Amanda Lamberti

Communications Specialist

Office: EME3123


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 was 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, Student Engagement, Student Recruitment and Marketing.


The Okanagan School of Education will be closed for winter break starting on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, and will re-open on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

Application Dates and Deadlines

Bachelor of Education

If you are applying for September 2021 admission, the UBC Okanagan application deadline is Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Your supplemental application and references are due January 31. If you are applying to both UBC Vancouver and Okanagan, you must submit your supplemental application and references to each program. Visit the program page for more information.

Master of Arts in Education or Master of Education

If you are applying for September 2021 admission, the application deadline is January 31, 2021. For required documents and additional information, visit the program page.


Paulo Freire, image source: Wikipedia

Paulo Freire was a 20th-century Brazilian educator and philosopher, and strong advocate of critical pedagogy. He is known for his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1986), where he sought to empower the oppressed by helping them actualize their full humanization.

This study group aims to facilitate conversations about Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy. The main goal is to understand Freirian praxis through contemporary issues such as systemic racism, health education, diversity, and many others.

The first conversation will take place on Jan. 20, 2021. The purpose will be to discuss the idea of Critical Literacy connecting Freire’s principles to fundamental terms and definitions outlined by the anti-racism debate. We are going to have Freire and Macedo’s book Reading the Word and the World and How To Be an Anti-racist (Chapter 1) by Ibram X. Kendi.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. PST

The group is open to all UBC students and free to attend.

Join the group to receive the Zoom link and access to resources:

Questions? Contact Fabiano Camara at

Supported by the Centre for Mindful Engagement and the Office of the President

The Centre for Mindful Engagement, Indigenous Education UBC and the UBC Eminence Cluster of Research Excellence in Culture, Creativity, Health and Wellbeing are pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba, to speak at a virtual event on February 1, 2021.

The Medicine Wheel is a symbol used to represent wholeness, balance, and the natural cycles of life. It consists of a circle with four quadrants: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Emotions. In his presentation, Dr. Yellow Bird will discuss how our wellness can be improved by combining Indigenous and Western evidenced-based sciences into the Medicine Wheel to examine how decolonizing our mindfulness practices, movement, sleep, humour, collectivism, mild biogenetic stress, fasting, environment, genes, food, and beliefs can improve our wellness.

Monday, Feb. 1
3 to 4 p.m. PST

Register now

The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

About the Speaker

Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PhD, is Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is an enrolled member of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota, USA. He has held faculty and administrative appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, Humboldt State University, and North Dakota State University. His research focuses on the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization, ancestral health, intermittent fasting, Indigenous mindfulness, neurodecolonization, mindful decolonization, and the cultural significance of Rez dogs. He is the founder, director, and principal investigator of The Centre for Mindful Decolonization and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. He serves as a consultant, trainer, and senior advisor to several BIPOC mindfulness groups and organizations who are seeking to incorporate mindfulness practices, philosophies, and activities to Indigenize and decolonize western mindfulness approaches in order to address systemic racism and engage in structural change.

He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, research reports, and the co-editor of four books: For Indigenous Eyes Only: The Decolonization Handbook, 2005; For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook, 2012; Indigenous Social Work around the World: towards Culturally Relevant Education and Practice, 2008; and Decolonizing Social Work, 2013. Choice Magazine, selected Decolonizing Social Work as a 2014 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Choice Outstanding Titles are given extraordinary recognition by the academic community and are designated to be “the best of the best.” He is the co-author of two recent books,: A Sahnish (Arikara) Ethnobotany (2020), and Decolonizing Holistic Pathways Towards Integrative Healing in Social Work (2021). His most recent co-authored mindfulness article, Defunding Mindfulness: While We Sit on Our Cushions, Systemic Racism Runs Rampant (October, 2020), can be found at:


The English Foundation Program (EFP) joined the Okanagan School of Education in July 2020. The EFP is an innovative and credit-bearing program providing university admission to students who meet all the academic requirements for a wide range of UBCO undergraduate programs but do not yet meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard.

As the program coordinator, Amber McLeod is the main contact for students and staff within the EFP—assisting with questions, concerns, course updates, and student progress. She also teaches English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses in the program.

When COVID-19 (coronavirus) forced classes to go online in mid-March, EFP lecturers and teaching assistants worked tirelessly to transition the program to a new format that would meet the needs of their international students.

“March was an exceptionally stressful time for students,” says McLeod. “Many were trying to book last-minute international flights while still trying to complete their final course work and study for exams. During this current term, I have found that they are really trying to do it all, but due to the time differences and the challenges of working from their home environments, they are staying up too late or waking up before dawn, not sleeping enough, and missing assignment deadlines. Treating them with compassion is really key to overcoming this challenging time.”

McLeod, as well as the other lecturers and teaching assistants, have focused on being readily available for students, ensuring assignment tasks and deadlines are easily achievable.

“The first day of class I had so much stress about online learning, especially for English class, but the instructors for EAP really care about students,” says Saba Rahimi, Bachelor of Science student.

While the switch to online teaching and learning has changed classroom dynamics, there is one thing that remains the same—McLeod still lights up when she talks about her students. With her classes focusing on listening and speaking exercises, McLeod designs activities that vary from real-life activities to ones that involve more creative freedom and imagination.

“One recent activity was a mock job interview. We had students sign up for time slots that worked best for them, and myself and the teaching assistants asked them basic interview questions, like ‘can you tell me about a time you went above and beyond the call of duty?’ Students had told us previously what they wanted their future jobs to be, so we also asked them field related questions.”

Other activities included student pairs researching some of the new and innovative studies that were coming out of UBC, discussing their favourite superhero movie, and looking up information about diseases and vaccines.

It can be challenging to keep conversation flowing in an online environment. The results from a mid-term check-in showed that some students felt more comfortable speaking in the comfort of their home, whereas others would much prefer a face-to-face environment.

To help keep her students engaged, McLeod has adapted some of her in-person classroom techniques.

“I’ve found an effective way to keep group discussions going is to assign each person a role. For example, we have a questioner so when there is a lull or everyone has finished answering the question, the questioner comes up with another question. We have a note recorder, who takes down a few notes, and can give me a quick summary when I jump into the breakout room. We also have a moderator, whose job is to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to speak and share their opinion—so no one is dominating the conversation. And one really important role is the cheerleader. In this role, students learn to acknowledge and use active listening skills to say things like ‘Great job, thanks for sharing, or that’s a good point.’

After the first discussion class, McLeod had several students tell her that was the best discussion time they’ve had yet, with students speaking more for a longer period.

“I have learned a lot of useful knowledge from EAP103, which has laid a foundation for my college life. The lecturers are respectful, and they will consider every students’ feeling in the class. If I don’t understand some points in class, they are willing to spend time explaining them to me after class,” says Yiwen He, Bachelor of Science student. “Thanks to my teachers’ efforts, we have learned a lot and changed a lot in this semester.”

While McLeod enjoys creating warm-up questions, providing vocabulary activities, and practicing pronunciation with her students, it is comments like these that highlight her favourite classroom moments.

“Hearing their feedback just warms my heart so much,” says McLeod with a smile. “I have a lot of fun in class, but getting to know them and getting them to feel comfortable speaking is what I find so very rewarding.”


The choir project was part of our Music in Education class within EDUC 431: Developing a Pedagogical Stance, and stars our Bachelor of Education teacher candidates.

“I wanted to find a way, in COVID times, to have our candidates feel what it is like to be a part of a ‘whole’ – and to experience that the whole is sometimes greater than the sum of its parts,” says Rhonda Draper, OSE Adjunct Professor.

Well done to our candidates and Rhonda Draper! Thank you to Frances Chiasson for putting the final product together.

Lindsay Ellis (left) and Candace Sharko (right)

The relationship between a teacher intern and their mentor can be an exceptionally transformative learning experience. Mentors play a vital role in our teacher education program as they help to guide interns’ learning and influence their identity as future teachers. Interns can bring new energy, ideas and practices to a classroom.

At Okanagan Mission Secondary School (OKM), Lindsay Ellis, intern, and Candace Sharko, mentor, have a great working relationship – that perhaps stems from some common traits, professional goals, and shared beliefs in promoting equity and inclusion in the classroom.

After Ellis earned her Bachelor and Masters in Exercise Physiology, she left academia to become a nanny for three wonderful children.

“I was coming home really excited and happy, even though I was exhausted, and I realized that this was probably the most worthwhile work I’d ever done – helping to raise these three kids – and I thought maybe I should listen to everyone who had said I should be a teacher,” says Ellis with a laugh. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher or be teaching in some way. I think that some of the most powerful relationships I’ve had have been with teachers or people who have taught me things.”

For Sharko, the path to becoming a teacher was also centered around helping.

“I always knew I wanted to work with people and to help in some capacity. I was deciding between nursing and teaching while pursuing my sciences degree, and I found I was thinking of some of the teachers I had, like my calculus teacher, who helped me almost every morning. I realized how much easier it was for me in university because that teacher had helped me through that class,” says Sharko as she reflects on her career inspiration. “And I like working with kids.”

Prior to the start of the school year, the pair meet over Zoom to talk about rules, responsibilities, expectations and roles in the classroom as they prepared to teach Life Sciences 11 and Fitness.

“We talked about what my role would be during unit one, two and three so we knew what the plan was when I started,” says Ellis. “I liked that there were no surprises in that aspect and it allowed me time to think, soak things in and test out some things before going full throttle with teaching.”

Ellis and Sharko followed a gradual release model; meaning Sharko taught unit one and Ellis helped when needed, unit two followed a co-teaching model (50/50) and unit three is when Ellis took the lead.

Their energy is practically electric as they divulge into the lessons they planned together, the classes they taught and their establishment of their reciprocal relationship.

“We know that there are so many different learning styles in our class, so we try to make sure that we’re connecting with all the students and giving them variety too,” says Sharko, describing lesson design. “I really appreciate working with Lindsay because there are all these ideas floating around, and we’re building on them and coming up with something that works in the classroom. I’ll have an idea for a unit and then Lindsay will add a theme to it, and it’ll be a direction I wouldn’t have thought of.”

One example of a new direction took place during Life Sciences 11. Inspired by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) Science textbook, introduced by Okanagan School of Education lecturer Desiree Marshall-Peer, and a connection to Kevin Kaiser, Resource Teacher/Consultant for School District 23 through Melissa Madden, OKM Indigenous Advocate, Ellis created a unit on marine invertebrates; the role of community in Ellis’ teaching philosophy becoming ever evident.

“I worked really hard to find natural connections so that the teachings were seamless and authentic. Typically in Science, when we were talk about the classification of organisms we’re used to using taxonomy or phylogenetic trees,” says Ellis. “But Indigenous peoples look at classification in terms of life, connectedness and reciprocal relationships. For example, some organisms may be used for food, and others may have a role in clothing and shelter.”

Kaiser came into her Life Sciences 11 class to talk about the classification of life and how it is viewed through the Indigenous lens. Speaking enthusiastically and warmly of his visit, Ellis and Sharko reminisce about how great it was to incorporate an authentic voice in the classroom.

In addition to her Life Sciences 11 class, Ellis was teaching Fitness.

“Candace has crafted this really wonderful fitness class wherein she encourages students to take ownership of their mental and physical well-being,” says Ellis. “When I invited Kaiser back to our Physical Fitness class, I felt it linked really well to what Candace had already set the stage for, and encouraged students to think about their health through a holistic lens.”

Kaiser talked about the community-based approach to mindfulness and well-being in Indigenous culture – using the example of making dip nets for fishing out of milkweed. He then taught the class how they make the nets.

“It was an informal, super powerful teaching moment,” says Ellis with a smile.

The students stood in a circle and worked on making their rope, while having conversations about the traditional roles, like how one person would harvest the milkweed, or how some may tear it or twist it. They talked about while some people like a certain role of this process, they may not be fond of another; the focus of this lesson was trying something new, and giving the students another opportunity to see that mindfulness looks different for everyone.

Ellis’s desire for trying new things and her passion for connecting Indigenous knowledge and practice is very much rooted in her teaching identity.

“The most important pieces of my teaching are the promotion of equity and inclusion,” says Ellis. “I find it really important for all students to see themselves reflected in their learning.”

While this internship may not have been the one she expected to have when she started her Bachelor of Education program in September 2019, she’s had some exceptional learning opportunities.

“One of the most powerful things I’ve learned is how important it is to be real with your students. I am an out, gay woman to my students and openly and enthusiastically talk about my wife, my cat, my hobbies and quirks,” states Ellis, who goes by Ms. Lindsay in the classroom – a name and pronoun that reflect her convictions about the role of teachers as co-learners. “I feel it’s important for all students to see strong, positive, female role models.”

Ellis shares that by being “authentically Ms. Lindsay,” she hopes she lights the way for other students who may be exploring their identities.

It’s not only Ellis who has had some impactful learning moments. Several years ago, Sharko established an introductory form to help her students communicate with her, and after having Ellis as an intern, her confidence in her methods has increased.

“Lindsay is really passionate about what she does, and she has this inclusive being about her,” says Sharko. “Before being paired with Lindsay, I was working within the scope of what I knew and felt comfortable with. For example, with the pronouns, I had my form, but I wasn’t confident in how I was introducing it to students. Sometimes students would ask me why I’m doing this, and I’d say we’re trying to be as inclusive as possible or I’m trying to hear from everybody. In watching Lindsay introduce it, I realized while I need to practice my wording, I’m absolutely doing the right thing. I want to make all my kids feel included, and by including these small things, like asking my students their preferred pronoun, we can.”

An educator, artist, story-teller, author and the newest Okanagan School of Education faculty member – Bill Cohen.

Since he was a young child, Cohen was often asked to draw various things for community members, like team logos or cartoons for little kids.  His skill set has expanded over the years to include painting and carving. He draws his inspiration from the natural world around him and family and community stories.

He has also illustrated a number of books over the years, and recently illustrated a new book written by Harron Hall, from the Syilx & Nla’kapamuc Nations.


Question and Answer Session with Bill Cohen

How has your passion for art developed over the years?

I’ve always enjoyed being creative – whether that was drawing or carving. I would say that I have been a community artist since I was a teenager.

In our community, our grave markers are made from pitch pine tops, and names, dates and imagery to honour the deceased are carved into the wood. Pitch tops are really infused with pitch, so they can last a hundred years or more (if there are no natural disasters like a fire). The first grave marker I carved was for my grandmother – I was 15, and I’ve been doing that all my life. There are many artists in the Interior Salish communities: including painters, carvers, weavers, cooks, musicians, writers and storytellers.

Just out of high-school, I apprenticed as a commercial artist. I learned to design and paint signs and logos for businesses and community, and I silkscreened.

When I decided to go to post-secondary, I went with the intent of becoming an artist. After taking some classes, I found I was enjoying the academic side more than I was enjoying the art classes. I decided to change my career path, but still continue as a community artist.


What project stands out the most to you?

The first book I illustrated was for the late Dr. Ellen White/ Kwulasulwut, a very highly regarded Coast Salish cultural knowledge, legal expert, activist, and renowned storyteller, fluent in Coast Salish traditions and languages. She received many awards and distinctions, including the Order of Canada for her work.

I was a young Okanagan artist from the interior, a non-West Coast artist, and here I was illustrating these Coast Salish stories. I researched all I could and looked to be very respectful in not appropriating, but instead trying to be inspired by and connected with the stories.

I didn’t interact with White throughout the production of the book and was worried if she didn’t like them, but I happened to run into her daughter at an event. She said to me, ‘Oh you’re Bill! You illustrated my mom’s book. She loved your illustrations!’

I had been nervous about whether or not she liked them, so I was really happy to hear that. I knew I had done my best, but hearing that feedback was really rewarding.


Can you tell me about this latest book you’ve illustrated?

Harron Hall is a young author who has produced a series of four books of stories informed by our traditional story system, captikwł, but are written for today’s kids.

kwu?c’?xw?ntim t?l stunx isck’wuls / Lessons From Beaver’s Work, is about a rancher who is having a conflict with stunx/beaver making dams on his property. He wants to knock the dams down so that the flooding doesn’t mess up his irrigation. The rancher connects and communicates with the stunx and they go on an adventure together. In the end, he develops a more appreciative and reciprocal relationship with the stunx. It is a transformative story in terms of ecological knowledge and shifting the relationship from one that is exploitative towards the natural world – the plants, animals and water – to one that is much more appreciative and reciprocal.


What was the creative process like for the book?

The book was a project connected to the En’owkin Centre, and was very interactive.

Hall would send me drafts, and I would do a few preliminary sketches. We met periodically with a group of cultural knowledge experts. We all wanted to ensure that the illustrations corresponded to our traditional storytelling imagery and relationships.

I had a number of meetings with Hall and Jeannette Armstrong (Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, UBC Okanagan), and experts from the community where we would critique the illustrations to make tweaks and changes. It was a really good creative, collaborative and reflective process.


Learn more about the book at


We are now seeking Summer Institute in Education course instructor proposals; focus areas include Anti-racism, French, Math, Science, American Sign Language and Classroom Management.


Applications are due by end of day Thursday, Dec. 10.

Selected instructors will be notified by mid-January.

Applicants interested in being notified of future SIE instruction opportunities are encouraged to subscribe to our SIE instructor proposal list.

All courses are subject to minimum enrolment. 

This event has now passed, you can watch the webinar on our YouTube channel.

The Center for Mindful Engagement is hosting a book launch for Dr. Virginie Magnat, and an Eminence Cluster of Research Webinar on Culture, Creativity and Health.

Thursday, Dec. 3
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PST
Via Zoom


Cluster Activities Webinar

This presentation focuses on projects developed by members of the UBC funded “Culture, Creativity, Health and Wellbeing” Research Cluster. These projects honour diverse forms of knowledge and experiences; promote intergenerational and cross-cultural community connectivity; and valorize the contributions of those who have traditionally been marginalized or excluded from health-related arts-based qualitative research.

Hosted by Karen Ragoonden, Director, Centre for Mindful Engagement


Virginie Magnat, PhD
Associate Professor, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, UBCO

Vicki Kelly, PhD
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University

Nathalie Gauthard, PhD
Professor, Department of Performance Studies, University of Artois


The Performative Power of Vocality, Dr. Virginie Magnat

Addressed to qualitative researchers, artist-scholars, and activists committed to decolonization, cultural revitalization, and social justice, The Performative Power of Vocality (Routledge 2020) asks how experiencing resonance as relationality and reciprocity might strengthen relationship to our community and our natural environment, enhance health and well-being, reconnect us to our cultural heritage, and foster intercultural understanding and social justice. I consider vocality from the multiplicity of perspectives offered by Indigenous and Western philosophy, sound and voice studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, performance studies, anthropology, sociology, phenomenology, cognitive science, physics, ecology, and biomedicine.

Learn more

The Field Advisor position plays a vital role in supporting the success of our teacher candidates. A primary task entails being part of a team charged with facilitating connections among teacher candidates, practicing teachers, faculty, and community partners, purposefully bringing theory and practice together to enlarge and deepen professional knowledge.

Qualifications: Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline. Master-level degree in Education is strongly preferred. Minimum of three to four years of related experience or the equivalent combination of education and experience. Minimum four years of relevant classroom practice/experience. Preference will be given to applicants with instructional leadership experience in school settings. Educators interested in a multi-faceted role within the Bachelor of Education program are invited to apply. Off-campus work will take place within clusters of schools in the follow schools districts: SD 83- North Okanagan/Shuswap, SD 22: Vernon, SD 23: Central Okanagan, and SD 67- Okanagan/Skaha. Specific terms of professional leaves from school districts are the sole responsibility of applicants and will need to be arranged with districts on a case-by-case basis.

Learn more and apply at

Deadline to apply is November 16.