- (past) President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) 13 years (2002-2015)
- (current) Chair of the Industry Training Authority (ITA) – BC skilled trades system – on the board since 2018
- (current) Chair of the Working Opportunity Fund-on the board since 2006, chair 3 years +
- (current) Deputy Speaker for council meetings of the Canadian Association of University Teachers
- (past) ABE instructor & education advisor at College of the Rockies 20 years
- + numerous other boards and advisory committees
I met Mary Shier many years ago in Fernie, BC, where we both ended up seeking a life filled with outdoor adventure and teaching career opportunities. I had moved to Fernie to teach at East Kootenay Community College, now called College of the Rockies, and ended up spending 20 years teaching Adult Basic Education in the community. Part of my duties included being an Educational Advisor assessing adult students who wanted to improve their educational prospects but really didn’t know how to get there. It was an amazing 20 years of my life introducing the joys and frustrations of learning to students, and it gave me the skills and impetus to expand my career into leadership by becoming President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC. I spent 16 years at FPSE, advocating for the educators in our system and our students as well. Good learning outcomes happen because all the pieces fit together, and when Mary asked me to write the foreword for her book, I didn’t hesitate.
I truly became a fan of Mary when she started teaching at College of the Rockies and we became colleagues. We were in crisis mode. A large resource industry in the local area had abruptly ceased operations and thousands of workers found themselves unemployed. Some ultimately went on to other jobs in the community, some moved out of the area for work, but many more needed to go “back to school.” The college was tasked with providing various educational opportunities to help the unemployed retrain and reskill.
As Educational Advisor, I conducted assessments on those who were now compelled to seek other work. It became apparent to me that a lot of remedial training was necessary; many did not have the literacy or numeracy skills to enter ABE. I particularly remember feeling rather despondent and wondering what we could do with them and how we could help them. That’s when Mary energetically said in no uncertain terms, “I’ll take them.” She meant it. She had a plan and she was going to help them succeed no matter what it took. She convinced us that her literacy program was the place for these students to learn the basics. She was right. Those students flourished under her tutelage and fairly quickly moved on to ABE. In the end, we experienced a zero attrition rate (previously unheard of) with the students going on to take further studies in everything from welding and small engine repair to X-ray technician and nursing. Mary was a huge part of those success stories.
Student Success is filled with Mary’s experience and knowledge over those 30-plus years. It is filled with practical advice for students who try to navigate all those wondrous moments that learning at the post-secondary level presents. From time management to financial planning to mental health and physical wellness, students and teachers will find advice and step-by-step strategies to smooth over the bumpy spots we all incur along the journey of our educational paths. She explains how to take good notes in class, how to be an active listener (including a check list!), how to mitigate test anxiety, how to follow a plan for success. The links to additional resources and research help to reinforce the strategies and provide students and educators alike with the ability to explore various topics in more depth if needed.
Mary wrote this book for a reason: she wanted to create a resource that would help students manage their own success, to give them agency over their future. In doing that, she also created a resource for educators, one that helps them recognize the value of taking time to truly engage with their students.
If you’re a student, read Student Success. If you’re an educator, read Student Success. I guarantee you will learn something.
Cindy Oliver BA(Hons), M.Ed