McGill’s Faculty of Education receives $7.3 million in philanthropic support to aid student teachers and launch Canada’s first teaching and learning lab

Two donations, one from the estate of Mary Marsh and another from The Molson Foundation, will support students and spur innovations in pedagogy
Published: 9 December 2020

At a time when school teachers everywhere are being challenged by the second wave of the pandemic and by technological advances that are changing where, when and how students learn, McGill’s Faculty of Education is pleased to announce over $7 million in new philanthropic support through a pair of generous gifts from longstanding donors.

The first gift, totalling $4.8 million, is a bequest from the late Mary (Marie) Marsh, DipEd’42, an elementary school teacher whose generous spirit and love of the profession first led her to create a suite of entrance bursaries, scholarships and fellowships at McGill in 2009. Most of the funds from her estate will boost her existing awards, resulting in an exponential increase in the amount of needs-based and merit-based funding available to future educators. Another portion has been targeted to support students working on inclusive education projects.

The second, a gift of $2.5 million from The Molson Foundation, will support the CoLab, a new partnership between the Faculty of Education and Montreal’s Trafalgar School for Girls. The CoLab aims to bring researchers and educators together to develop best practices in teaching and learning practices that can be directly applied to the classroom experience. The investment represents the first half of a $5-million commitment from the foundation in honour of McGill’s upcoming bicentennial.

“We are grateful to both the estate of Mary Marsh and The Molson Foundation for their generosity and commitment to advancing education and supporting our students,” said McGill’s Principal, Suzanne Fortier. “The bequest from the estate of Mary Marsh is a wonderful tribute to her enthusiasm for teaching and her dedication to supporting aspiring teachers, and will benefit generations to come. The gift from The Molson Foundation demonstrates their strong commitment to education and a tradition of support to McGill. Both gifts will make a significant contribution to innovation in education and to developing future-ready leaders.”

“These gifts are a tangible demonstration of a commitment to educators, to teaching and to the future of education at a time of intense challenges for our education system,” said Faculty of Education Dean Dilson Rassier. “Both gifts will help position McGill as a leader in the training of educators and in developing innovative approaches to pedagogy. All of us at the Faculty are intensely grateful for the breadth of community support for the Faculty, its students, and its research.”

The bequest from the Marsh estate will be like a “tsunami” of encouragement and resources for students, according to Marsh’s great-nephew Rob Groulx. Like his great-aunt, he hopes that these undergraduate and graduate awards will give more young people the opportunity to enter the teaching profession and become leaders in their field.

“These awards are helping people in the beginning, in the middle and in the end of their studies, which is what Aunt Marie was about,” says Groulx. “She absolutely loved the students’ energy and she said to me more than once that her greatest pleasure in life was giving.”

The Molson Foundation gift will make a major impact on McGill’s initiatives in all aspects of teacher training, classroom practice and pedagogical research through the establishment of the CoLab partnership with the Trafalgar School for Girls. Inspired by laboratory school models at Oxford, Columbia, University of Chicago, and UCLA, the CoLab will provide student teachers the opportunity to learn within an environment where research and practice are seamlessly combined, where students benefit from experiential, high-tech learning, and where practicing teachers can share expertise and engage in lifelong learning.

Ultimately, the CoLab aims to foster research and practice in education, serve as a generator of similar collaborations across the country, and share best practices in teaching and learning with schools across Quebec and Canada.

“We believe in continuous improvement when it comes to teaching and learning,” said Andrew Molson, President of The Molson Foundation. “At a time when the educational landscape is ripe for bold new partnerships, The Molson Foundation is pleased to participate in this venture.”

Current plans call for Trafalgar to be located in Purvis Hall on McGill’s downtown campus, directly adjacent to the Faculty of Education. The new facility is expected to open within the next few years.


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