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The Book on Teachers

The literature our students read may reveal what they see in us.

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200,000 Members

The College passes a major milestone.

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200,000 Members - A major milestone

Canada's largest professional body just got larger. Membership in the College topped 200,000 on November 8th and at the end of 2005 stood at 200,408.


Crystal Kechego was one of more than 13,000 applicants to the College in 2005 – part of the largest single-year increase in membership since we went from zero to just over 165,000 between May (the College officially opened its doors on May 20, 1997) and December of 1997.

The growth in College membership since 1997 is due largely to two factors – a growing number of applications for membership and renewal rates that continue to be higher than anticipated. Many retired teachers are maintaining membership in the College so that they can continue to teach part-time.

But in 2005 over 4,500 more people applied for certification as Ontario teachers than six years earlier. The surge in applications is partly fuelled by a huge increase in the number of applicants trained outside Ontario – 4,388 in 2005 compared to just 2,438 in 1999.

Kechego was surprised to get the call from the College congratulating her for being the 200,000th member.

A different path

She took a different path into the profession, having worked as a teaching assistant for five years at Wiiji Nimbawiyaang [Together We Are Standing] Elementary School on the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, west of London.

Kechego has been a school social worker and was one of seven elected trustees on the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation Board of Education when she heard that the Brock University program established to encourage First Nations candidates to become teachers would be offered at Chippewa of the Thames.

Although she'd been involved in education – in one way or another – for a long time, Kechego wasn't entirely sure that she wanted to be teacher. But the program seemed worth trying, so she applied and completed it in 2005. It wasn't until halfway through the program, during her first practicum at North Meadows Elementary in Strathroy, that she realized she really wanted to teach.

“Being at the front of your own classroom is really a different feeling,” says Kechego. She is very clear about what hooked her. “I love that I've helped a student get that ‘I get it!' look.”


Crystal Kechego plans to complete her Honours BA in First Nations studies at Western before starting to teach.

Kechego hopes to take her new qualifications as a Primary-Junior teacher into the classroom full-time in 2007.

“I want to complete my Honours BA in Native Studies at Western before starting in the classroom,” she says. “I'm in my third year now and I want to finish this first.”

Like most teachers Kechego can't imagine that she will ever really be finished with learning – both in and outside the classroom.

“I've been thinking I'd like to teach somewhere around North Bay for a few years,” she says. “I could contribute as a teacher and learn at the same time. I really want to improve my Ojibway and a northern community would be great for that.”

But the move north will have to wait and she doesn't want to stay away from her own home for long.

There is a kindergarten to Grade 8 school with about 150 to 200 students on the Chippewa reserve. High school students are bused to schools in London.

Inspired by John Ryan

Kechego herself went to Saunders Secondary in London and says the teacher that had the biggest impact on her life was “Mr. Ryan, my First Nations Studies teacher.”

In fact, she says she expects that she will eventually teach First Nations Studies in secondary school as well.

“John Ryan's influence on Crystal Kechego's life, her current university career and her future professional ambitions really underline the inspiration that the generation of teachers who are leaving the profession have provided for our new members,” says College Chair Marilyn Laframboise. “I am really struck by how often I hear from younger members that their career choice was inspired by a teacher who showed them how they could make a difference in children's lives.”

Registrar Doug Wilson says the College's 200,000th member is a major milestone for the teaching profession. “We are by far the largest self-regulating professional group in the country. Our size poses real challenges for the College in ensuring that we maintain and improve first-class service to all our members, no matter where they live in Ontario. Congratulations to Crystal – and to all our members who joined us this year.”