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Selkirk College Honours Educational Stalwarts

The Selkirk College Faculty Association Standing Committee on Professional Excellence (SCOPE) Awards recognized (L-R) James Nicol, Takaia Larsen and Leslie Comire (missing from photo is Tiffany Snauwaert) for their outstanding contributions to post-secondary education in the region. — Submitted photo

Four outstanding Selkirk College educational leaders have been recognized by their peers for inspiring students through enthusiasm, knowledge and skills in the classroom.

The annual Selkirk College Faculty Association Standing Committee on Professional Excellence (SCOPE) is honouring Leslie Comrie, Takaia Larsen, James Nicol and Tiffany Snauwaert as recipients of its 2016/2017 awards.

“Derived from input provided by students and colleagues, the SCOPE Awards help showcase the tremendous passion that exists with educators at Selkirk College,” says Carol Andrews, Forest Technology Program Instructor and chair of the SCOPE Committee. “This year’s award winners are exceptional leaders in education and it’s an honour to watch them help better the lives of our students each semester.”

Comrie came to Selkirk College in December 2008 as an instructor in the School of Health & Human Services. Through her work with a Relational Practice course in the Nursing Program, she became involved in Healthy Campus initiatives which included changing the culture of substance use, Dinner Basket Conversations, and Eat & Art.

Comrie’s pioneering work with Healthy Campus initiatives evolved into the new role of Healthy Campus Advisor which has enabled her to take the college to a new level. Comrie developed terms of reference, formed an advisory committee, established a website presence, while developing and implementing Selkirk College’s Sexual Violence Policy. This included consultations with staff, students and community members. 

Students describe Comrie as dedicated, open, honest and someone who keeps the bar high and supports this with her availability and knowledge base that she willingly and elegantly shares.

“She makes herself available. She listens and understands our goals and needs,” says one student nominator. “She provides relevant information. She is calm and trusting. This allowed for a very positive student-teacher relationship to develop.”

Larsen is a valued member of the School of University Arts & Sciences (UAS) who has distinguished herself as “a remarkable blend of competence and compassion, intelligence and heart, structure and flexibility.” She is tireless in her contributions to the well-being of all those she touches and passionate in supporting the social fabric of the community she has grown up in.

“Takaia genuinely likes teaching history and makes me excited to learn,” says a student nominator. “She demands high academic standards from her students.”

In addition to her teaching role and UAS Coordinator position, Larsen became the Rural Pre-Medicine (RPM) Student Liaison this past year, serves on the Education Council’s Admission & Standards Committee, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educator’s Human Rights & International Solidarity Committee, had a lead role in the development of the Law & Justice Studies Diploma Program, and is coordinator of the River Arts Symposium 2018 in collaboration with Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

A Selkirk College alumnae, Larsen is an accomplished historian in her own right, having researched and written extensively on the history of the region. She collaborated on Journeys Taken: Selkirk College –The First 50 Years, the recently released Selkirk College 50th anniversary commemorative book.

Nicol is a Biology, Anatomy and Physiology instructor in the School of University Arts & Sciences and Rural Pre-Medicine Program. He is described by colleagues as an incredibly student-centered instructor, a sentiment which is echoed by his students who note that he is extraordinarily dedicated to ensuring students succeed in his classes and that he has an “innate ability to make students care about the simplest of facts” in difficult subjects.

“Whether it was dedicating a magnificent amount of time to meet one-on-one, providing encouragement with difficult topics, or emailing back at 1 a.m. the night before the final exam, James shows over and over that students’ understanding and enjoyment is paramount,” said one student nominator.

Beyond his regular classroom work, Nichol has participated in outreach events for school-aged children in the region and receives enormous praise for his fun and engaging Biology and Anatomy sessions. Such work exemplifies the dedication Nicol has to his subject, but also the dedication he has for Selkirk College and ensuring its continued growth and success through outreach and community engagement.

A Selkirk College alumna, Snauwaert began working as an instructor in 2004 and eventually decided to take on the expanded leadership role as Chair of the Business Administration Program. In only a few years, her department grew exponentially from a team of three to eight instructors to support the growth of international students in the program.

This was a very challenging time as it meant not only mentoring new staff, but also making changes to curriculum – ways of delivering, testing, and interacting – while continuing to support seasoned faculty members in this new era of instructing large numbers of international students. Snauwaert led her team with clear guidance and expectations all while keeping her eye on what was most important, our students and her faculty.

“Tiffany has a calm and reassuring presence,” stated a colleague. “She works tirelessly to ensure that students within the Business Administration Program are getting the support they need to meet their goals both within Selkirk College and beyond.”

The Selkirk College community celebrated the winners at the annual SCOPE Award ceremony and reception held on September 28 at the Castlegar Campus.