University of Calgary

Remembering Ethel King-Shaw

UToday HomeMarch 8, 2013

By Betty Rice

Ethel King-Shaw, who passed away on March 2, 2013, was awarded the Order of the University of Calgary in 2000. Photo courtesy of the King familyEthel King-Shaw, who passed away on March 2, 2013, was awarded the Order of the University of Calgary in 2000. Photo courtesy of the King family“The most important time in a teacher’s career is at the beginning. That’s when he or she needs the most support we can offer. And the same is true for the littlest students; they’re the ones who need our attention the most.”

With those words, Ethel King-Shaw summed up her philosophy about education and the importance of nurturing new learners. Her life-long passion for early years’ teaching and learning in literacy touched not only the children she herself taught over the years, but also the thousands who have benefitted from being taught by one of her many post-secondary students.

King-Shaw died last weekend at the age of 85. She left a legacy as a trailblazer at the University of Calgary that will be hard to surpass.

The first female professor at the University of Calgary actually began her career as a student in the Faculty of Education. She graduated in the class of 1949 from what was the first class of the Calgary Branch of the University of Alberta. She went to Iowa to earn her PhD in early childhood literacy and then returned to Alberta to teach.

Throughout her career, King-Shaw was a prominent and active member of the university community. She was the first advisor to women students, the first woman elected to the General Faculties Council, and in 2000, she was awarded the Order of the University of Calgary.

Ethel is pictured in August 1963 at the University of Iowa, where she received her PhD. Photo courtesy of the King FamilyEthel is pictured in August 1963 at the University of Iowa, where she received her PhD. Photo courtesy of the King Family“I can think of no better role model than Ethel King-Shaw for the Eyes High qualities of leadership, innovation, and inspired teaching and learning to which we aspire at the University of Calgary. Ethel King-Shaw was an impressive woman, a trail-blazer, and she has left a lasting legacy at this institution,” says Elizabeth Cannon, president, University of Calgary.

Recently, King-Shaw created an endowed scholarship to assist a graduate student working in early years’ literacy, and her family has suggested that memorial tributes may be made to the Ethel King-Shaw Doctoral Scholarship in Literacy (c/o University of Calgary Development Office, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alta.).

Just a week before her passing, King-Shaw was able to meet with the first recipient of that award, Carolyn Bjarveit.

“It was a moving experience to meet Dr. King-Shaw and to have an opportunity to speak to her and members of her family,” said Bjarveit. “Her passion and deep commitment to the care and education of young children, to the training of teachers and to ongoing research was evident when we spoke together.

“I was truly honored when she said, ‘I am passing the torch to you’.”

“Ethel King-Shaw once said to me, ‘Education has been with me my whole life’,” says Faculty of Education dean Dennis Sumara. “And now, through her generosity, her legacy will live on for years to come as our students benefit from her vision, wisdom and passion.”

View the full obituary.

 

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