Mentor of Distinction
After forty years in Canada, Dr. Jean Springer, a well-known and respected educator shares with us a glimpse of her life. Her story includes a long list of achievements. Her passion for mathematics, love of learning and life, optimism and hope for the future, and ability to persevere in the face of the greatest challenges, have rightly earned her the title, Mentor of the Millennium.
Jean’s academic journey began in Jamaica, where she completed a double honors degree in Mathematics and Physics at the University of the West Indies (formerly a University College of London). She began her teaching career in Trinidad, West Indies where she taught first at Naparima College for boys, and then at Point Fortin College.
She migrated to Canada when her husband, who also had a double honors degree in mathematics and physics, decided to pursue engineering at the University of British Columbia, thus moving their young family to Vancouver. Once in Vancouver, she found herself undertaking the multiple roles of home-maker, Teaching Assistant, and full-time student as she completed her MSc in mathematics at Simon Fraser University while her husband worked on his engineering degree at UBC. She recalls that with the responsibility of a growing family of three children, it was important to use every spare moment effectively. She learned to read her textbooks while stopped at traffic lights during her daily commute from UBC to SFU. Everywhere she went she brought a book to read, whether it be to a hockey game or to the grocery store.
Jean remembers the challenge of being a mom, a student, and a wife, but does not regret the experience. Children are influenced by the actions of the adults in their lives. Jean felt that it was important to model for her children the importance of undertaking a task and seeing it through to completion. Jean’s perseverance resulted in the successful completion of her MSc in mathematics, followed by a PhD in mathematics completed at the University of Calgary several years later. When asked what she remembers most from her challenging experience, she fondly recalls her children cheering for her at convocation, demonstrating their pride in her achievement. In retrospect, she has been a role model for her two sons and her daughter. Interestingly, her second son is a nurse while her daughter and eldest son are both engineers.
Dr. Jean Springer has touched the lives of thousands of students in Calgary. She has taught at the University of Calgary, SAIT, and at Mount Royal College where she has been Chair of the Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Engineering and also Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology. Now retired, Dr. Springer is currently Chair of the Alberta Women’s Science Network and a professor emeritus at Mount Royal College. She continues to teach mathematics at the University of Calgary because of her continuing passion for mathematics and her dedication to students.