There’s plenty of leadership in Brandon University’s (BU’s) Master of Education (M.Ed.) program.
Two M.Ed. students from BU are participating in this year’s President’s Student Leadership Program (PSLP), hosted by the James W. Burns Leadership Institute at the University of Manitoba. Jonathan Filewich and Steven Kaskiw were among 22 students from across the province selected for the program.
A teacher in Souris, Filewich previously completed a M.Ed. in Administration and Leadership at BU, along with bachelor degrees in Physical Education Studies (B.P.E.S.) and Education (B.Ed.). He believes that one of the ways he stood out among the applicants is by illustrating how he approaches education with the same drive that he brought to his previous career as a professional hockey player.
“I am always pushing to be the best version of myself,” says Filewich, who is in the Curriculum and Pedagogy stream of the M.Ed. program. “At first I pushed myself physically when it came to sports. In the last decade, it has been pushing myself mentally as I have continued to broaden my knowledge and expertise in the field of education.”
Kaskiw is in the Inclusive Education stream of M.Ed. program after completing B.P.E.D. and B.Ed. degrees at BU. Like Filewich, he comes from an athletic background that he emphasized in his PSLP application.
“When I applied to the President’s Student Leadership Program I tried to emphasize my desire for building a healthier community through physical activity and proper nutrition,” says Kaskiw, who was able to introduce an Exercise Science course at Strathclair School, where he teaches, after securing a Healthy Together Now grant to set up a workout area. “My main goal is to help those who are disadvantaged to access meaningful physical activity and provide them with information regarding proper nutrition.”
While the Brandon University representatives both come from the same program, the PSLP participants are a diverse group, covering 14 disciplines from diploma, bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programs at Red River College, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, in addition to BU. The variety of backgrounds allows participants to learn from each other as well as the senior leaders.
“It’s exciting to meet the other participants, hear about their backgrounds, and what they aim to accomplish,” Kaskiw says. “Collaborating with like-minded individuals is a very desirable opportunity.”
This is the second year of the President’s Student Leadership Program, but COVID-19 led to a change in format this time. A weeklong in-person seminar that was planned for June had to be called off. Instead, the meetings have been online, with groups working on projects from a distance throughout the summer. If the situation allows, the participants and senior leaders will gather in the fall.
Regardless of the format, the students have high expectations for the experience.
“I think of leadership as both formal and informal,” Filewich says. “I think of the formal as titles and positions that have those expectations and I feel that, informally, leadership is the ability to lead no matter what the circumstance. My hope is that this program will help me grow both parts. My goal is to work towards growth as a husband, father, educator, coach, community volunteer, and business owner. I’m looking forward to gaining new knowledge and experiences through the program and further developing my leadership skills.”