West Kootenay Rural Teacher Education Program (WKTEP)

The West Kootenay Rural Teacher Education Program (WKTEP) is located in Nelson, 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-conscious learning with strong ties to local communities and school districts.

The West Kootenay Rural 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 and practica, with both a 2-week and a 10-week practicum hosted by four school districts (SD8, SD10, SD20, SD51), as well as a 3-week Community 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 teachable subjects.


Program Overview

In September, teacher candidates will be assigned to a host school, mentor teacher (school advisor), and practicum classroom. Many placements will require teacher candidates to provide their own transportation.

Teacher candidates will spend two days each week in their host school from October to the beginning of the extended practicum in February.

Three or more days each week, teacher candidates will engage in course work at the UBC WKTEP Learning Centre in Nelson or in various classrooms throughout the region.

Teacher candidates will participate in two formal practicum experiences in their host schools:

  • EDUC 315: 2 weeks + 1 day/week in Term 1
  • EDUC 321: 1 day/week in Term 2
  • EDUC 418/421: 10 weeks in Term 3

In addition, teacher candidates will take part in a Community Field Experience (EDUC 430) for three weeks after the extended practicum.

Special Features

  • 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 teachable subjects 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-conscious learning encourages a strong connection to the local communities and provides learning opportunities in the areas of social justice, outdoor education, and environmental education.


Nurturing Communities of Learners

WKTEP’s 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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, and the summer courses were offered on the Selkirk College campus. In 1995 the entire program moved to Selkirk College campus, with some courses still being offered in local schools.

Beginning in 2014, WKTEP implemented its school-based model with teacher candidates spending two or three days per week throughout the school year in their practicum schools and, effective August 2015, the program relocated to the UBC Learning Centre in Nelson. Over WKTEP’s history, more than 650 students have graduated from the program and received their Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. These graduates have found employment in over 80 different communities within BC, 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.

WKTEP Academic Calendar


August 26, 2019 Term 1 begins First day of classes
September 2, 2019 Labour Day Classes cancelled
October 14, 2019 Thanksgiving Day Classes cancelled
October 28, 2019 School-based Orientation Practicum begins 2 weeks
November 8, 2019 School-based Orientation Practicum ends
November 11, 2019 Remembrance Day Classes cancelled
November 15, 2019 Term 1 ends
November 18, 2019 Term 2 begins
December 13, 2019 Last day of classes before holidays


January 6, 2020 Classes resume after holidays
January 17, 2020 Education Career Fair at UBC Vancouver Optional
February 17, 2020 Family Day Classes cancelled
February 24, 2020 School-Based Extended Practicum begins 10 weeks
March 14, 2020 Spring Break begins (SD10, SD20, SD8, SD51) 2 weeks
March 29, 2020 Spring Break ends
April 10, 2020 Good Friday Classes cancelled
April 13, 2020 East Monday Classes cancelled
May 18, 2020 Victoria Day Classes cancelled
May 22, 2020 School-Based Extended Practicum ends
May 25, 2020 Term 2 ends
May 26, 2020 Community Field Experience begins 3 weeks
June 12, 2020 Community Field Experience ends
May 26, 2020 Term 3 begins
July 1, 2020 Canada Day Classes cancelled
July 10, 2020 Term 3 ends



Our Team

Dr. Leyton Schnellert
Academic Advisor

Susanne Maguire
Site Coordinator (Elementary)
250 551 1048

Heather Shippit
Site Coordinator (Secondary)
250 551 0205

Tim Huttemann
Practicum Coordinator and Adjunct Teaching Professor
250 352 5112

Denise Chan
Administrative Assistant
250 352 5112

Contact us

West Kootenay Rural Teacher Education Program (WKTEP)

#1 – 266 Baker Street
Nelson, BC V1L 4H3

250 352 5112


If you have an inquiry about admissions, please contact admissions officers in the Teacher Education Office.