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Posted August 13, 2012

45th Anniversary of the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Briding Program

Actor & Director Sarah Polley praises the program.


Woodsworth College’s Academic Bridging Program celebrates its 45th anniversary of expanding access to the University of Toronto this year.  Since its inception more than 9,800 students have enrolled in the program, with the majority going on to studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science.

The program is geared to students aged 19 and up who have been away from formal education for a while. It literally bridges the gap between a student's prior education and the demands of first year courses.  Launched in 1967 as the Pre-University Program offering a preparatory course for university, it has grown to become not only the oldest but the largest access program of its kind in North America.  In 2000 the program was incorporated into the Faculty of Arts and Science and renamed the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging program.  The late Manny Rotman, who received his Bachelor’s Degree from Woodsworth College in 1985 at age 76, and who together with his family made a generous donation to the program, wished to commemorate his daughter Millie’s memory by helping others who shared her passion for learning.

Senior lecturer and program instructor J. Barbara Rose, herself a graduate of the program, has witnessed first-hand how the program can transform lives: “Students who were disaffected in high school suddenly catch fire. Even if not all students go onto university, the program has been a catalyst in changing many lives.”

One such individual is movie director and actor, Sarah Polley: 

“My time in the Academic Bridging Program was one of the most full, exhilarating experiences of my life. Without a University degree, so many of us feel, as adults, intimidated or excluded from participating in post-secondary education. The program is brilliant at accommodating this particular point of view coming into the classroom and makes students feel included and heard according to their specific needs and insecurities. The class I took made me passionate about continuing my education and opened up new worlds of thinking for me.”

There are many other examples of former Bridging students who have gone on to great success, from Bronfman scholarship winners to those graduating with “high distinction.” Most of them credit the Academic Bridging Program for easing them into university level studies and, most importantly, “turning their lives around.”

To celebrate this remarkable access program and all the achievements of its alumni, a 45th anniversary reception will be held in Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, on October 2nd  from 6 to 8pm.  All graduates of the program are welcome to attend. Please see the calendar on the front page of the website for more details and where to rsvp.  For more information about the program visit:



Posted August 09, 2012

Celebrating 40 Years:  Post-Degree Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Program is leader in TESOL education

By Caitlin Choi

This year, Woodsworth College’s post-degree certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) celebrates forty years in the business, solidifying its position as a leader in the field of TESOL education.

In addition to being one of longest-running programs in Canada, it’s also one of the best, says TESOL instructor Lindsay Brooks.  “I think it’s one of the best because of the range of courses, the cohesiveness of the program, and the wonderful students that we attract,” said Brooks, who’s been an instructor for the program since 2003. “By constantly evolving to reflect the dynamic nature of the field of second language learning and teaching, we offer a dynamic program that prepares students for teaching positions locally and/or abroad.”

The TESOL program has adapted its curriculum over the years to reflect current research, trends and best practices in language education, she said.  As a graduate of one of the top TESOL programs, students leave with a reputable certification and a competitive edge for securing employment.

“To get a good position abroad or in Canada, a TESOL certificate is essential,” said Brooks. “Increasingly, employers are requiring a year-long certificate and this is what we offer.”

In addition to the strong theoretical focus of the program, students are given the opportunity to link theory with practice.  To complete the certificate, each student must complete 30 hours of observation and 20 hours of practice teaching in a real ESOL classroom. 

The TESOL program admits both native and non-native English speakers, and students from diverse professional, academic and cultural backgrounds.  “I think the diversity of our students is one of the program’s greatest strengths,” says program director Sarah Witol. 

“A passion for teaching unites seasoned professionals and recent grads looking for a new career direction, as well as new and veteran teachers from all over the world and I think it’s this diversity that contributes to such a dynamic classroom environment.  It’s also a big part of why our students continue to learn outside the classroom.  Students have said their study groups after class are often the highlight of their time in the program. “

Catering to the needs of its students, the program supports both full-time and part-time students.  Most students take the course on a part-time basis allowing them the flexibility to continue to work, volunteer or care for their families while completing the certificate. 

Marny Gibson, a former student of the program, attests to the value of a TESOL education.  “They were very practical, thought-provoking and challenging,” she said about the classes she took at UofT. The retired teacher and TESOL graduate says the two methodology courses, the planning course and the pedagogical grammar course were especially useful. “The assignments, particularly in the Methodology and Planning courses, had obvious application in the field.”

After the course was finished Gibson said administrators continued to be supportive. Gibson said the staff “worked very hard putting together two evenings to introduce us to different job opportunities, and provided us with lots of materials to further our search,” she said. “I absolutely loved my year, and I feel that I made some good friends.”

Applications for September session are still being accepted.  More information is available on the TESOL website.





Posted July 26, 2012

Focus on Woodsworth College Programs: THE500

Course Prepares PhD Students and Postdoctoral Fellows for a Move to the Front of the Classroom

By Caitlin Choi


Ph.D. and Postdoctoral fellows who are looking to prepare for a career teaching in higher education should consider applying for Woodsworth College’s THE500 course. The twelve-week course is offered free of charge and enables students to earn credits towards the Graduate Professional Skills Program, administered by the School of Graduate Studies.

Anne Urbancic, a 2012 Outstanding Teaching Award winner and one of the THE500 instructors, explained that this course aims to help PhDs and Post-Docs develop practical teaching and classroom management skills. 

In addition to content delivered by the course conveners, THE500 students benefit from guest lectures by some of the University’s most distinguished teaching professionals.  Each week, specialists share their expertise on a wide variety of topics, which have included integrating cutting-edge research on experiential and online teaching into the classroom. 

“The students enrolled consider different teaching and learning styles,” said Urbancic. “They integrate new ideas generated in our discussions, and also offered by our guest speakers, into their own classrooms.  “Furthermore, we help them become reflective practitioners by guiding them through how to write an effective syllabus, how to prepare a statement of teaching philosophy, how to observe and offer constructive criticism to their peers. One of the unique aspects of THE500 is that it is not a series of independent workshops that may be attended individually. The course comes together as a cohesive, integrated program.”

Another component of the course involves a peer observed practicum – where students practice applying techniques and theories either in a real classroom or in a simulated situation. “No matter the level of experience, the students have always helped each other improve and reflect on the difficult and challenging activity of teaching,” Urbancic said, explaining that an important part of her role as professor involves supporting this peer-to-peer learning. “’[Teacher]’ is not really the correct word; I am more of a facilitator in discussion with engaged PhD students and Postdoctoral fellows.”

Emily Indriolo, a Postdoctoral fellow in the sciences, said the course proved especially useful when applying for permanent professorial positions. “I found the assignments to learn how to properly make a syllabus and a statement of teaching philosophy to be invaluable as I will use them in future job application packages.  We also discussed how to interview for a position in academia and what aspects of your education background will play into a job interview.”

“THE500 is a very useful course for every PhD student or Post-Doc, both with teaching experience or with no experience at all,” said Anne Maria Grossi, another former student of the program. “It offers a complete view of all the aspects involved in the career of teaching in an academic setting.”

Posted June 20, 2012

Congratulations to our newest graduates

Graduates were celebrated by College faculty and staff

At a post-convocation reception in the Peter F. Bronfman Courtyard, approximately 400 graduands, their friends and families, celebrated their graduation milestone. Staff and faculty of the College were on hand to congratulate our newest alumni.  

Posted June 05, 2012

Convocation Speaker

Woodsworth College is proud that University Professor Keren Rice will address the class of 2012 at Convocation

Professor Keren Rice - one of the world’s most distinguished linguists and an international leader in the empirical study of Aboriginal languages will give the convocation address at the Woodsworth College Convocation on Monday, June 18th. 

Recently, Prof. Rice was awarded  the prestigious Molson Prize in the humanities and social sciences.

The $50,000 prize recognizes outstanding lifetime achievements and ongoing contributions to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada. Rice received the award for her work to sustain, revitalize and document Canada’s Aboriginal languages.

Read the full UofT Bulletin article.

Posted June 05, 2012

Spring Convocation

Graduating this June? Here is all you need to know:

The Woodsworth College Convocation will take place on Monday June 18th at 10 am. 

Convocation Precedures Information:

Gowns and hoods information

RSVP and ticket information

Arrival and assembly information

Extra Tickets information


For any further questions regarding the convocation ceremony please consult the Office of Convocation website.

For enquiries regarding eligibility to convocate, please email Ms Helen Shea.


Post-Convocation Reception information:

A reception in honour of the June 2012 Graduating Class, hosted by Principal Joe Desloges, will take place immediately after convocation (starting at approximately 11:30 am), in the Peter F. Bronfman Courtyard, Woodsworth College, 119 St. George Street.

To RSVP please email, or call 416-978-5301.


Posted April 24, 2012

Alumni Association AGM and Spring Reunion Event

Special guest speaker: Adam Vaughan, City Councilor for Ward 20 - Trinity-Spadina

Join fellow alumni for a brief business meeting to elect a new board of directors, to be followed by guest speaker Adam Vaughan.

When: Wednesday, May 30th, 6:00 p.m.

Where: Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, 119 St. George St. Toronto Ont.

FREE-RSVP required

Wine and Cheese Reception

Call: 416-978-5301 or Email


Posted March 14, 2012

Dani Reiss, WDW 97

Woodsworth alumn awarded Ernst & Young Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Building a globally successful “made in Canada” brand earned Dani Reiss, WDW 97, President and CEO of Canada Goose Inc. the 2011 Ernst & Young Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Business-to consumer products and services category award winner and National/Overall Winner. “We want to protect people from winter, wherever they are,” Mr. Reiss told the crowd after being presented with his latest award. “What we have done, you cannot teach in a business school.”

Having taken the reins at the firm his grandfather founded more than 50 years ago in 1997, Mr.  Reiss grew the company from a staff of 40 working primarily out of a single Toronto location to more than 700 employees spread across the country. Today, Canada Goose has become a globally recognizable brand. As the Canadian champion, Mr. Reiss will go on to compete against the national winners from more than 50 other countries at the world finals to be held in Monaco next June.


Posted March 14, 2012

John Stewart, WDW 95 & 01

Woodsworth alumn involved in design of brooch for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

John Stewart was instrumental in the design and execution of a brooch presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee by the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.

The Queen is the Captain General of the Royal Canadian Artillery, a role she assumed on the day she ascended to the throne. The brooch, presented with the generous support of Birks, takes the form of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery cap badge,which was designed in 1907. The brooch is set with 60 diamonds, in honour of her Diamond Jubilee celebrating six decades as Captain General of the Royal Canadian Artillery and of Her support for the Canadian Forces and 60 years as the Sovereign of Canada. The Diamond Jubilee is also signified by the number “60” in platinum on the wheel of the cannon.

Click to read The National Post article.

Posted March 14, 2012

Academic Bridging Program Graduate Speaks from the Heart

Andrew Lesk is currently the coordinator of the University College First Year Foundation Program

Prior to enrolling in the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program, I took a grade 13 (OAS) course to see if “education” is really what I wanted. I had been drifting around in dead-end jobs, and I never completed grade 13. Being immature (I now realize) in so many ways, I never received high-school grades that would have got me into college. I successfully completed the grade 13 course and then enrolled in the Bridging Program.

What a new world it was! The professor’s history lectures consisted of varying points of view on a given topic, which at first confused me: Was I not going to get the “official line,” as I often did in high school? I quickly came to realize that the responsibility for making a decision about materials presented rested with me, and I would have to put together a strong argument based on available evidence in order to succeed. No one was checking up on me to see if I was doing the work. I realized that I was responsible for my education, and being actively involved in it, from class discussions to socializing with fellowlike-minded students, I flourished. The Bridging Program gave me the chance I never thought I’d have, with the result that I went on to finish my doctorate, and am now teaching at the University of Toronto.

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