Sudents Speak: Lives Transformed by Teachers -
Paroles d'étudiants:
Des vies transformées par des enseignants


For twenty-five years, 3M Canada has sponsored the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, the foremost teaching award in Canada. This year, the Fellowship’s silver jubilee celebration is inspired by the theme – “Giving Back.” In this book, Fellows are giving back to 3M Canada and to their students inspiring evidence of the power of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship. The book reproduces the voices of students as they recall what it meant to be taught by a 3M Teaching Fellow.

Our newer partners, Studentawards Inc. and Maclean’s magazine, through their support and encouragement, have demonstrated their commitment to teaching excellence and to the original goals of the 3M Fellowship. Thank you, too.

The students who contributed to this book have written from every province in Canada, from abroad, and from a wide range of disciplines and professions. They want their identities and those of their professors to remain anonymous, as they do not envision the book as a collection of self-congratulatory tributes to individuals. Instead, they believe 3M Canada, Studentawards Inc., Maclean’s, and future students can be inspired by their stories of discovery, inspiration, and transformation. This book resonates with gratitude.

The Council of the 3M National Teaching Fellows
Ron Marken, Editor
1987 3M National Teaching Fellow
c. June 2010

The President Has An Idea

At the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., the President of 3M Canada, John Myser, asked several of the special guests how they came to be. Remarkably, several responses included university teachers who had made differences in their lives.

Back at 3M Canada’s head office in London, Ontario, John Myser knew he was on to something. His vision was nothing less than to create the “Stanley Cup of University Teaching” to recognize exceptional teachers for making a difference.

John asked Roy Duxsburry, his assistant, to contact teachers and solicit proposals from the university community. Roy approached Doug Wright, President at the University of Waterloo, who asked Chris Knapper to organize an event for Engineers. Chris, Director of his university’s centre for teaching and learning, passed the idea on to instructional developers. They became the core of The Society for Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, which at this time was in its embryonic stages of connecting interested teachers in Ontario.

It did not take long for Alan Blizzard, Mei-Fei Elrick, and Dale Roy to generate proposals for 3M. These proposals included bringing together outstanding but isolated teachers at a retreat, under the guidance of a facilitator. It also included another radical concept: equal recognition for teaching excellence and for leadership in teaching.

Men in Dark Suites are impressed

The Society didn’t expect approval of their proposal, but 3M adopted the idea of lifetime fellowships after several 3M representatives in suits showed up at the 5th annual STLHE Conference in Ottawa. They saw faculty in shorts and t-shirts, gathered informally, playing games and encouraging active learning with utter abandon. Chris Knapper, the President of STLHE at the time, recalls: “my heart sank…. I thought this was definitely the end of that idea”.

John Myser, however, saw a progressive group of teachers brushing cob- webs from the Ivory Tower.

Chris ran the Fellowship program from Waterloo in 1986, and handed it off to Dale Roy, who nurtured it at Macmaster for the next 14 years. Myser and his entourage visited Montebello and saw the Fellows as he had imagined them. They really were the Stanley Cup Champions.

The overall quality of the program is a tribute to Dale’s contributions, from selection to celebration. His skill at coordinating a growing community of exceptional teachers from all disciplines were not only appreciated by STLHE, but also by two exceptional stewards of the Program within 3M Canada.

Mike Calhoun was one of these champions. In a large corporation like 3M, Mike had seen many other sponsorships come and go. He ensured support year after year and was present when we were. With a twinkle in his eye, Mike was the face of 3M that welcomed and connected us.

A Think Tank Gives Birth

As I began to coordinate the Program some ten years ago, the Fellow- ship had grown to 150 members. There was a need within to organize and share collectively, just as we had done as a cohort each year at Montebello.

In 2003, despite SARS, there was no stopping the Fellows from gathering at a Think Tank, which resulted in dozens of regional and national teaching and learning initiatives. To harness this energy, The Council of 3M Teaching Fellows was formed. Alex Fancy was elected Chair of the new Executive.

At this time 3M introduced us to Sue Romyn. Sue and Alex became the face of what many have described as the ultimate public-private partnership. In one grass roots initiative, the Fellows contributed to a published collection of stories on Making a Difference / Toute la Difference.

The narratives comprising Silences soon followed, but only because Ken Clarke from 3M Canada encouraged and supported the publication long before it had taken the shape that it did.

The Council is now in its 7th year. Chaired by Ron Smith, all of us in the Executive marvel at the respect and trust that 3M Canada continues to place in us. The entire fellowship is indebted to 3M for its ongoing generosity and leadership.

There are many people to thank and recognize at 3M. Another very special individual, Greg Snow has been with the Fellowship Program since its inception and personifies the history that speaks to what has defined us. Greg is also the Master of Ceremonies for the Banquet that is hosted by 3M at Montebello. This is where the Program comes full circle.

Memories of Montabello

Montebello brings together ten inspired teachers. They mingle, chat, share and dream together over exceptional meals and fine wine. The big deal is that these men and women are crazy about teaching. Nothing can stop them talking about teaching, until all hours.

Their passion for student learning will extract the air from a room, replacing it with pure oxygen. Ideas rise to the surface, outlines take shape, and action plans emerge. Then another amazing thing happens; Montebello catapults annual cohorts of ten teachers into the energy centre of a genuine fellowship, now 250-strong.

2009 Fellow Hamzeh Roumani expressed it best last November at Montebello: “Like a flock of birds, now turning gracefully in concert, we shape and influence those around us. The teacher’s impact multiplies immeasurably and infinitely.”

Work gets done because it matters. Lives are changed. Universities are affected. As you will learn from this book, students are transformed.

The 3M National Teaching Fellowship was a wildly original idea. It was conceived as the Stanley Cup of teaching; Maclean’s’ Magazine has referred to the program as Teaching’s Nobel. To us, on the occasion of our silver jubilee, all of this makes perfect sense.