Olenka Bilash (2010)

Olenka-BilashAffiliation at the time of the award: University of Alberta, Secondary Education.

Citation: “She engages their bodies, their mouths and their minds. She reaches out, touching lives and teaching everywhere she goes—like Midas she leaves behind a touch of gold wherever she passes—golden opportunities to think clearly and critically about what and why we teach, how we use language to build community and how we can best help others to do the same”. This is a typical student portrait of Olenka.

Using such strategies as the “tree,” the “circle,” and her “success-guided Language Instructional Model,” Olenka has a sense of powerful context at the heart of helping students make sense of theory, problem solving, and identity shifting.

Recognized for her teaching excellence at her institution, Olenka has also won 16 other awards to develop Native and heritage language programs, as well as the Alberta Government Centennial Medal for Contribution to Ukraine-Alberta International Relations.

This ambassador for Canada has pioneered ESL and teacher training programs around the world. She was made a “Native Sister” for Cree language development. Her Dean writes: “Olenka is held in high regard as an expert and friend, by educators in Japan, Korea, Mexico and many other countries. Her gift as a teacher is ‘bone deep.’”