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A big thank you!

August 6, 2021

Thank you for helping to imagine and create a sustainable, inspiring future through your donation to the McDowell Foundation. Your gift, no matter the size, helps to lift us all up.

Over the past year we made positive changes by addressing issues that impact a pandemic world through support for a special directed call for research in the classroom during COVID-19. As the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic continually changed, so did the McDowell Foundation as it continues to take steps to help limit community spread by holding virtual events, meetings, and gatherings.

Since 1991, the McDowell Foundation has supported an amazing legacy of teacher-led research with real, immediate, and lasting educational effects funding more than 300 projects.

The McDowell Foundation would gratefully like to thank everyone that contributed to the Foundation through recognized donations and gifts in support for its research programs. You are contributing to the professional growth of the participating teachers and the advancement of teaching and learning practices in schools across our province.

We are deeply grateful to the members of the Project Review Committee for generously contributing their time and expertise, as well as the unwavering support from the provincial Executive and staff of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. And, thank you to our Board of Directors who have served our profession over the past year, we thank you for your leadership and commitment to strengthening the McDowell Foundation and its connections with teachers, students, and communities in order to improve outcomes for all learners.

Thank you!

Mindfulness During the Pandemic

June 3, 2021

The McDowell Foundation’s mandate is to provide our educators with opportunities to learn through educational research. We have heard repeatedly the impacts that COVID-19 has had on our lives, and as a result, in 2020 the Foundation decided to direct research funding specifically to COVID-19 in the classroom. We have also increased our overall research budget from $70,000 to $85,000 for the 2020-2021 funding year. Our research teams recognized the need to address mental health in schools targeting teacher and student mental health after self-isolation and during COVID.

No training tools exist to manage student learning effectively throughout or after a pandemic, however; through the research from Angela Csiki and Brent Keen, they gained some interesting results on Reducing Student Stress During COVID-19 through Mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to a state of mind characterized by awareness and attention in the present moment by an accepting, curious, and non-judgmental attitude. The idea behind mindfulness was that the training and ongoing practice could decrease students’ stress and increase well-being throughout all their relationships.

As we all struggle through the pandemic, any type of mindfulness can help not only our students but ourselves to develop healthier outlooks for life, improvements in mood, stress level, and overall quality of life that can help us feel happier.

We are grateful for the ongoing support from our donors and supporters for our research projects such as one of our many worthy projects like Brent and Angela’s. If you are interested in learning more about our other pandemic research projects, visit where we have more details and also how you can help us support our future projects with your donation. – Colleen Ostoforoff

COVID Lessons from School II: Teacher Voice on Distance Learning in the Pandemic

May 26, 2021

Join the McDowell Foundation’s virtual Salon Series COVID Lessons from School II: Teacher Voice on Distance Learning in the Pandemic on June 7, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. to hear what lessons have been learned upon returning to school online during COVID-19.

Hear from McDowell’s directed call teacher researcher Kelsey Shields as she shares her findings from her research focusing on the experience of teachers offering distance learning during the pandemic. Kelsey will be joined by Dr. Jay Wilson, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan; Jay Salikin, Senior Manager Visual Programs and Services, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation; and Lisa Hodson, Senior Administrative Staff, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. The panel will share their experience over the past 18 months as they have addressed COVID from their own spaces.

The event will be hosted and facilitated by the McDowell Foundation.

To register for this upcoming Salon Series, please email


COVID Lessons from School: Teacher Research in the Pandemic

April 8, 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021 – 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Please join the McDowell Foundation for this special Salon Series focusing on research from three of our teams funded through the directed call.

Presentations will include:

Lessons Learned Upon Returning to School During COVID-19 (Suzanne Zwarych presenting)

The purpose of this study is to garner information from teachers returning to school and use that information to create a valid questionnaire to determine whether practices and interventions put in place by school divisions and government can reduce the anxiety and stress of teachers upon their return to school during a pandemic. The main objective is first to identify processes and policies that helped teachers to overcome the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. The secondary purpose of this study is to attempt to understand the experiences of teachers throughout Saskatchewan, and through that understanding, create a valid survey to document which processes and policies reduced anxiety toward returning to school during a pandemic.

Reducing Student Stress During COVID-19 (Angela Csiki and Brent Keen presenting)

The objective of our study is to pursue strategies to reduce students’ stress about returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will pursue three strategies and measure their success. The first strategy is to have students spend part of their school day outdoors. The purposes are twofold, to reduce the possibility of transmitting the COVID-19 virus and to have students work in an environment conducive to reducing stress. The second strategy is to have students practice mindfulness daily. Students in Turtleford Community School have some exposure to mindfulness and meditation. This will expand on their knowledge and build a regular practice. The third strategy is to empower students to take ownership of classroom routines and school practices intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. We will measure the relative success of each of these strategies and adjust them on an ongoing basis.

Strengthening Schools to Support the Needs of Refugee Students (Kirsten Cavanaugh and Dr. Janet Okoko, Kirsten presenting)

Strong relationships between families and schools must take place to support our learners. Never have these co-operative relations been as important as they are during Covid, when our students were expected to attend to learning with the help of their parents. As a country and province, we have seen an increasing number of refugee families in recent years.

Recently arrived refugee children face many challenges when adapting to their new country and schools along with their parents who may be looking for work, attempting to learn English, and adapting to different cultural norms. For these families, the lack of familiarity with the Canadian school system and implicit expectations and norms can be a struggle. Without strong in-school supports, these children are at risk of failing socially or academically. The purpose of this project is to understand the refugee experience with at-home learning to strengthen our supports for student success.


Breaking Out of the Textbox – Increasing Outdoor Learning

February 19, 2021

The McDowell Foundation’s virtual Salon Series Breaking Out of the Textbox – Increasing Outdoor Learning took place on March 4, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. to understand the value of outdoor learning and how it can help improve the lives of students, foster reconciliation, and connect to one’s grass roots.

Hear from Saskatoon teacher and McDowell Researcher, Nicole Turner, as she shares her findings on solutions and supports in addressing the barriers and challenges of incorporating outdoor learning into the classroom. Also, join the conversation and listen to a panel of teachers who will share their experiences of integrating outdoor learning into their lesson planning. The event was facilitated by Nicole Turcotte from Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Professional Learning.

Women in Educational Leadership: A Conversation

January 7, 2021

Join the McDowell Foundation’s virtual Salon Series, Women in Educational Leadership: A Conversation, on January 21, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. to hear and discuss the experiences of women in educational leadership in Saskatchewan. Two female researchers, Amy Orth and Amy Korver from the Prairie Spirit School Division, will share their experiences along with highlights and challenges from nine other female administrators in education. They will identify trends in female leaders, the barriers they face as they enter administration positions, and the impact it has on their school culture.

The researchers will also be joined by guest panelists: Angela Banda, STF Senior Administrative Staff; Samantha Becotte, STF Provincial Executive; and Lori Jeschke, Director, Prairie Spirit School Division to further the discussion and encourage more women to pursue leadership in Saskatchewan.

2019-20 Annual Report

December 1, 2020

The Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research Into Teaching Inc. Annual General Meeting was held November 27th, 2020. The 2019-20 Annual Report was presented to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Executive.

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