|Quarter Century Journey Inspires Ed Jernigan
Ed Jernigan was a young professor at the University of Waterloo when his mentor and past Chair of the Systems Design Engineering Department approached him about teaching at Shad Valley. It was the mid 1980’s and Shad Valley was just a fledgling program. Ed began as a math lecturer in 1984 and became program director in 1985.
Shad Valley was foundational in Ed’s teaching career. The program became a forum for him to experiment with different team-building techniques and instructional styles. He then integrated these into his teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level.
“The program was exciting because it gave me the opportunity to expand on my own ideas for teaching,” states Ed. “Shad Valley also brought in world-class lecturers from numerous disciplines, as well as industry leaders from many sectors. This introduction to different methods of teaching and areas of expertise broadened my perspective.”
Ed’s goal for Shad Valley was to provide participants (Shads) with experiences they didn’t have in high school, urging them to think outside the box. At the same time, they were enveloped in a supportive environment with adult role models, as well as other teens who were equally talented and motivated. That environment acted as an incubator for both academic and personal growth.
“What’s important to me is that Shads leave the program knowing they are capable of more than they thought they were before,” Ed states. “Shad Valley gives them a sense of their true potential and that the future is wide open. There are so many things that they can do and that life can be for them. They gain competence and confidence.”
The Shad Valley program acted as a magnet for students to attend the University of Waterloo. These students were also of the highest calibre. This track record in recruitment brought Ed new opportunities. He was able to take the model of Shad Valley and transform it into additional programs.
“I went to the Provost of the University in 2003,” Ed explains, “and told him how, out of 52 Millennium Scholars, 12 were in my Systems Design Engineering Department and, of those, seven were Shads. For such a small department, we had a high percentage of scholars. The Provost’s reaction was to tell me to start another new program. From that, Waterloo Unlimited was born and, later, the Bachelor of Knowledge Integration. The structure of both of these programs grew from Shad Valley.”
Waterloo Unlimited is a Shad-like experience that runs for one week during the school year for high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12. The approach is transdisciplinary and follows a theme, such as Vision or Design. The Bachelor of Knowledge Integration is a unique undergraduate degree where students take a multidisciplinary approach to their studies rather than focus on a core subject. Both programs are great adjuncts to Shad Valley.
Not only has Shad Valley permeated Ed’s professional life, but it has become a family affair. His daughter Amanda was a Shad Valley participant in 1996, while his daughter Carey was a program assistant in 2007. Plus, his son Ethan will be a program assistant this year. After that, we’ll see what the next quarter century has in store.