Lakeland College faculty member wins international award

Learner success strategist, Karen Harris has won the 2020 Gold Award of Excellence from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP).

The WFCP held an online awards ceremony on November 27, where Harris won gold in the Student Support Services category, which had finalists from institutions in China and the United Kingdom. This particular category celebrates excellence in provision of services, which supports students throughout their college experience.

Winning the award was “surprising and humbling,” said Harris, adding that she shared the award with the students that she has worked with at Lakeland.

“Karen’s work with students is renowned throughout Lakeland. Rather than a cookie-cutter
approach, she pulls from her extensive tool kit of strategies and techniques to meet the needs of
students and help them succeed,” said Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, president and CEO of
Lakeland College. “I’m very proud of Karen and all she’s done for our students and thrilled that her
contributions are being recognized by the WFCP.”

Harris has worked in education for more than 35 years and taught at secondary schools in Lloydminster and Kitscoty before joining Lakeland College in 2015. She became their learner success strategist in 2017, where she has worked with nearly 1000 students in both individual and group sessions.

Karen Harris seen with a student on campus. Photo supplied.

“I love working with students and helping them identify who they are as learners. Learning is very
instinctual for each person. By knowing more about ourselves and how we react to situations, not
only does learning become easier, so too does life,” said Harris.

A common tool she uses to destress students and get them into the right mindset, is poi balls. This routine helps a condition called homolateral repatterning by getting the right and left hemispheres of the brain working more seamlessly together. In turn, this improves focus and concentration.

“I give the students different tools to use, but they’re the ones who do the work. With commitment, focus and effort, they’re often able to accomplish more academically than they ever thought possible,” said Harris.

She was nominated by the college’s chair of teaching, Michael Diachuk.

“I’m so impressed with the difference Karen makes in the lives of our students. Each student has a unique learning pattern, and through discussions and observations, she’s able to determine the person’s sensory style, learning style and personality type. She processes that information and then creates an individualized strategy to enhance their learning. That she’s often able to do this during one session is truly remarkable,” said Diachuk.

This year the WFCP received 113 award nominations from around the world and only four finalists were from Canada, making Harris the only Canadian to be a gold recipient this year.

The WFCP Awards of Excellence are given out every second year and in 2016, Lakeland received a bronze award for leadership development. They also won silver in the college-industry partnership category in 2014.

Lakeland College was established in 1913 and today serves more than 6,400 students each year at campuses in Vermilion and Lloydminster. They also offer online and off-site programs and courses.

Photos supplied by Lakeland College.

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