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National spotlight finds life-long teacher

It's often said a teacher can never know the true extent of his or her influence. Last week in Toronto, however, John Paterson, '55 Dip(Ed), '56 BEd, '57 BA, soaked in the recognition of a national honour for his life-long commitment to the profession.

Paterson, associate dean (external relations) for the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta, was one of five recipients of this year's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) Distinguished Educator Awards.

"I've been teaching for a few years now, and I wouldn't say I have a particular teaching style, but I think there are a few principles teachers should stick to," said Paterson, who started his career as the principal of a two-room school in southern Alberta in 1953 and joined the University's Faculty of Education in 1968.

"You've got to know something before you can teach it; you need to care about your students and take an interest in what they're doing; and you need to have a sense of humour—it's an important job but not a serious one," he said.

Paterson's OISE award comes only two years after U of A mathematical sciences professor Andy Liu, '72 MSc, '76 PhD, received the same award. OISE's executive director of development Shirlene Coutis, who served on the award selection committee, said Paterson was an outstanding nominee who won the award for his "exemplary teaching skills and for taking a leadership role in his field throughout his career."

"I've won a number of awards over the years," Paterson said. "But this is the first national award. I was very pleased to be nominated by the Faculty of Education and the Alberta Teachers' Association, and I'm honoured to be recognized in this way."

Published Spring 2001.

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