By Michelle Schira Hagerman, PhD
Assistant Professor of Educational Technologies and Project Coordinator
Faculty and students finished up winter semester classes through video chat, discussion forums, and email. As we clicked “leave meeting” on our final B.Ed. classes and shared goodbye GIFs with our graduating students, there was also a shared sense of loss. After two years of learning, of mentorship and shared successes, those goodbye messages just didn’t seem enough. We all wondered, is that it?
When in-person graduations were necessarily cancelled because of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, B.Ed. Faculty members quickly came together to create something special. Of course, with no precedent to guide us, we had many questions. How does a program celebrate the shared achievement of a graduation during a global pandemic? How do we celebrate in a way that is unique to the B.Ed. program at the Faculty of Education at uOttawa, that shows who we are, and who our students are? Without those final heartfelt goodbyes in Lamoureux Hall, or at graduation with families and friends, what should we do? Importantly, we wondered how we could show our graduates the pride we all feel in their achievements.
This special video gift from professors to our B.Ed. graduates was our solution, and we hope our graduates love it as much as we loved producing it for them.
Most importantly, it came together because of the very special community that is the B.Ed. program. This was a massively collaborative initiative that included B.Ed. alumni, students and faculty members sharing their work, their expertise, taking risks, and coordinating many details.
Twenty faculty members contributed to the project by joining the virtual choir and by sharing photos taken during classes and cohort activities with the class of 2020. B.Ed. program director, David Trumpower, coordinated the skit produced by our five incredible student leaders for their peers. Current Bachelor of Education student, Dean Yeats (J-I, Global Cohort, Music) produced the video. Dean -- who has worked for influential YouTubers Jelly and Ssundee, and who has collaborated on media projects with companies such as Ubisoft and Oculus -- agreed to share his expertise to bring this project to fruition. That’s his voice you hear bringing our virtual choir together -- plus his generous use of autotune made the non-musicians among us sound pretty great! The song, You Have Made a Difference also has a very special uOttawa B.Ed. connection. Professor Patricia McKelvie remembered uOttawa B.Ed. alumni, Brian Asselin, writing the song in 2010 while he was a student in our program. Now a professional musician and music teacher, Mr. Asselin enthusiastically agreed to permit us to use his song -- which has been viewed more than 3.6 million times on YouTube -- and to adapt his lyrics (suggested by Professor Louise Hall) for this uniquely uOttawa B.Ed. graduation gift. In the history of our faculty, this has never been done before -- but when we look back on the ups and downs of 2020, we hope this video reminds every graduate that as members of the Faculty, we have felt so very privileged to support them as they have learned to become teachers.
Graduates: You will make a difference. We are proud of you. Believe in yourself. Congratulations. Welcome to the profession.