ASPA Member Highlight – Lisa Krol, Bridging Class Coordinator, University of Saskatchewan Language Centre (USCL)

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Lisa Krol did her Bachelor of Arts at King’s College, Western University in 1992 and her Bachelor of Education through Queens University in 1993. She went on to do her Masters of Education in Special Education at the University of Saskatchewan in 2004. In 2002, Lisa joined the Language Centre and now works as the Bridging Class Coordinator.     

Lisa manages the Bridging Class designed for international students who have not met English proficiency. The Bridging Class enrolls students in a university course for credit while students finish their ESL studies. Her duties include teaching and administration work which includes establishing MOUs with direct entry colleges and coordinating courses with professors. The Bridging Class started in 2012. It is now a standard for the Language Centre and the students enrolled in this course are incredibly successful. The benefit of this course is that it immerses international students directly into a university class and this applied approach helps the students understand why what they are learning is so important.

Lisa has taught in the College of Education training other instructors to teach ESL. This included designing two full online classes in 2016 and 2017. Applying the knowledge that she learned from this experience, Lisa was asked to create online classes for the USLC during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the pandemic brought immense challenges to teachers everywhere, designing online language courses was doubly challenging. In the last 18 months, she wrote three classes for online delivery and is now discovering that there may be a new market for the continuance of such classes beyond the pandemic.

What Lisa likes best about her job is that it is the kind of job where every day is different. She admits, “It is hard to predict what will turn up. I have surprises and new challenges every day.” She is happy that she gets to work with international students who are incredibly appreciative. Lisa says that it is rewarding to see the development of international students as it is often much more pronounced than with other students. The difference in their language skills over just 10-12 weeks can be extraordinary. She adds, “I see this growth and it is very exciting and motivating.” What Lisa likes the most about working at the university is the amazing peer support group in her department. She is grateful for their camaraderie and support. Together they are constantly looking to improve course content and generate new ideas to improve the student experience.

Lisa’s motivation to give it her best in all that she does is her belief that she can make a difference. She takes great pride in creating new programming and hopes the groundwork will lead to more innovation. Lisa believes that her educational background, and in particular her Masters thesis work on special learning needs, has helped her in this position. Although international students are not special education students, the techniques have been found to be very effective in ESL work. 

Lisa has been an ASPA member since 2002. She was a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee from 2009-2011 as a sessional representative and she regularly communicated with ASPA what was happening at these meetings as ASPA had no representation on that committee. Her accolades over the years include the 2010 U of S Provost’s Award for Excellence in International Teaching, a CAUCE program award in 2017, and just recently the 2021 U of S Provost’s Award for Support of Teaching and Learning. What she values most about being an ASPA member is having clearly laid out job descriptions. With her job split into both Phase 1 and 2, it was critical to identify which duties were associated with which category and ASPA helped to move her into a fair compensation model.  

Lisa is grateful that her teaching job is supported by ASPA. Instructors have a unique job category, but because they are not faculty they would have fallen between the cracks if they weren’t incorporated into ASPA. She also acknowledges ASPA for helping work out reasonable teaching and prep hours across terms. ASPA supported the USLC teachers in the development of their work plan and recognizes time in lieu. This resulted in a win-win situation where the university gets quality work and teachers have a fair return on the extra time that they spend creating an enhanced student experience.

Lisa’s advice to all ASPA members is “Be open minded as there are so many things to get involved in across campus. Keep an eye out for opportunities that interest you as they may lead you in new directions. I was always interested in what other schools were doing. My teaching job morphed into more because others noticed my passions. Then it started to bubble up into something much bigger. Online learning is the wave of the future and it’s lead me into whole new realm. Don’t be hesitant to express your interest beyond your own department as who knows where it will lead.”

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