Sheila Prins: A founding member of Camosun’s English department

Sheila Prins was hired in 1971 to teach in the newly formed English Department at Camosun College. Initially, she shared office space in the Young Building with two and sometimes three others. The Young Building office was also where colleague John Prins from Adult Basic Education dropped by to suggest going for coffee. That coffee date led to so much more. Sheila and John have been married for more than 40 years.

In the early 1980s the English Department moved into the Fisher Building. Around that time, Pat Floyd, then Director of Liberal and Applied Arts, suggested Sheila train to be a Facilitator for Instructional Skills Workshops (ISW), a new program within the B.C. college system. Through ISW Sheila met colleagues from all over Camosun as well as those from other colleges. She credits her years of involvement in ISW with widening her contacts with colleagues, and encouraging continued learning about learning, her own as well as her students’.

English & ISW Instructor Sheila Prins with husband and
ABE Instructor John Prins

The English Department’s final move was into single offices on the 3rd floor of the Paul Building. This hallway held echoes from Sheila’s student days at Victoria College when her English professors, with offices here, had encouraged her to pursue graduate studies.

Teaching during her later years was especially satisfying for Sheila because a small group – Gordon Alexander, Leslie Ashcroft, Barb Latham, and Sheila – collaborated to create common course outlines, assignments, and class activities.

Sheila with colleagues at her retirement in 2000
Back Row: Laurie Elmquist, Tim Chamberlain. Nigel Brooks, Joe Benge, Sheila Prins,
Jim Sexton, Gordon Alexander, Deanna Roozendaal
Front Row: Elizabeth West, Elizabeth Simpson, Debbie Gascoyne

Nowadays the advantages of a team approach for both instructors and students seem obvious, but at that time many teachers were protective of traditional academic independence. This collaboration required ongoing honest conversations about what worked or didn’t in classes. A favourite question was: “why are we doing…?” It was fun, and special friendships evolved.

Story submitted by Faye Ferguson, CCARE Retiree
Main cover photo courtesy of Ray St. Arnaud

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