2012 Conference

Conference Speakers

Rod Allen

Rod Allen

Rod Allen is a Superintendent of Achievement with the Ministry of Education, appointed in January 2008.

Rod began his career in education in 1984 in LaLoche, a small isolated Aboriginal community in northern Saskatchewan where he taught grades 8 and 9 for three years.  This experience marked the beginning of Rod’s interest and commitment to rural education.  From 1987 to 1989 Rod was a volunteer teacher in a rural village in Lesotho. Since returning to Canada in 1989, Rod taught at most grade levels in Kaslo and the Bulkley Valley where he advanced through school and district leadership positions.  Rod served as Superintendent of Schools in SD 54 (Bulkley Valley) prior to being appointed Superintendent of Achievement.   Currently, Rod has a leading role in BC’s transformation to personalized learning.

Rod received his undergraduate degree, teaching qualification, and Masters in Education Administration from the University of Victoria and is married with two children, both at the University of Victoria.

Deanna Brajcich

Deanna has taught in the Sooke School District for over sixteen years, in three different school settings: Junior Secondary, Middle School and at present, Elementary.  In all levels, she has prided herself on being a strong and effective teacher leader in the areas of technology and mathematics.  Deanna was nominated for the BCCPAC George Matthews Award in her capacity as an Executive PAC member at her sons’ school by improving learning and teaching through the implementation and support of technology.  Deanna’s teaching has evolved through strong professional development and the completion of her Master’s Degree from UVic.  Her teaching goals include using available resources to provide personalized education and constantly reshaping her lessons and assignments to reflect student strengths and student choice.

Dr. Martin Brokenleg

Dr. Martin Brokenleg

Dr. Martin Brokenleg is the Director of Native Ministries and Professor of First Nations Theology and Ministry at the Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver, British Colulmbia. He serves as a Vice President of Reclaiming Youth International, providing training for individuals who work with youth at risk. He holds a doctorate in psychology and is a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School.

With M. Brokenleg and S. Van Bockern, Dr. Brokenleg authored Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future, revised edition, Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service. He has published numerous other articles.

For thirty years, Dr. Brokenleg was professor of Native American studies at Augustana College of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has also been a director of The Neighborhood Youth Corps, chaplain in a correctional setting, and has extensive experience as an alcohol counsellor. Dr. Brokenleg has consulted and led training programs throughout North America, New Zealand, and South Africa. He is the father of three children and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe practising the culture of his Lakota people.

Jim Cambridge

Jim is the Superintendent of Schools for School District No. 62 (Sooke).

Jim has worked in Sooke schools for over twenty-five years.  He has served as a teacher, principal, and district administrator and most recently as Superintendent. His area of special interests include student and staff engagement, an expanding view of success in schools and the role of the arts in public schools.  Currently, the Sooke District is developing a distributed leadership strata with an aim to work into a district-wide appreciative inquiry project.

Jim's experience with public education is varied; early in his career he worked with the Union executive affording him the opportunity to see issues from alternate viewpoints. As a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, he has a perspective of special education services from a parent’s point of view as well as a district administrator’s.

Jim is an active runner and triathlete who supports a strong work-life balance with both staff and students.

Dayna Christ-Rowling

Dayna is a teacher at Metchosin Technical Centre (MTC) and has been teaching for over 15 years.  She has experience teaching K-Adult graduation programs in three vastly different districts including Nechako and Sooke.  Through a variety of circumstances she has taught in many challenging and inspiring situations.  For example, Dayna has created a Physical Education curriculum without a school gym!  A teaching goal for Dayna is to bring new languages and cultures to her students.  She has successfully done so by partnering with First Nations elders and Pearson College to create a more inclusive and international atmosphere.  Dayna incorporates many ideas from new brain research into proven teaching practices.  She is always open to suggestions.  Teaching “outside the box” is a loose description of how she brings the best out in her students.  She is currently teaching at MTC in a project-based learning inspired environment.

Lenore Clarke

Lenore has taught Middle School in the Sooke district for the past 11 years.  She teaches the core Grade 7 courses and is also the Curriculum Support Teacher for Dunsmuir Middle School.  Current interests include researching, developing, and implementing cross-curricular units to support the development of reading and writing skills among middle school learners.  Her position as Curriculum Support Teacher affords her the opportunity to continually expand her knowledge and practice in areas such as assessment and the use of technology in the classroom.  She considers herself extremely fortunate for the opportunity to work in a position that facilitates collaboration among colleagues as well as supporting and engaging middle school learners.

Brad Cunningham

Brad has been teaching English at Reynolds Secondary School for the past three years. Prior to that, he worked in the Challenge Program at Esquimalt High School as well as working in a pilot program with at-risk youth at New Westminster Secondary School. With a classroom focus on student choice, demonstrating understanding through diverse modes, and relevance of curriculum content and assessment, Brad works to engage students of all abilities in English. He is currently working on his Masters degree at the University of Victoria, exploring how the incorporation of out-of-school literacies into the classroom can impact student engagement and sense of community.

John Froess

John has taught Grades 8 - 12 in the Sooke District since February 1987; first at Dunsmuir Junior Secondary and since 1998 at Belmont Secondary.  Though primarily an English teacher, he has taught Social Studies, PACE 8 - 12, Planning 10, (and whatever else has been tossed his way over the decades).  A strong proponent of the Advanced Placement program in the district, he developed the new AP English Language and Composition 12 Distributed Learning course through West Shore Centre for Learning to be piloted in 2012.  As a national Staff Developer for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), John has taught the English Language Arts 7-12 strand at several Summer Institutes at AVID headquarters in San Diego.

John will talk about how his views on student assessment have changed over the last three years.  His new “system” requires students to become more involved in the grading of class assignments (using what he terms the “snap shot” approach), and take on more ownership and responsibility for assessing their overall grade.

Rupert Gadd

Rupert teaches grade four at Happy Valley Elementary in the Sooke School District.  In 2009 he was awarded a Masters of Education and Leadership by the University of Victoria.  Prior to beginning his teaching career at the Sooke School District, Rupert taught in Japan for two years.  His focus as a teacher is on engaging students through interactive lessons that enable students to have a hands-on experience.  From 2004-2005 Rupert also taught in the United Kingdom. He has worked with both middle-school and elementary school-aged children.

John Gaiptman

John Gaiptman

John graduated from McGill University in 1978 and started his career teaching high school Math and Special Education in Kamloops and later in Surrey.  He was a high school principal in Kitimat for four years before moving to Victoria.  In 1998, John moved from his post as principal at Lambrick Park Secondary School to the Board Office to be a District Principal.  Two years later he was appointed the Associate Superintendent of Schools and in 2002 he was named Superintendent of Schools for the Greater Victoria School District. 

As an educator and a parent, John strongly believes that the 21st century learning agenda has powerful implications for our school system. 

Laurie Gitzel

Laurie has taught in the Sooke School District for two decades.  She loves teaching and is passionate about learning.  Laurie believes that every youngster is capable of learning and that as a teacher it is her job to ensure that each student has access to all the tools, resources, support personnel and learning processes they need to be successful learners.  The premise of her Master’s Project was a field study on the factors that contribute to student self-directed learning.  For five years, Laurie has been a facilitator for the BCFT’s Program for Quality Teaching, which focuses on Teacher-Led Inquiry.  It has been her privilege to work with teachers in several school districts in the province as they conducted Action Research projects in their classrooms.  Action Research is a powerful process that transforms teaching practice and strengthens student learning.  She believes that the B.C. Ministry of Education’s 21st Century Learning plan is nothing new, but that it echoes 50 years of research on how people learn. Through-out her 20 years of teaching and seven years of University, Laurie has studied and applied the principles of how students learn in her classroom.  As a life-long learner, Laurie is dedicated to learning about learning and improving her practice to best suit the needs of her students.

Jeff Hopkins

Jeff Hopkins

Jeff Hopkins has been the Superintendent for School District 64 (Gulf islands) since 2006. His teaching background, at many grade levels and in several BC school districts, has included a wide variety of academic subjects, often taught in interdisciplinary combination. He was BC’s first provincial Safe Schools Coordinator. Over the years, Jeff has developed many specialized and alternative learning programs as teacher, counsellor, businessperson, school-based administrator, and Superintendent. His Master’s work in Counselling Psychology was focused on perceived locus of control and its relationship to overt aggression in adolescents. His passion continues to be related to the creation of personalized but systematized learning opportunities for children and adolescents, as well as for professional educators themselves.

Frances Krusekopf

Frances has a B.A. Honours, a B.Ed. and a Masters in Educational Administration.  With more than 10 years experience as an educator, Frances taught in Mongolia, Texas and BC.  Most recently, she has been responsible for K-12 curriculum and programs in Sooke School District.  In collaboration with School District and community partners, Frances is part of a program team developing a Nature Kindergarten where students will spend every morning learning in a natural, outdoor setting.

Martin Lait

I started teaching in 1994. Most of my time teaching has been split between EMCS and Belmont. I have been a department Head for Math and Science for over 12 years and have experience teaching math and science from grades 9-12. I have worked hard to bring engaging teaching ideas and resources into my schools. I am passionate about engaging and connecting students, and finding cross-curricular techniques in helping students to be successful.

I have a Masters Degree in Distributed Learning from Royal Roads University.

Dr. Stuart Shanker

Dr. Stuart Shanker

Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at York University. He was educated at Oxford, where he obtained a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and a B Phil and D Phil in Philosophy. Among his recent publications are Apes, language and the human mind (with Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Talbot Taylor, 1998); Wittgenstein’s remarks on the foundations of AI (1998); and most recently, The First Idea (with Stanley Greenspan, 2004).

Dr. Shanker is currently serving as Director of the Milton and Ethel Harris Research

Initiative (MEHRI) at York University, a privately funded initiative whose goal is to build on new knowledge of the brain’s development, and help set children (including those with developmental disorders) on the path towards emotional and intellectual health. 

In addition to the above, Dr. Shanker is also Co-Director of the Council for Human Development and has recently been appointed as the President of the Council for Early Child Development (CECD). In recent years, he has learned a great deal about brain development in a child’s first 3 years of life, and believes that an alarming number of children are not receiving the experiences they need. He views the CECD as an excellent opportunity to put science into action for children in communities.

To learn more, view the following youtube video where Dr. Shanker discusses how new research on brain development is changing ideas about how we learn, teach and parent, at the People for Education conference 2010


Chuck Simms

Chuck has held a number of jobs throughout his life, including stints as a janitor, McDonalds employee, working retail in video and music stores and as a musician.  Nothing really seemed to provide the satisfaction of the ideal vocation.  Then one day while cleaning out his parents' attic he found a box of his old comics - Kamandi: Last Boy on Earth, Luke Cage: Hero for Hire and G.I Combat: The Haunted Tank.

After re-reading the titles, he was struck in particular by issue #79 of the Haunted Tank.  In this issue Jeb Stuart's crew and their ghostly guardian
rescue an orphanage filled with Belgian children.  It was at that moment that an epiphany was reached.  Inspired by this moving tale, he vowed to replicate this altruism.  However, he was stymied in his efforts to acquire an M3 Stuart tank or locate a Belgian orphanage in need of such dramatic assistance.  As a compromise he chose teaching.  He has rarely regretted this decision.

Sanjai Sundher


Sanjai is a Math Teacher at Reynolds Secondary School and has been working in the district for 11 years.  She believes Smart Technology helps to bring more collaboration and interactivity into the classroom and she uses it regularly.  Sanjai believes it increases student engagement and student learning.  She also utilizes formative assessment strategies to engage her learners and encourage a deeper understanding of the  curricular concepts. She has shared her beliefs with colleagues at district and provincial workshops.  Recently, Sanjai was awarded the inaugural ViaTech Education Champion Award for her use of technology in the classroom.


Presented by the School District Parent Advisory Councils of Sooke (SPEAC) and Victoria (VCPAC) with support from the Greater Victoria School District (#61). and the Sooke School District (#62)