TWU School of Education’s official opening

“We are excited and thankful that we are able to proceed, and we believe that we can make a real contribution to teaching education in this province.”
- Harro Van Brummelen, Dean of the School of Education at TWU

Langley is invited to attend a celebration 15 years in the making. On November 1st at 4:00pm, TWU will cut the ribbon marking the official opening of its very own School of Education. Though Trinity Western has been training Education students for nearly two decades, this is the first year that teachers can complete their training at TWU, through Trinity’s own final professional year. For staff, students, and particularly for Dr. Harro Van Brummelen, Dean of the School of Education at TWU, this is a longtime dream that is finally being realized.

“When I came here 16 years ago, the idea was that as soon as we were large enough, we would set up our own program,” says Van Brummelen. “We first applied for the fifth professional year program in 1987, just before the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) was set up. However, the BCCT did not determine criteria for approving new programs until 1995. Two BCCT committees assessed and favoured an updated proposal. However, the BCCT Council turned it down because of Trinity Western's Christian community standards."

In 1996, a court battle began about the BCCT’s decision to deny TWU’s application to fully certify its teacher’s program. However the case was put to rest in May 2001, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of TWU, allowing the University to proceed with its School of Education program as originally planned.

“We now have a good working relationship with the BCCT,” remarks Van Brummelen. “To its credit, the day the court decision came down, their BCCT Registrar contacted me and said, ‘You’ve won the case. Now let’s move on and ensure we establish the best program possible.’ We are excited and thankful that we are able to proceed,” continues Brummelen, “and we believe that we can make a real contribution to teaching education in this province.”

With eyes on the future, the growing School of Education has renovated its building—a place that serves as home base for more than 300 education students. They have added adding a computer lab with eight Mac computers and educational software, a learning materials lab and conference room.

“We have also added significant up-to-date materials in our Curriculum Materials Centre in the library,” says Van Brummelen, “These materials serve our students but are also open for reference to teachers in the community.”

The 18 students enrolled in Trinity’s professional development program find it a fitting transition. “I chose TWU’s Fifth Year Program because it is the practical extension of my past three years of Education study,” says education student and Surrey resident, Alissa Block.

“Trinity offers a quality program that is suited to where I’m at as a professional. In TWU’s program we meet with our School Associates (host teachers) months in advance of our teaching assignment. I was able to enter the classroom on the first day fully feeling like a partner teacher, not just a student-teacher. That mindset is fundamentally different than other programs, and has been one of the biggest benefits of TWU's Fifth Year Program.”

Block alludes to the fact that before TWU education students even enter their professional year, they have already taken eight education courses in addition to classroom experience. By taking their fifth year at TWU, students are able to continue their professional education at a consistent level, as opposed to transferring to a school where most students have not yet taken any education courses.

And the smaller program size appeals to students. “It is exciting to be part of a program right from the ground up,” says Block.

“The program is smaller than most, a quality that has worked to our advantage” she continues. “The professors know us well and hand-picked the School Associates we are working with. Their discernment was ‘bang-on’.”

It wasn’t hard for the Education Department to match School Associates with TWU students, as they are in high demand. “Our students have been placed very carefully and very well,” says Van Brummelen. “If there is any problem, it’s that both Langley and Abbotsford school districts were interested in having more of our students than were actually available.”

Van Brummelen attributes this high demand to the student’s work ethic. “It’s not that I think our students are brighter than other teacher education students, but generally their attitude is very positive. They maintain a good work ethic and a willingness to learn—that is noticed by the schools.”

And TWU Education grads are confident in their future role in the Education profession. “TWU’s program has prepared us well,” says Langley’s Andrea Vanderpoel, fifth year education student. “We are just as qualified and competent as other teachers from other professional programs.”

Fellow student, Alissa Block, agrees. “Trinity grads are well-respected in the education community. As professionals, we will enter the field fully prepared. That quality will no doubt speak for itself.”

Leading up to the ribbon cutting is the student-hosted Open House, taking place November 1st, 2002 from 2:15 to 3:30pm. The Official School of Education opening, also open to the community, will be at 4:00pm, which includes the ribbon cutting, choral presentation and a reception to follow.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,200 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 35 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-09-26