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Congratulations Rob Comeau on receiving the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Each year, City University of Seattle acknowledges the work of a few outstanding faculty members. We are thrilled to announce that Canada’s very own Rob Comeau was one of the recipients. The award recognizes faculty members for consistent performance and service to students. Rob will join several other Distinguished Faculty for a special recognition brunch prior to Commencement at 11:00am on Saturday, June 17th.

We asked several faculty colleagues along with thoughts contributed by students to write a few words that help capture what makes Rob Comeau such an outstanding faculty member and a deserving recipient of this years award. Here is what they said.

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Rob is a rock. Reliable. Solid. He has done more than perhaps anyone else to build and maintain the foundations of the CityU MEd Leadership in Education program. He played a central role in the development of the program. He has reliably ‘come through’ in fulfilling commitments despite occasions where circumstances made it challenging for him to do so.

Rob is an award-winning principal who has been honoured at local and national levels. In 2011 Rob was selected as one of 32 principals across Canada by the Learning Partnership to receive the National honour of “Canada’s Outstanding Principal Award.” Currently he is a member of the “National Academy of Outstanding Principals”, receiving in-service opportunities at the Rottman School of Business in Toronto each year.

His previous school, W. J. Mouat Secondary, was named one of the Top 10 Schools in Canada by Maclean’s Magazine. He led the creation of the Abbotsford’s first Virtual school and worked with the school district business company to help establish offshore schools in China and Korea.

He has played a key role in developing the Character Canada initiative and contributes in hosting the conference at his school, Abbotsford Senior Secondary. Character Canada is dedicated to the proposition that hen every person and organization teaches, models, and promotes good character, it will be reflected in our children, youth, and in every part of our community.

In the MEd Leadership in Education program he teaches Dimensions of Leadership, Finance, and Technology for School Leaders. There are few, if any, courses Rob could not teach in this program! He also oversees and helps mentor the students through their three internships.

Recently, Rob’s school was the site of a traumatic critical incident that had a huge impact on the school community. Not only was he first on scene, but he had to address the fallout and ramifications of this event over the next several days and weeks. When we contacted Rob a couple of days after the incident to ask if he’d like to postpone his next CityU leadership class, scheduled in just a few days, he replied, “No, I’d like to get back in the classroom. It will bring a bit of normal back into my life.” After that class, he reported: “I don’t think I was of much value that day.” But the students had an entirely different reaction. They claimed it was one of the most moving classes they had experienced during the program. He skillfully used the events as an opportunity for teaching about critical incident management and how a school leader has to work with all stakeholders in such a situation. He demonstrated both vulnerability and strength in the classroom, embodying the very concept of ‘emergent curriculum.’

On another recent occasion, despite a serious illness, he managed to complete teaching a course and getting the assessments of the students’ work done in a timely fashion.

Rob was teaching the school finance and budgeting course this past fall quarter. As an example of his entrepreneurial spirit, he contacted the company that created the budgeting software for the provincial school districts, asking if he could get copies of the program for the students. The company, convinced by the win-win situation that he presented (future administrators being able to use the software and also creating more ‘buy-in’ for the product), readily agreed. The students now have access to the software they would be using in the future, allowing them to map out various budgeting possibilities.

Rob teaches a course in educational technology for the leadership program. His former school was the first in the province to have a 3-D printer, and he ensures his schools have the best in educational technology (finding creative ways of funding and budgeting for this). His former school had partnered with Friends School Kimisinga in the town of Kimilili in Kenya. When the school required a new common house for students in which to eat, relax, and study, the students at Rob’s school used the 3-D printer to create a mock-up of the new building as part of the design process; several students later traveled to Kenya to participate with the students of that school in the construction of this building.