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Students' Teacher Recognition Awards reception

Student-presenter Alexa Yukubovich addresses her recipients and the crowd at the Students' Teacher Recognition Awards reception.

Warmth for the learner’s soul: Students honour educators at annual recognition reception

June 23, 2013 — 

In one of the most poignant events of the year, the Students’ Teacher Recognition Awards reception, 18 graduating University of Manitoba students paid tribute to educators that made a difference.

“It’s very touching to hear students share their memories of teachers who inspired them and mentored them over the years,” said Mark Torchia, director of University Teaching Services (UTS), now called The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, or CATL. In 21 years of the reception, UTS has honoured over 850 educators.

What makes a great teacher worthy of being honoured? In his opening remarks, Torchia quoted psychologist Carl Jung: “The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the learner.”

It was a theme that carried through the event, with students espousing the humanity and warmth of their honoured educators.

Marlena Bova, graduating from the Faculty of Law, celebrated Michael Heilmann, her high school chemistry teacher, and Evaristus Oshionebo, associate professor,  Faculty of Law. “Education is not about the facts, figures and concepts that students require,” said Bova. “Rather, it is about how students feel as they are learning.”

Bova continued in admiration for Heilmann and Oshionebo: “It will never matter what you say, until it matters how you make someone feel. These two individuals embody this principal consistently, perfectly, and with humility.”

President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard shared a line from poet Jean Valentine. “Blessed are those who break off from separateness, theirs is wild heaven,” he quoted, adding, “The thing that makes real teaching is the moment that students and teachers interact, getting rid of separateness.”

The thread continued in the presentations; rather than stimulating lectures or interesting facts, it was personality and engagement that made an impact and closed the gap between student and teacher.

Sarah Barton, graduating from the Faculty of Education, paid an emotional tribute to her high school basketball coach Lauri McFarlane. Sarah was adjusting to a recent move to Thunder Bay and dealing with a death in the family when McFarlane stepped in with her support.

“I am now a teacher and hope that I can be an influence on my students the way that she has influenced me,” said Barton. “My character as an athlete, student, coach, citizen and friend has been shaped by Coach McFarlane. She has given up countless hours of her time to be a positive female role model.

“I hope that one day we will be colleagues.”

For a full listing of recipients and students, click here.

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