Seven Faculty Instructors Nominated for Contribution to Teaching Awards

The Faculty of Education is fortunate to have many exemplary instructors whose work has been recognized in a number of different ways over the past years. In an impressive demonstration of the depth of teaching in the Faculty of Education, seven instructors have been nominated by their students for Contribution to Teaching Awards. Unfortunately, some of these outstanding educators are not eligible for the award, as one of the conditions for receiving the award is to have taught at Lakehead for four semesters. This does not detract, however, from the very real achievement of being nominated.

On behalf of the Faculty of Education, congratulations to the seven nominees!

  • Melanie Biesenthal - Curriculum & Instruction in Mathematics (Primary-Junior). Melanie recognizes that this nomination is the result of being part of a collaboration with Dr. Alex Lawson and the Primary/Junior Math Team with whom she learns and works so closely.
  • Tom Boland - Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Faculty Advisor
  • Jen Farrell-Cordon - Curriculum & Instruction in Social Studies (Primary-Junior)
  • Sarah Gibbon - Curriculum & Instruction in Language Arts (Primary-Junior)
  • Sherri Lankinen - Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Curriculum & Instruction in Language Arts (Primary-Junior); The Practice of Inclusive Education (Primary-Junior); Faculty Advisor
  • Steven Secord - Critical Digital Literacy; Online Teaching; Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Curriculum and Instruction in Science and Technology (Primary/Junior); Faculty Advisor
  • Brian Weishar - Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Literacy and Learning in the Intermediate-Senior Curriculum; Faculty Advisor

Dr. Gary Pluim’s Research Featured in OrilliaMatters News

Dr. Gary Pluim (Assistant Professor, Orillia campus) is leading a study that follows the transfer of curriculum between Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean, South Pacific, Eurasia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

His research was recently featured in OrilliaMatters News, as part of their “Research in Action” series.

As Gary notes in the write-up, “The research looks at the extent to which educational programming can be packaged and exported to different countries, the assumptions we make about the nature of knowledge, and the implications of sharing curriculum around the world. We draw on decolonial scholarship to critique a widespread perception that curriculum and knowledge are universal. In this vein we ask, ‘to what extent does place, culture, and nationality matter in education?’”

To read the story about Gary’s research, click here.

Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo’s Research Featured in OrilliaMatters News

Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo (Associate Professor, Orillia campus) is conducting a qualitative study to explore the lived experiences of adults with developmental disabilities living in the care farm setting of Camphill Communities of Ontario.

Her research was recently featured in OrilliaMatters News, as part of their “Research in Action” series.

As Sonia explains in the article, the goal of the research project is to build “knowledge and understanding about the well-being of adults with developmental disabilities, and figuring out what they need. We’re going to explore their lived experiences at Camphill and what that looks like.”

To read the story about Sonia’s research, click here.

Faculty of Education Publishes Flourishing as a Faculty

Flourishing as a Faculty encapsulates the values of the Faculty of Education and will guide the Faculty’s program reviews and the next iteration of the Faculty Strategic Plan (2023-2028).

Developed collaboratively over 14 months of conversations, the Faculty of Education has identified and come to understand the values that will promote sustainability and human dignity such as equity, diversity, inclusion, reconciliation, and empowerment, both within the Faculty and in its relationships with the wider world. A diversity of issues and challenges, both tangible and intangible, are discussed in the document, alongside pathways for change at both the individual and Faculty level.

Developing an understanding of the values that the Faculty aspires to, and the work that will be required to realize those values, commits the Faculty of Education “to helping create the conditions by which all humans, all life, and the land can flourish. We strive to work and act in accordance with these values for the benefit of all.”

The document can be viewed here.

Flourishing as a Faculty document

Year of Climate Action Funding Awarded: “Benchmarking Climate Change Policies across Canadian School Boards”

Dr. Ellen Field (Assistant Professor, Education) is Principal Investigator on a research project that has been awarded funding from the Year of Climate Action fund. Ellen is working alongside co-investigator Dr. Muhammad Asaduzzaman (Assistant Professor, Computer Science) on this research project entitled Benchmarking Climate Change Policies across Canadian School Boards.

The research project, which will run from January-September 2022, will involve:

  • developing a web scraping protocol to collect data on climate change policies from school board websites across Canada;
  • quantifying the number of school boards that have developed climate change policies; and
  • publishing a report on climate change policies across Canadian school boards.

Currently, there is limited data as to how the formal education system is responding to climate change, and Ellen notes that this study will determine existing policies within school boards.

“After analysis, the findings will indicate where gaps in policy exist both quantitatively, in terms of number of school boards with policies, and qualitatively, in terms of content in climate change policies for ensuring education systems are responsive to preparing young people for the rapid change and uncertainty they will face in the next 30-70+ years,” she explains.

The research will culminate in a report that outlines recommendations for Ministries and school boards on administrative leadership on climate change. 

Pictured below: Dr. Ellen Field (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Muhammad Asaduzzaman (Co-Investigator)

Professional Sports Photographer/Education Alumnus Mike Carlson says Lakehead University Changed His Life

Mike Carlson (BEd, 1993) knows firsthand some of the challenges faced by reporters today, especially with many people believing that the news is fake. 

Mike earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Education – both at Lakehead University. He is a professional sports photographer who has covered the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and Major League Baseball. 

His advice to prospective journalists is that they must have persistence. 

“Journalism/photojournalism is a truly rewarding career, but with the recent developments in calling everything ‘fake news’ and disdain for the job by many – it does make it more difficult. 

“No one I know, and no one I’ve trained ever goes into it with an ‘agenda.’ I believe in presenting the truth without bias, and it’s an important trait for successful journalists,” he says, adding that it is also important for journalists to be multifaceted – so they can contribute in many different ways.

“I have the rare opportunity in professional sports to work with teams who have writers, videographers, and photographers – in many instances in journalism today one person should be prepared to do all of that,” he says. 

Based in Tampa, Fla., Mike also teaches digital multimedia courses at River Ridge High School. His students learn photography, illustration, graphic design, and video – skills they can eventually use in journalism. The school displays their work on its website and social media pages, among other places.  

It has been an interesting journey since he graduated from Lakehead University in the 1990s. In 1997, he moved to Istanbul to teach and bought a new printer that included a 35 mm film camera. 

“I figured since I was seeing a whole new world I may as well take some photos – and that’s when I became hooked,” he says. 

When Mike moved to Cairo, he would often visit a photography store owned by an Egyptian man who had lived in the US. That man soon recognized Mike had an eye for photography. 

“He gifted me an old Canon T50 – a fully manual film camera, which forced me to slow down and concentrate on all of the settings. This allowed me to really learn how all settings combined in a photo.” 

When his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, photography gave Mike a brief break from reality – and photography has continued to do that in the years since her passing.   

Mike, who grew up in Thunder Bay, says his favourite sport to photograph is either football or hockey. 

“I love the challenge of football because so much is potentially happening on every play. It means balancing three cameras and choosing a position carefully while at the same time reacting to the plays and fakes at NFL speed. It moves a lot faster down on field level. 

“But, I also love hockey – it’s the Canadian in me. It’s a different challenge shooting through a small hole in the glass and reacting at NHL speed . . . plus it’s a lot more comfortable in an arena than a 110 degree field in the Florida sunshine,” he says. 

Mike says the introduction of digital photography changed the game for professional sports photographers. 

“The challenge with digital in today’s world is the expectation that the results are delivered instantaneously, especially in sports. There is a constant race to have the photo out first. For most NFL games and big events, we all have internet-connected cameras that transfer photos of big plays to an editor, with the goal to have images available to post within a minute or less of them happening.” 

One of the highlights of Mike’s career occurred in 2013 when his photo of Alex Rodriguez ran on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

When he isn’t photographing winning touch downs or goals, Mike looks back fondly on the years he spent at Lakehead University, which he says changed his life.

“Being able to get into the concurrent education program allowed me to follow my passion at the time and get into education – both of my parents were long-time teachers in Thunder Bay,” he says. 

“It was also at Lakehead where I met and made connections to other teacher grads who headed out on the international school circuit and who introduced it to me.” 

While at Lakehead, he often frequented the Outpost Campus Pub. 

“I lived five minutes from campus, so the Outpost was where I spent time on campus with friends from out of town or who lived on campus. Studying, socializing, it gave me the chance to meet and get to know people who became life-long friends,” he says. 

Not only did Mike love attending school, he also enjoys teaching. Since graduating, Mike has taught in Canada, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and Tanzania. 

“Through all of the diversity in schools/curricula/countries, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the students. Working with them on projects, on the fields, in the gym, in my studios, I just enjoy the energy and creativity (and chaos) of the teenage mind.

“It’s hard to truly explain, but a teacher will understand,” Mike says. 

Mike would love to hear from friends and former classmates. He is on Instagram (@carlsonphotos) and his website is

Drs. Sonia Mastrangelo and Meridith Lovell-Johnston’s Research Featured in Journey Magazine

Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo (pictured below, left) and Dr. Meridith Lovell-Johnston (below, right) are engaged in a SSHRC-funded research partnership with the Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre, which provides support to First Nations schools in the Sioux Lookout region of Northwestern Ontario. The goal of their research is to foster self-regulation and literacy in elementary students, so that they can better manage tension and cope with stressors in their daily lives.

To read about their research, see the Fall issue of Lakehead University’s Journey Magazine.

Dr. Gerald Walton Receives Distinguished Instructor Award

Faculty of Education Professor Dr. Gerald Walton is the recipient of Lakehead University’s 2021 Distinguished Instructor Award. This is the University’s most prestigious teaching award, recognizing an individual who has made a significant contribution to teaching excellence and educational innovation and leadership over a number of years.

The presentation of the award was made by Lakehead University’s Provost and Vice-President, Dr. David Barnett. He read the following citation:

“Since joining the Faculty of Education in 2008, Dr. Gerald Walton has established himself as an outstanding instructor, a committed researcher and communicator and valued colleague. It is, however, his commitment to equity that really makes Gerald the distinguished instructor that he is.

Equity in education is closely tied to the practices employed by an instructor. It means opening opportunities for all students to fully engage with challenging ideas in an environment that values that engagement. It means opening opportunities for all students to participate fully in the practices, and with the knowledge base, of the discipline. And most importantly, it means opening opportunities for all students to be seen and valued as full participants of the learning community. These are the practices that Gerald pushes himself to develop and model, and it is these practices that inspire Gerald’s students.

One criterion for this Award is to demonstrate leadership in teaching and other activities across the wider university landscape. Gerald has served on a number of university committees over the years, and has taken the lead on a number of initiatives that promote equity and support for international and graduate students. Further afield, Gerald has been prominent in fearlessly and honestly communicating the need for societal change across multiple media. These activities have contributed to raising the profile of important issues and leading the public discourse about them.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Gerald Walton, the 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Instructor Award.”

Faculty of Education September 2021 Newsletter Published

The September issue of our Education Exchange newsletter has been published. This newsletter brings our current and former students, as well as our educational partners, together to share news, successes, and innovations. In this issue, you'll find discussion of the Aki-based curriculum, a spotlight on an innovative course design, faculty news, alumni profiles, and more.

To access our Education Exchange newsletter, click the following link: 

Education Exchange Newsletter (September 2021)

To see previous issues of the newsletter, visit the newsletter archives.

Education Alumna Dr. Sarah Pash Re-elected Chairperson of the Cree School Board

Dr. Sarah Pash, graduate of the Joint PhD in Educational Studies program (2014), has been re-elected chairperson of the Cree School Board, the organization founded in 1978 to provide education in Eeyou Istchee, the Cree territory in northern Quebec. 

Pash campaigned for greater transparency, meeting firm education standards, and hiring Crees. 

This will be her second three-year term at the helm of the organization after first being elected chairperson in 2018. She is pushing to expand the range of Cree content taught in schools, in addition to the Cree language and culture classes, which see called "ghettoized."

"Why aren't our kids learning Indigenous technology in science class… [or] stories about the landforms and rivers in geography class? This would help with identity construction," she noted in a CBC news article.

Before becoming elected to her first mandate as chairperson of the Cree School Board, Sarah was executive director at the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute in Oujé-Bougoumou.