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Bill Cann, Past President
I retired as a public school educator in June 2004. My teaching career began at Gordon Bell High School in September 1973 as a teacher-librarian. I joined the St. James-Assiniboia School Division in 1974, serving as a teacher-librarian, history teacher, library coordinator, vice principal and principal over the next 35 years. Upon retiring, I continued working part time for the University of Winnipeg, briefly as a lecturer and until June 2020 as a Faculty of Education Supervisor for teacher candidates. I also volunteered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the Schools Program since its opening.
I have served the Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba in the following capacities:
As your Past President, I will continue to encourage team-based leadership which relies on consensus decision-making. While my main role will switch to “Guide on the Side”, I will continue to advocate for empowering RTAM Chapters and enhancing relations with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, TRAF and other organizations.
JoAnne Hoyak, Vice President
My experience as an educator includes positions as a K to 6 music specialist, a Grades 7, 8 and 9 ELA teacher and a Senior High teacher of English, Social Studies and Law. So, I am proud to say I have taught every grade, except Grade 11, in the Manitoba Public School System.
I also appreciated expanding my view of public education by serving three terms as a school trustee in Pine Creek School Division. It became clear to me that parents, trustees and teachers all have the same goal—to provide the best education possible for ALL the children in our care.
I subscribe to the notion that if one feels strongly about an issue, one should accept the responsibility of stepping up to take action to support and promote it. Therefore, I served on various MTS committees both locally and provincially.
Presently, I have grave concerns over the general abandonment of the defined benefit pension model, and so feel obligated to offer what I can to strive to maintain it. This year, Bill 64-- which “ignores the views of educators, promotes standardization and invites privatization”-- undermines public education and should be an issue for us all. As well, I believe an RTAM member should have a designated seat on TRAF and I have contributed towards that goal. Finally, I am pleased RTAM has expanded our strategic plan to include the wider community and allows us to support Long Term Care improvement, seniors’ issues and First Nations recognition.
I have sat as a Director on the RTAM Board for the last seven years. I have been a member and Chair of the Pension Committee, a member of the Political Advocacy committee and served as Vice President and ACER-CART representative in 2017- 2018 and 2019 to the present.
The goals we wish to attain and the work we need to accomplish can only be achieved through legislation that establishes RTAM as the recognized voice of retired teachers in Manitoba. This is what we are aiming for.
The overall effectiveness of our organization rests on the practices of cooperation, collaboration, consensus, and transparency between officers, the Board directors, our chapter presidents and the membership at large. I am confident we can achieve this working model and dedicate myself towards this end.
John Sushelnitsky, Secretary
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
Joining the Manitoba Teachers' Society, I served at the local and provincial level for my 37 years of teaching. I was on the MTS provincial executive for four years. Afterward, as a MTS representative, I served on the Minister of Education's Advisory Board for four years. After retirement in 2003, the Society gave me the honour of becoming an Honourary Life Member in 2004.
A high school aptitude test encouraged me to continue studying the French language and I have used it throughout my career, being editor of the French Journal for ten years for the Manitoba Association of French Teachers and also serving as its President.
I also served on several Department of Education committees and was the co-author of its French correspondence courses. In the classroom, I taught 29 years of junior high, eight years of high school and two years of elementary. In addition to teaching Basic and Immersion French, I coached basketball and other sports. In my five years of coaching grade ten boys’ basketball, we had the good fortune to be ranked number one on two occasions. All in all, a very satisfying career!
I have now served on the RTAM Board for fourteen years as a Director and have chaired the Public Relations, the Membership/Chapter and Political Advocacy (Action) Committees.
Pat Bowslaugh, Treasurer
After acquiring 34 years of pensionable service and eleven years at Brandon University, I have had the privilege of serving on the RTAM Board and its committees from the year 2001 culminating with a two-year term as President from 2007-2009. This was during the horror of Bill 45 which ultimately reduced our COLA calculations as had been outlined in the Teachers’ Pension Act.
Prior to being President, it was exciting to acquire seven new RTAM chapters and serve on Political Advocacy and Membership.
While on a hiatus from serving as a Board Member, I continued being a member at large on the Benefits Committee and have served several times as its Chair.
Being reelected to the Board in 2018 I now have served two years as your Treasurer plus doing Benefits and some PR. Preparing Pre-Retirement Seminars has been on my list for several years.
When not doing RTAM work, I have served on the Provincial Exhibition Board, Sunset Rotary, Brandon School Board (12 years), fundraised for IODE and chaired our Church Board.
My family of husband, two married sons, their spouses, three granddaughters and pets rank highly in my life especially when we are on the lake boating or on the ocean cruising
Linda Blair, President
I grew up in a family of 6 siblings on a farm west of Portage la Prairie. My early education encompassed a one-room school with eight grades. Due to the large enrollment, I was moved to city schools for Grades 7 through 12.
For several years, I studied the piano and pipe organ. Serving as church organist as well as playing for weddings and funerals both used and developed my skills. Later, I would learn to play the trumpet in a local adult band.
Graduating from Brandon University and later the University of Manitoba, I have taught from Nursery School to Grade 9. Most of my career has centered on K-6 Music. After 31 years, I retired.
During my career, I have been involved in the Professional Development and the Collective Bargaining committees. My community involvement included several organizations such as 4-H, AWANA, St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog Program, Portage and District Music and Arts Festival. Recently I volunteered for the Winnipeg Summer Games 2017, serving in the Transportation section. Meeting and working alongside many interesting people has been a welcome bonus to my volunteering.
With my late husband, I have three children, two in-laws and five grandchildren. I enjoyed travelling with my husband and now enjoy travel adventures with my children and grandchildren.
Presently, I enjoy planning travel adventures and working out at the gym both with and without a trainer, as well as serving on the RTAM Political Advocacy committee, Wellness Advocacy Committee, Student Awards Committee, Student Success Portfolios Committee and Website Committee as well as Observer on the Executive Committee.
Jack Fraser, Director
In my teaching and volunteer commitments, I have tried to live by the principles of servant leadership.
In my forty-eight-year active teaching career, I served (K-12) in the classroom or administration. In each of those forty-eight years I took an active role in the Manitoba Teacher Society.
At the local association level, I served in the roles of school rep, chair of numerous committees, and president. In my retirement I continue to represent The Louis Riel Association as President of the Board of Directors of Vic Wyatt House.
Provincially I served as a member of the Provincial Executive. I also served on or chaired many provincial committees. Since its inception and until my retirement, I have been member or the chair of the Society’s Professional Conduct Committee.
I was an active member and president of the SAG/SAGE group, MAMT.
I also have served as a member or chair of the Department of Education’s Mathematics Steering Committee for the duration of its existence.
At the May 2015 MTS AGM, The Society conferred Life Member in the Society upon me.
Since 2013 I have served as president of RTAM’s Louis Riel Chapter.
After retiring in 2013, I became involved with RTAM the following year when I was appointed mid-term to the Board of Directors. I have been elected for full terms as a director since 2015. In addition to being a director, I have served as the RTAM Website Committee chair and as the chair of Communications. I am currently serving as the Bylaws and Policy Committee chair.
Guy Hansen, Director
When I retired from teaching, I went to the Thompson Recycle Centre. My job was to help upgrade Northern First Nations young folk so they could better enter the workplace.
They were often having a tough time of it.
I soon joined the RTAM Board, working in Public Relations and Political Advocacy. My goal was to initiate an award, so that First Nations youth from the North would have equal footing. Murray Sinclair himself recently told our board that “Education is the solution”, and that is what you and I both were doing for all those years.
Today the award is there. The University College of the North administers our bursary, $1,000 each year, to a student of their choice.
I was also significant in the implementation of the “Night at the Leg”, or as it is now called our “Meet and Greet”. Every board member gets to extend his/her hand in greeting to our MLA’s, and most of those MLA’s will be there. Perhaps some attend only casually, but I would rather have a sandwich and a beer with them, than have a sandwich and a beer without them. They are the decision-makers of our province.
Public Relations recently “tidied up” the old JOIN US brochure. It is the summation of the work of many board members over many years. Should any member ever say to you” what does RTAM do for me?” please direct them to our website. Look under MEDIA, then FACT SHEET, then WHAT IS RTAM. The service we provide to our members is something of which we can be quite proud of.
Last summer, I hand-dug the 100-year-old wrought iron fence around my wife’s church. It was just so crooked. I had to wait for the frost to come out, lo and behold it is now mostly straight.
Hoping to serve you for one more year.
Alison Logan, Director
I began my teaching career in 1974 as part of St. James-Assiniboia staff in Early Years Education. For most of my career I was active in the Manitoba Teachers Society at the local level. I served on various committees, as a Council Rep, and as an Executive Member including President for 3 years. I ended my career as a Staff Officer in Teacher Welfare at the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. I can honestly say I loved every step of the way.
Along with my M.T.S. involvement I have also served as a member of The City of Winnipeg Public Library Board, ALS Society of Manitoba Board, and as a member of The Caregivers Advisory Committee under appointment by the Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living.
For the past three years I have enjoyed my work with RTAM both as a Director as well as Chairing the Pension Committee.
In my retirement I continue to enjoy, golfing, curling, swimming, reading, playing bridge and attending church. Two years ago I had the privilege of travelling to Jordan to participate in the building of a house with Habitat for Humanity. In addition, I do volunteer work for Siloam Mission. But my favourite times are spent with family and friends especially my two beautiful grandchildren whom I adore.
I would look forward to continuing to work with and on behalf of retired teachers in Manitoba in the coming year.
Ken Malcolm, Director
Past President of DARTA. Longtime member of RTAM. Spoke at the Manitoba Legislature against proposed COLA cuts many years ago.
Attended rallies on behalf of RTAM at the Leg. Have always worked at RTAM meetings for the best interests of RTAM members in rural and urban areas. Have always encouraged teachers to join RTAM so they have a voice in the future of all retired teachers, socially, pension wise, benefit wise and politically. I feel that all teachers, working and retired, need to speak up to protect the future of all teachers. Teachers need a group that is able to speak on their behalf especially with the ongoing Provincial Education Review, the possible changes to pension plans and the possible changes in school division boundaries. I believe that we need many younger retired teachers to step up, join RTAM and keep the voices and interests of retired teachers being heard. Together we can make a difference. Together we are stronger.
Dave Najduch, Secretary / Director
I am in my second year on the RTAM board. I served on the Benefits Committee in my first year and currently chair the committee in my second year. The organization is evolving, and the work is interesting. I look forward to serving retired members in the coming year.
Home Economics teacher 15 Years, Vice Principal Secondary 20 years
Elementary School Principal 5 years - Total 41 years from 1955 –1995
Membership on following committees: Editorial, Membership, Bylaws and Policy, Manitoba Seniors Coalition for the past 5 years.
Chaired: Pension Committee, Educational Advocacy, Wellness for 20 years, and presently Student Awards for the past 7 years and Elections this year.
RTAM President for the years 2000 and 2019.
My commitment to RTAM is to provide to our members the opportunity to assist their young relatives in their pursuit of lifelong educational goals. As I reflect on the one thing in my long life that has been my support and that I value highly is my love of learning and being able to find ways in and through my life of pursuing that value. We as educators, active and retired, transmit our values by our actions more than our words. Actively supporting these young people who will be Canada’s leaders of the future will be our greatest legacy. The RTAM Endowment Fund that was established at the Winnipeg Foundation in 2013 now has doubled the initial amount of the awards offered to these deserving relatives. RTAM can add to the amount of that fund and the number of our relatives we can support. I will also continue to advocate and support our efforts not only to protect our pension but also to advocate for the health system we have maintained over the years. The pandemic has taught me not only the immediacy of the importance of my health but also that we are “in this life together and must work together towards our common goals of well-being.”
Linda Scott, Director
I am a retired teacher and guidance counsellor having taught 17 years in elementary and 15 years in high school. During my teaching career I served on various committees for the Manitoba School Counsellors' Association and the St. James-Assiniboia Teachers' Association.
In RTAM I have served for 1 year on the RTAM Wellness Advocacy Committee, 2 years as the Chairperson of the RTAM Membership and Chapters Committee and 3 years as an RTAM Director.
Through the years my volunteer activities have included:
I look forward to serving as a Director for RTAM.
Beth Smith, Director
In recognition of our “Manitoba 150” anniversary, you are invited to draft your personal story of time spent as a teacheror a student in the field of EDUCATION.
Our purpose is to create an anthology of these stories to post on our website, and eventually to publish them in an appropriately small book.
Our book will include stories of interest, humorous events, and accomplishments of which one would be proud.
Please remember,…THIS IS A COMPILATION, NOT A COMPETITION.
Send submissions to
For more info, call (204) 889 3660
Please help us to record our collective past.
We recognize that you have all been teachers in order to be members of the Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba. Most of you have also been mentors without using the formal term to apply to your work to support your students. In a mentoring workshop, the presenter proposed the difference between teachers and mentors. Teachers are individuals who instruct students as to what they need to know and mentors are individuals who serve as role models and ask questions to support the student developing critical thinking skills to learn and practice new concepts.
Mentoring has been defined as “the process by which a trusted and experienced colleague (mentor) takes a professional and personal interest in the development and education of a less experienced, often younger colleague (protégé)”. This certainly defines the role you will play with your high school family member in supporting them to develop their portfolio. As a mentor, you will play a nurturing role in an ongoing caring relationship with your student.
There are three dimensions of a mentor role which most of you will unconsciously take on in our Portfolio Program, resulting from your many experiences as a teacher and leader with students. The first dimension of a mentor is Service Provider. The role of Service Provider in our program starts with your discussion with your family member to participate in this program and to sign up using the application form. You will continue in this role when you communicate with your student on an ongoing basis and provide questions and resources to assist them with their portfolio. The Support Provider is a natural role in our program. You will become the confidant for your student, the advisor and friend. One of the goals of our program is that your communication with your student will develop into a long term ongoing caring relationship which will exceed the course of their high school years as they create their portfolio. The Assistance Provider role involves you becoming a collaborator, a coach and a role model for your student. These three roles or dimensions will be a natural fit for you as the sponsor and our Committee will make efforts to continue to offer you support to fulfil them with your student.
October 27th is National Mentoring Day. National Mentoring Day aims to educate, inspire, connect and support mentoring to effect positive change and elevate mentoring throughout the world. We hope you will contact a family member who is a high school student and start the mentoring process. This is a “win-win” process for all involved and we believe your student will be so thankful for the mentoring support you offer. The true value will be most appreciated when your student has at their fingertips all the artifacts of their high school journey found in their portfolio. These will provide the information the student needs to develop grant and bursary applications, to write cover letters for jobs and to support their university applications to ensure they are enrolled in a post-secondary institution upon graduation!
Sign up today! Our Committee is onboard assisting you and your student in this program. A portfolio will be sent to your student with inserts providing guidance to get started. You will be sent “Monthly Discussion Starters” each month to assist you in your mentor role. We are here to mentor you through our ongoing website information and upcoming KIT articles! We hope to hear about your mentoring successes, challenges and suggestions in our upcoming research project being introduced this month by our researcher, Andrew Augustyn. If you are enrolled, watch for his letter of invitation to participate in this exciting research activity!
For those of you who have not yet completed an application to enroll your family member into the Student Success Portfolio Project, below are some reasons to participate in this “win-win” program. There are benefits for everyone involved!
RTAM MEMBER BENEFITS
1. The project will provide the means and incentive to increase communication between RTAM members and their family high school students they are sponsoring.
1 Portfolios encourage the collection of artifacts and evidence by the student to support their successful writing of award and scholarships applications.
2. Recognizing the importance of a post-secondary education, RTAM members can feel pride in the role they will play in supporting their family members to be awarded funding to help with the high costs of today’s world.
2 Portfolios help students focus on their knowledge, skills and attitudes to support their successful applications for bursaries and scholarship.
3. This project will provide RTAM members with an opportunity to experience renewed passion in their roles as teacher and mentor working with their family members.
3 Portfolios help students track their changes and growth in important leadership skills through their high school experience.
4. RTAM member involvement with their family members will promote positive mental health opportunities during a time when COVID has caused many to experience social and physical isolation.
4 Portfolios assist the student in becoming more aware of their own learning experiences and history.
5. RTAM member involvement will support a sense of purpose in their lives and offer them a sense of social value to society.
5 Portfolios provide a framework to encourage students’ self-assessment leading to a more accurate choice of how they want to spend their future, their career aspirations.
6. RTAM members will increase their opportunities to know and understand their youth family members’ challenges and issues while developing a relationship and creating a sense of trust.
6 Portfolios provide a framework with resources for building a resume and completing university/college entrance applications as well as job applications.
7. RTAM members can offer direct input into the writing of the applications to enhance the students’ chances of being successful.
7 Portfolios save the student the time and agony of trying to recall their experiences and gather all their information to complete applications in their graduating year.
8 Portfolios provide students support to practice informed decision-making regarding their personal and professional opportunity selections.
As you can see by reading this, there are benefits for both of these intergenerational groups, promoting a “Win-Win” situation for all involved!
In the upcoming months, we will be posting “Monthly Discussion Starters” on the website as well as placing some in our KIT magazines. These are simply suggested questions you can use with your student relative to spark some discussion about their portfolios. You may have other conversations which arise spontaneously once you are talking and that is great! Each conversation will be different because of your unique relationship with your student relative. These “Monthly Discussion Starters” are suggestions to get those conversations started and support your student relative to build a meaningful comprehensive portfolio.
For one of your first discussion starters with your student relative, you may want to talk about how they will use the 13 sections within their portfolio. They do not have to use all of them but may want to select to put labels on some of them to help sort their entries as they collect them. Here are some ideas for 5 questions you could ask which will initiate this conversation.
By having these ideas planted in their minds as they start their collection, it will help them to find their entries and sort them as they build their portfolio.
Last September, the members of the Student Award Committee decided to explore the “New Horizons for Seniors” grant opportunities and found it was a great match for our desire to explore using portfolios with students sponsored by RTAM members. When we reviewed their Program Objectives and National Priorities, we found an alignment which was conducive to our Project goals. We selected to apply for a $5,000 grant as we believed that this would give us the start-up funding to get our project off the ground.
Below is our response to the application question #25, explaining how we will meet their Program Objectives and National Priorities. It will be obvious how this was the ideal grant for us to seek for funds.
“In terms of the Program Objectives, RTAM is a non-profit organization of 10,159 retired teachers and all aspects of this project, as with all RTAM initiatives, will be run on a volunteer basis by seniors. Our Student Success Portfolio project has been planned, and will be implemented, totally by senior women volunteers. While the project development and delivery has been developed by the Student Awards Committee, the success of the project will be promoted and delivered by volunteer seniors across the province.
The social participation of seniors will be fostered across the province, including Northern Manitoba, through various public relation channels. We have 18 local Chapters and 3 out-of-province Chapters (Alberta and British Columbia) who will be offered opportunities to regularly communicate with their members about this project. We have a provincial quarterly magazine called “Keeping in Touch” (KIT) which is designed, written and published by seniors and mailed to all members. As well, we host a website for our members to access and learn more about this project. These will all be used to generate interest and participation in our project.
Because our membership is comprised totally of former teachers, mentoring a family member and teaching them about the importance of this portfolio will be a natural fit for many. They may find themselves asking their student questions in casual conversations throughout the school year such as “Have you put any new artifacts into your portfolio?” “What have you been doing?” “What can you put in your portfolio to serve as a reminder at graduation time when you are applying for scholarships of this activity/passion/leadership opportunity in which you have been involved?” “Did you know you can consider placing … into your portfolio?” offering interesting suggestions. The seniors will serve a mentoring role in the project.
With social participation as a program objective, our project offers our RTAM members social participation with their high school grandchildren and/or nieces or nephews. With COVID implications, our project involves seniors using various means of communication (letters, cards, phone calls, Facetime, email, Skype and other forms of visual online communication) within their home setting when it is not possible or safe to hold face-to-face visits. Being involved in these forms of communications offers the seniors a reason to communicate with their family sponsor above and beyond only signing off on their application forms.
In terms of National Priorities, healthy aging will be supported through the various senior connections with their youth applicants. Through the communication and engagement with the family members, we believe this project will address some members’ feelings of loneliness and social isolation. It will boost their mental health by offering a purpose in their lives to enhance their sponsored applicants’ success in collecting and reflecting upon their portfolio artifacts. Student will have someone they can trust and work with as a team to create their applications with success.
Thus, our RTAM Student Success Portfolios project supports both the New Horizons Program Objectives and National Priorities.”
RTAM was awarded the $5,000 grant in early March, 2021. Since then, we have used our funds to purchase the portfolios, to cover the mailing of the portfolios out to students, for the design of our logo and for the French translation of student materials. Part of our funding has been allocated for a research project which we will hopefully be undertaking with some University of Manitoba Masters students in their fall Qualitative Research Course. The study will help us to determine what has been working successfully, what are some challenges faced by our RTAM members and their student relatives and what we can do to improve the project in the upcoming years. More will be shared once we have found our students and work together collaboratively to determine the design of the research project.
School Activities offer students opportunities to develop many leadership and teamwork skills. Below are some questions to start the discussion with your student about their school-related activity artifacts to be placed in their portfolios.
As part of our New Horizon for Seniors Grant, we allocated some funds for a research study to help us determine the effectiveness of our program. We recently were matched with a U of M Masters student to be our researcher. Andrew Augustyn is very excited to do this research as he is interested in the theme of mentoring for his M.Ed. thesis. RTAM has sent out letters of invitation to hold interviews on his behalf to those who have signed up for the program. He will be doing two interviews this fall as part of his Qualitative Research Course and then completing our research with eight more interviews in February in order to meet our Grant Report requirements due in March. Enjoy reading his biography below.
As a first generation Canadian growing up in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, I was not only learning how to speak English, but at a young age, realizing the importance of relationship building. This has become a staple in my successful experiences as a multi-sport athlete, such as when I represented Team Canada at the World Martial Arts Games in Killarney Ireland where I received a Silver medal for our country. These experiences empowered me as a coach and teacher. My late Babcia inspired me with her mentorship, moments of learning with someone special, while enjoying a traditional Sunday with chicken soup.
While completing my Bachelor in Education and my Bachelor in Kinesiology through the integrated Education program at University of Winnipeg, I began applying my skills and knowledge to programming with the City of Winnipeg. I administered community drop in centers and facilitated summer camps. From these experiences, I transitioned to ultimately supporting the Career Education Program with Frontier School Division, mentoring students through recreation, career involvement and relationship building within Northern Communities.
My teaching experiences in both rural Manitoba and Winnipeg have inspired me to shape my understanding of inclusion and led me to gain a further understanding in career development, inclusiveness, psychology of human relationships, and universal design for learning as I graduate with a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education from the University of Manitoba.
More recently, I have been a teacher for ten years, the last six of which have been at Gordon Bell High School. I currently teach a diverse portfolio of Grade 7-12 Physical/Health Education for students in such programs as English as an Additional Language, Special Education, the Learning Assistance Centre, the Adapted Skills Program and the Centre for Adapted Programming. I have continued to teach courses in Land-Based Learning and coach multiple sport teams over the years. As a graduate student pursuing a M. Ed in School Administration, I am an advocate for mentorship, servant leadership, and community building through collaboration. I will be completing a thesis in the near future incorporating these dimensions of human interactions among people in our ever changing world.
We continue to add articles to the RTAM website including our “October Discussion Starter” and “Mentoring”. We are starting to plan with Gordon the development of two You Tube videos about our Program. We had our first request for a Student Portfolio in French! We have our researcher in place, Andrew Augustyn, a U of M Masters student. He is very excited to do our research as he is exploring the topic of Mentoring for his Master’s Thesis. We had our first invitation for a Committee member to speak on our Program at an RTAM Chapter meeting!
When it is time to apply for Scholarships, Bursaries and/or Awards, it is almost guaranteed that you will need a reference letter as part of the application process. Getting a letter of reference can feel like a challenge, especially if you do not know who you should ask to supply this important document.
Typically, a reference letter provides the Award Committee(s) with valuable insight regarding your qualities, character, and accomplishments. Whether your reference knows you well or not, it is a good idea to assist this person with a document where you reflect on your strengths, goals, skills, and significant experiences.
The best reference letters come from people who have worked closely with you and who understand the goals of the award for which you are applying. Some examples of people you may consider for your reference letter(s) are teachers, former or current employers, clergy members, coaches, school counsellors/advisers, and leaders of an organization with which you are associated. Your reference(s) can greatly influence your chances of receiving an Award, so make sure you select the best person to represent you based on the Award’s criteria.
Whenever someone writes a reference letter for you it should be viewed as a favor that is deserving of appreciation. In the end, the person may be responsible for you receiving an Award, so giving thanks is the polite thing to do.
By becoming involved in community activities, students learn many important social skills while developing understanding of leadership and teamwork responsibilities. Community activities include both volunteer and paid employment opportunities. They can involve helping in a one day program as a participant or in a yearly club or organization as a leader. The opportunities can be planned to support a cause, offer peer tutoring to others, teach a specific skill or program and a multitude of other varied activities of interest to your student.
Below are some questions to start the discussion with your student about the role they are playing in their local community and the artifacts they may want to choose to place within their portfolios.
1. Create a list of all the different community activities that you have been involved in with a brief description of your role in the activity.
2. How long have you been involved in the particular activities?
3. What did you enjoy most about your participation in the activity?
4. How did your participation in that activity help you in other areas of your life?
5. Do you have any mementos of your participation that you found to include in your portfolio? For example, certificates, pictures, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. will all serve as reminders of the activity when completing scholarship or bursary applications.
We continue to add articles to the RTAM website including our “October Discussion Starter” and “Mentoring”. We are starting to plan with Gordon the development of two You Tube videos about our Program. We have redesigned our website to make it more reader friendly and helpful to our sponsors.
We have a researcher in place, Andrew Augustyn, a U of M Masters student. He is very excited to do our research as he is exploring the topic of Mentoring for his Master’s Thesis. Andrew Augustyn is seeking one sponsor and their student relative to participate in our research. Be the first to apply!
We had our first invitation for a Committee member to speak on our Program at an RTAM Chapter meeting!
We continue to seek applications from RTAM members who wish to support their family member in the development of a portfolio. We decided to open up the eligibility criteria to include students in Grades 9 and 10 as reflected in our revised application found online. Portfolios are now available in French.
Funding Application Forms:
Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries
Filling out application forms to access funding for your educational costs can be very frustrating and confusing. Dealing with different application forms makes the process even more difficult. Below are several tips to help you make this process go smoothly.
Winning scholarships for post-secondary schooling can be a huge game changer in your financial situation, but first you have to win them! Following this advice will help make your application stand out and win more awards.
Questions to Consider:
Where do I find information on Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards?
Check out these sites:
1. RTAM website for the RTAM Student Award : www.rtam.mb.ca
2. UCN RTAM Bursary: www.ucn/awards
4. Manitoba information: www.manitobascholarships.ca
5. Canadian information: www.scholarshipscanada.com
Student Success Portfolio Ad Hoc Committee – Joan Zaretsky, Chair
We are happy to see the interest growing in our project as we currently have 20 members and their sponsors participating in building portfolios. KIT highlighted a number of Student Success Portfolio articles which we believe led to the increased awareness and participation.
Andrew Augustyn, our researcher, has reported on three interviews he completed and letters will be sent out mid-February for the remaining seven to complete the research required for our Grant.
Choosing the Funding Source for You
When discussing the funding applications which fit your merits and your needs, we often use the terms scholarships, bursaries and awards interchangeably. In reality, they are based on different criteria for selection and as such, necessitate you to look closely at the match between your strengths and needs and the application requirements. So let’s review each of these.
When you are in Grade 12 and anticipating graduation in June, the months of January and February are good months to start reviewing available scholarships, awards and bursaries to select the ones which best fit your achievements. Check out the two websites found on the back of our pamphlet for funding sponsors in Manitoba and Canada.
Ask yourself the following questions:
There are many companies and sources of funds which report they have no applications submitted year to year. Look for some of the very unique sponsors and submit your application. Even if the funding seems insignificant to the amount you require, recognize 3 or 4 successful applications for $500 can combine to meet your need of $2000 for example. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if you are the only student applying for a specific funding opportunity. Best of luck in finding the funding source which fits your needs and talents! Your portfolio is your source of your successful entries to be used selectively in applying for your support!
Stimulating Discussion: Asking the Right Questions
Sometimes encouraging your student to talk openly and in depth about their portfolio may be a challenge. In the past, I wrote a Q & A weekly newspaper column responding to questions of parents and teachers. One question from a parent was “How do I get my child to open up about their day at school? When I ask them how their day went, all they respond is “Fine”.” If you are talking with your high school student and asking them about their recent Portfolio activities, perhaps they are responding they are doing “Fine” also. Below are some more specific questions you may want to ask them to draw out more information as to what their recent Portfolio activities.
Have you added in any new artifacts or items into your Portfolio? If so, tell me about them.
What activities have you been doing in the past month which could become a new entry into your Portfolio?
Have you been involved in any new school related activities? Community based activities? Volunteer activities? Hobbies?
Have your clubs or sports teams been active? Have you participated in any special activities, contests or tournaments with these groups?
Have you been hired for any jobs starting in the near future? During the week of March Break? For the summer? After hours during the week or on weekends?
Have you started to think about who you may ask to write your reference letter(s)? How will you pick them? What factors will you consider when making this selection?
Asking more specific questions regarding their current Portfolio entries, their interests and/or their strengths may promote more reflection on the part of the student as they discuss with you their most recent activities and Portfolio entries.
Submitted by Joan Zaretsky
Joan Zaretsky, Vice President
Joan has been an educator for the past 46 years, serving as a classroom teacher, principal, Language Art Consultant and Curriculum Coordinator JK-Gr 13 in Ontario. For 12 years, she served as a Professional Issues Staff Officer with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Joan has completed her Principals’ Certification and her Superintendents’ Qualifications in Ontario. Academically, she completed a Masters in Education (Educational Administration) and her Doctorate (Inclusive Special Education). In 2011, she won the Canadian Association for the Study of Education Administration (CASEA) national award, the Thomas B. Greenfield Award, for the best written dissertation in the area of Educational Administration in Canada in 2010. Joan has delivered workshops and research at conferences sponsored by many educational organizations including the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the International Council for Exceptional Children, the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration, The American Educational Research Association, and others. Since her retirement in 2011, she has enjoyed being involved with different organization as she follows her passions, one of which is the Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba and her work with the Student Success Portfolio Ad Hoc Committee.
Shannon Culbertson, Director
I graduated from Brandon University with a Science degree followed by an After Degree in Education in 1986.
My first assignment was in Ashern, Manitoba where I taught Grades 5-12 Basic French for three years. I served on the Equality in Education Committee for Lakeshore School Division.
I taught in Grade 4 to 6 classrooms in the Brandon School Division for 31 years before retiring in June 2020. I was a member of the Professional Development Committee for Brandon School Division.
I have been enjoying working as a substitute teacher in Brandon School Division since retirement. My husband and I recently got a puppy that will join us camping and fishing this summer.
I have learned so much through my involvement with the Benefits and Public Relations Committees over the past two years. I would look forward to working on behalf of retired Manitoba teachers once again.
Bob Davies, Director
I was born in Winnipeg and have lived in Manitoba my entire life. I am a husband, a father, and a new grandfather. I attended Red River Community College, Providence College and Seminary, University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, and Brandon University.
I started my career as a freelance commercial artist and was instrumental in developing the graphical component of the Canadian Videotex system. My career as an educator began at Lake Manitoba First Nations teaching Grade 7-12. Shortly after, we moved to Thompson and for the next 32 years I taught Language Enrichment, Canadian Law, various levels of Drafting, and grade 7-12 Graphic Arts.
During my career, I have published several articles to Manitoba Teacher’s Association, Education Manitoba, and was a part of the curriculum development team for Print Media for the Province of Manitoba. Additionally, I spent 25 years as an executive member of the Thompson Teacher’s Association. At present, I sit on the PR Committee, read for the KIT editorial committee, and moderate for Facebook on the website committee for RTAM.
My interests include cooking and entertaining for friends and family, reading, travel, gaming, music, and education. Current quote: “Retirement means being able to watch the garbage get collected every Thursday morning.”
David Harkness, Director
David started his educational odyssey in Virden, MB, and soon followed his mother Mildred into teaching. He attended Bemidji State University in Minnesota, and then returned to Manitoba as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Manitoba, and later as a lecturer at the University of Winnipeg. He returned to public school education to help establish a computer-based composition and rhetoric course in St. James, and then moved to the Norwood SD, and retired from there (in its eventual incarnation as the Louis Riel School Division) in 2013.
He was a frequent grant-writer at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate, and found support for the school’s breakfast program, community garden and composting site, and worm composting program. In the summers, he has been an active field researcher with a variety of geographers and other academics from related disciplines. He is proudest of the former students from his twenty-plus years of running blood drives who continue to donate regularly, and who recruit others to do so as well.
He has served a variety of local Teacher Association positions, as well as a term on the Provincial Executive. He currently sits as a Director on the Vic Wyatt House Board of Directors, who oversee a life-lease non-profit living space.
In retirement, David has had more time for fishing here and in Cuba and visiting those who are important to him. He is currently working on a charcuterie and general cookbook for those who want to reduce the salt and fats in their diets without reducing flavour, and a solar power project for a small off-grid cottage.
Paul Harland, Director
Paul has recently retired from teaching in a computer lab. He has spent the past year as the chairperson of the website committee. He is looking forward to becoming more familiar with the workings of RTAM.
Dennis Kozak, Director
Most of my teaching career was spent in the previously named Transcona- Springfield School Division, where I taught students at the Middle Years level, as well as coaching basketball and volleyball. During this time, I was actively involved with the Manitoba Teacher’s Association at the local and provincial level, having served for 2 terms on the MTS Provincial Executive.
My wife and I relocated to Calgary to be near to our 2 adult children and their spouses, as well as our 6 grandchildren. Once in Alberta, I founded the Calgary & Area Chapter, and have served as the President since the inception in 2014. Recently, we have been able to increase our membership with the help of the RTAM office.
I have served as a member of the Political Advocacy Committee of RTAM for the past 2 years. I am grateful that Zoom gives those members living outside of Manitoba the opportunity to participate in committees.
We are actively involved in our local church, where I served as Administrator for 5 years. My wife and I volunteered for Theatre Calgary and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 9 years but have been on a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Other interests include reading, woodworking, hiking and spending time with our children and grandchildren.
I have always been avidly interested in current affairs, both local and global, and keep abreast of issues that arise, especially those concerning education.
I look forward to serving on the Board of Directors and using my knowledge and experience to advocate on behalf of retired teachers.
Gabe Mercier, Director
Ochre River, Manitoba
Gabe Mercier is a former vice principal of Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary school. After retiring from the K-12 education system in 2009 he continued with a short career with postsecondary education as dean of trades and technology at University College of the North in The Pas. He retired again in 2021 as education director at Assiniboine Community College Parkland Campus in Dauphin.
He is a product of both the college and university systems in Manitoba. The early years of his post-secondary education were spent at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon followed by working in industry for seven years and completing an apprenticeship program with an inter-provincial journeyperson status. Gabe completed a Diploma in Education from Red River College followed by a Bachelor of Education degree and a Master of Education degree from University of Manitoba. He has spent the past 35 years in teaching and administering in education—23 of which were in the public school system, as a teacher and Vice principal.
Gabe is serving on a number of boards. He is presently president of Parkland Chamber of Commerce (formerly Dauphin Chamber of Commerce), but also serves on the Community Futures (CF) Parkland as well as the provincial CF Board, Rotary Club of Dauphin, and an elected member of Mountain View School Division school board. Upon retirement from the day to day working on a campus in June, Gabe has formed an education enterprise called Parkland Skills Training and Research Institute, with a focus on curriculum development in the skills and technology areas.
Gabe Mercier believes in the RTAM’s goals of being the umbrella group/organization that advocates for the needs of retired public and private school teachers; provide access to comprehensive and economical travel insurance plans in Manitoba for retired teachers; provide access to competitive extended health and dental insurance plans; and in political advocacy defending members Defined Benefit Pension plan, working conditions for retired teachers substituting and other Seniors' issues.
Audrey Siemens, Director
I grew up on a farm in southern Manitoba with my parents and five siblings. I was inspired to be an educator due to the influence of several educators throughout my childhood. I completed high school at W.C. Miller Collegiate in Altona, Manitoba in 1977. I then moved to Winnipeg to attend University to become an educator. I completed my studies four years later with a Bachelor of Education specializing in Elementary and Special education. I started my career in 1981 at St. Amant school where I began working as an advocate and educator for children with autism. I continued my career in the former St. Vital school division and currently, the Louis Riel School division for 37 years. I worked as a classroom and Special educator with children aged Kindergarten to Gr. 12. I also became an active member of the Louis Riel Teachers Association and joined several committees and advocated for the rights of all teachers. After my retirement in 2018 I began working as a substitute teacher working in all age groups, K-12. Despite challenging times, I have thoroughly enjoyed being in classrooms and communicating with teachers in this very important role. Being a lifelong learner, I continued my education throughout my teaching career and completed a Post Baccalaureate in Early Education, in Special Education and completed a Masters degree in 2008 in administrative studies. My thesis was published in 2015 in a book entitled ‘Stories or resilience of young adults’. I am very pleased to be considered as a candidate for a position on the RTAM Board of Directors. I look forward to advocating for the wonderful educators residing in Manitoba. I also look forward to meeting retired teachers and establishing a plan to meet the challenging needs of our retired teachers. I am also looking forward to joining the community of teachers working together on the RTAM board. I believe by working together we can truly make a difference in the lives of all retired teachers!
Rex Virtue, Director
Teacher, Principal, MTS representative on 5 rural associations, MTS Provincial Executive including being the last executive member to be Treasurer & Provincial President. My wife & I were Chief Accountants for Figure Skating. (NO skating required.) Served on Manitoba Safety Council. Coordinated VIP transportation for National Figure Skating, the Brier, the Grey Cup, Women's International Hockey, North American Indigenous Games.
One of the originators of Safe Grad Manitoba & TADD (Teens against Destructive Decisions. Recently a friend & I made over 2,900 masks. Selling most & donating over $10,000 to Manitoba Charities. Also donating over 200.
Anne Williams, Director
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Anne graduated from the University of Winnipeg with an Honours B.A. in English and Classics. She completed her Bachelor of Education degree in Music and English at the University of Manitoba. She taught in St. James-Assiniboia School Division for over 35 years including positions as: music specialist; classroom teacher in primary and intermediate years; middle years ELA, literacy, and social studies educator; secondary teacher of English. After retiring in 2007, she expanded her career into the field of international education, including graduate studies and completion of a Masters in International Education from Endicott College, Maine. After returning to Winnipeg in 2017, she worked in SJASD as a substitute teacher.
Before entering the teaching profession, Anne pursued a business career which gave her the skills and experience to head a family business for many years. She was also involved in community service as secretary and treasurer of various groups. Her interest in adult and international education developed through her service on the board of trustees of Booth College. Current activities include travel, photography, and quilting.
Here we are nearing the end of the school year and the end of the RTAM year. It is time to start thinking about your role as the sponsor of your Grade 12 student for the RTAM Student Awards and to support them as they develop their application form.
The RTAM Student Awards application forms are located under the Student Awards Committee found on the RTAM website at www.rtam.mb.ca . The due date is July 29th with the completed application attached.
On the application form, it outlines the requirements to be submitted by the student. The Student Award Application Form needs to be accompanied by the following items to meet the criteria:
This gives you and your student some time to start planning for this submission.
In the October and December Monthly Discussion Starters, we had discussed examples of school and community activities to support your student when developing their one page description. You can ask your students what they have been doing and determine if there are any gaps in their activities. What are their strengths? Are they involved in musicals, sports teams, school clubs, planning special celebrations or other activities? In the community, are they involved in various organizations such as 4-H, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts or others? Have they worked a job where they were learning work habits and leadership skills? Refer to the past Monthly Discussion Starters for more specific activities.
We also did a Monthly Discussion Starter in November with some suggested questions you can discuss with your student when selecting their reference(s). It is a bonus if the reference knows the student in a variety of settings – personal experiences, school-related activities, community activities and others. Your student may want to select someone they know will do a masterful reference letter and sit down and talk with them to inform them of all their activities and achievements. This offers the reference a more rounded knowledge and understanding of all your student has accomplished to facilitate them developing an effective reference letter.
The final transcription of the student’s marks will be available at the end of June after Graduation. Here we look at the student’s marks throughout their high school years, the courses they selected, if they took any International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses or any specialty courses. When making our selections, we review how their marks relate to the provincial averages determined by provincial exams.
Starting now to plant the seeds with your student about these areas required for the RTAM Student Awards will help them to start noticing and organizing the great things they are doing and have done in their past four years. You may also prompt the student to look at the online sites on the back of our pamphlet for other scholarships, awards and bursary opportunities to assist them in receiving funds as they move onward from their high school journey to post-secondary education. Have fun with your student and I believe you may be surprised with some of their many endeavors as you start this discussion.
As we move into the month of June, Grade 12 students are excitedly preparing for their completion of high school and exploration of their future, whatever direction they are selecting to pursue. If you are supporting a relative who is currently completing Grade 9, 10 or 11, the summer lies ahead with many opportunities for learning experiences which can prepare them for Graduation and be incorporated into their portfolios.
Volunteering in the summer in whatever endeavor is of interest to your student will offer them some lifetime learning experiences and valuable personal growth assets to include in their applications for future scholarships, awards and bursaries. Volunteering to support sports teams, work as a counsellor in a summer camp, help with the family business, assist seniors with outdoor work and other activities provide some excellent experiences to learn many social and experiential skills while supporting others.
There are many benefits of volunteering including the development of connections with others, practices in preparation for their future careers, the growth in social skills vital to future success in life and others, all accomplished while increasing relationships with others in your community. Volunteering is a “win-win” situation as it feels good as the volunteer to be able to help others and others feel good as a result of the contribution you are making to their lives. According to Segal and Robinson, volunteering helps “counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety, combats depression and makes you feel good!”. Depending upon the activity, “it can support you staying physically active and healthy and increase your self-confidence.” Volunteering by means of phone or computer can teach valuable skills for future job applications.
Some questions you may want to ask your students to begin their process of determining how they will spend their summer months may include:
When it comes to volunteering, Segal and Robinson suggest you need to enjoy yourself and the only other requirements are passion and positivity. The support you offer your student will allow them to have a creative fruitful summer spending time doing what they love the most and learning from the experience as they support others in their endeavors!
Joan Rink, Director
My entire teaching career was in the Flin Flon School Division at the Primary/Elementary Level.
I retired in 2006 and we moved back to Southern Manitoba.
Since retiring from teaching, I taught EAL classes and also did substitute teaching in Beautiful Plains School Division.
Presently, I am a volunteer driver for Cancer Care Manitoba and participate in local community activities.
Involvement in RTAM has been at the local Chapter level as well as serving on the Wellness and Benefits Committees. The importance of RTAM as a positive support for Retired Teachers is my purpose for serving on the RTAM board.