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Three standouts to receive Association awards

May 16, 2017 ATA News Staff

At its Annual Representative Assembly on May 20 to 22, the Alberta Teachers’ Association will recognize three individuals with awards.

Honorary membership
 James Parsons

Honorary membership is the highest honour bestowed by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and this year’s recipient will be Dr. James (Jim) Parsons.

Viewed as one of Alberta’s most distinguished and respected teachers, Parsons recently retired from the department of secondary education at the University of Alberta (U of A) after 41 years of service. Prior to his university life, Parsons taught social studies education in Kentucky and completed graduate teacher education, culminating with a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a member of the teaching profession for a half century.
Active throughout his career as a teacher educator, Parsons taught more than a generation of secondary social studies teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He engaged in teacher preparation, student teacher supervision and social studies pedagogy.
Parsons is the author of many resources used in Alberta schools. He helped write and effectively implement the Alberta Program of Studies. He also helped to establish and advance the U of A’s master’s degree in educational studies (MES), which increased access to graduate programs for full-time teachers.

Further cementing Parsons’ worthiness for honorary membership is his regular support of the profession and the Association. While committing his career to teacher education, he has also worked hard to advance the profession, standing up for teachers and for the teaching profession. He has been a frequent speaker at Association events, including a recent curriculum seminar, and a prolific writer for the ATA Magazine.

Special Recognition Award
 Perry Dorgan

For almost 40 years, Perry Dorgan has played a significant and often unheralded role in advancing the well-being of Alberta’s teachers. Throughout a very extensive consulting career, Dorgan has worked in strategic planning and management, executive management, business planning and, especially, health and benefits.

For 34 years he has served the ­Alberta School Employee Benefits Plan (ASEBP) in a variety of roles that have centred on benefits consulting, plan design and management. It’s widely believed that Dorgan’s work is a major reason for the plan’s success.

In 2013 and again in 2014, Dorgan was recognized as the best in North America by his peers. He has made a lifelong commitment to the interests of teachers and other school board employees. He also advises the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association on their benefits, and has helped to establish a plan that is the envy of other retiree groups.

Public Education Award
Laurie Blakeman

Long-time Alberta Liberal MLA and outspoken public education advocate Laurie Blakeman will receive the ATA’s Public Education Award. This award is offered occasionally to an individual or a group that has given outstanding support to public education in Alberta other than through teaching.

The daughter of two teachers, Blakeman is a trained actor who served as the executive director of the Alberta Advisory Council on Women’s Issues and the general manager of the Phoenix Theatre. She was first elected as MLA for Edmonton-Centre in 1997. She was re-elected four times and was her party’s critic for many different portfolios. She lost her seat in the 2015 election.

In 2014, Blakeman introduced a private member’s bill that sought to allow students to establish gay–straight alliances in their schools. Her bill also sought to change the Human Rights Act so the discussion of sexual orientation would no longer be an acceptable reason for parents to remove their children from classrooms. ❚





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