Faculty Profiles

Dr. Laura Atkinson (Ph.D., University of Manitoba) is currently a Research Analyst for the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Her areas of interest include language and cognitive cevelopment, rhetoric in education, and teacher professional development. She has taught various courses at the University of Manitoba, including Child Development, Early Years Curriculum, and Theories of Learning and Instruction. She also has extensive experience in childcare as Director of the UM Campus Nursery Preschool program. In addition, she has taught child-development courses to Native Childcare workers at the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies & Applied Research in Saskatchewan. Her publications address innovative early-years curricula, emergent literacy in childcare environments, oral language, and quality childcare. Dr. Atkinson teaches Applied Child Development at the University of Winnipeg.

Pamela Leech (BA, Brandon University; Honours B.S.W., Lakehead University; M.S.W., University of Manitoba; LL.B., University of Manitoba) Ms Leech’s academic achievements include graduating with First Class Standing in the HBSW program and winning the Isaac Prize in Law School for Legal Research. Called to the bar in the province of Manitoba to practise law, she is also a member of the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers, the Manitoba and Canada Bar Association, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and the local practice group. Her particular practice interests include developing parenting plans, negotiating family property accounting and division of assets, and child representation, as well as various aspects of family law. In addition to private family law, Ms Leech has provided legal support to various branches of government, including undertaking comprehensive reviews under The Fatality Inquiries Act, drafting provincial standards under the Child and Family Services Act, and chairing the Intercountry Adoption Review Committee. She also assisted in developing policy direction with a view to legislative amendments in child protection.

An advocate for the rights of children, she sits on the board of Family Mediation Manitoba and acts a neutral third party, assisting parents in determining the needs of their children and determining how those needs could best be met as they process the issues of separation. She has experience providing independent opinion evidence to the Court on matters relating to periods of care, parenting plans, and parental capacity. Having worked extensively in the field of child protection from a social-work perspective, she has also been involved in the hospital system, evaluating the mechanics of injury. Prior to practising collaborative family law, her last position in social work was as Coordinator for Children with Complex Medical Needs with the Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Louesa Polyzoi (Honors B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D., University of Toronto) is Professor of Education and Director of Developmental Studies at the University of Winnipeg. She has published extensively in the areas of evaluation, language development, childcare, and comparative education. In 2002, Dr. Polyzoi completed a national study (funded by VISIONS National Child Care Research and Development Programs, Human Resources and Development, Canada) entitled The Care of Mildly Ill Children: Issues and National Policy Directions in Child Care. From 2002 to 2004, she was Project Director of a major three-year international CIDA project: Russian Teacher Training for At-risk Students—a joint initiative of the University of Winnipeg and the Russian Academy for Advanced Professional Standards and Teacher Training in Moscow. Currently, she is involved in an extensive project examining respiratory health, housing conditions, and school absenteeism among nine-year old children in Winnipeg—a study funded by CIHR and conducted by a team of researchers from University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, and Harvard.

Gayle Karen Robertson (BA, M.Ed., University of Manitoba) is an Early Years Consultant currently teaching in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg. She was Early Years Consultant for Winnipeg School Division (1998 - 2005), and Manitoba Education (1985 - 1991). She has many years of experience teaching children between the ages of three and nine years, and was the senior writer for Start with the Child: A Guide to Best Practices in Nursery Programs in Winnipeg School Division. In 2009, she co-chaired the Manitoba Reggio Inspired Care and Education Conference at the University of Manitoba, which was attended by over a thousand early-childhood educators. She is a member of the Provincial Healthy Child Advisory Committee to Cabinet where matters influencing the care and education of young children are discussed and recommendations are made to Government Ministers. She continues to be involved with the Manitoba Reggio Inspired Coalition of Educators (MB RICE) and with the Canadian Association for Young Children (CAYC).

Janet Simpson (M.S. Speech-Language Pathology, Tennessee State University) is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. She has many years experience providing services to children and their families and has worked in community- and hospital-based programs in clinical and management roles. Research projects include language development in French Immersion children, women’s vulnerability to poverty, early language and literacy development, and parent education.

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