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25 years of inspiring teaching, learning from students — and a lifetime of friendship.

When they met each other at Bow Valley College, Fran Murphy and Susan Jolliffe had no idea that their friendship would grow into a wonderful sisterhood, and that together they would touch many, many lives. 

In 1994, Susan, a teacher in Ontario, arrived in Calgary for a date with the man she would marry.  Knowing she was staying, she needed to work and applied for a position at Bow Valley College (then Alberta Vocational College). In 2010, she retired from the College. 

A year after Susan started at the College, Fran applied for a job and got it. She also stayed at the College for 25 years.

“We met on my first day on the job,” Fran recalls, “I was introduced to Susan and told that I could ask her any question because she knew everything. So I did!  We sat together in a tiny little office with three desks and no windows, and it was one of the best times of my life!”

Fran and Susan were both instructors in the Academic Preparation Program, teaching English, math and reading. They weren’t the only ones doing the teaching. They learned a lot from their students, many of whom had come to Canada from different parts of the world. They sometimes spoke about their personal experiences in traumatic global events that the teachers had only heard about through the news. 

“We were teaching them English, but our students taught us so many things,” Susan remembers, “We learned about their culture and the countries they had left. It was fascinating to hear all of the stories and experiences they went through.” 

Susan and Fran agree that one of the most incredible experiences during their teaching journey was seeing how cultural diverse groups got along. The new Canadians and Canadian-born students developed strong relationships and close friendships. 

They also loved that every year, students would visit to tell them about their career and life successes.

“We see our graduates all the time! Calgary is full of Bow Valley College graduates,” Fran says. “Just a couple of weeks ago I was at the mall and I heard someone screaming my name. It was a student who I’d taught more than 20 years ago. She ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. That was a priceless experience.” 

Fran and Susan agree that Bow Valley College has changed their lives. 

“To see the smiles on our students’ faces and the success that they feel when they graduate is so fulfilling” Susan says.  

When Fran and Susan retired in 2010, they established the Fran and Susan Award to recognize a full-time student in Foundational Learning. 

“No school in the world does as good job as Bow Valley College does,” Fran says, “We changed people’s lives at Bow Valley College!” 

Posted on March 19, 2018

Written by Svetlana Miftahov Rapoport

Photo by Maximillian Krewiak 

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