By: Emily Cook, EDC Staff Writer

Whether it’s building up leaders to support other students, or developing new programs to encourage student learning, Rachelle Thibodeau is part of it all.

“Knowing how learning works is such a transferrable knowledge base that you can take with you into every situation,” she says.

The Coordinator of Academic Support Programs in the Centre for Initiatives in Education (CIE), Thibodeau is the inaugural winner of Carleton’s Excellence in Learning Support Award. The new award recognizes educational support staff members who positively impact student learning. Thibodeau, who has worked at Carleton since the late 1990’s, shows how deep that impact can go.

Students and colleagues developed a nomination package that highlighted her professionalism, leadership and creativity, expressing that CIE’s programs wouldn’t be the same without her contributions and infectious enthusiasm.

Thibodeau recruits, hires and trains workshop facilitators to support students in the Enriched Support Program (ESP) and the Aboriginal Enriched Support Program (AESP). She says it’s about much more than helping struggling students.

“I do my best to hire people who are really going to see this as a learning experience, and really be open to developing their skills,” she says.

Thibodeau says she loves teaching facilitators about the process of learning because self-reflection makes them better teachers and stronger students.

“I think that’s something really important that facilitators can take with them into whatever field that they eventually end up working in,” she says.

Thibodeau also developed Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), a program open to all students for learning support. The program grew and evolved to become part of the broader student support system.

Now, Thibodeau says she’s excited to be working on a new project that involves a partnership with scholars in the U.S. to pilot new methods of support that have their origins in social work.

Collaboration is a key element to her work, and Thibodeau says she always shares her ideas with anyone who would find them useful.

“We’re all working towards the same goal, which is helping to support students. So if I have an idea … I’m going to share it with somebody else who will probably take it in a better direction that I could learn from.”