Amanda Lamberti

Communications Specialist



Amanda began working at the Okanagan School of Education, UBC, in 2019. Previously she worked at the City of Kelowna where she was responsible  for developing strategic communications plan and delivering tactics for the Active Living and Culture Division as their Communications Advisor. Prior to that she was the Digital Communications Consultant where she one of the Project Managers for the City of Kelowna website redesign launched in 2016.

She has an Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate from Hootsuite Academy.

She was a volunteer English Teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from August 2013 to January 2014.


Corporate Communications, Media Relations, Social Media, and Marketing.


Our 2019 Doctoral Studies Outstanding Dissertation Award recipient is Donna Kozak with her dissertation on Parents with teachers re-authoring the home-school interface: a critical participatory action research study.

A familiar face around UBCO, Donna Kozak (or Dr. Donna Kozak we can officially say!) has been an adjunct professor co-teaching a literacy course for our Bachelor of Education students for seven years – and prior to that had been teaching a language and literacy course for our year one Elementary Teacher Education Program  (ETEP) students from 2008-2011.

In 2012, Donna was approached to develop a Central Okanagan School District/UBCO partnership to create a Learning Centre focused on language arts and literacy for the then ETEP – and now Bachelor of Education students. It may have been hard to believe back then that that partnership would lead her to inspiring change in parent-teacher partnerships. Her journey to pursuing her PhD through Interdisciplinary Studies at the Okanagan School of Education is one that she calls a “gift.”

When Donna began her PhD, her initial research sought to answer a question she had reflected on for nearly her entire three decade career.

“In all my years as a teacher, I wondered about how we position ourselves with parents as partners, because there’s the assumption that we’re partners in children’s education. So my wonder led to let’s figure out historically why parents and teachers, home and school, are positioned the way they are.”

Following the completion of her initial research, Donna asked herself, “Now that I understand why this relationship exists the way it does, could my research disrupt that? Could it suggest to the profession that there is another way for parents and teachers to interact and what it might take for that to happen.”

Thinking outside of the traditional research box, Donna engaged in critical participatory action research for her dissertation.

She approached teachers from Kindergarten to grade four and asked them to invite one or two parents per classroom during that academic year to join a committee. A total of twenty-five teachers and parents then co-created a learning community that met on five occasions over four months. Through guiding questions, they shared their stories, experiences, and knowledge which led them to better understand each other’s perspectives. Ultimately this transformative research experience had them disrupt how parent-teacher relationships have been historically and unquestioningly defined.

While reflecting on her experience, Donna remarked that her highlight was being true to participatory research by taking a step into the unknown and trusting the process.

“The unpredictability of it and how well it turned out. That was a highlight,” she says with a laugh and further explains that her theoretical framework was the concept of third space, where combined diverse voices resulted in a new hybrid form of knowledge. “Everyone brings a different perspective and out of that diversity, something new is born.”

She has two pieces of advice for prospective graduate students:

One, find a supervisor that really believes in you and supports you, and is on the same page as you.

“Know your people that are surrounding you. If your people aren’t aligned with you it can cause some heartache and problems. So surround yourself with people that really understand and support you and that you connect with. “

Two, have patience and be kind to your self.

“I really chunked the journey. There are definable steps that you take within the PhD program so I always took it one step a time and that was more manageable because to think of the overall big picture was really scary,” says Donna. “Find what works for you – a study schedule, setting short term goals and celebrating the goals when you’ve achieved them. It’s on your mind 24/7 so I found I worked best in chunks of time and gave myself a rest – or tried to give myself a rest.”

Donna crossed her last milestone off her list after she crossed the stage in June, 2019.

You can read her thesis on Parents with teachers re-authoring the home-school interface: a critical participatory action research study online.

Our 2019 Outstanding Master-Level Graduate Student Award recipient is Master of Arts student, Leslie Shayer. An award that’s not often bestowed, Leslie has gone above and beyond since joining us at the Okanagan School of Education (OSE). She is a Grad Student Representative, the Secretary for the Stress, Coping, and Resilience Special Interest Group in the American Educational Research Association, and is always a cheerful presence at events – helping out whenever she can.

In addition to her course-work, Leslie has worked on two funded projects with Dr. Karen Ragoonaden: one on Mindfulness and Indigenous Knowledges: Shared Narratives about Identity and Well-Being; and another on a research cluster studying Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-Being.

On top of all her recent work at the OSE, Leslie has been a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Okanagan College, Kelowna Campus since 2006.


Question and Answer Session with Leslie

What is your research project, and what stage are you at?

My thesis research considers the impact of contemplative (e.g., mindfulness) practices on math anxiety. We all know people who are made uncomfortable or anxious by math. I would like to support them to feel less uncomfortable, using different breathing, visualization and meditation techniques. If I can help anyone feel better about math to make learning easier, then that would be a great success.

I am hoping to begin my research in the fall, ethics pending. I have submitted my ethics applications to both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College. My committee has been formed and my proposal is complete. I will be working on the first few chapters of my thesis this summer.

Why did you choose that topic and what difference do you hope your research will make?

I’ve been teaching math, primarily at the post-secondary level, for almost twenty years. During that time, I have seen a lot of struggling students. I am hoping that this pilot project will offer ways to support students to achieve greater math success and no longer limit their career choices.

What did your research work with Karen Ragoonaden entail, and how has it influenced you?

During Mindfulness and Indigenous Knowledges: Shared Narratives about Identity and Well-Being, I had the opportunity to learn more about contemplative practices as well as Indigenous ways of knowing and being. To support Karen’s work, I performed qualitative analysis on four different surveys for her, something that I had never done before. Because of this work, I learned of the insights gained by considering written responses and searching for connecting themes. This is a concept that I previously overlooked by simply considering quantitative data, yet will use going forward.

The other project was also with Dr. Virginie Magnat and it related to a cluster studying Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-Being. Working as research assistant on this project was truly eye-opening. First of all, I was treated by all as a member of the team, despite only being a grad student. I had no expectation of such and felt truly flattered and included. I was exposed to numerous deep and informative discussions that still haunt my sleep. Though I continue to digest many thoughts, there is one that I may share. True wellness is not an individual thing, it is a community affair – something that we all need to work toward.

What advice do you have for future graduate students?

Dive in and participate as much as you can.  Try not to get frustrated when you think your readings are in a foreign language — you aren’t alone feeling this way. Take advantage of the supportive and engaging learning environment. Enjoy the journey!

Our 2019 Vicki Green Graduate Award and Doctoral Studies Outstanding Conference Presentation Award Recipient is Serveh Naghshbandi.

After working as a design practitioner and educator for several years, Serveh decided to pursue her second Master’s degree with a focus in education.

“I wanted to immerse myself in learning, exploration, deep conversations and challenge my assumptions,” says Serveh. There was no better time or place than the Okanagan School of Education as at the time Dr. Susan Crichton was developing Maker Days for educators – an ideal fit for Serveh, who wanted to view the concept of design from a different perspective. Her MA research was on how design thinking and making might be taken up in a K-12 curriculum.

After completing her Master’s she decided to go further and obtain a PhD.  “Sometimes life takes you somewhere that you ultimately realize that there was no better place where you could have chosen for your personal and professional improvement,” says Serveh.


Question and Answer Session with Serveh

What is your research project?

In my doctoral research, I am exploring a participatory approach to design learning spaces for doctoral education considering the distinguished characteristics of doctoral education in its changing time and the contemporary understandings of space in architecture.

The intention of my work is first of all to go back to the basics and to unravel what matters about learning space and its relation with learning. Second, the aim is to create a case for a collaborative design process where students are invited to the process of design which can provide a large set of ideas and opportunities.

What difference do you hope your research will make?

Space cannot be separated from its occupants; changing learning spaces for the better requires understanding students’ needs. Exploring students’ perceptions, experiences, and ideals on their learning spaces is critical to evaluate the excising spaces.

I hope my work will make students’ voice heard and help UBC Okanagan to act flexibly and creatively to adapt learning spaces based on students’ needs.

What advice do you have for future graduate students?

  1. Creating a good relationship with your supervisor and being a member of supportive communities can make a huge difference.

Pursuing a PhD is challenging, but rewarding and transformative. It is not only exploring a question through learning a topic at a deep level, but also learning how to deal with the unknown throughout the process. It might be confusing and messy and there are always new challenges around every corner – but it does not mean that you have to do it alone.

  1. Read constantly, write iteratively, get feedback, and keep track of your progress through any possible way that works for you.

Tracking has helped me to plan ahead and to look at the bigger picture of what I have done and what I have got left to do. Personally, I created a blog and documented all the process including meetings with my supervisor/committee, reading list, notes/sketches, conferences, papers, projects, courses, etc.

  1. Pause whenever you need.
  2. Last but not least, enjoy the process of learning.


Learn more about Serveh’s journey by reading: PhD student’s research looks at finding the problem, not just the solution, or review her Master’s thesis: Identifying secondary school teachers’ understandings and implementations of design thinking within a design-based research Approach.

Our 2019 Stephen Daniel Pope Graduate Award recipient is PhD candidate, Kelly Hanson.

Kelly Hanson is well-known around the Okanagan School of Education. She completed her Master of Arts in Education in 2014, and was a much loved Faculty Advisor for the last two years.

Question and Answer Session with Kelly

What is your research project and what stage are you in?

I am currently in the final drafting and rewriting stage of my dissertation — a self-study situated within the context of a current provincial curricular change. Supporting the curriculum plan is the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FNESC), a learning philosophy that offers nine descriptions of what learning is, what it supports, involves, recognizes, and embeds from a First Nation perspective.

My research shares how the principles were an opportunity for me to learn about First Peoples pedagogies and perspectives as central to the flourishing of all teachers and students, and to deepen my understanding of teacher education towards such an aim.

Why did you choose that topic and what difference do you hope your research will make?

As an educator, I hope my engagement with the First Peoples Principles of Learning will facilitate conversations about the B.C. curriculum that influence an unlearning of limiting ideologies and practices in schools. I hope it will support teachers to sit with the discomfort of that process in order to cultivate more inclusive and loving ways of being with one another.

What advice do you have for future graduate students?

I am a big advocate that teaching is a lifelong pursuit of meaning and learning. For me the trick is to:

  • Pay attention and be mindful.
  • Follow the small moments of curiosity, the moments that make you feel most alive, and the communities that make you feel supported. It doesn’t always take a massive effort.
  • Pause for an instant- breathe. Respond to what has caught your attention. Listen to your heart.
  • Share your insights with your community and be open to what comes back to you in return.


Learn more about Kelly and her research by reading her profile piece on Our Stories.


Stephen Daniel Pope Graduate Award

This award is offered by family in memory of Dr. Stephen Daniel Pope to a graduate student in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus. The student shows great promise in the field of education. Dr. Stephen Daniel Pope is remembered for his passion for education and his significant contributions to the public education system of British Columbia in the 1800s.

photo of Macintyre Latta

Margaret Macintyre Latta, Director of the Okanagan School of Education

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Margaret Macintyre Latta has been appointed Director of the Okanagan School of Education.

Macintyre Latta has served as the Interim Director since 2018 with the Okanagan School of Education and was formally the Director of Graduate Programs for more than four years.

She received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Lethbridge and her graduate degrees from the University of Calgary. She is a former classroom teacher at the elementary, junior high and high school levels. She began her post-secondary academic career as a Practicum Advisor and Professional Seminar Instructor at the University of Calgary in 1994, but spent most of her academic career at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, starting in 2000 as an Assistant Professor in the College of Education & Human Sciences and as a Faculty Affiliate with Women and Gender Studies.  Over the course of her education career, Macintyre Latta has published and presented extensively– demonstrating her scholarly commitment to teacher education, foregrounding the primacy of educators in the lives of students.

As Director of the Okanagan School of Education, Macintyre Latta envisions the development of a vibrant community of educators, across all phases of career growth, and from  multiple disciplines, interests, and contexts, invested in learning together. At the heart of the OSE programs is the notion of a Scholar-Practitioner—cultivating educator identities as students of learning.

We look forward to continuing to work with Macintyre Latta as she brings her leadership approach of “pedagogically leading from within” – strengthening a learning culture that is learner and learning-orientated, responsive to place, research informed, organizationally dynamic, and inherently relational.