Learning from one another


I graduated in the early 1990s from Simon Fraser University ready to delve into my idealistic view of what teaching was going to be like. Little did I know what a rich and rewarding career it would turn out to be.

The Faculty of Education’s Professional Development Program (PDP) enabled me to witness various classroom styles of teaching and start to reflect on my own philosophies as a teacher, through journaling, reading new theories and observing lessons from our faculty associates during workshops. Those beginning theories of pedagogy have remained, but many of my ideas and more authentic beliefs have adjusted through the years from workshops, other colleagues, and currently my graduate diploma program in Imaginative Education (IE) at SFU. The IE program is full of exciting approaches and frameworks to help students see the “wonder” in all subject areas. Kieran Egan’s lectures and research on Imaginative Education have been a great resource.

Karen Gessey

I recall the excellent mentoring and teaching I received from my faculty associate back in the late 80’s, Theresa Blackstone. I also remember Meguido Zola’s classes on children’s literature, looking through countless library cards to find resources and having fun at a PDP retreat out near Mission. Recently, Paula Rosehart and Gillian Judson have shared their expertise with our Imaginative Education diploma cohort and I am grateful for their guidance, reflections, and instruction in my inquiry projects and IE lesson development.

I have been a school associate a number of times and welcomed new teachers, from SFU and UBC educational programs as well as volunteers and Special Education Association (SEA) trainees, looking for experience. We all need to learn from one another.

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Zambia with a group of Surrey teachers and retired administrators to mentor teachers at Grace Academy’s orphanage in Ndola, through the Seeds of Hope organization. We planned our own trip, fundraised, and spent two weeks living on the grounds, working with the students and teachers. They were gracious, listened to our ideas and opened up their classrooms and students to us. Working with the children and seeing their thirst for learning, as well as receiving such love and appreciation from them, is something I will never forget. Where I currently work, our focus is to continue fundraising money for Grace and its educational program. My hope is to save up my money, fundraise, and return one day to teach and work with the students and teachers.

This year, I celebrated 25 years of teaching in the Surrey School District, teaching grades 4, 5, 6, and 7 over the years. My future goals are to mentor my current student teacher, who is in the Imaginative Education program, possibly decide to go for my master’s, and eventually apply to try and become a faculty associate.

What better way to end my career in the next ten years than to give back to the university that set me off in my career! Congratulations on your 50th year celebration!

Karen Gessey
PDP 1990, B.Ed. 1991, Graduate Diploma (current)

Read all the stories from the 1990s