Oct. 11, 2016

It's all about community

Partners support sustainable growth across Alberta
Community grads
Community grads

The Werklund School of Education’s Community-Based Bachelor of Education program has just entered its second year.  There are already more than 65 men and women who will be able to achieve a goal that, before the program was announced in 2014, was unattainable for many of them.

For some of the students, leaving their communities to attend a college or university just isn’t an option. Family and work obligations can make this impossible; for them, the only way to become a teacher is to find a way to earn a degree while remaining at home.

For others, the simple desire to remain in their communities—to live and work amongst their friends and families—is what drives them to find a program where they can fulfill their dream of teaching in a way that suits them.

In both cases, the Werklund Community-Based program has allowed them to do both—to remain in their communities while learning a skill that will keep them there.

The majority of the students’ course work is delivered on-line and their classroom experiences are also coordinated to keep them in their local areas.  The students must also attend two week summer sessions on campus.  This provides an opportunity to meet their fellow students, the cohort with whom they’ll learn throughout the program, and to meet many of their instructors face to face.

In a sense, just as the students in the program become part of the UCalgary community, the Werklund School, through the students themselves, becomes a part of their communities too.

Partners align to support students

Some of the students travel long distances from rural or remote locations to be part of the BEd program.  Financial assistance to help offset the costs of being on campus goes a long way to alleviating some of the challenges.

That’s where other community partners have stepped in. This past summer, TransCanada Corporation, as part of its commitment to supporting education and training initiatives across North America, announced it would offer awards to students to help defray the expenses associated with travel and accommodation for their summer sessions. 

“TransCanada is proud to invest in the teachers who help shape and define our communities,” says Amanda Affonso, director of community relations at TransCanada.

“This year, we are excited to partner with the University of Calgary in support of the Community-Based Bachelor of Education program. Through this partnership we are supporting greater access to education for aspiring teachers from across Alberta, as part of our commitment to build strong, skilled and vibrant communities.”

“One of the key principles that underpin the Community-Based Bachelor of Education is to increase equity and access for those students who reside in rural and remote areas,” says Dianne Gereluk, associate dean of undergraduate programs. 

“The students who received the awards are exactly those future teachers who will teach and live in their local communities over the long term. The support from TransCanada helps to support those students who have traditionally had difficulty attending a university because of the financial costs of leaving their rural areas to come to a large urban centre over the course of their four year degree.”

The Community-Based Bachelor of Education program has received support from other sources, including Conoco Phillips as well as other individuals and organizations. This combination of financial support and the program itself has opened new doors for rural and remote communities across Alberta.