The Mystery Teacher Who Gave Him Confidence

Was his extraordinary success based on a lie? Author Michael Lewis reports on the story of a highly accomplished professor and former Bosnian refugee, who has a confession. He tricked his high school teacher into believing in him, using a stolen library book and fumbling through an English translation. But the search for the retired teacher yields new facts and a far more complex story. This American Life, Episode 504: “How I Got Into College” is a gripping story of teacher and student, how they understood and misunderstood each other, and the positive and not-so-positive outcomes of their encounter. (1 hour broadcast)

Nelson’s Vision

Over the years readers have enjoyed BCRTA member Nelson Winterburn’s extraordinary photography. We asked Nelson to tell us more about his journey with this craft.

Tell us about life before your retired.

I began teaching in 1968 and retired in 2002, 33 years of which were in District #48, Howe Sound Sea to Sky, Squamish area. Although I taught adult night school (GED) for a few years and one session of summer school to high schoolers, all my teaching experience was at the upper elementary grades that included 25 years teaching grade seven.

Prior to teaching, I served five years in the Royal Canadian Navy (1959-1964) and that is where my interest in photography began on a very casual basis. Since then, I have taken a few courses in photo work, but a lot of my ‘learning’ has taken place by reading photography magazines and online lessons. The best lessons were analysing my pictures and deciding how to improve.

What sort of equipment do you use?

My camera is a Nikon D-3200 DSLR and I alternate among three lenses: 18-55 mm, 55-300 mm, and this past June I purchased a 10-20 mm wide angle lens. In addition, I use a tripod and a favorite filter is a ‘star’ filter to capture sunsets (or moon shots). All my editing is performed on a Mac.

Nelson Winterburn

Do you have any favorite locations?

Squamish is a hotbed of photographic subjects and therefore a favourite location. I have the ocean with boats/ships; mountains with peaks, lakes, and rivers; buildings old and new, and animal life – seals, fish, and now whales; deer, bear, elk; and no shortage of avian subjects, my favourite being eagles.

However, I take my camera with me wherever I go as one ever knows when one might be by the ocean and catch sight of a pod of marauding orcas, travelling into Bella Coola and coming across a Grizzly sow with two cubs, (and also a black bear sow with two cubs a few km down the road!), or people at a music festival dancing to the music.

What do you hope to photograph in the future?

For my bucket list of photography, I want to get pictures of a bull moose with a full rack as well as a bull elk. Next, I would like to capture some of downtown Vancouver’s older buildings such as the Marine Building. If I won the lottery, I would be getting on a plane and going to the Yukon to get pictures of the Northern Lights and to Churchill to see the polar bears. I have been to South Africa and have wonderful memories of ‘shooting’ elephants, lions, giraffes, hyenas, hippos, and Rhinos. But I need to get to Australia and New Zealand!

Any favorite stories of adventure while getting a photo?

Just last night I met my daughter and family at Porteau Cove Provincial Park for dinner. While prepping, she happened to look up and saw — a pod of orcas swimming past the dock. Immediately, I grabbed my camera bag and started walking at a fast pace, all the while removing my small lens and hooking up my zoom lens. Below is one of the shots of the orcas. I have lived in Squamish nearly fifty years and have seen lots of seals, porpoises, and jumping fish, but this was a FIRST for me to actually see whales in Howe Sound.

What a great evening to be with my granddaughter and see a pod of orcas!! Who knew??

Always have your camera handy.

Any advice for wannabe photographers?

For anyone wanting to take up photography, start with a point and shoot. Eventually, you will want more from your efforts and that will be the time to explore a more complex camera.  The world is your oyster – and your subject matter.

Thanks, Nelson, for sharing these amazing images with us!

Gordon Smith Gallery Seeks Educators

Volunteer Opportunity: Gallery Attendant at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art

The Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art is seeking friendly, passionate people to provide front line greeting to our patrons. Our volunteers create a welcoming environment, engage the public with art in meaningful ways, and oversee the safety of the exhibition. Applicants should be reliable, possess an appreciation for the arts, and a willingness to learn. Volunteers receive ongoing training and are expected to remain well-versed in the exhibitions, activities, programs, and events. Criminal Record Check required (Gallery will provide paperwork).

The Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art is located at 2121 Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver and is home to the acclaimed Artists for Kids (AfK) Permanent Teaching Collection. The Gordon Smith Gallery is the first in Canada to be dedicated to young audiences.

How to apply: Please email in order to receive an application form, or visit our website:

AGM 2018

2018 BCRTA Conference and AGM

September 20 – September 22

Summary of Reports Now Available

Please also note this updated information:

BCRTA Positions for Election

President – 1 year term
1st VP – 1 year term
2nd VP – 1 year term

ACER-CART Rep – 2 year term
2 Directors (2 years) from outside the Lower Mainland & Fraser Valley Regions
2 Directors (2 years) from inside the Lower Mainland & Fraser Valley Regions

We also want to highlight that the Innovation and Strategic Planning Committee (ISPC) committee report was released to BCRTA members and branch executives back in May and can be found on the BCRTA website here.

Van Dusen Volunteer Opportunities

Education – School Program Leader

School Program Leaders engage K-4 students in interactive outdoor field trips at the Garden. Leaders work with small groups of children during 90-minute programs in the fall and spring, rain or shine. New leaders receive hands-on training in September and March, plus ample time to shadow experienced leaders before taking their own groups.


  • Lead 90-minute environmental education programs for groups of school children during fall and spring, rain or shine.
  • Facilitate a safe, fun, and high quality learning experience for students, teachers and chaperones
  • Conduct programs in accordance with stated educational objectives in content and style

Skills, Attitudes, Knowledge Required:

  • A love of nature and respect for the environment, with knowledge of ecology or gardening preferred
  • Previous experience working with children ages 5-12 is desirable
  • Confident and reliable communicator with children, volunteer team, and staff
  • Patient, positive, flexible, fun-loving, and willing to regularly reflect upon personal performance and skill development
  • Interested in ongoing training and education, both as conducted by VanDusen and independently
  • Comfortable standing, walking, and kneeling throughout the shift
  • Must pass a criminal record background check

Training and Orientation:

  • Orientation to VanDusen Garden and the roles volunteers play at the VBGA: September 10th (time to be determined)
  • Shadow Dates (chosen at training) – September 10th -17th, 2018
  • Role specific training in group management, interpretation skills, program content and teaching methodology will take place Monday September 10th – Friday September 14th from 9:30am-3:00pm each day. Note, we may be able to make alternate arrangements for suitable candidates who are unable to attend all training sessions.
  • There will also be ample time to shadow experienced leaders and co-teach before taking out own groups. Shadowing dates will be chosen during training.

Time Commitment:

  • One shift per week: 9:30am – 12pm or 12pm – 2:30pm weekdays Oct- Nov, and April-June. Plus, training in September and March as noted above
  • A minimum of one year commitment

Supervisory Relationships/liaison: Candidate will be supervised by, and liaise with, the School Programs Coordinator and the Director, Education.

Authority/Decision Making: Must be comfortable making decisions and problem solving with minimal supervision.

Volunteer Benefits:

  • An opportunity to inspire and educate children
  • Enhance teaching, and leadership skills
  • Opportunity to work with educational professionals in a well-respected non-profit
  • Contribute your time and talents in an impactful way for a worthwhile cause
  • Reference letter


Summer is Here

Why We Shouldn’t Retire From Our Mid-year Break

Do you remember that feeling as the last week of the school year approached? You could almost smell and taste the offerings of a summer break! Do you remember that feeling of exhaustion as the countdown took place to have exams finished and marked, reports cards written, and final year end activities concluded? That fatigue may have signified a good feeling, knowing that the effort and energy you expended had been rewarded by the progress of students moving on to another grade or a higher level of education. The fatigue may have been because even though you had worked so hard the support for your students was not there. You may have felt a sense of guilt that you should somehow have done more (but how?). You may have been angry that resources and time were in short supply.

But then came the final day of school. Chalk boards wiped clean, books put away, your desk and shelves tidied. You collected the classroom plants, stripped the walls of the past year decorations, and made your humble good-byes to the tired staff and administration. Rest, relaxation, sleep, family time, and chores of a more banal nature beckoned. What a sense of needed relief!

Now that we don’t live our lives by the bell, we as retirees may forget that uplifting sense of relaxation, that important act of “letting go”. The first day of summer break was a time of not having to dwell on the prospects of the future, or even the year ahead. It was time to step aside from the daily musings of what had worked well in the past and what needed to be rethought and improved. It was time to get away and find ourselves again.

It is important for retired educators to remember the benefits of the cycle of teaching. Let’s make sure that in July and August we take time to listen to the warm winds, to smell the flowers blooming in the gardens, to laugh and giggle with the children around us. It is the right time to slow down, breathe deeply, and let our minds wander into the daydreams of summer. It is time to soak up the sound of water lapping on the shore and gurgling down the creeks and streams. It is time to fall asleep on the hammock as we read a good book. When we worked we lived for the students that we taught but we also lived for the rejuvenation of summer; for the green of the trees, the cheerful colour of the blossoms of high season, the warm hugs of the air, the grace of blue skies and wispy clouds.

As we come to the end of another school year, the Well-being Committee of the BCRTA wishes you an uplifting, enjoyable, and relaxing season. We hope you are able to enjoy free time and the freedom of mind to let go and truly sense the beauty and peace that come with the breezes of summer.

Terry Green is chair of the BCRTA Wellness Committee.

Comox Valley Branch Renewed

The Comox Valley RTA Executive: (left to right) Treasurer Linda Wilkinson, Social Director Sylvia Dakin, President Devon Deputter,  Secretary Judy Berry
Absent: Members at large Barb Angell, Lynn Hodge and Joan Southern

A Fresh Start

Sterling Campbell, a director of the BCRTA, and zone representative for the North Central Island shares some exciting news from Comox: The Comox Valley Retired Teachers’ Association has been renewed!

The BCRTA has a significant history in the Comox Valley but, as sometimes happens, the local branch had experienced a low season in recent years.

Sterling reports, “Four years ago the former executive recommended that the branch be dissolved. I felt as Zone Director that it was time this year to revisit the establishment of the branch. I was fortunate to have the able assistance of fellow North Central Island zone director Stefan Cieslik. It is gratifying to be associated with such a dynamic executive who I’m sure will provide strong branch leadership.”

The Comox branch will provide a local hub for the several hundred BCRTA members who live in the Comox Valley.

Congratulations to the Comox branch and special thanks from the BCRTA to Sterling Campbell and Stefan Cieslik for their initiative and leadership on this project.

Canadian Medical Association Seniors Survey

The national body of retired teachers ACER-CART is notifying retired teachers across Canada about an online survey regarding Seniors Health Care, created by the Canadian Medical Association.

This survey asks a series of simple questions in order to understand the different dynamics that represent people’s experience with seniors care. It gives you as a citizen a chance to express how you feel about the health care system’s ability to adequately meet the seniors care needs that you and your family will have. Results from the survey will assist in the CMA’s advocacy for quality public health care.

Participate in the survey by visiting

Roger Wong

PostScript Magazine is pleased to introduce Dr. Roger Wong as a contributor. Roger’s deep knowledge, teaching skills and engaging manner make him a wonderful partner in the advancement of well-being for our members and for seniors in general.

Dr. Wong is Executive Associate Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia (UBC), a geriatrics specialist doctor, clinical professor of geriatric medicine, the 13th President of the Canadian Geriatrics Society, and a TEDx speaker. He is also the second Canadian – and the first UBC professor – to be selected by the British Geriatrics Society as a Trevor Howell Guest Lecturer, which recognizes eminent physicians or scientists with an international reputation. He tweets at @RogerWong10 and is recognized internationally as a thought leader in geriatrics, aging and medical education.

Here is Roger’s recent TEDx talk, “How to keep your elderly parents safe and in their home longer.”

MEDOC Adds More Coverage