In her 41st year as an educator, Dr. Sharon McCoubrey happily accepts the honour of being named one of “50 People Who Made a Difference” at Okanagan College (OC).
On its website, OC lauds her dedication to the field of art education: “Sharon McCoubrey is a tremendous booster of the arts in the Central Okanagan through her various community initiatives, including the Lake Country's ArtWalk, which is the largest art show in B.C.’s interior.”
Accolades aside, McCoubrey’s focus has been and still remains to “pass on the love of learning to children.”
When she decided to study education, McCoubrey didn’t have the choice to study in the Okanagan. Having grown up in Kelowna and Lake Country, she was required to move to undertake her education studies.
Describing the growth of Okanagan College as a “logical evolution,” McCoubrey says OC brought the post-secondary to the students in the Okanagan. In the first year of offering education, “we had numerous mature students who hadn’t had the flexibility to go away.”
Celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, Okanagan College is an institutional body that has grown deep roots in the valley and hearts of the Okanagan—and beyond. McCoubrey began her journey with the college in 1989 when the Okanagan University College (OUC) became a degree-granting institution.
For the next 15 years, McCoubrey, in a team of talented professionals, began laying the groundwork for the college’s Faculty of Education. McCoubrey witnessed each stage of the faculty’s growth, including the transfer of OC’s second Kelowna campus to The University of British Columbia.
McCoubrey’s first position—as a teacher at Oyama Elementary School—soon became intertwined with the OUC. Her passion for post-secondary education began as a curriculum consultant, assisting the district office with fine arts.
“During those years, I thought if I could work at the pre-service stage it would give me a chance to prepare teachers,” she says.
Now in her 24th year at the post-secondary level, McCoubrey says her desire to continually prepare pre-service teachers and learn has influenced her journey as an educator.
“There is no question that the trends in education and curriculum changes through the decades,” she says. “The importance of flexibility and an open mind allows teachers the ability to change.”
“The study of education has evolved in the Okanagan valley—with the Okanagan College and The University of British Columbia at its centre. There are now multiple programs and multiple degrees offered.”
This year, UBC’s Okanagan campus celebrates the 25th anniversary of education in the Okanagan.
Dr. Sharon McCoubrey is the Coordinator of Community Engagement for the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus. She obtained her Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees from the University of Victoria and her doctorate degree from UBC, all in art education.
She’s received several Excellence in Art Education Awards, and has been presented with the Order of Lake Country for her work in Public Art, a BC Achievement Award, and the UBC Outstanding Faculty Award for excellence in professional and community work. McCoubrey is the recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.
McCoubrey's areas of research include many aspects of art education and public art, teacher education, intergenerational learning, early learning, arts and environmental sustainability.
She is Past-President of the Canadian Society for Education through Art and has been on the British Columbia Art Teachers' Association Executive for more than 20 years. She is currently President of the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan, serves on the UBC Okanagan Senate, Chairs the Lake Country Public Art Commission, is President of the Lake Country Art Gallery Society, and is in her 13th year as Chairperson of Lake Country ArtWalk Festival.
When possible, Sharon spends treasured time inher painting studio and in the peaceful gardens of her organic orchard in Lake Country, BC.