Susan Wurtele (2006)

Affiliation at the time of the award: Trent University, Geography.

Citation: Students flock to Susan Wurtele’s courses at Trent, regardless of the subject she is teaching. As one student said, “You have to love a course you’re going to miss attending.” What is so special about Susan’s teaching? According to her students, she is an “engaging speaker,” making even “potentially dry and boring material interesting and thought-provoking.” Using “humour and practical examples to engage students,” she knows her subject and teaches with passion. She varies the techniques she uses to make sure all her students learn, from use of mind maps to her course web sites.

As an urban geographer and an active citizen, Susan takes her students into the community to do meaningful research in the real world. She was a founding member of Trent’s community-based education project, where she shared her drive to bring together students and the community to make a difference. In a recent project, students’ prepared an actual transportation plan to ensure the safety of children walking to school.

Whether hiking with students from farm to farm in Northern Ireland, or driving with them in a van to Ottawa, Susan is always teaching. Her students say she “transformed the way I thought;” her course was “life changing.” As winner of Trent’s university-wide teaching award, she is called “an exceptional teacher, able to instruct, challenge, and inspire her students.” From the classroom, to the web, to the farm, Wurtele’s “magic” is evident in all she does!