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 321: two weeks in the Fall
  • EDUC 418/421: 10 weeks in the Spring

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

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 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 27, 2018 Classes start
September 3, 2018 Labour Day – classes cancelled
October 8, 2018 Thanksgiving Day – classes cancelled
October 29 – November 9, 2018 School-Based Fall Practicum
November 12, 2018 Remembrance Day – classes cancelled (in lieu of November 11)
November 23, 2018 Term 1 ends
November 26, 2018 Term 2 begins
December 14, 2018 Last day of classes before winter break
January 7, 2019 Classes resume after winter break
January 18, 2019 UBC Education Career Fair – Vancouver
February 18, 2019 Family Day – classes cancelled
February 18, 2019 School-Based Extended Practicum begins
March 16 – April 1, 2019 Spring Break (SD8, SD10, SD20, SD51)
April 19, 2018 Good Friday – university closed
April 22, 2019 Easter Monday – university closed
May 17, 2019 School-Based Extended Practicum ends
May 20, 2018 Victoria Day – university closed
May 21 – June 7, 2019 Community Field Experience (CFE)
June 10, 2019 Term 3 begins
July 1, 2019 Canada Day – classes cancelled
July 12, 2019 Term 3 ends


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


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

Denise Chan
Administrative Assistant
250 352 5112

Susanne Maguire
WKTEP Site Coordinator (Elementary)
250 551 1048

Heather Shippit
WKTEP Site Coordinator (Secondary)
250 551 0205

Susanne Maguire, WKTEP Site Coordinator (Elementary)

Since moving west from Ontario to attend UBC-Vancouver Teacher Education Program, Susanne has made Nelson home.  Over the past 25 years, she has taught Grade K-7, facilitated the district literacy programming and supported provincial associations and professional learning throughout the province in the areas of Pro-D development and Science Education. She completed her Master of Social Policy, specializing in Global Educational Policies from the University of Sydney, Australia. Her latest passion is learning more about educational facility design and its impact on student learning and teacher collaboration.  Susanne is passionate about mentorship, the nature of learning and loves the challenge of supporting and personalizing learning for all.

Susanne is a wife, and a mom to two daughters.  She loves renovating her heritage home, travelling, reading and being in or on the water, whether it be in a boat or on skis. She is greatly appreciative of the Nelson Arts community both as spectator and chauffeur to the many opportunities for her children.

Susanne looks forward to deepening her practice through shared experiences and conversations with emerging educators.

Susanne Maguire can be reached at susanne.maguire@ubc.ca.

Heather Shippit, WKTEP Site Coordinator (Secondary)

Heather Shippit was born and raised in the Kootenays. An alumni of the UBC Teacher Education Program, Heather has been working as a full time classroom teacher in rural schools in the Northern Cariboo and West Kootenay region, ever since. Committed to profession Heather has served on her local Leadership Team, as a BCTF union representative, an active member of the Association of British Columbia Drama Educators and spearheaded innovative practices within her districts. Passionate about teaching at the Secondary level and curious about the Elementary, Heather continues to learn and grow in her new role here at WKTEP.

Heather is proud to call Nelson her home and is very involved in the arts community as a director and designer for theatre, and for youth theatre programs. She has a Masters in Theatre in Education from the University of Oregon and is happy to join the WKTEP team.

Heather Shippit can be reached at heather.shippit@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.