Redeemer’s School of Education

The History of a Faithful Program

Redeemer University’s school of education has grown from a once small partnership with another college, to a flourishing and competitive program; but how did it get here? 


Prior to 2003, there was an education program offered via a partnership with Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This combined program enabled Ontario students to complete their Calvin College education degree by taking specific courses at Redeemer.  The program was designed in an effort to give Ontario Christian teacher candidates  an avenue to study Christian education as there were no such programs available within Ontario. While the program provided teacher candidates with a Christian lense of viewing education, it was limited in its ability to prepare students to integrate the Ontario curriculum and laws. In September 1992, Redeemer added its own elementary education program to the combined program. Soon after this development, most Ontario education students at Redeemer opted to participate in the Redeemer program, ultimately resulting in the closure of the joint program with Calvin College soon after 1992. 2003 marked the year that Redeemer began to grant the B.Ed. and was accredited by the OCT. 

While Redeemer’s School of Education began officially this August, the Department of Education had existed for just under twenty year. In the last five years, the program has seen much growth in class size. In 2017, there were 26 incoming first year students. The following year, the class size had more than doubled with a total of 73 first year students. Dr. Terry Loerts, associate professor of education comments on the growth,


 “The program has become much more competitive, I believe partially due to the teaching shortage but also by word of mouth. During the interview process prospective students often share that they have heard good things about the program from other graduates and individuals in the teaching profession.” 


Whether it be the current demand for teachers or the testimonials of Redeemer BEd. alumni, the number of applicants has grown incrementally each year. In the last five years, there are approximately 140-205 applications completed per year. Regardless of the growth in applicants, faculty from the School of Education have capped the program at 60 incoming students per year. Associate professor of education and dean of education, Dr. Phil Teeuwsen explains the rationale behind capping the program, 


“We want to maintain our character of knowing our students. We like it when students can know us as full time faculty and we can know them. We thought if there were 30 Primary/Junior candidates and 30 Junior/Intermediate students, that would enable us to keep doing that.”


A BEd alumnus (2016) reflects on her time in the Education program at Redeemer, affirming the feeling of being known by her professors,  


“It was so beneficial how much care the faculty who supervised my placements showed. They were so supportive and encouraging when they came to visit during practicum. You knew that they cared for you and wanted you to succeed.”

Just as all the courses in the undergraduate degree programs at Redeemer are taught from a Christian perspective, specifically the Reformed Tradition, the courses taught within the Education program are no exception.  Since the Education program is a second degree program, there are many students who completed their undergraduate degrees at secular universities, with Redeemer serving as their first Christian education experience. While there are many students who apply to Redeemer because they identify with the Christian faith and want an education that will nurture their faith , there are some who are very open about their lack of a commitment to a faith. Teeuwsen affirms that while the Education program is rooted in the Christian faith, the school welcomes students of all faith practises, 


“ If students come here [Redeemer] and don’t claim the Christian faith for their own, we are very transparent about what we do and why we do it. We certainly welcome people of diverse backgrounds to join us, and we do.” 

Although the program welcomes students of various faith practises into the program, the sole mission of the Education program is not to win hearts for Christ but rather to provide teacher education through a Christian worldview. Teeuwsen elaborates, 

“Now, is our intention to witness? I think we do witness but our intention is really quality Christian teacher education, that is what we are called to do. Is that a witness to our students in the world? I think it can be, and it should be. However, our focus is on excellent teacher education for faithful practise in a whole number of different senses of that word, faithful.”

Even though the faculty’s mission isn’t to convert students to Christianity, there have been students who have admitted that the program has deepened their faith. Loerts recalls numerous emails and notes from past students who express their appreciation of the spiritual aspects of the program. One alumnus (2019) wrote, 

“Two things in particular that harnessed my attention were your love for the Lord and your passion for kingdom focused education. With regards to your heart for Christ, I deeply appreciated that devotions and prayer consistently were the foundation by which a class was laid. You boldly proclaimed the truth, earnestly desiring for God to touch and change our hearts. This affected us and changed our mindsets and hearts.”

For those who do not identify with the Christian faith, participating in the Education program at Redeemer still provides a unique and beneficial experience explains Tueewsen, 

“As a teacher of faith it helps you understand your students who are also of faith or are faithful in whatever way that is. A teacher education that actually pays attention to that part of who we are enables teachers to be respectful and helpful to the students that they meet in whatever setting they are in.”