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ATA members earn U of A honours

September 9, 2014

Five among 42 recognized with alumni awards

Five members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association are being recognized with University of Alberta Alumni Awards.

The award recipients will be among 42 honoured at a ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. The Alumni Association invites all friends, family, colleagues and community members to celebrate the accomplishments of these outstanding alumni by attending the event. More information is available by contacting the office of alumni relations at 780-492-3224 or

Kieran T. Block

Educator, athlete and role model Kieran Block has relied on perseverance and a positive attitude to meet his challenges. In 2007, a misjudged jump shattered not only his legs but also his dream of playing professional hockey. Before the accident, he’d won a major junior championship with the Medicine Hat Tigers and played hockey with the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Afterward, faced with an uncertain future, he persevered, undertaking years of intensive physiotherapy while continuing his studies.

Block graduated with a bachelor of education degree from the U of A in 2010. That same year he discovered sledge hockey — a version of hockey played on special sleds. In 2012 he returned to high-level competition with Canada’s national sledge hockey team, which won bronze at the world championships. In 2013 his team brought home the world championship gold.

Block, a substitute teacher, shares with his students the importance of perseverance and setting goals. He is part of Canada’s ESTEEM Team athletes role model program. He will receive an Alumni Award of Excellence, which celebrates specific outstanding accomplishments by alumni in the past 12 months that garner national or international attention.

Don Munro

Athlete, educator, coach and referee Don Munro was an outstanding two-sport athlete at the U of A, starring as a point guard on the basketball team and quarterbacking the football club. Playing basketball from 1956 until 1960, he was a brilliant passer and fiery leader who led the team in scoring for two of the four years he played. A perennial Canada West all-star, he led the Bears basketball squad to two Canada West titles. He was also a key player with the Edmonton Town Hallers senior team, which competed at the highest level of basketball played in Canada at the time.

Munro honed his football skills with the Edmonton Wildcats junior team before playing for the Bears when the U of A reintroduced the football program in 1958–59. After graduation, he went on to an outstanding teaching career with Edmonton Public Schools. He had success as a high school football and basketball coach and worked as a referee for high school and university games.

Munro will be added to the Sports Wall of Fame, which honours athletes and builders who’ve contributed significantly to U of A sports programs.

Robert Ritter

Robert Ritter has been committed to excellence in science education for more than 35 years. Now the director of the U of A’s Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in the faculty of education, he was an outstanding teacher, principal and senior administrator with Edmonton Catholic Schools for many years. Recognized by the Alberta Teachers’ Association Science Council with the 1990 Outstanding Science Teacher Award, he is the author or co-author of numerous ­science textbooks, scholarly articles and educational resources.

In his U of A position, he has worked to significantly improve strategies for science teaching and learning. Projects include the development of resources for teaching nanotechnology and leveraging the motivational aspects of video games to engage 21st-century learners. Internationally, Ritter works with educators in Norway to organize energy-focused summer camps, and he has contributed to a UNESCO project developing teacher resources.

Ritter will receive the Alumni Honour Award, which recognizes significant contributions made over a number of years by U of A alumni in their local communities and beyond.

Gus Rozycki


G.R. (Gus) Rozycki recognizes that being aware of an issue and doing something about it are not the same thing. Born in a refugee camp in Germany, he spent his entire childhood in the camp before his family came to Canada. In his new country, he embraced the opportunity to learn, earning three degrees in Saskatchewan before bringing his wife and young children to Alberta for his doctoral studies.

In 1982, he was a founding member of the Strathcona Shelter Society, a safe haven for victims of family violence. Five years later, responding to the need for a treatment centre for children weighed down by emotional, developmental and mental health issues, he left a job with the Alberta Teachers’ Association. He and his wife used their home as collateral to found Bosco Homes.

Through Rozycki’s leadership as founding executive director, Bosco Homes became a multi-tiered family of organizations providing services to children in Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

Rozycki will receive the Alumni Honour Award, which recognizes significant contributions made over a number of years by U of A alumni in their local communities and beyond.

William Alan Bell

Retired teacher William Bell exemplifies what it is to have a big heart. His contributions go far beyond the classroom. As a member of the International Shrine Clown Association, he has brought joy to children and their families for many years as Ding Dong the Clown, receiving the Shriners’ Red Nose Award four times. He has contributed to many other community service organizations, including Scouts Canada, which awarded him the Medal of Merit in 1988. He is a fellow and former national president of the Canadian College of Teachers.

Other honours include the Samuel A. Dickson Award from the Fort Edmonton Park Foundation and Kappan of the Year from Phi Delta Kappa. While a teacher at Alex Taylor School in Edmonton, he opened his home to a young Vietnamese refugee, becoming his guardian and later taking in his brother. He and his wife also help many post-secondary students through two awards they have established.

Bell will receive the Alumni Honour Award, which recognizes significant contributions made over a number of years by U of A alumni in their local communities and beyond. ❚

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