For the latest installment of our Alumni Highlights series, we caught up with Sally Meadows (BEd’04). She is a graduate of the College of Education, and is a singer-songwriter, author, and speaker.
Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?
Because I was married with kids when I started my degree, and therefore always under time pressure, much of my time on campus was spent at the College of Education. However, every day as I walked from my car to class, I marvelled at the beauty of the grounds and the striking architecture of the buildings; so much so that I have returned several times in recent years to indulge my passion of photography at this, one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada.
Today, I am delighted to see a greater presence on campus of places for Aboriginal students to gather, something that I, as a former U of S outreach administrator, strongly advocated for.
What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside the classroom?
In the first term of my first year at the College of Education, there was a curriculum course taught by sessional lecturer Linda Richards that changed everything for me. As a “mature” student, I was worried that my classmates would not accept me. However, the friendships I made in Linda’s class—a testimony to her skill as an instructor—not only enhanced my experience but I am delighted to say are still intact 12 years later. My favourite memories outside of the classroom were how those friendships flourished through coffee dates, gatherings at the Education library, and Louis’ pub get-togethers.
Overall, how was your U of S experience?
I had two science degrees from Ontario universities before I attended the U of S’s College of Education, and I can honestly say of the three, my experience at the U of S was the most memorable, and the most fun! I was determined at the outset to make the very most of this opportunity and that was reflected in the friendships I made as well as the success I had as a student. It truly was a wonderful experience.
How did going to the U of S shape your career?
After I graduated with my BEd in 2004, I worked for several years as a substitute and classroom teacher until a health issue forced me to take a breather. When I was ready to look for work again, an opening at the College of Engineering’s then Outreach Office shifted my career in a direction that couldn’t have been more perfect for me—engaging northern Saskatchewan students in meaningful, hands-on science activities and long-term projects in their community as well as on campus. The success of our efforts was beyond my wildest dreams and I say without reservation that this was the most rewarding and cherished job I have ever had. I am delighted to see that the foundational work my colleagues and I put into place for Aboriginal science outreach continues today through programs such as Science Ambassadors and PotashCorp Kamskenow.
Today I am thrilled to be working once again with elementary schools all around the province (and beyond) through readings and hands-on activities in support of my children’s books including The Two Trees—about a boy on the autism spectrum—which has been shortlisted for two awards.
What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?
Before I started my Education degree, I had already been working with elementary-aged kids for almost six years through my business Nuts About Science! Becoming a teacher seemed the next logical step, and was a nod to my mother, who had always wanted me to follow in her teacher footsteps. I had my reservations about becoming a classroom teacher, but I convinced myself that it was what I wanted, and I was determined to follow it through. What I wish I could have known back then is that classroom teaching—as much as I fully respect those who make this choice—isn’t the only option for BEd graduates. While I treasure my time as a classroom teacher, it eventually became clear that science outreach—and now my work as a children’s author—were both much better options for me personally.
This work has allowed me to impact many more students and teachers than I would have been able to do as a classroom teacher, and has given me the freedom I need to reach for the stars.
Be sure to check our Centennial page as we feature a different alumnus each month.