Welcoming new faces

Sarah Lockman and Alejandro Huerta Rodas join our team

April 8, 2014 | Story by Jenny van Enckevort


It’s one of those bright, rainy spring days that’s perfect for a field trip through UBC’s Education library – a naturally-lit space where lush greenery shows itself through tall windows.

This is a place I want to share with the newest members of the Professional Development & Community Engagement team – Sarah Lockman and Alejandro Huerta Rodas. I’m eager to show them resources like the Canadian Children’s Literature collection, and to learn more about them.

Sarah is our new Manager of Professional Development, and Alejandro is the Senior Program Assistant who will replace Jo-Anne Chilton when she retires at the end of April. They’ve each taken on an extensive portfolio at PDCE, and both bring exceptional experience to the Faculty of Education, along with unique life stories.

Exploring the library’s collections, Sarah and Alejandro chat softly while I capture their easy smiles on camera and students attend to their end-of-term studies. A young boy asks us where he can find the next graphic novel in the series he’s reading, and we direct him to the librarian, who teaches him how to navigate the stacks.

It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about the literary tastes of our newcomers, and I ask them both about the most recent book that they couldn’t put down.

Sarah: I really enjoy reading in my spare time. Arundhati Roy gave her first public talk in Vancouver in early April, so I am in the process of re-reading The God of Small Things. I like reading literature that engages the reader by asking as many questions as it attempts to answer, and Roy does this so beautifully in this novel. It is heart-wrenching and hopeful, critical and celebratory – I admire her ability to meld these positions so seamlessly.

Alejandro: One of most intriguing books I recently read was Paulo Cohelo’s The Pilgrim; it depicts the travels of a very insightful man through different travelling experiences in parallel to his own life journey.

Alejandro himself is well-travelled, and he tells me about his most unique experience so far: “I had the opportunity to travel north to witness firsthand the winter solstice closer to the Arctic Circle. Coming originally from the tropics, it was quite an experience to place myself in the coldest possible environment and be present on the shortest day of my life – only 3.5 hours of sunlight!”

With the ice broken, I ask Sarah and Alejandro about their first impressions of working at the Faculty of Education.

Sarah: I’m excited to be working with the Faculty of Education and everyone has been very welcoming. Having spent time as both a classroom teacher and an informal educator, I feel that knowledge translation between the Faculty and the field is really crucial in moving learning and teaching forward, and improving education for all learners.

Building connections between the rigorous research and expertise of Faculty members, and the thoughtful action research and real-life experiences of educators in the field has always been really important to me. These connections can often spark new opportunities for learning and innovation.

"Knowledge translation between the Faculty and the field is really crucial in moving learning and teaching forward, and improving education for all learners."

Sarah Lockman

For his part, Alejandro appreciates "the possibility to add value to the education effort at different levels – from early childhood related programs to adult education.”

Coming from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, Alejandro had the opportunity to participate in the Medical School Expansion in British Columbia, from the planning and development of administrative strategies supporting the endeavour, to the final evaluations and assessments of the expanded Education Program.

Alejandro’s next adventure is to discover the rest of Canada by travelling across the continent by land from the West Coast to Newfoundland – together with "making a difference within the PDCE administrative team."

"My next adventure is to discover the rest of Canada by travelling across the continent."

Alejandro Huerta Rodas

I find myself inspired by Sarah and Alejandro’s stories. As an avid reader myself, I can’t resist asking Sarah what quotation she finds most inspiring.

“It’s hard to pick just one!” she says, “My mom is always mailing me funny sayings she cuts out of newspapers or magazines, some of which occupy prime real estate on my fridge at home.”

“In terms of learning, though, I like this one by Yeats:

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

William Butler Yeats

The work we do in the Faculty of Education, and in PDCE, is deeply invested in igniting curiosity and pursuing possibilities, so our team is thrilled to welcome these two inspired professionals to share in our work.