Association of BC Deans of Education honour UNBC educator

School of Education Lecturer Deborah Koehn received the Teacher Educator award from the Association of BC Deans of Education. The award is presented annually to a teacher educator who has distinguished themselves in partnering with a teacher education program in British Columbia. 

June 5, 2020
Deborah Koehn
Deborah Koehn, a Lecturer in the School of Education, is recognized with the Teacher Educator award from the Association of BC Deans of Education.

Deborah Koehn is a true educator’s educator. 

A lecturer in the University of Northern British Columbia’s School of Education and coordinator of the Bachelor of Education program, Koehn has spent her career determined to create an exceptional learning environment for teacher candidates. This week, the Association of BC Deans of Education (ABCDE) recognized Koehn’s dedication to her craft with the 2020 ABCDE Teacher Educator award. 

The award is presented annually to a teacher educator who has distinguished themselves in partnering with a teacher education program in British Columbia. 

Koehn is grateful for the recognition but credits her colleagues in the School of Education with providing her with support and encouragement along the way. 

“As a team, we worked collaboratively and powerfully to achieve our goal,” she says. “Working with a group builds far more power and possibilities than working as an individual.” 

Among her recent collaborations, Koehn participated in the redesigned School of Education programs. 

A supporter of experiential learning, Koehn worked with the group that created Koh-Learning in our Watersheds, a partnership between UNBC and School District 91 Nechako Lakes. The experiential nature- and place-based learning program aims to assist Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to become informed and connected stewards and change agents for the well-being of their environments and communities, who are empowered to influence decisions and processes affecting their futures. With Koehn’s help, UNBC teacher candidates participated in the program, gaining valuable insight into the potential of learning through feeling, watching, thinking and doing.   

Koehn is also an advocate for in-situ learning experiences, where a group of teacher candidates spend time in an elementary school. For part of the day, the students are in a classroom, learning by experiencing. Then the teacher candidates reconvene as a group elsewhere in the school where they can debrief, share their experience and learn from their instructor. 

“The next generation of educators are open-minded, adventurous, and courageous,” Koehn says. “They are willing to explore possibilities instead of repeating past experiences. They are already adaptive and reflexive, willing to put their students at the center of the learning and base the learning on the students’ needs, rather than on the next chapter of the textbook.”

“They envision a learning journey that is highly engaging and motivating for their learners. Teacher Candidates are exploring their identity’s as educators and finding joy in teaching and learning experiences.”

Koehn is retiring at the end of the month and sees a bright future for teacher education at UNBC.

“Over the next decade I believe we will see enormous changes in how we learn and an increased focus on core competencies – intellectual, social and personal skills in all learning arenas,” she says. “I believe that this award recognizes UNBC’s School of Education shift towards nurturing those skills.”