May 16, 2014
Posted in: Uncategorized
SUNTEP Prince Albert Graduation Ceremony
By James Oloo
May 16 2014 was a great day in Prince Albert as 23 SUNTEP Prince Albert students graduated with their Bachelor of Education degrees. The graduates are Keegan Brodacki, Leslie Choumont, Brittney Dearing, Justin Dinney, Logan Fines, Jillian Fremont-Ross, Chelise Gamble, Santana Johnson, Karen Horne, Gerald Lisoway, Clarissa McDonald, Kayli McKay, Jennifer McLeod, Melissa Melnyk, Tanya Morin, Charmaine Natomagan, Susie Nontell, Nicole Parenteau, Chris Phalen, Jennifer Sanderson, Kristina Slater, Randeen Tomiak, and Alicia Vandale.
As always, the ceremony did not disappoint. Under the able leadership of the Program Coordinator Liza Brown, SUNTEP PA (including Cory Teeter, Sandra Sherwin-Shields, Linda Lysyk, Leah Dorion, Donna Biggins, and Leslie Morin) organized an unforgettable event that was attended by hundreds of families, friends, distinguished guests, and the media.
Linda Lysyk introduced the SUNTEP Prince Albert partners, gave a brief history of the program, and thanked Métis Nation-Saskatchewan for its efforts in making SUNTEP a reality. She also expressed her gratitude to schools for providing space for SUNTEP student teachers to do their internship and to cooperating teachers for sharing their classrooms.
Michael Relland congratulated the grads and thanked GDI Executive Director Geordy McCaffrey and the GDI Board (represented at the event by Vice Chair Glenn Lafleur) for their leadership and support. Michael reminded the grads that somewhere in their being they knew that they had the ability to succeed and that they should be able to mentor others and help rekindle hope and confidence in their students that they too can be successful.
Dr. Dianne Miller who brought greetings from the University of Saskatchewan told the graduating class that teachers are like stems that connect the roots and the leaves and allow nourishment to pass through them.
A representative of the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division recognized the partnership with SUNTEP Prince Albert and stated that the Division is the largest employer of SUNTEP graduates.
In his speech, Geordy McCaffrey noted that with this year’s 51 graduates at the three centres – Prince Albert, Saskatoon, and Regina, SUNTEP grads make up almost one out of every 10 (9.2%) teachers in Saskatchewan. Geordy who is a graduate of SUNTEP told the grads that parents entrust their “precious hearts” in the form of their children to schools and reminded the new teachers of the responsibilities that come with being a teacher.
From its humble beginnings in 1980 when there were only eight Aboriginal teachers in Saskatchewan, SUNTEP is today a success story. It is a mega-narrative made up of many crucial narratives of relationships and changed lives.
Jillian Fremont-Ross left school before finishing Grade 12. She came to Dumont Technical Institute for her Adult Basic Education then entered into the SUNTEP program. She is now graduated as a teacher thanks to her hard work and GDI support.
Tanya Morin said that SUNTEP Prince Albert presented her with a great opportunity that enabled her to become the woman she was meant to be. Similarly Jennifer McLeod stated that SUNTEP changed her life and introduced her to a new world that is full of possibilities.
Alicia Vandale thanked SUNTEP for teaching her about her Métis heritage. Gerald Lisoway said he was able to learn a lot about himself and what he is capable of doing. As he put it, “you cannot be a teacher if you do not know yourself. SUNTEP made me know myself.”
Nicole Parenteau asserted that SNTEP is unique because it is interested in the development of the whole person not just academics. To this end she is glad that SUNTEP provided her a “support system like no other.”
Clarissa McDonald dedicated her degree to her recently departed mother who she said was a rock in her life. Clarissa recognized the power of prayer and belief in oneself in achieving a goal in life.
Leslie Choumont was cheered by the audience when she said that at almost age 40, she decided to go to SUNTEP to work towards a teaching degree. The married mother and grandmother told the audience to never give up.
Chris Phalen declared that he will be a good ambassador of SUNTEP.
All the grads expressed their appreciation to SUNTEP faculty and staff, their cooperating teachers, their families and friends, and the Gabriel Dumont Institute community. Some of the grads have received job offers.
The 2014 SaskEnergy Sharing the Warmth Award was presented to Susie Nontell. Susie was selected by her peers for the award. She is a mother of a young child, had excellent attendance, and volunteered in the community. Susie demonstrated empathy and kindness both in and outside the classroom.
Riverside Dance Troupe gave fantastic entertainment. Congratulations SUNTEP PA Class of 2014.