Dr. Joelle Rodway grew up in Toronto, but has a strong familial connection to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Her father is from Badger and her mother is from Clarenville, which meant her childhood included many local traditions such as Jiggs’ dinner with the family on a Sunday night.
Since moving to St. John’s to join Memorial’s Faculty of Education a year ago, she says she’s been enjoying the size and layout of the city compared to Toronto.
“I can eat at a nice restaurant and drive 20 minutes to the beach, which is fantastic.”
‘Exchange of ideas’
Dr. Rodway’s office in the Education building on the St. John’s campus is the first indication of the image she wants to project: a professor who wants to have open conversations with her fellow faculty members and her students.
The desk is small, with her chair to its side instead of behind it. She says she prefers a more open layout to having a dividing piece of furniture in the middle of the room, as it would present her in a superior position to whoever else is in the room.
“I hated having a big desk in here,” she said. “I need to have an open space to encourage a more open exchange of ideas.”
After receiving her B.Ed. from the University of Alberta, she taught at the secondary level, giving her the perspective needed to understand the relationship between secondary and post-secondary education.
“The research side of my degree was capturing my attention and I rolled with that.”
Later, she finished her MA and her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies and Education in the University of Toronto. While her career in education has taken a turn to be more research-focused, it wasn’t always the plan. She says she assumed that she would become a principal once she finished her master’s degree.
“I eventually realized that the research side of my degree was capturing my attention and I rolled with that.”
Research and practice
Dr. Rodway has been working with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, which accounts for most of the secondary education institutions in the province.
“I have been interacting fairly regularly, trying to connect research and practice through a series of research-informed events,” said Dr. Rodway. “I also facilitated a workshop for early career teachers in December 2019 in partnership with the school district and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association.”
For Dr. Rodway, she says it doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a fellow professor or any other member of the community. She believes we all have something to offer each other.
“An open space inside a university where faculty and students can have informal conversations is essential to create a positive learning environment. The more interactions we create, the more knowledge is shared, which gives us diverse perspectives.”
Learn more about Dr. Rodway, including her research interests, here.