Instructor Biographies

Rowland Amos

Rowland served as a Church organist and music director for over 50 years before retiring in 2020 and is currently Minister of Music at St Thomas Anglican Church, Chilliwack. Rowland also taught Band/Choir and French in several local public schools, including the Fraser Valley Distance Education School.

He holds McGill, Western Washington, and Indiana degrees aand has completed post-graduate studies at Gonzaga, Boston, and Simon Fraser. Rowland is married with three adult children and nine grandchildren.

Dr. Michael Corman

Dr. Michael Corman is an Associate Professor in the School of Culture, Media, & Society at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).

Prior to coming to UFV, Dr. Corman held teaching/research positions in other parts of Canada, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Corman’s research has appeared in Perspectives on Medical Education, Social Theory & Health, Symbolic Interaction, The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Qualitative Health Research, the International Journal of Educational Research, Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, and the International Journal of Social Sciences.

Furthermore, he has recently published a book through the University of Toronto Press entitled, Paramedics on and off the streets: Emergency medical services in the age of technological governance.

Debbie Coté

Debbie is back by popular demand instructing beginners knitting at ElderCollege.

Debbie Coté has been a knitting, crochet and cross-stitch teacher for her yarn shop for over 16 years. She has taught knitting for 30 years to Girl Guides and other groups. She regularly presents at large craft shows as well!

Debbie brings experience, knowledge and a fun attitude to class and can offer tips and tricks to everyone for a perfectly completed project.

She is very busy with her 3 children AND owns Aunt Debbie’s Knit and Stitch Shop in Chilliwack

Marlene Dance

Marlene started researching her family in the summer of 1971 when her widowed mother announced that she was moving to England and marrying a first cousin. She learned that her mother’s father was one of 14 children and there were about 23 first cousins in England. This opened a whole new world.

About the same time Marlene’s Mother-in-law told stories of the exciting ancestors on that side of the family including British Home children, WW1 soldiers and a few Loyalists. Then there was her grandmother who walked home and got lost in a blizzard in northern Alberta and almost froze to death and a grandmother who traveled to South Africa in 1900 as a nurse’s aide to a doctor.

Then there was the horse racing great grandfather in England, then there was the grandfather who served in the Boer War, then there was……….. well, you get the picture.

If all this doesn’t pique your interest in your family – you wouldn’t be here.
Every family has stories, some talked about and some hidden – some are true but have never been told. Marlene wants to help you use all the tools available to open the world of research into your family tree.

Martine Dekker – Chilliwack Academy of Music

Martine graduated from ArtEz Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Zwolle, with a degree in Music Education. She has been teaching piano, voice, band, choir and early childhood music classes in BC since 2007.

She loves teaching music and is committed to creating a positive environment that is stimulating, encouraging and supportive for all participants.

Mary Demers – Chilliwack Academy of Music

Mary Demers is an accomplished harpist and gifted teacher with a wealth of experience. Born in Sligo, Ireland, she began her lifelong passion for music, playing piano at the age of five and then taking up the harp at the age of eleven.

After winning scholarships from the Irish Academy of Music, where she completed all the harp exams, there was no teacher’s certification in those days, she moved on to study with world-renowned harpist Marisa Robles in London and Astrid Von Wurlitzer in New York, where she joined him in concert at Lincoln Center.

Mary’s musical career began in Ireland as a featured singer and harpist with the famous Bunratty Castle Singers. Her talent and love for music have since allowed her to perform in a variety of settings, captivating audiences from the White House and Lincoln Center to small-town music halls and festivals. She has performed in orchestras, radio, and television and played for heads of state in Canada, the United States, Ireland and Japan.

Mary has also released a number of recordings and has received glowing reviews for her live performances. Recently, she sailed with Azamara Cruise Line, as she played her harp from the Mediterranean to South America, Antarctica and back.

Dr. Mark Evered

Dr. Mark Evered (BSc, PhD) recently retired as President of the University of the Fraser Valley.

He has held teaching, research and administrative positions at universities in Ontario, Saskatchewan and BC as well as Cambridge University and the University of Melbourne.

His research in neurophysiology, body fluids and cardiovascular regulation has been published in national and international journals, including Science and Nature, and presented at conferences worldwide.

He has received numerous awards for his academic service including a number of teaching awards, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, an honorary University Presidency in China and an honorary Stó:lō First Nations name, Al’aliyatel.

Victor Froese

Victor’s interest in photography goes back to his high school days at Chilliwack Senior Secondary School when he was on the executive of the Photography Club which produced photos for the school Annual. Through the school’s darkroom and camera equipment he learned the basics.

After high school he attended UBC where he earned his teaching credentials. His first teaching position was in a Chilliwack school where he passed his photography interest on to his elementary grade students. The staff washroom also served as a dark room for developing film and making prints much to the chagrin of his fellow teachers.

One thing led to another, and Victor returned to graduate school, and having earned an M.Ed. and Ph.D. degree, then began his university level teaching, when he soon discovered his photographic skills were valuable in his book publications and web page development. This made possible the acquisition of more advanced equipment and required the how-to learning of digital photography and computer processing.

Upon retirement from UBC (in 1999) he was able to give more time to honing his photographic interests and pursuits. Since his wife was interested in flower arranging and design, he photographed floral arrangements which drew the attention of the publisher of the Floral Design Magazine (based in New Zealand). Soon he was contributing articles regularly together with his wife, Sandra. About a decade ago he was invited to become the Western Canadian correspondent for the magazine as well as to contribute cover designs for consideration (8 or 9 have been published to date).

Since flower-arranging is an international interest, Victor is a member of the Chilliwack Floral Art Club. He has entered at least half a dozen annual Photographic Competitions sponsored by the National Association of Flower Arrangement Society in England and was awarded Best In Show twice for his photographs.

Although his niche is floral art photography, his interests are far ranging. He sees the beauty in nature as well as in human creation and tries to present what he sees in a form accessible to the viewer.

Pat Gerlach

Pat Gerlach loves the surprises of painting with watercolour, but she also enjoys other mediums such as acrylic, pastel, pencil, pen and ink, and large-scale mural painting.

Besides painting, she has worked with cedar bark baskets and stained glass. Her work is varied and has been shown at galleries and museums in British Columbia and Alberta. Currently Pat is loving teaching art classes to children and adults in the Fraser Valley.

Colleen Gingerich

Colleen has enjoyed teaching ElderCollege classes sporadically for the past 20 years. Lifelong learning is one of her passions.

She has been in education most of her life — first as a student, then as a high school teacher and has recently retired from her position as an Associate Professor in the Computer Information Systems Department of UFV. Colleen also enjoys kayaking, gardening, and reading.

Elizabeth Grimaldi & Fresh Impressions Catering

Fresh Impressions Catering is the fruition of a Provincial Red Sealed Chef putting her head, heart and hands together to provide the Fraser Valley with food prepared with craftsmanship and charisma.  The concept of Fresh Impressions Catering refers to “a play on words”.  Your “Fresh Impression” is a fresh new look and the resulting impressions that happily linger.

Fresh Impressions Catering is the fresh, local and distinct choice when planning any function. Whether it be a corporate event, special occasion, wedding, family gathering, business meeting or private dinner in your home.  The goal of Fresh Impressions Catering is to continue it’s solid reputation in the culinary field.  Fresh Impressions Catering consistently provides the highest standard of exceptional quality food.  Menus are inspired by international cuisines with items sourced locally and cooked from scratch. Creativity with ingredients and presentation is of the utmost importance.  With Fresh Impressions Catering, no meal is impossible because the goal is to realize the vision that the client has in the culinary food experience that they want to provide their guests.

Elizabeth is a Red Seal Chef with more than fifteen years experience in BC’s Food and Hospitality industry. She is highly proficient in catering and banquet management operations.  Elizabeth is very experienced in menu planning, design, management and cost control.  She earned her red seal by attending University of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Community College. Her cooking experience includes: farm to table, hotel, fine-dining, catering, institutional, assisting in the Chilliwack School District’s Culinary Arts programs and teaching Elders College classes.  She is a member of the BC Chef’s Association and the Canadian Culinary Federation of Chefs and Cooks.

With her artistic eye for detail, Elizabeth enjoys making every plate, platter, or bowl a striking show piece.  Elizabeth also loves to create new dishes, experiment with ingredient combinations and presentation styles. Elizabeth is a positive and self-motivated chef that works hard at exceeding customer expectations through producing memorable dining experiences.

Lesley Jessiman

Lesley is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of the Fraser Valley and is also a member of the Centre for Education and Research in Ageing at UFV.

She immigrated to Canada from Scotland 7 years ago and became a faculty member at UFV teaching Lifespan Development and Adulthood & Ageing.
Lesley completed her PhD in 2003 and went on to become a post-doctoral fellow and worked in the Neuropsychology of Ageing Laboratory at Dundee University. She has taught psychology at the University of Dundee, the University of Abertay and the University of West Scotland.

One of her key objectives is to dispel the myths and negative stereotypes of old age and encourage us to develop more positive perceptions of older adulthood.

Ken Hurley

Ken is a native British Colombian, who has lived in Chilliwack since 1995 and the Fraser Valley since 1981. I am an experienced back country traveler, educated in navigation, SAR, Wilderness First Aid, Mountaineer training, a fit 72-year-old.

I have a passion for the outdoors, amateur naturalist, interested in understanding the relationships between landscape, flora & fauna including the two-legged species. I love photography, (especially as it relates to natural history of landscape, flora, and fauna), and as well write about this. Currently working on a back-country hiking guide about Southwestern BC, called 103 Hikes in SW BC.

My travels have taken me to the highest peak in the Western hemisphere, Cerro Aconcagua, 6,962m, in the Argentinian Andes, where with a team of 12 other individuals we climbed and raised over $200K for research into Prostate Cancer.

I have hiked and climbed throughout all provinces and regions in Canada since 1965, in the early 90’s SE Asia – the TAAL Volcano, Aconcagua and several other peaks in the South American Andes, and much of the Eastern and Western U.S.

I love the Chilliwack River Valley for its diverse topography and stunning views and the North Cascades for the spectacular Volcanoes, having climbed both Mt. Baker and Rainier.

I have offered the ‘Easy to Moderate Hikes’ course for the past several years, (inspired by my 96-year-old Mother, who recently passed away at the age of 96, still going on daily walks till the very end. She inspired me to want to keep on walking/hiking and to ask, ‘what can I do for you just now’.

Michael D. Johnson

Over 40 years’ experience as an exploration geologist, exploring for economic base and precious metal ore deposits all over the world.

Vickie Legere

Vickie is a visual artist, using photography as her primary means of creative expression. Her work has been shown both locally in galleries and art shows as well as internationally in magazine and calendars.

She has been teaching and facilitating presentations provincially, both in person and in virtual environments in her working career of 31 years within the BC Public Service.

Vickie has been a member of the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club (APAC) for 25 years and a member of the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association (CVAA) for 10 years. She loves to educate and share her passion and enthusiasm for photography.

Vickie is a visual artist, using photography as her primary means of creative expression. Her work has been shown both locally in galleries and art shows as well as internationally in magazine and calendars.

She has been teaching and facilitating presentations provincially, both in person and in virtual environments in her working career of 31 years within the BC Public Service.

Vickie has been a member of the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club (APAC) for 25 years and a member of the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association (CVAA) for 10 years. She loves to educate and share her passion and enthusiasm for photography.

Carmen Roberts – Chilliwack Academy of Music

Carmen received her Master of Music degree at the University of British Columbia. Prior to that she studied in Washington, Massachusetts, New York & France. Carmen has over 30 years of experience in teaching both piano and flute.

Her passionate and enthusiastic teaching has motivated and inspired students of all ages to excel. Her students regularly receive both silver and gold medals, as well as high marks for their performances in examinations and competitions.

Many students have received awards and scholarships and have continued their music at universities.

Carmen is an active performer and has performed as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and on radio and television throughout the United States. Carmen is passionate about playing chamber music and often collaborates in concert with her sister Carla, a concert violinist.

Together they have performed throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Asia. Carmen believes that the study of music is a gift she gives her students that enhances and positively impacts them for life.

Ray Steigvilas

Ray is a retired teacher after 30 years who has taught high school Math and English in an alternate school setting for the last 20 years, including some computer-based curriculum. He has a B.Sc degree and a M. Ed. in Curriculum Studies.

In the alternate school he taught young students and adults, including an 89-year-old student who graduated with her high school diploma.

Ray’s interests outside of education are in sport activities such as alpine skiing, tennis, and hiking. Other activities of interest include photography, computer film editing, chess, and general computer research.

Gretchen Tournier

Gretchen worked as an E.A in the Chilliwack School District for 27 years.  After retirement she tutored children after school until recently. Her passion is making cards, gardening, and crafting with her granddaughter.

Gretchen won the Peoples Choice Award in 2014 on the Rotary Garden Tour!

Molly Ungar

Molly received her Ph.D. in Canadian History from York University in Toronto and enjoyed a 12-year career teaching History at UFV.

She retired as Associate Professor in the History Department in 2017 and worked on her book The Last Ulysseans, published in 2020. One of her retirement projects is giving back to the community through lifelong education.

Molly Ungar received her B.A. and M.A. from McMaster University and her Ph.D. from York University in Toronto. Twelve years ago, she moved to Abbotsford with her husband to take up a position teaching History at the University of the Fraser Valley.

She is now retired and looks forward to future research, writing and publishing in the Canadian History and Culture field, interspersed with travel and contributing to the community by presenting illustrated talks on a wide variety of topics.

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore is a new addition to ElderCollege this year, bringing with him a passion for helping others learn about technology, safety, and security. Having grown up in Vancouver and studying philosophy at Simon Fraser, he now lives in the Chilliwack area where he provides tech services, gardens, and spends entirely too much time in front of screens.

Andrew’s other interests include travel, morality and ethics, the environment, cooking and baking, sci-fi, and movies. 

Cathy Thompson

Cathy Thompson has retired after 24 years of teaching Senior English — 9 years in Edmonton, and 15 years in Burnaby.  Her interest in the chosen plays goes beyond the plot and into the poetry and the questions:  Who is to blame for these broken families?  Is it as simple as it looks?

Chris Bertram

With more than 20 years of experience as an applied neuroscientist and human performance coach, Dr. Bertram teaches some of the greatest entrepreneurs, executives, and athletes in the world how to maximize learning, build resilience, and optimize performance under pressure.

In his role as an Associate Professor at UFV, his research and teaching focus spans skill acquisition with an emphasis on the nature of expertise and elite-level performance.  Dr. Bertram has published more than 70 scientific publications across the spectrum of human performance and has been featured in The Globe and The Mail, The Toronto Star, The Vancouver Sun, The New York Times, Inc. Magazine, and on the Golf Channel.

Dr. Bertram works regularly with professional athletes as well as with Canada’s National Slope Style and Big Air athletes on strategies for optimizing learning and performance on-demand by tapping into flow state. He has also conducted workshops for a number of national sport organizations through Canada’s “Own the Podium” program.

Dr. Bertram earned a Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Arizona State University.

Janelle Sztuhar

Janelle has lived in Chilliwack most of her life and loves to take advantage of its natural surroundings by hiking, kayaking, and walking at the Vedder River. Janelle is married with 3 cats, a novice gardener and cook, avid reader, and when not at home loves to travel with her husband. Janelle loves being a librarian at UFV because she gets to meet and work with great people. 

Jessica Fairweather

Jessica has always been fascinated by colour and contrasting colour combinations. Jessica is proficient in many art forms but specializes in glass mosaics, oil pastels, mixed media and acrylic paint.  She enjoys the entire art process, from finding perspective, planning the design, persistence to finish and the fantastic feeling of perseverance.  Jessica can create snow that glistens, the most delicate flowers, or winds and waves on a stormy day at the beach. She has also done commissions for businesses, private collectors and special occasion gifts.

Jessica lives in Chilliwack, B.C. with artist Jim Godfrey and their four children: Ian, William Blythe, and Gabriel.

“I want to see what happens when I continue learning, creating, teaching, and inspiring.”

Joan Harkness

Joan is a retired school teacher who has been instructing Fitness classes for 25 years. Joan is currently teaching at the Cheam Leisure Center and for the Chilliwack Senior Resources Society. Joan believes in the power of seniors to take their health seriously and meet the challenges of keeping their bodies strong, agile and well-balanced.

Karen Saenger

Karen is a retired high school History teacher with a deep interest in genocide studies.  She has twice visited Rwanda and is a volunteer Board member of the Rwanda School Project.

Lara Von Waldenburg

Since 1988 Lara’s practice has offered her a sanctuary of clarity, peace, and calm. Lara first discovered the benefits of yoga while attending Art School in New York City.

Yoga has been a partner to Lara’s career as a fine artist and to her creative path as a mother; offering tools that cultivate a clear vision and strength while maintaining the channel of creativity receptive and unrestrained.

During the years of living as a professional artist and raising two children into adulthood, Lara has been able to maintain balance in her life accepting life’s offerings and misgivings. She gives gratitude to yoga, and to her lifelong practice for creating a path of acceptance, courage and flexibility.

She attributes the practice of balanced inversions and grounded postures to helping her prepare for life’s turbulent times. Lara is grateful for yoga always leading back to learning and enjoys being a lifelong student.

Lara’s 200hr yoga teacher training certification at Open Door Yoga Vancouver B.C 2011, her prenatal yoga certification as well as teaching over 5000 classes and being trained as a Trauma Informed yoga teacher has been pivotal in building and nurturing Inner Vision Yoga. 

Lyle Simpson

My name is Lyle Simpson and I am the President of the Chilliwack Pickleball Club.  I have been playing pickleball for about 12 years. I am a certified NCCP level 1 instructor and have also attained a level 1 certification from the IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association). 

Before becoming president of the CPC, I was the Player Development Coordinator.

I have taught hundreds of people to play and enjoy the game of pickleball and have previously instructed classes at the Elder College.

Lynn Rodgers

Lynn describes herself as a lifelong learner.  She is a graduate of SFU with a Masters degree in Educational Leadership, English, Environmental Education and Liberal Arts.  Always excited to find connections between patterns in nature and numbers, she would probably say that there is a divine hand in all that we see. 

As a mother, grandmother and teacher, Lynn finds delight in the freedom children find in discovering their art – something we sometimes lose as we “grow up”.

Through sharing her love of art with her “grown up” students, Lynn wants to bring you back to that original delight in creating beautiful patterns.

Margaret Evans

Margaret is an award-winning writer/journalist and author with over 45 years experience. She had an art gallery showing of her photography and last year curated a museum exhibit at the Chilliwack Museum.

She has written for a wide variety of newspapers writing about Canadian current affairs, international stories, breaking science news, social and environmental issues, climate change, horses, personality profiles and human interest stories. She has also contributed magazine articles and has published five books including an eBook on writing techniques.

Margaret has written and co-produced educational documentaries and currently produces multimedia presentations to support her talks and her public speaking.

She offers clinics and courses in creative writing as well as editorial services.

Margaret is passionate about fairness, justice and progressive change.

Riten Tamang

Riten is a Support and Education Coordinator with First Link® Alzheimer Society of B.C.

He has been delivering dementia education (in-person and online) with a person-centred approach for the past several years across communities in BC.  

Rod Swanson

Rod Swanson has had many years of experience performing solo guitar in concerts and in the hospitality industry in Western Canada.

During that time, he has developed a wide repertoire to accommodate many situations.

Since Mr. Swanson moved to the West Coast, he has performed with Alexander Maier and participates in Early Music Groups and churches playing organ. Mr. Swanson also teaches guitar and keyboard throughout the Fraser Valley.

Ruby Rodier

I am French speaking Canadian………I learned English in my late 30is.

What else can I teach in French?   That was what I was thinking when approached to create a short program in French conversation.  Excitement, fear, and challenges are the fuel for my creativity.

Teaching brings me to a vulnerable space and a sphere of delivering a service where everyone will be pleased.

I also teach Yoga and have been teaching yoga since 1986.

THAT is my goal – to bring satisfaction!


Sarah Ploj

Sarah grew up in a small tobacco farming town in Ontario and she completed her schooling at Conestoga College as a hearing instrument practitioner. Since then, she has been working in BC and loves it here.

Sarah is passionate about her work with hearing loss and hearing aids. Sarah enjoys going to work every day and cares about each patient that comes into the office.

Shawn Zwierchowski

Shawn is highly motivated and passionate about growing the sport, and the individuals he coaches are what move him the most.

Shawn is a squash coach and certified referee and is currently running squash classes and leagues in Chilliwack, BC. Shawn has led a successful program with a strong junior program and a drop in night in Mission, BC.

His roles include being a Roving Ambassador and a Roving Ambassador Program Coordinator with Squash BC, a member of the Court Advocacy Task Force and has been a part of the Squash BC membership committee.

Sheila Ardies

Sheila has spent a lifetime participating in choirs and ensembles and has over 30 years of experience as a professional voice teacher.  She has also conducted and started numerous adult and college choirs.

She is excited to lead the Side-Notes spring choir along with collaborative pianist Nancy Bukowsky!