commitment to anything he sets his mind to unbelievable. Jonathan is not only a teacher but a mentor and someone that has made an immense impact on my life.”
Active on campus as part of the Education Council, Ethics Board and the SCFA Executive, Vanderhoek also maintains relationships with organizations in partnership with Selkirk College such as the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, a major funder of the Rural Pre-Medicine Program
Almeda Glenn Miller: Uplifting Belief in Students
Almeda Glenn Miller taught in the Creative Writing Program at Selkirk College and has long been known at the college for being an innovative thinker and a community collaborator. In her 20 years at the college, she was known for championing students well beyond the classroom.
In one of her support letters, former student Fraser Sutherland stated: "I have never had a teacher believe in my abilities so much. It touched me to my very core. Her support has carried and uplifted me throughout my adult life."
Recently retired from teaching, Almeda Glenn Miller was a wildly popular Creative Writing Program instructor who learners realize their full potential.
Another former student credited the strong influence of Glenn Miller as she was awarded the $80,000 UBC Centennial Leaders Award.
“If it wasn’t for Almeda I don’t know if I would have applied to UBC because I felt like I couldn’t get in,” says Stephanie Kirk. “I had a lot of people when I was going through high school that told me I wouldn’t be able to get into university because I was homeschooled. Almeda told me that any school would want me and that I will take the world by storm… it made me want to cry. Having somebody else recognize that in you and then encouraging you in that way. Her words were the ones that I thought of when I was applying.”
Glenn Miller was also a driving force behind the Black Bear Review, which started as an initiative to give Selkirk College students experience as writers, publishers, editors and designers. The recently retired instructor inspired students to take on new challenges and test their creative capacities.
Renee Harper and Leesa Dean, who co-founded the magazine with her, state that “working with Almeda always felt more like sisterhood than a collegial relationship. We owe her so much in our personal and professional lives.”
Glenn Miller says that reading and writing are the cornerstones to any educational program.
“One of my greatest pleasures is to witness the pleasure and wonder learners discover when they permit their imaginations to create,” she says. “Developing competent, critical readers, thinkers and writers is vital to ensuring a democratic and engaged citizenry.”
Brendan Wilson: Making Tangible Possible
An instructor and respected applied researcher at Selkirk College, Brendan Wilson served as school chair for the School of Environment & Geomatics for 10 years. He cares deeply about students, his colleagues and his community leading in a collaborative and calm manner.
Seen here in the field teaching students in the Recreation, Fish & Wildlife Program earlier in the semester, Brendan Wilson brings an abundance of practical knowledge to the indoor and outdoor classroom.
“As I embarked on a fresh start seeking a new career path in my late-twenties, I met Brendan as the Chair of the School of Environment & Geomatics while pursuing my diploma in Recreation, Fish & Wildlife. It was immediately evident that he ran a tight ship of enthusiastic instructors with an aim to provide an exceptional education experience,” says Selkirk graduate David Greaves.
“Despite the sheer volume of students passing through these programs, the school ran like a well-maintained machine with a myriad of opportunities to connect with prospective employers to ensure a smooth transition at the end of my studies. None of this would have been possible without Brendan's tireless efforts to heighten the student experience, ensure all staff were supported and engaged and adapting as needed to keep the ship afloat.”
Wilson currently teaches Ecosystem Management, Systems Ecology, Applied Research Methods and Spatial Statistics. He also is a director and the current vice-president of the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology. Over the past 20 years, Brendan has worked on whitebark pine conservation, including species at risk assessment, prescribed fire monitoring, spatial distribution modelling and using satellite and RPAS imagery to aid with this.
Terri MacDonald, Director of Selkirk Innovates, values Wilson’s mentorship and strong presence as a leader.
“I've had the pleasure of witnessing his commitment to providing students with an exceptional learning experience—including applied student projects with our industry and community partners,” she says.
Everyone is welcome to join Selkirk College’s online event in celebration of these instructors and you can learn more here.