media release

Teacher’s studies get her groove back

June 17, 2011
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Contact:
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.3210/9017; marianne_meadahl@sfu.ca

Ann Marie McGrath
Photo on Flickr

Ann Marie McGrath is surrounded daily by students - but that didn’t make the idea of becoming one herself after 34 years any easier.

McGrath, a teacher at St. Patrick’s Secondary School in Vancouver, sought to upgrade “my rusty Bachelor of Arts degree” earned decades ago at Scotland’s Stirling University. So she contacted Simon Fraser University, where serendipity took over.

She enrolled in the MATE (Master of Arts for Teachers of English) program at SFU Surrey. “The program found me,” she says. “It was purely serendipitous. I was accepted, despite not having been a university student for all those years.

“I was a little reluctant at first. But I had taught high school English for more than 30 years and needed more than another reading of Lord of the Flies could offer.”

The MATE program was created to allow elementary, high school and college English teachers to pursue advanced studies in English literature.

While the learning curve was steep at times McGrath thrived on the experience and the many different courses offered through the program. “It has really helped me as a teacher as I am reminded of the stress of having my work assessed by someone else, and the highs and lows of academic achievement,” she says.

McGrath questioned whether she could handle a Master’s program and still teach six English courses from Grades 8-12, but found MATE to be “a great antidote to school work. I’ve even enjoyed the whole creative process of writing the essays,” she says.

As an added bonus her MATE ‘mates, who come from many different school districts, are staying together  - fittingly, they’ve form a book club.

“I am far more enthusiastic and encouraging towards my students, and I now have a real passion for English,” she says. “I’ve gotten my voice back.”

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