McDowell Foundation- a springboard to a wonderful career

Sharlene McGowan, PhD

As I reflect upon its thirtieth anniversary, I think about how the McDowell Foundation has had such a profound influence on my career in education.

I embarked upon a solo project in the spring of 2000 to investigate how Saskatchewan teachers were keeping less-engaged students in school. Through their narratives, I learned that there are almost no limits to what Saskatchewan teachers do to help students, particularly those who were considered at that time to be “at risk” from completing high school. My project, number 61, was published under the title Beyond Duty: A Compilation of Teachers’ Roles and Responsibilities with “At Risk” Youth in Saskatchewan Secondary Schools. My report was published in July 2000, and in November I participated in the Learning from Practice seminar to share my research findings.

In 2001, I was invited to speak as a researcher at the McDowell Foundation’s tenth anniversary. This was a tremendous privilege and, from there, I found myself exploring other opportunities with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and my own local teachers’ executive. I was elected to the STF Executive Committee for two years soon after and had the terrific opportunity to attend two Canadian Teachers’ Federation meetings in Whitehorse, Yukon, and then St. John’s, Newfoundland. I also served on the McDowell Foundation Advisory Board of Directors for two years and continued to serve on various committees and boards with the STF until my superannuation in June 2017. One of my treasured possessions is a personal note from Dr. Stirling McDowell, which I received some years ago.

I have no doubt that being a researcher with the McDowell Foundation was a springboard to further professional opportunities – later, in 2009, I was a research assistant to Dr. Blair Stonechild of First Nations University of Canada to produce a research project for SIDRU (Saskatchewan Instructional Research Development Unit) entitled More Holistic Assessment for Improved Education Outcomes. Considering that I might have the capacity to continue in my role as researcher, I completed my PhD in Education from the University of Regina one month after I superannuated from Regina Public Schools.

I hold the McDowell Foundation in the highest regard, and I don’t miss an opportunity to tell pre-service teachers about the wonderful opportunities that are available to them through the Foundation as well as the STF.

Bravo to the McDowell Foundation for 30 years of teacher-led research. May it continue for decades to come.

Categories: 30for30