John Keranen

"It is a worthwhile endeavour in which you will discover new ways of teaching, learning, creating, and collaborating."

Year Completed: 2014
Program/Degree: Arts Education GDE

I am an elementary school teacher at Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary in Langley.  I teach grade three and I am passionate about visual art.

Please tell us how you first discovered your program.

I found out about this program through a co-worker who had recently completed the program.

Please tell us why you chose the Faculty of Education at SFU for your studies.

I chose SFU because of the flexibility the program offered in terms of the location and the time of the classes.  I liked the fact that SFU had a satellite location for the program in Abbotsford, which meant I could travel easily to the site after work.  The program is set up with working teachers in mind.  I also liked the artistic and creative nature of the program.  This really appealed to me.

Who is a faculty member you have enjoyed working with and why?

I have really enjoyed working with Paula Howarth, my program's facilitator.  She is an understanding person who is a capable leader of the cohort.  She has been easy to get a hold of throughout the course and she truly cares about the success of the students.  I have admired her skill of facilitating such a diverse group of teacher-learners.  I have also enjoyed working with the mentors of the program, such as John Fultz, Cathy Merkel, Sharon Widdows, and Tyler Horner.  I have learned much from all of them.  The sessional teachers were excellent as well.

What do you miss most about your graduate studies in the Faculty of Education?

I miss the creative work, the friendships I made, and the sense of being a part of a larger community of teachers/learners outside of my school building.  Ours was a cohesive group that I felt worked well together, and had a great deal of fun creating together.

What would you say to prospective students who are considering graduate school in the Faculty of Education?

It is a worthwhile endeavour in which you will discover new ways of teaching, learning, creating, and collaborating.  Not only will you discover new things about your profession, you will discover new things about yourself.

Is there anything else you wish to share?

I have learned so much from this program, much of which I have already put into practice in my classroom.  I have grown as a teacher and as a person.  In one project I had the opportunity to facilitate community building between two separate classrooms in two separate schools.  My own class and the class of fellow SFU graduate student Jay Sanghera (who is my former student teacher) collaborated on a face drawing that showed opposites halves of a face.  Each opposite half displayed an opposite characteristic to its' partner's side.  The students were paired up, one partner from each school, and they collaborated via Facetime and developed ideas for their combined artwork.  I taught art lessons simultaneously to both classes in two separate locations via Facetime.  The artwork was then combined and hung in the art gallery in Langley City Hall.  After the students met each other for an afternoon of ice cream and conversation.  For me, this kind of experience was made possible by taking this program, as it encouraged me to be innovative and creative in my practice.