On October 5th the McDowell Foundation celebrates 30 years of teacher-led research in the province and beyond. Thank you for the well-wishes we have received.

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Dr. Shirley Humphries · October 5, 2021 at 11:25 pm

Congratulations to the McDowell Foundation funded researchers, to its board members, project review committee members, and staff over the past 30 years! We have much to celebrate!

Memory 1: Under the leadership of then STF General Secretary/Executive Director, Fred Herron, the STF accessed a one time grant and donations from Federation business partners to kickstart the program. I recall the enthusiasm of the Executive and Senior Administrative Staff at that time for creating a structure to support and help fund teacher research over time, and the appreciation for the grant and the donations that made the McDowell Foundation a reality.

Memory 2: I recall the dedication of Verna Gallen, STF staff member working with the Foundation. A researcher herself, Verna put hours into coaching teachers on how to write a research proposal and then a research report. Verna was the first of many staff who supported and developed a passion for the work of the McDowell Foundation. If I win some some 30th anniversary swag, please send it to Verna for her role in establishing the Foundation on a solid professional foundation!

Memory 3: I had the opportunity to work with teacher and university reps to review the many project proposals. Our mandate was to spend approximately $85,000 during our one day meeting! The binders of proposals provided well in advance were thick and heavy! Proposals were submitted by individuals and by teams of researchers often including university faculty. Requests came from teachers in provincially funded and federally funded schools mostly from within Saskatchewan but proposals also came from beyond our provincial borders. The scope of topics was great! Some proposals were easy to adjudicate because they did not meet all the criteria but so many others were eligible and worthy of funding. The Project Review Committee was challenged! Through dialogue and collaboration, we always met our mandate to the best of our ability.

Memory 4: While attending a national conference, a presenter spoke disparagingly about teacher organizations: their focus on union matters and their lack of attention to and support for professional development and research. Before I had a chance to speak, another conference participant who identified himself as being from British Columbia, spoke up and told the presenter and those assembled about the McDowell Foundation in Saskatchewan established by the STF! My buttons were bursting with pride at this national knowledge and acknowledgement of the McDowell Foundation! The structure to support teacher research that we have established and developed in Saskatchewan is unique and to be supported!

Memory 5: In retirement, I had the opportunity to attend an open house held in June some years ago at the Pike Lake K-3 School. There, posted for the community to see, were the “learnings” that the students had recorded over the year stretching chronologically around the hallway! This open house was a way of sharing with the community, the results of a McDowell Foundation funded research project. It is thanks to the many teacher researchers who had the courage to reflect on their teaching and to make time to pursue a question of interest about their classroom practice that the McDowell Foundation is able to inform and enhance teaching and student learning.

Memory 6: It is thanks also to the many donors, both organizational and individual, who continue to replenish and grow the McDowell Foundation’s Trust Fund that the Foundation has the ability to continue to award research grants. I recall Harold Schultz coming to me in 1991 with a request that I consider donating to the McDowell Foundation to help it get established. Harold did not leave empty handed; I continue to donate monthly. I hope that you too, as you read about this celebration of 30 years of McDowell Foundation leadership and contribution to the teaching profession, will donate to the Fund. Together we can support this unique opportunity for teacher reflection and research to improve teaching and learning for today and tomorrow’s students.

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