Penticton: The PDP lottery
In 1979, I entered the Faculty of Education’s Professional Development Program (PDP) when there were satellite communities—one could do teacher training in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, and Prince George.
I chose Penticton, and am sure I won the PDP lottery. There were eight of us in the program, and our supervisor was Glenys Galloway. Our training site was a cottage on Skaha Lake where we alternated between theory and practicum. In our first semester, we did one week of training then one week in the classroom then two weeks on site and two weeks in a classroom and so on. Teachers from SFU, including Bruce Elkin and Al Whitney, came up during our site time and did training sessions with us on a variety of topics.
In the second semester, we were full time in a classroom and really got to experience the ups and downs of the job. My fall training had been at Princess Margaret Junior High under the direction of English teacher Rosa Coleman and winter found me at Penticton High School where I taught drama with Pam Campion. As far as I was concerned, it was the best kind of preparation as we spent so much time in the classroom that we got a real sense of what teaching was all about. Day-to-day challenges made themselves apparent in a full three-month practicum.
Our third semester was spent on campus and, for me, six weeks of that was in Sechelt for Outdoor Education, one of the highlights of my PDP life. Cheryl, Bruce, Al, and Dave were our leaders who created a community of learners existing in tune with nature. For a city girl from Montreal, it was a whole new experience. I lived in a tent, slept under the stars, worked in groups, did a solo, baked bread, climbed a mountain, hiked, canoed, and had a blast.
It was a fantastic end to a great year!
My PDP friendships are also worth noting. I am pleased to have remained friends with Jen, Deb, and Jolene as well as with Jane from Outdoor Ed. I still hear about Brenda and Joe but am sorry to have lost touch with Andrew and Suzanne.
I was offered a job back at Maggie as the drama and English teacher where I was fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive group of teachers and administrative staff who helped make that first very difficult and challenging year more manageable.
After almost 10 years, and during the tough Vanderbilt years, I felt the onset of burnout and took a leave of absence. We moved to Ottawa where I wanted nothing to do with the classroom though I eventually returned at the college level. I completed a master of education at the University of Ottawa and ended my career at Algonquin College teaching communications in the School of Business and became a trainer of college teachers myself.
Although it was almost 40 years ago, that PDP year is still imprinted fondly on my memory.