The West Kootenay Teacher Education Program

The West Kootenay Teacher Education Program (WKTEP) is located in Castlegar, BC and surrounding communities.

WKTEP has a strong focus on rural and small school settings, recognizing that they offer exciting educational opportunities for teachers. There is also an emphasis on place-based learning with strong ties to local communities and school districts.

The West Kootenay Teacher Education Program provides teacher candidates with the opportunity to develop the professional qualities and effective practices for teaching in today’s complex learning environments with a strong focus on community, collaboration, and innovation.

WKTEP offers the full complement of UBC’s BEd coursework, field experiences and practica, with both a 2-week and a 10-week practicum hosted by the 4 local area school districts, as well as a 3-week community-based field experience in non-formal settings.

Elementary and secondary teacher candidates are together for some courses in both on-campus and in-school settings, and experienced tutors mentor secondary teacher candidates in selected specializations.

New School-Embedded Initiative: WKTEP is going out to schools for 2014/15.


Program Overview

At the beginning of the school year, teacher candidates (TCs) will be assigned to a host school, mentor teacher (school advisor), and practicum classroom. Teacher candidates will spend two to three days in their host school every week from September to June.

See list of host school communities

One or two days a week, TCs will come together in a central location (Castlegar and/or Nelson) for course work with the entire cohort. These will be referred to as Hub Days.

TCs will take part in a Community Field Experience (EDUC 430) on alternate Fridays in the same community as their school.

TCs will participate in two formal practica at their host school:

  • EDUC 321: 2 weeks
  • EDUC 418/421: 10 weeks

An example of a weekly schedule:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Week 1:

TC in host school TC in host school TC in host school Hub Day:
TCs gather for course work in Nelson and/or Castlegar
CFE in host school community

Week 2:

TC in host school TC in host school TC in host school Hub Day:
TCs gather for course work in Nelson and/or Castlegar
Course work/other learning opportunities (various locations)

Special Features of WKTEP

  • Small cohort size encourages a personalized learning environment with a focus on developing a strong community of learners.
  • Host school placements are individualized and support the unique strengths and areas of interest of each teacher candidate.
  • WKTEP offers a variety of secondary specializations including, but not limited to, Math, English, Social Studies, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Home Economics, French, Physical Education, Theatre, and Visual Art.
  • Elementary and secondary candidates will experience a wide array of learning environments including multi-age and alternate settings with a strong focus on rural education.
  • Many WKTEP instructors are practicing educators who bring practical experience and current pedagogy to their courses.
  • Strong links with our four local school districts allow for shared professional learning opportunities along side practicing teachers.
  • A focus on place-based learning encourages a strong connection to the local communities and provides learning opportunities in the areas of social justice, outdoor education, and environmental education.

Philosophy Nurturing Communities of Learners

WKTEP’s new school-based approach is aligned with Ministry of Education goals, grounded in current research in teacher education, and focused on the particulars of the setting and its relationship to broader contexts, especially rural communities.

The argument for a school-based model is based on three reasons:

  1. enhanced educational opportunities for teacher candidates,
  2. enriched community connections,
  3. and embedded professional growth.

What underpins these is the belief that teachers are most effective when they have a deep and nuanced understanding of the communities where their students live.

Clustering teacher candidates in host schools for most of the year allows for the fuller realization of WKTEP’s goals as a place-conscious, progressive, and evidence-based teacher education program. Immersion in a community context can yield important insights about the relationships between a place and the character, aspirations, and experiences of those who live there. Since cultivating place-consciousness is a well-publicized education goal, locating teacher education within communities makes good sense. This is where one’s students come from, where relationships between adults and children and youth are cultivated, and where a sense of identity beyond one’s immediate family is formed.

Using this model of teacher preparation community becomes:

  1. A site of study and investigation of local-global issues, concerns and problems, including environmental, socio-cultural, health and economic, as seen through one particular locale.
  2. A source of expertise, talent, and “lived experience” in the form of teachers and community members who can be brought into the teacher education classroom and subsequently the K-12 classrooms where they teach and the community sites (museums, organizations, heath care facilities, and so on) where others work.
  3. A catalyst for curriculum enrichment and re-interpretation of learning outcomes through the lens of “place.” Curriculum itself is changed when the focus turns to what is immediately and powerfully present. In a community-based model, the curriculum learned by teacher candidates is deeply immersed in the place itself, its history, topography, natural resources, cultural heritages, and values.
  4. A commons for civic engagement. Teacher candidates will have ample opportunity to participate in local projects, deliberations and community planning. The idea of the public sphere and the need to contribute to the public good can be practiced at this local, intimate level, and later be shared with K-12 students.

The History of WKTEP

During the fall of 1989, in response to an anticipated teacher shortage, the BC provincial government made available funding to initiate teacher education programs in the regions of British Columbia that were distant from the degree granting universities in Vancouver and Victoria.

Following consultations with the three main BC universities, Selkirk College faculty member and Open Learning Agency manager Gerry Ehman determined that UBC was in the best position to offer such a program in the West Kootenays. UBC’s Dean of Education, Dr. Nancy M. Sheehan, visited the West Kootenays and met with Selkirk College representatives and adjacent school district superintendents to explore the feasibility of forming a consortium to sponsor a teacher education program.

After establishing that there was a need for the program, the consortium was established. It applied for and received Ministry funding for one year. For its first year, the program was restricted to elementary and secondary post–degree candidates who met UBC’s Faculty of Education admission criteria. From 1991 to 1996 WKTEP also offered a 24-Month Elementary program.

The program is located in Castlegar. UBC offers the program’s instructional component. Selkirk College manages the local budget and provides support services. UBC, Selkirk College, the Open Learning Agency, and School Districts #7 (Nelson), #9 (Castlegar), #10 (Arrow Lakes), #11 (Trail), #12 (Grand Forks) and #13 (Kettle Valley) formed the initial program consortium. Following amalgamation, the consortium school districts included #8 (Kootenay Lake), #10 (Arrow Lakes), #20 (Kootenay-Columbia) and #51 (Boundary). The school districts provide the school advisors and the practicum facilities. The Open Learning Agency initially provided some of the pre–admission and some of the post certification course work.

The 1990/91 program was initially based at the Ootischenia Elementary School in Castlegar. Some of the instruction was delivered in other schools in Castlegar, Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks. The summer courses were offered on the Selkirk College campus. In 1995 the entire program moved to the current location on the Selkirk College campus, with some courses still being offered in local schools.

Over the following ten years, WKTEP continued at Selkirk College and by the end of the 2005 academic year, more than 500 students had graduated from the program and received their Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. These graduates found employment in over 80 different communities within B.C., as well as in many other provinces and countries. The program maintains a high employment record, with an average of 80% of all graduates having attained full or part-time work as teachers. Many of these can be found in the local school districts as both teachers and administrators.

Current Students

Orientation Week

August 25 – 29, 2014

Term Dates

Term 1: August 25 – November 10, 2014
Term 2: November 12 – June 12, 2014
Summer Term 1 & 2: June 15 – July 17, 2015

EDUC 321 — Practicum Dates

2-week Practicum: October 27 – November 7, 2014

EDUC 418/421 — Practicum Dates

Placements in School Districts 8, 10 & 20: March 30 – June 12, 2015
Placements in School District 51: March 16 – June 12, 2015

EDUC 430: Community Field Experience

Alternating Fridays
September 5, 2014 – March 6, 2015


Winter Break: December 15, 2014 – January 2, 2015

Spring Break:

  • Students placed in School Districts 8, 10 & 20: March 16 – 27, 2015
  • Students placed in School District 51: March 23 – April 2, 2015


UBC’s West Kootenay Teacher Education Program (WKTEP)
c/o Selkirk College
301 Frank Beinder Way
Castlegar, BC V1N 4L3


Tyanna Popoff
Administrative Assistant
250 365 3364
1 888 953 1133 (Toll Free)
Fax: 250 365 2857
Linda Farr Darling
Academic Coordinator
Kristi Crowe
WKTEP Site Coordinator (Elementary)
Geoff Burns
WKTEP Site Coordinator (Secondary)
Admissions inquiries may be directed to the admissions officers in the Teacher Education Office.

Kristi Crowe, WKTEP Site Coordinator (Elementary)


Originally from the Vancouver area, Kristi has been living and working in the West Kootenays for the past 10 years. Her career has been based in School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake), where she has been a classroom teacher, Literacy Program Coordinator, Early Learning Facilitator, and Elementary School Principal.

Kristi has a Bachelor of Education from UBC, and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration from Gonzaga University. Along with a passion for teaching and learning, Kristi enjoys skiing, mountain biking, and spending time with her family.

Kristi Crowe can be reached at kristi.crowe@ubc.ca.

Geoff Burns, WKTEP Site Coordinator (Secondary)


Geoff grew up in Victoria and began his teaching career there before moving to the Kootenays over 20 years ago. He has lived and worked there ever since as a classroom teacher, vice-principal, and principal, with experience at both the middle and secondary level. He has a Certificate of School Management and Leadership as well as his Master of Education Degree in Leadership Studies from the University of Victoria.

With a strong interest in and passion for the arts, Geoff has served as a member of several arts organizations, including the Kootenay School of the Arts, the Association of BC Drama Educators, and Artstarts in Schools, a non-profit provincial organization committed to bringing artists, educators, and students together. For several years, he also coordinated the theatre strand of the BC Festival of the Arts. He continues to be involved in the local art scene both as a director and performer.

Geoff Burns can be reached at geoff.burns@ubc.ca.

WKTEP Photo Gallery
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