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Committee Chair and Members

Joan Zaretsky

  • Beth Smith
  • Joan Dawson (guest consultant)
  • Linda Blair
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General Information about the Project
Project Benefits for All Involved


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!



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!



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The “New Horizons for Seniors” Grant

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.

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Application for Portfolio Form
The Portfolio - English
The Portfolio - French
Monthly Discussion Starters
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions