Celebrate Teaching: shaping and influencing lives

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The halls of education have been where Vic Winter is at home. From the fall of 1972, through the completion of serving as Senior Residents in 1978, Conrad Grebel University College was a second home for Vic Winter. He and his wife Marilyn have kept in touch with Grebel through their children, as all three have also lived and studied at Grebel – Art (BSc '05), Jesse (BSC 07) and now Ben (BSc '09).

Vic has had a long career in education - shaping and influencing the lives of many students. From 1980 to 1999 Vic taught English in the public system with the Essex County and served as English department head for 9 years. In 2000 Vic began working at United Mennonite Educational Institute (UMEI) in Leamington as Principal. This small, but mighty, school has regularly sent a sizable percentage of its graduates to Conrad Grebel University College.

One of these graduates, Sandra Dyck (BA, 2006 Peace and Conflict Studies) nominated Vic for this award.  She noted that

with fewer than 100 students, UMEI is a small, close-knit high school, and our teachers often take on the role of mentors, friends, and even baptismal witnesses. With no official guidance counselor hired by the school Mr. Winter took on this role, answering questions and helping to guide us in our future planning.

She reflects the comments of many UMEI grads as she observes that,

Grebel is naturally at the forefront of Mr. Winter’s mind when it comes to post-secondary education, and ­students at UMEI are well aware of both the residence and academic programs that Grebel offers.

Providing academic and institutional leadership in a small school like UMEI demands a lot of energy, tenacity and vision. Visitors to UMEI are warmly greeted by Vic who is eager to chat about activities at the school and the larger Leamington community. The impact of the school is quite large, as over 85% of its graduates go on to further education. He has provided strong leadership to dedicated and creative faculty members and students who have been enthusiastic about their small school experience.

It is clear that Vic’s career in education is a model of service and leadership for the alumni of Conrad Grebel University College. Therefore, the Conrad Grebel Alumni Committee is pleased to name Vic Winter as the recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award. Vic will be recognized at “Celebrate Teaching,” an event for alumni teachers where he will share a few reflections on his career in education.

When notified about this award, Vic was

grateful but bemused.

He went on to say,

Mine has been a full, rewarding, fruitful but modest career! I’ve have had a lot of fun because I'm an eager learner and teacher.

If Vic Winter, as one person, has made such a large impact on the students he has taught over the years, it is astounding to imagine the impact that all teaching Grebel alumni have made in other people’s lives. The numbers show that almost 9% of the 2,859 alumni on Grebel’s mailing list are elementary or secondary school teachers. Conrad Grebel alumni are heavily involved in education.

Two educators who are active members of the Conrad Grebel alumni committee are Paul Hildebrand, who teaches at Elmira District Secondary School, and Esther Etchells, who recently retired as an elementary teacher in Waterloo. They are helping to plan an alumni event to celebrate teachers on Sunday, April 5 at 2:30 pm.

Wendy Cressman Zehr, who chairs the Alumni Committee, noted:

We’re always looking for new ways to help alumni connect. When we saw the numbers, it seemed clear that we should do something to recognize this unique sector in our alumni.

This afternoon reception will include ample time for visiting with old friends and give younger alumni the opportunity to network with seasoned professionals. Ed Bergey (BMath 1967), a retired teacher and administrator with the Peel District Board, will moderate a panel discussion on: "How do you bring values and faith to the classroom?” Panelists include Geoff Suderman Gladwell (1986 BA, Music) - Elementary Principal, Ken Reid (1986 BA, 1988 MA, English)– Secondary English, Esther Etchells (1967 BA) – retired Elementary, and Ann Schultz (1990 BA, Music) - Secondary Music.

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