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The values that each member of the cohort promote, through teachings and conversations, truly lend themselves to creating diverse and inclusive classrooms where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and respected. 

—  Shona Luke

My time in the Urban Communities Cohort was nothing short of amazing. Little did I know that one seemingly small decision would change my life so much and set me up for success the way it has. It starts with the professors who are willing to go above and beyond to help you especially in your lowest moments. They create an atmosphere of inclusion while pushing you to discover who you are as an individual educator. The next best part of the cohort for me was the people that you meet. We are a very diverse group all with the common goal of helping others. That diversity helped me grow by learning the perspective of other people on the same path that I am. I am eternally grateful for the Urban Communities Cohort, I have made life long friendship with my peers and my profs and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to be pushed out of their comfort zone and grow as an educator.

~ Brandon Lowe

I came to the B.Ed program with several years experience teaching abroad, I was amazed by the unique opportunities and experiences offered by the Urban Communities Cohort. It introduced me to incredibly diverse school communities with unique needs, difficult challenges, and the most deserving students. Learning to plan, teach and assess with those students needs firmly in mind has changed the way I view education and has helped me become a more effective educator. In my job interviews for international schools, it became clear that Principals valued the skills, mindset and pedagogy I learned in the Urban Cohort. As I plan my lessons and classes for the coming school year, I am glad the Urban Communities Cohort prepared me as a teacher, but also as a lifelong learner. 

~ Peter Panacci, B.Ed: J/I History; Spec Ed 1, Teaching ELL 1, Elementary Teacher Sunway Iskandar

I remember getting a call from a student rep 2 years ago about the J/I program and about this thing about 2 cohort options. Question marks were flying around in my head but I still remember that the rep then said, if you want a close-knit family as you go through your next 2 years, the Urban Cohort is a good option. I am so lucky and so grateful that I chose the Urban Communities Cohort! I am quite a bit older than most everyone in the cohort as it took me a while first to realize that teaching is my calling and then to have enough money to go back to school. But honestly, I really have never met such a thoughtful, supportive, and caring group of people gathered in one place before! We had so much fun digging into big questions such as what it means to be truly inclusive, what is equity, how can we meet the needs of all students. And we did all this learning in style:) Also, all the KAHOOT! I can never forget how competitive we all got with our Kahoot! I know I made life-long friends who are going to be amazing colleagues no matter where we end up geographically. Linda and Shari are the epitome of what the Urban Cohort represents: a great sense of humour, true passion of teaching and learning, and amazing capacity to support us. All of us have different passions and different styles of teaching but I think what everyone in the Urban Cohort has is our capacity to see beyond what is clearly visible and reach out and empathize and help out either with our students or with each other. I went through some difficult patches but everyone was there to rally and offer support. I couldn’t have asked for a better fellowship than what I experienced with the Urban Cohort.
                                                                           Midori Fujita, 2021

Being a member of the Urban Communities Cohort was special and positively impactful. The faculty fostered an atmosphere that supported our professional growth in a way that was fun and memorable. Within our cohort, it felt easy to forge meaningful relationships with others, as we learned and practiced together in an environment that epitomized its aims. I believe our cohort’s emphasis on inclusivity and culturally-responsive pedagogy naturally enabled us to become a very close-knit group, equipped with valuable skills and mindsets for educating in diverse contexts. I am truly grateful that my B.Ed. was shaped by the UCC! I would recommend this cohort to any candidate who is especially interested in the importance of developing community and positive relationships.  

Jenn Dunham, July 2021

Becoming a member of the Urban Communities Cohort was one of the best experiences of my two years in Teachers Education. The UCC was a group of like-minded, kind, compassionate, supportive people who all shared a common hunger for social justice and equality. As a diverse group, we were able to offer and receive so many different perspectives that helped to shape our pedagogy heading into the classrooms. Our leaders fostered a sense of respect and safety within the group from day 1, which allowed us to feel comfortable sharing personal struggles, losses and wins. The UCC leaders were always there with a listening ear to help us through, what most of us would argue was the toughest year in education yet. They were our guiding lights, our cheerleaders and even our comedic relief. I am eternally grateful for the lens through which my education was framed, for the tough questions and conversations I was honoured to be a part of and for the friends- now colleagues- that will stay with me for the rest of my career.

Allie Snell, July 2021

The Urban Communities Cohort is a learning community of mentors and teacher candidates committed to building pedagogical partnerships with each and every student, fostering student agency, and integrating critical self-reflection into our teaching practice. The UCC cohort leaders are positive, supportive, active and present mentors. They design and facilitate meaningful, collaborative activities that ensure teacher candidates have the knowledge and skills to teach a variety of learners. 

Being part of this cohort was a transformative experience for me. My cohort leaders listened to me when I needed to vent, helped me problem solve, and celebrated my successes. I feel confident and excited to begin my teaching career, and I'm proud to call myself a UCC alum.

Monika Thakker

I couldn’t be happier to have chosen the Urban Communities Cohort for my time at uOttawa. The UCC is such an inclusive community; not only did the focus on the urban context allow us to share such deep and meaningful experiences with each other, but it also guided our education to becoming teachers with significant purpose and scope. Thank you, Linda, Shari, Agata and the whole UCC team!

 Gavin Atkins, J/I UCC: French as a Second Language

My time in the BEd program has been some of the most fortunate growth times for me. In many ways, it can be measured quantifiably, such as how two years ago, I knew a mere 4 education acronyms or abbreviations and now I know around 100, however I choose to see my learning as qualitatively conducted primarily with people. The folks in the UCC cohort have been supported, challenged, corrected, prepared, and cared for me in a way that fosters a chaotically positive learning environment. I feel prepared in practical and actionable ways, largely due to discussions which have opened my thinking and helped break down my biases.


I am proud of how my community has guided my learning and consistently inspired my personal and professional journey. I am sure my continued teaching experience will help shape me to be an even stronger caring educator, the UCC was just the perfect planting bed for my growth.

Veronica (Chinnick) Hiemstra, BEng, BEd, OCT

Being a member of the Urban Communities Cohort gave me a home away from home. Attending teachers college away from family and friends was a big step for me, but the professors in the cohort quickly made me feel like I made the right decision. The values that each member of the cohort promote, through teachings and conversations, truly lend themselves to creating diverse and inclusive classrooms where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and respected. These values were prominent in each class I had throughout teachers college and provided me with the skills set and inspiration to create and foster these values within my future classrooms in Ontario schools.

Shona Luke

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