Past Leaders & People
I have been asked to share my thoughts and experiences while serving as CASLT president so join me as I wander down memory lane...
I became president of CASLT at a very challenging time for the association. One of my challenges as president was to move the CASLT office from Winnipeg to Ottawa. In preparation of the move many hours were spent on conference calls with the Department of Canadian Heritage, ACPI, and CPF. We finally reached an agreement to share office space in downtown Ottawa (Gloucester St.). We took advantage of our meeting times in Ottawa to get the office set up and to hire our current office manager, Brigitte Roy. Finding a treasure such as Brigitte to work with CASLT was a sign that things were looking up. She is an extremely capable, friendly person who does many wonderful things for CASLT. It was indeed a pleasure working with her. Hopefully, she will be with the association for a long time. Another challenge for CASLT was when Peter Heffernan, our long-time Bulletin editor, resigned because of other professional commitments. Once again the board of directors worked together and Jim Howden offered to become editor of "Réflexions" as it became known for the short term. Jim volunteered many hours and made many changes to give the newsletter an updated look.
With the disappointing participation at our national conference in Toronto in 1996, we decided we couldn't take the risk of a national conference for the time being. In 1997 we joined SPEAQ in November in Laval, Quebec for our conference. Due to the change in date from May to November of our general meeting which had historically been held at the conference, my term of president was for 18 months instead of one year.
Another change that resulted from working within the constraints of a tight budget was doing a lot of meetings via telephone conference. This was a big change from the regular face to face meetings we'd had in the past.
Some memories include our first board meetings after the Toronto conference. The board of directors was very discouraged. We made a decision as a board to assume a positive attitude and to try and rebuild. Because of the incredible co-operation and dedication of a very hardworking board, the association showed strong signs of turning around by the time I became past-president in November 1997.
I was very fortunate to work with and develop friendships with a very capable group of individuals. During my 18 months as president, the board consisted of:
Past-President: Nancy Pynch-Worthylake (NS)
1st Vice President: Eleanor Morris (AB)
2nd Vice President: Jim Howden (QC)
Secretary: Caterina Sotiriadis: (MB)
Treasurer: Gary Young (NF)
Member at large: Helen Coltrinari (ON)
Others I had the pleasure of working with on the board of directors were: Helen Lockerby (PEI), Karen Tweedie (NB), Debbie Pineau (PEI), Gerry Pelletier (NB), and Peter Heffernan (AB).
As president I worked closely with our representative from the Department of Canadian Heritage,Vivian Knapp. Her friendly manner and expertise helped guide me through the maze of the federal government. With her capable leadership and guidance, we were successful in receiving funding for several worthwhile projects including the National Core French Assessment Project.
In my year as 1st Vice President, Nancy Pynch-Worthylake (the president) assumed a new position in Nova Scotia and as a result had to pull back from CASLT. Although unnerving at the time, it allowed me to assume more responsibility and prepared me somewhat for the challenging presidency ahead. One of my new responsibilities was to take over from Nancy as the CASLT liaison to the National Core French Assessment Project. My involvement with this project over 4 years was one of the highlights of my work with CASLT. The assessment documents that were produced are of superior quality and are used extensively by Core French teachers nationally and internationally. Another quality person that came to CASLT to direct this project was Claire Bélanger (QC). She brought a professional manner and capable leadership to the project which resulted in outstanding work. We worked well together and soon became friends.
I developed very close relationships with many of the people I worked with at CASLT and feel fortunate to continue to count them as friends. It amazes me how CASLT has been so fortunate to attract very capable, dedicated individuals to volunteer their time on the board of directors. Speaking of time, I had no idea how much time I would spend on CASLT as president. I was very thankful to have a very under-standing employer, Stan Frey, a former CASLT president, who believed in CASLT and the work that it does.
My time as president was challenging but allowed me to grow professionally and personally. Being part of a national group allowed me to gain a national perspective on second language education in Canada. I cherish the relationships that I have developed through my work with CASLT. I still communicate regularly with several people as we work as provincial second language consultants in our respective provinces and share ideas and materials to help us do our jobs better.
The work I did as president of CASLT became all consuming and it was difficult to leave. I had mixed feelings. I was relieved to have more time for other aspects of my life, but sad to not have frequent communication with fellow CASLT board members. In closing, I have many fond memories of these times. It was a rich experience that I would strongly recommend.
Published in the November 2000 Anniversary Issue of Réflexions