Lead TA Program

The Lead TA program is a new initiative on campus to facilitate the professional development of teaching assistants at a discipline-specific level.  It provides outstanding graduate students with an opportunity to apply their interest, teaching experience, and training beyond traditional TA duties.  

During this pilot year, the program will position Lead TAs in 8 departments across campus where they will develop discipline focused TA training activities.  By facilitating workshops, developing resources, and offering peer feedback through classroom observations, Lead TAs will serve as mentors, coaches, and liaisons for TAs in their home department.

This initiative to improve the teaching effectiveness of TAs at a departmental level complements the general, interdisciplinary TA training offered by the Teaching Support Centre.  In order to support the Lead TAs in their own professional development during the year, the TSC will provide ongoing training and resources to the group on facilitation, peer mentoring and teaching excellence.  The Lead TA pilot program is a result of collaboration between the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Faculties, the GTA Union and the Teaching Support Centre.  If you would like to learn more about the program, please contact Lead TA Coordinator Aisha Haque. 

lead TAs for 2013-2014

The Lead TAs for the 2013-2014 academic year are:

Melanie-Anne Atkins
Faculty of Education

Melanie-Anne Atkins is a second-year PhD student in the Faculty of Education. Her research focuses on ways to decrease the stigma of mental illness in schools. She brings experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the departments of Psychology and Biology at Western, and is excited to be a part of this unique collaboration of fellow TAs who are passionate about creating the best possible experience for all students.

Melissa Jacquart
Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Philosophy)

Melissa Jacquart is a 2nd year PhD student in the philosophy department and a resident member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy. Her main areas of research are in philosophy of cosmology, philosophy of physics and general problems in philosophy of science. She is also interested in ethics & values in science, feminist philosophy, and philosophy education with a particular interest in pedagogy and developing effective teaching methodologies for the discipline.

Jennifer Hutchinson
Faculty of Music

Jennifer Hutchison is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in music education at Western University where she also holds a Master of Music. She comes to the role of the Lead GTA with a decade of classroom experience at the secondary school level in both vocal and instrumental music.  Her previous experience at the university level includes instructing an introduction to music education course at the Faculty of Music.  Jennifer is currently teaching a basic qualification course in vocal music at the Faculty of Education and conducts the UWO choir and Training Choir for the Amabile Boys and Men's Choirs of London.  As the chair of the Society of Graduate Students in Music, Jennifer  has established a mentorship program among the graduate students and she is committed to supporting their experience as teaching assistants within the Faculty of Music.

Leichelle Little
Faculty of Health Sciences

Leichelle Little is a doctoral candidate in the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program. She has over four years of teaching experience, including facilitating workshops, guest lecturing and several semesters as a TA at UWO and the University of Waterloo. She is excited to collaborate with fellow TAs who share her passion for peer mentoring and enhancing the student experience.

Leif Schenstead-Harris
Faculty of Arts and Humanities (English)

 Leif Schenstead-Harris holds a BA from the University of Saskatchewan (2009) and an MA from Dalhousie University (2010), and is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Writing. He is currently writing a dissertation on hauntings, ghosts, and transnational literary culture in contemporary Irish, Caribbean, and South African literatures. A founding editor of Word Hoard, an interdisciplinary journal based at Western, he also writes for Weird Fiction Review.

Gemma Richardson
Faculty of Information and Media Studies

Gemma Richardson is a PhD Candidate in the Media Studies program in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies. This is her fourth year as TA at UWO. Her prior teaching experience includes four semesters as a TA at the University of Windsor and teaching part-time at Centennial College in Toronto.

Christopher Schultz
Faculty of Social Science (History)

Christopher Schultz is a 4th year PhD Candidate in the Department of History, writing on War and Culture, and specifically on Canadian First World War soldiers' continued civilian practices in a war zone. His interest in university-level teaching was sparked during his undergrad at Carleton University while working for the Student Academic Success Centre, and has continued for what will be his ninth year of peer mentoring and being a teaching assistant. Aside from his many academic pursuits, Chris is a father, a soccer player, a fan of new music, and is occasionally found designing and building sets for elementary school plays.

Behnaz Saatian
Faculty of Science

After completing her undergraduate studies in plant pathology and her Masters in plant biotechnology in Iran, Behnaz joined Western in 2010 where she is currently pursuing her PhD in Biology. She has considerable TA experience both in Iran and here at Western and she is a Teaching Assistant Training Program (TATP) instructor with the Teaching Support Centre. She is very much looking forward to providing valuable professional development opportunities for the Science TAs in her role as Lead GTA.