Ontario Tech spotlight: Dr. Diana Petrarca, Faculty of Education

Keisha Deoraj


Introducing the wonderful, adventurous and passionate, Dr. Diana Petrarca

Q: How long have you been a part of the Faculty of Education?

I am a founding member of the faculty and university! I came initially on loan from the school board that I was working with on a secondment, but I'm still here today. 

Q: What is your current role in the Faculty of Education? What roles have you played throughout your time in the Faculty of Education?

I am an Associate Professor. I am currently the Bachelor of Education (BEd) Program Director and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs within Ontario Tech University's Faculty of Education

When I first started at the university, I was the Practicum Co-ordinator and I had five months to develop a practicum, write the practicum handbook and find practicum placements within eight different school boards. During this time, I also taught four courses! After serving as Practicum C-oordinator for three years, I moved to a teaching only position.  

After six months of working with Teacher Candidates in the BEd program, the founding Dean, Dr. Bill Hunter encouraged me to start my doctorate. So, I applied and flew out to Calgary to start my doctorate in July of 2004. After completing my doctorate, I took on a tenure track position and became an Assistant Professor, which then led to me to my role as Associate Professor. 

Q: What is your personal philosophy that guides you as an educator and faculty member?

Teachers can play such a significant role in the lives of K - 12 learners. As a teacher educator I am guided by the notion that the K - 12 students that my own students will eventually work with as educators, deserve the best possible educators. Those children and youth need teachers who are committed to and skilled in providing meaningful learning experiences to help these younger humans grow to their full potential.

2019-10-30 - Diana (16)

Q: What things about Ontario Tech U’s Faculty of Education set it apart for other Faculties of Education in Ontario?

I think our focus on how to infuse technology into instruction in meaningful ways is one of the things that sets us apart. I also think that because we are smaller, we are able to build relationships with our students and so we are able to gather lots of feedback to improve our own instruction and program. 

Another thing that sets us apart is our spring/summer semester that allows us to run the four semester BEd program within 16 months, rather than 24 months. Our students complete the program in December and if they have all of the required paperwork submitted to the Ontario College of Teachers, they can technically start teaching in January! Lastly, our instructors are deeply committed to our students. 

Q: What is the most enjoyable part of your position in the Faculty of Education? What is the most challenging?

The most enjoyable part of my position is working with students in both teaching and research capacities. I love that I am constantly learning. The most challenging for me is trying to balance my research with teaching and service when holding administrative roles such as Director or Assistant Dean.

Q: What are your hobbies and interests outside of the Faculty?

There is life outside academia? Kidding! I enjoy spending time with family and friends - they keep me grounded. I also love to travel, hike, run and spend time outside. 

Dr. Diana Petrarca, with her arms open over her head, in celebration of being in the outdoors.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to those considering Ontario Tech U’s Faculty of Education, what would it be?

Be open. Be open to learning in ways that may not be familiar to you. Be ready to confront your assumptions about teaching and learning because if you do not question and wonder about your assumptions, you may cling to ideas and practices that may not be in alignment with what we know about student learning.

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