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A new way to pay GRAs

Current and former graduate students who received payments as Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) between 2008 and 2012 could be receiving a tax refund from the Canada Revenue Agency in the next few months.

Effective January 1, 2013, Queen’s has changed the way it pays GRAs, who are typically graduate students who take on research positions that support their studies and provide financial compensation.

Historically, the support GRAs received for their studies was taxed as income from employment and a T4 was issued at tax time.

The university’s decision to change its tax treatment of payments to GRAs was made to reflect the fact that GRA positions are essentially research fellowships, funded directly from research grants awarded to the faculty members who recruit and supervise graduate students.

The change in tax treatment, which is in accordance with the Canada Revenue Agency’s guidelines, makes most GRAs eligible for T4A income (fellowship income) instead of T4 income (employment income).

The change, which aligns Queen’s with practices at other universities, also benefits graduate students by reducing income tax payments and increasing take-home pay. It may make some students eligible for a retroactive tax refund for the 2008-2012 period.

The change does not apply to a GRA if the graduate student held or holds the GRA for financial gain and also was or is performing work not directly related to his or her studies. Such students continue to be classified as employees receiving T4 income. If a graduate student simultaneously holds a GRA directly supporting his/her studies as a trainee and is also a research assistant whose work is not related directly to his/her studies, the student will receive a T4A for income received as a research fellowship, as well as a T4 for the income received as an employee.

Where applicable, the Canada Revenue Agency has agreed to issue retroactive refunds automatically to affected students and alumni and there is no need for anyone to re-file a tax return.

Questions should be directed by email to GRAT4A@queensu.ca

Flags lowered for emeritus professor, staff member

Flags on campus are lowered in memory Peter Hennessy, an emeritus professor in the Faculty of Education, and Raymond Caird, a former staff member in Physical Plant Services.

After graduating with honours from Queen’s University (History and Political Economy) in 1948, Professor Hennessy taught for several years at various secondary schools. In 1958-59, he and his family lived in England where he completed the requirements for the Diploma in Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.

In 1968, he was one of the original appointments to the Faculty of Education. He served until his retirement in 1984. Professor Hennessy wrote many articles and books and was active in the John Howard Society and the Citizens Advisory Committee at the Kingston Penitentiary.

Cremation has taken place with interment at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Bancroft. A memorial service is planned for April 3 with the details to be announced a later date. The family would like to suggest that donations be made to the Canadian Red Cross in lieu of flowers.

Mr. Caird worked in Physical Plant Services. A cremation has taken place according to Mr. Caird’s wishes. There will be a celebration of his life in the summer.

Flags lowered for professors emeriti

Flags on campus are lowered in memory of Professor Emeritus John “Jack” Parker and Professor Emeritus Douglas H. Crawford.

A leader in cardiovascular care and research

Dr. Parker committed his entire professional life to Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital, a relationship that spanned nearly 60 years. After completing his MD in 1954, he undertook initial training at Queen’s, with further training in New York, Paris, Milan and London.

After returning to Kingston in 1961, he established a cardiovascular clinical care and research program that was widely recognized for excellence. He played a key role in the establishment of clinical services that are now routine, including cardiac catheterization, cardiac surgery and critical care units for patients with cardiac disease. His research program had a global reputation; he travelled extensively to present his findings and collaborate with other scientists. Concurrently, he trained multiple young physicians who became leaders in cardiovascular clinical care and research.

Dr. Parker’s family will receive friends at Robert J. Reid & Sons “The Chapel on the Corner” (309 Johnson St., Kingston) on Friday, Feb. 6 from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. Funeral service will be held in the chapel on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at 11 am. Interment Cataraqui Cemetery. As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation – Cardiac Unit would be appreciated. 

The drive behind the master of education program

Dr. Crawford was a professor at Queen’s from 1962 to 1989. His research in the area of mathematics education was varied, reflecting his catholic interests. He wrote on individualized learning in mathematics and on the history of mathematics education in Ontario for the first half of the 20th century, and he explored mathematics for children with exceptionalities.

For many at the Queen's Faculty of Education, he will be remembered for his tireless efforts to establish the master of education program in 1971 in his capacity as co-ordinator of research and graduate studies.  

A memorial service will take place on Monday, Feb. 9 at 2 pm at Crossroads United Church (690 Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd., Kingston). Donations to a charity of choice in his memory would be appreciated by his family.

From whimsy to wisdom

Teacher candidates in the Faculty of Education rehearse for this year's annual musical: Kindergarten.

Bachelor of Education students will celebrate the whimsy of childhood and wisdom of old age in their annual musical, which opens this week.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is based on Robert Fulghum’s best-selling book of the same title and takes a funny, insightful and heartwarming look at what is profound in everyday life.

In a performance of theatrical storytelling, teacher candidates will deliver monologues, dialogues and original songs while getting a hands-on, authentic musical learning experience.

“It’s been an absolute joy to spend the past two months preparing for this production,” says Holly Ogden, one of two faculty leaders for the production of Kindergarten and adjunct assistant professor for Education. “Together we have learned so much – not only about music, drama, and dance, but also about how arts-based learning can excite, thrill, and inspire.”

Kindergarten also serves as a way to connect the Queen’s and Kingston communities by sharing the production free of charge with groups of students and seniors in the community. Students from the Limestone District School Board, seniors groups, and adults from the Kingston’s H’Art Centre will be offered tickets to the production.

“We believe that by providing teacher candidates with this experience during their year at Queen’s, they will be better able to promote this form of teaching and learning within their classrooms,” says Christopher DeLuca, faculty leader for the production and assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. “Learning through the arts fosters cooperation, problem-solving, and improvements in spatial and verbal skills as well as develops a sense of connection, belonging, and positive learning spaces.”

Kindergarten runs on February 5 and 6 at 7:30pm in the auditorium at Duncan McArthur Hall. Tickets are $5 and available at the door or in the Queen’s Education Students Society office at Duncan McArthur Hall (Room B137).

For more information on Kindergarten, follow this link.

Lessons learned abroad shared through blog

A group of 14 graduates from the Queen's Faculty of Education are living and teaching abroad and, in order to share their experiences amongst themselves as well as with others, the group has created a blog, aptly name 14 Beds (for Bachelor of Education or BEd). The organizer of the project is Laura Skellett (Ed’14) who is currently teaching in Karlstad, Sweden. The Gazette spoke to her about the blog as well as her experiences teaching and living in another country.

[Laura Skellet]
Laura Skellett (Ed’14), who is teaching in Karlstad, Sweden, is seen here during a recent visit to Budapest, Hungary. (Supplied Photo)

Gazette: Why did you and the other members of 14 Beds decide to teach abroad?

Laura Skellett: One motivating factor for teaching abroad is that there is simply limited job availability for teachers in Ontario. If hired by the Catholic or public board, new teachers often have to supply teach for a year or more before securing a long-term placement. After being in university for five or more years, many of us were thirsty for our own classrooms and our own students. We were eager to teach. Moreover, many of us want to continue our learning by seeing schools outside of Ontario or outside of Canada. We wanted new experiences, and we wanted to challenge our own ideas of education by being exposed to new cultures and ideas.  

G: What do you bring to the classroom as a teacher from Canada and specifically from Queen's?

LS: This is a tricky question, and one I believe my students could answer about me much better than I could. Being a first-year teacher in an international environment allows you to learn from and with your students. In a new and foreign environment, I find that I often learn much from my students, both about my own culture and beliefs, but also about their own. For example, on the last day of school before the holidays, students in the classroom had brought in candy to eat during our class get together. Based on my own experience in school, students often share food when having a class party. However, when I suggested this I received many strange looks – students in Sweden typically just eat what they bring in themselves. This experience allowed me to understand a little bit more about Swedish culture. I also find it very humbling to be learning to speak Swedish while I am here – it allows me to understand the challenges that my students' face every day in my classroom. More specifically, I believe that Queen’s has taught me to be a critical, reflective and innovative teacher in the classroom and to continuously challenge myself.

G: What are some of the life and professional lessons that have been learned by the members?

LS: In both the personal and professional sphere, I think the biggest lesson that our contributors have learned is to be adaptable. Whether it’s learning a new technological platform at your school or figuring out how to use the laundry machine in your apartment, things don’t always go as expected. You quickly learn to problem-solve, to ask for assistance, and to be open to new ideas. Accepting that things will not always go as planned is important. Creative problem-solving becomes a skill that you quickly develop. 

G: You are teaching in Sweden. What has been the biggest transition for you?

LS: Having studied abroad at Herstmonceux Castle (Bader Insternational Study Centre, BISC), and having traveled throughout Europe, I found it relatively easy to adapt to the social nuances of Sweden. I think the bigger challenges have come in the professional sphere in adapting to the Swedish curriculum and classroom. At Queen's, I was in the intermediate-senior stream (grades 7-12) and I did the majority of my placements in high school. However, in Sweden I teach art to 200-plus students in grades 4-9. The fact that many students are just learning English is another challenge. Moreover, the curriculum and in particular the assessment is very different in Sweden. For example, grades in Ontario are based on your average performance throughout the semester, with some exams or projects weighted more heavily than others. However in Sweden, students are assessed based on different skills in a subject. Once you reach an A level in a skill, you do not have to prove yourself again in that skill. Instead students are asked to focus on other skills for that subject. Adapting my teaching to this system (and its accompanying computer tracking system) has been a work in process. Since I only see my students for one term, I am excited to switch up my assessment strategies for the new term based on what I have learned in the past five months. 

G: Does this blog help the 14 Beds members with their experiences and keep in touch?

LS: In the past five months, the blog has allowed our contributors to stay connected throughout our new professional and personal experiences. I believe that the blog has provided an outlet for our contributors to discuss and compare. When posting photos online, contributors have commented on photos saying – “that’s similar to something I’ve done, that would be a great topic for a post!” It has allowed us to connect and understand each other’s experiences of teaching abroad. While many of us decided to teach abroad to learn about other cultures, the blog has provided us with another tool for understanding other schools and cultures. Contributors have shared that they enjoy seeing what others are up to and to learn about other international experiences. We hope to showcase the diversity of our international experiences in our spotlight posts, which focus on one topic such as assessment or what our classrooms look like.

G: What are your plans over the short and long term?

LS: In the short term, we plan to expand our types of articles that we produce. The winter term is a busy recruitment period for international schools. To complement this, we plan to produce articles about why we chose to teach abroad, how we found our jobs, advice for interviews and applications and more. We hope that this will help our readers who are considering teaching abroad. In the long term, I am unsure how the blog will continue to develop. Some of our contributors are on one-year contracts, while others have two-year contracts. This is something we will continue to think about in the future.

See the blog at 14beds.com.

Educational outreach

New funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) will improve outreach to remote areas by the Queen’s Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP). The $421,500 over two years will support the sustained delivery of the programs at Queen’s and remote, community based sites in Northwestern Ontario.

In many Aboriginal communities, education programs are often not available because student cohorts are too small to make them viable.

“It is my hope that this funding will allow us to make the community-based ATEP better than ever,” says Lindsay Morcom (Education), ATEP program coordinator. “This project represents a true partnership with our community-based sites. In addition to facilitating contact between our existing sites it will also open the door to remote delivery in additional Aboriginal communities.”

New funding from the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities will improve outreach to remote areas.

The MTCU also announced $358,123 in funding to support technology education. Queen’s is a partner in the Brock University-led Technological Education Consortium which is using the funding to plan, design and deliver a new collaborative program in technology education.

 “This is an important initiative in sustaining technological education programs in Ontario,” says Peter Chin (associate dean, Education). “This funding will enable us to create and use new communications technologies to support technological education and to foster collaboration and connections among the educational institutions involved.”

Notice of this funding envelope is great news to the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program students at community-based sites, as well as the technological education students, who are often mature students working in technical fields.

With this funding Queen’s will run a Virtually ATEP extension to its existing instructional strategies that will allow small First Nation student groups to virtually join with students from other communities where courses are being offered. Increased student access as well as enhanced information sharing between remote sites is an exciting enrichment of community based programming at Queen’s.

The MCTU Fund was developed to provide a vehicle for sharing capacity through teaching and learning resources and practicum placements, allowing teacher-candidates to continue to live and work in their hometowns without having to travel or spend long periods of time away from home to complete their teacher education.

For more information about these programs, see Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (Community-Based) and Technological Education.

Fostering the giving spirit of Giving Tuesday

With the holiday shopping season upon us, a movement now adopted by Queen’s University is aiming to prove that it is better to give than to receive.

Giving Tuesday is a self-declared movement of charitable giving and volunteering that opens the season of giving the day after the consumer-frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year, for the first time, several Queen’s faculties and schools are taking part in Giving Tuesday. Each faculty or school has its own specific initiatives, but the central purpose is to request philanthropic gifts to support students.

The Faculty of Arts and Science is focusing on Dean Susan Mumm’s highest priority: increasing the number of admission scholarships.

This year’s goal is to offer Admission Scholarships of $2,000 to all qualified students.

“We ask that you join us to support our goal in any amount possible,” says Dean Mumm.

From small gifts to funding a scholarship yourself, the campaign is determined to make scholarships happen.

The new Admission Scholarships for the Arts will attract exceptional students to Queen’s, grow the caliber of the Arts and Science student body, and offer students new opportunities that would otherwise not be possible.

Queen’s School of Business is asking for gifts to support four separate funds for students. Donations to the Commerce Legacy Fund for Student Health and Wellness support student health and wellness initiatives like seminars, workshops and increasing the availability of individual counselling.

Donations are also encouraged to the QSB Commerce Bursary Fund, MBA Scholarships Endowment Fund, and the Dean’s Innovation Fund. Each of these funds provides assistance to students in financial need and helps recruit the brightest students.

QSB has a few twists to Giving Tuesday. First, all individual donations between $1,000 and $25,000 will be matched by the Dean’s Matching Fund. Also, any gifts in this same range from QSB alumni who graduated since 1994 – typically identified as “young alumni” – will be ‎doubled.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is using Giving Tuesday as a way of highlighting the 10th anniversary of the Integrated Learning Centre and raising funds for the Dean’s Excellence Fund. Students are calling attention to the Centre, as home to the Engineering Society, Engineering Student Lounge and Tea Room, as a hub for student experience and learning.

The Faculty of Health Sciences is asking benefactors to support Giving Tuesday through gifts to its three Schools.

The Rehabilitation Therapy Student Experience Fund helps students cover their expenses while they learn away from Queen’s on placements. The Nursing 75th Anniversary Fund supports a variety of causes including bursaries, scholarships, equipment, and professorships. Finally, the Medical School Excellence Fund supports new educational initiatives, simulation and clinical learning, research and provides student support.

Input sought on future of Faculty of Education, next dean

Stephen Elliott’s term as dean of the Faculty of Education ends on June 30, 2015. Dr. Elliott has indicated that he does not wish to be considered for another term as dean.

In accordance with the procedures established by Senate, a committee chaired by the provost will be established to advise the principal on the present state and future prospects of the Faculty of Education and on the selection of the dean. Members of the university community are invited to submit commentary on the present state and future prospects of the Faculty of Education and the deanship, in writing, to the provost by Wednesday, Nov. 19. Submissions should be sent by email to carol.oconnor@queensu.ca.  Anyone making a submission is asked to indicate whether they wish to have their letters shown, in confidence, to the members of the advisory committee. 

Suggestions of individuals who might serve on the advisory committee may also be submitted to carol.oconnor@queensu.ca by Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Undergrads hone research skills during summer program

  • [Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellows]
    Principal Daniel Woolf and Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss with the recipients of the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship.
  • [Principal Daniel Woolf and Emily Gong]
    Principal Daniel Woolf listens as undergraduate student Emily Gong explains her research on the history of art, religion and culture in the Dunhuang Mogao Caves.
  • [Ellen O'Donoghue and Mariah Horner]
    Mariah Horner (right) explains her research on contemporary Canadian performance to fellow student Ellen O'Donoghue.
  • [Steven Liss and Jessica Metuzals]
    Undergraduate student Jessica Metuzals explains her work to Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).
  • [Undergraduate student Michelle Tam]
    A crowd gathers around Michelle Tam as she explains her research during the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship celebration.

The university hosted a special celebration on Oct. 27 to recognize the 20 students who participated in the 2014 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) program. Principal Daniel Woolf and Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss attended the event and congratulated the students on their accomplishments.

The USSRF program is an opportunity for continuing undergraduate students in social sciences, humanities, business and education to develop research skills under the guidance of a faculty researcher. The program provides meaningful opportunities to engage in discovery-based learning and to develop research and presentation skills. More information

Active learning classrooms making a difference

  • [Ellis Hall Peter Wolf}
    Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) Peter Wolf talks about the active learning classrooms in Ellis Hall during a special event on Monday.
  • [Ellis Hall Alan Harrison]
    Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison speaks during the launch event for the active learning classrooms in Ellis Hall.
  • [Ellis Hall Tom Harris]
    Tom Harris, Vice-Principal (Advancement), relays stories about Drs. Russell and Katherine Morrison and the late Jack McGibbon.
  • [Ellis Hall Active Learning Classrooms]
    A booklet was available for attendees to sign and provide a message of thanks to Drs. Russell and Katherine Morrison.

A special event was held Monday to celebrate the launch of the Ellis Hall active learning classrooms and acknowledge the support of key donors.

Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) Peter Wolf, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison and Tom Harris, Vice-Principal (Advancement) all spoke about the importance of the new classrooms and the crucial roles that Drs. Russell and Katherine Morrison and the late Jack McGibbon played in making them a reality for Queen’s University and its students.

While the Morrisons were unable to attend, a special booklet was available for attendees to sign and provide a message of thanks.

The three newly renovated active learning classrooms in Ellis Hall are designed to enhance students' learning experiences. The classrooms offer configurations and technology – such as whiteboards, moveable chairs and linked screens – that enable instructors to use different teaching and learning strategies.

A video displayed during the presentation provided rave reviews from students and teachers alike.


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