Summary |  Reflection  |  Letters and Testimonials


While designing this page, I searched my records for letters of reference and testimonials and found several but felt they did not paint a full image of my learning journey. I approached a couple of key influential people from my past and asked for some honest impressions. The first one below is from Carol Matheson, who, through reflection, I now realize had been my personal teacher, tutor and mentor, and was a crucial guide on my path towards being an adult educator. Carol was the Educational Consultant at the Private Career College I was employed at, tasked with the role of assisting vocational instructors in becoming adult educators.

Top of Page


For me, teaching at Canadian Therapeutic College (CTC) was not just a job, it was my schooling, my education in adult education, and Carol was my own private teacher. Receiving her letter was like receiving a report card, but only nine years later (I think I passed). It reminded me of how much those years influenced my practice and who I have become, and essentially has brought me to where I am today. I was not aware that my passion, compassion, and commitment to my own growth was so evident then. What led me to the college was an epochal event, and the new job as Program Director, and my commitment to growth and change, all stem from the transformational learning I experienced due to the event and the resulting post traumatic growth. I couldn't name it then but through my continued growth and study, I have developed a firm understanding of transformational learning through applying and comparing theory to my own personal experiences. The personal change stemming from the epochal event brought me to the college and I was lucky to have Carol and others at the college to guide my course.

Carol guided my practice from instructor–centered teaching to student–centered facilitation. She helped me understand that adult students have a wealth of experience and will actually learn better with each other when properly facilitated. This concept was applied in my life as well, removing me from the centre and putting energy into others. Trust, support and honest constructive feedback became the basis of every class and is now prevalent in not only my role as an educator but also comprises the foundation of my management philosophy. I thank all those who have been part of my journey but Carol will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you Carol.


Top of Page

Letters and Testimonials

May 4, 2017

Hello, Dave,

I was delighted, but not surprised, to hear that you are pursuing a Master’s Degree in Adult Education. You are always pursuing possibilities!

Of course, your request brought back a flood of memories and I would like to share a few with you that I think confirm that you are on the right path both for you and the Paramedic profession.

I must begin with my observation that you brought some personal qualities to your role as Program Director that had a significant impact of the quality of the program that you were creating.

  • You shared with me some past-life choices that you made that you would not want to repeat, but you acknowledged as great learning opportunities for your continued personal growth. This honest, open self-awareness introduced a value of empathy and compassion to both instructors and students which helped to create a successful adult learning environment. When I worked with your students I was struck by their general eager enthusiasm for what they were doing. They even gave me a standing ovation after one of my sessions. Trust me, that was a first!! The tone that you set for the learning experience was an expression of your leadership!!!
  • Besides having a commitment to your own growth you brought a deep commitment to your chosen profession. You made it clear that your students ought to be proud of their decision to become a member of a critically vital and important helping profession. You made it clear, as well, that they were in the “business of saving lives” and that adequate skills and performance were simply not good enough.
  • You had also played the role of paramedic for several years and knew exactly what pressures the students would face in the real world. These natural gifts set the tone of mutual respect, commitment and enthusiasm for the whole program. You intended to be successful and you intended that your students would be successful, as well.

Your first task was to design a rich, compelling curriculum for student success in both the program and in the provincial certification process. Rather than attempt this task independently, you wisely drew on the expertise of your instructor staff. This sense of the value of team work with a common goal eventually made it easier for you to see that that same sense of shared decision making had real value in creating a powerful learning environment for students.

While the designing of curriculum demanded your full attention it also opened up the door to the next phase of your learning that led to you become a demanding but understanding and effective adult educator. How many lunch hour discussions did we have about how frustrated and disappointed you often were with the student response to and participation in each class?

  • Initially your classes followed a traditional lecture and stiff practice, fairly instructor-centered format.
  • Little by little you saw the importance of a student–centered learning environment, eventually, a whole lot less stressful and more productive for you and also the students.
  • Increasingly you had the students accept more responsibility for their own learning. You created triad learning teams with the roles of body, paramedic, and observer rotating through the practice of a particular skill. This provided the needed balance between practice and the acquisition of a new skill while providing challenge at the same time – no time for students to get bored.
  • Feedback became the breakfast of these champions in a trusting, supportive environment. There was a sense that they were all in this together and everyone wants everyone else to be successful. In this atmosphere students were invited to risk.
  • Over time each class followed a predictable format, which increased the student’s sense of comfort and safety. To begin with, clear objectives for the class were outlined along with what importance each had. This was followed by a demonstration, a model for good practice, with discussion and time for clarifying questions. The triad session followed. The class ended with a summary of what was learned, with input from students. This also allowed students an opportunity to challenge or question any protocol; the whole process served the purpose of anchoring in the required learning. Clear behavioural standards were shared with students prior to any evaluation session so that they knew in advance how they were to be marked. Opportunities to improve their marks were provided, if students chose.
  • Developing a positive relationship with each student was important to you and so important to any adult learner. They need to know they are more than a student number and a source of money. During the triad practice you moved from group to group to observe, answer questions, encourage and praise. Your door was always open for private meetings with students. This allowed you to get to know what each one needed to stay motivated and working hard.
  • It also provided you with an opportunity to discover what students generally were finding difficult and thus prompted you to modify program content, where appropriate, to promote even more student success.
  • You provided the students with a variety of success options they could choose. Besides the structures built into the program, you gave up precious class time for me to present Study Skills, Time Management and Stress Management workshops. You regularly referred students to me for individual attention. Consequently, your student success rate was high.

I know that you will have built on these skills since last we worked together. I wish you every success, Dave.


Carol Matheson, B.A., M.Ed., CPPC, CRC

Elementary School Principal (ret’d), Halton Board of Education

sfa dsb1
ctc efrf
wfa dsb2


Top of Page