Bonnie Stelmach, PhD, MA, BEd

Professor, Faculty of Education - Educational Policy Studies Dept

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Contact

Professor, Faculty of Education - Educational Policy Studies Dept
Email
bonnies@ualberta.ca
Phone
(780) 492-9890
Address
7-145 Education Centre - North
8730 - 112 St NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2G5

Overview

Area of Study / Keywords

K-12 Education Rural Education Parent Involvement School Leadership Qualitative Research


About

I returned to Alberta, my “home” province, after seven years in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan. I completed my doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership in Educational Policy Studies, and a Masters of Arts in Educational Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. My undergraduate degree is in Secondary Education, also from the U of A. I have taught in rural and northern Alberta, as well as at an international school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Previous to joining the academic community, I served as district coordinator of the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI). That three-year project directly influenced my decision to study secondary parents’ conceptualizations of their role in school improvement to earn a doctorate. My research has evolved to explore parents' sense of community with their children's schools, and I am particularly interested in rural schools. I am a member of the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration, a national academic association.

I supervise doctoral students pursuing varying interests in school leadership (e.g. hope, wellbeing, moral distress, gender issues, social media, and micropolitics).

At this point, I welcome expressions of interest for doctoral supervision from those who have identified a specific rural education matter.



Research

I am a qualitative researcher.

My signature on the research landscape is on parents' roles in K-12 schooling, but I’ve examined parents’ roles in education at the post-secondary level as well. My research has evolved toward an examination of school “community”—a logical extension of my research about parents’ roles. In particular, In light of diversification of families, trends toward radical individualism, and boundary shifting, I have explored what makes parents feel in community in their children's schools, especially at the secondary school level where traditional parent involvement shifts. Owing to my rural Alberta roots, I am committed to a rural research agenda in this regard as K-12 schooling assumptions tend to metrocentric, and rural is either stereotyped and idealized or positioned in deficit mode. I am currently developing a research program that aims to shift the prevailing deficit discourse about rural schools and rural communities. In particular, I want to contribute to appreciative perspectives about rural education and rural living, something that I have been thinking about ever since Michael Corbett released the first edition of his book Learning to Leave (revised and published in 2020). Corbett argued that rural schools ultimately convey a mobility imperative, the idea that 'success' for rural students is defined in terms of getting out of their small, rural communities.

In keeping with the University of Alberta's mandate, "for the public" good, working with practitioners and policymakers is my priority. In this regard, I have also been honored to collaborate with colleagues from the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge, and Concordia University of Edmonton on research focusing on the implementation of Alberta's Professional Practice Standards as well as policy review of Alberta's Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy. Additionally, I have completed research for the Alberta Teachers' Association on moral distress among school leaders, and the Alberta School Councils' Association on a project (It Takes a Virus) that examined how emergency remote teaching during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted parent-teacher relations.

I dabble in research regarding the academic life.

Select publications are listed below. See my CV for a complete list of publications and research projects.

Media appearances:

Kurtz, R. (2021, August 30). Bonnie Stelmach discusses research on parent-teacher relations during the pandemic. CBC Radio Active. https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-52-radio-active/clip/15863383-parents-teachers-understand-little-better 

Stelmach, B. (2020, December 11). It takes a virus research report discussion [Interview]. Alberta School Councils’ Association. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxU0GDMm6Ps&feature=emb_title

 Haley, C. (Host). (2019, October 15). Building school communities (No. 58). [Audio podcast episode]. In Intersection Education. https://intersectioneducation.com/2019/10/15/58-dr-bonnie-stelmach-building-school-communities/

 Haley, C. (Host). (2020, April 8). Alberta school leadership within the teaching profession 2019. [Audio podcast episode]. uLead Podcast: The Council for School Leadership of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/dr-phil-mcrae-dr-bonnie-stelmach-alberta-school-leadership/id1493862765?i=1000470923764


Teaching

As a qualitative researcher, I particularly enjoy teaching research methodology/methods courses. But I have created and taught graduate courses in organizational behavior, rural education, qualitative research, working with parents, and school leadership. At the undergraduate level, my teaching focus has been on legal and ethical issues for teacher candidates.

Graduate Courses Taught, University of Alberta:

  • Rural Education Issues and Advantages (EDU 550)
  • Foundations of School Leadership (EDU 520)
  • Evolving Concepts in Educational Administration and Leadership (EDPS 511)
  • Working with Parents/Caregivers in Schools (EDPS 501)
  • Research Frameworks and Qualitative Methodologies (EDPS 681)
  • The Principalship (EDPS 595)
  • Introduction to School Improvement (EDU 511)
  • Leadership in Educational Settings (EDU 512)
  • Philosophy of Teaching (EDPY 597)
  • Introduction to Evaluating Educational Research (EDPS 581)
  • Educational Learning and Change (EDPS 541)

Graduate Courses Taught, University of Saskatchewan:

  • Parents and Educational Theory and Practice
  • Introduction to Research Methods
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • Trends and Issues: Parents and Education
  • Organizational Behaviour
  • History and Development of Organizational Theory
  • Education in Rural and Sparsely Populated Areas
  • Trends and Issues: Gender Roles in Educational Administration
  • Organizational Theory
  • Critical Perspectives on Policy Making in Education

As Professor, mentoring graduate students is an area of teaching that gives me energy and inspiration. I have had the pleasure of working with masters and doctoral students. Currently, I supervise students whose research foci include:

  • moral distress among principals of Canadian-accredited international students
  • the role of hope among K-12 principals
  • school leaders' wellbeing
  • parent involvement in K-12 schools
  • social media and its micropolitical impact on school leaders

I am currently interested in working with students who have a particular interest in rural education matters.


Courses

EDPS 681 - Research Frameworks and Qualitative Methodologies

This course explores the philosophical/epistemological underpinnings of selected research frameworks as well as relevant qualitative methodologies within the specializations of the Department of Educational Policy Studies. Students may receive credit for only one of EDAL 611, EDPS 611 and EDPS 681.


EDU 520 - Theoretical and Professional Foundations of School Leadership

Using scholarly and professional research, this course focuses on foundational dimensions of school leadership. Sections may be offered at an increased rate of fee assessment; refer to the Tuition and Fees page in the University Regulations sections of the Calendar.


Browse more courses taught by Bonnie Stelmach

Publications

Moral distress among school leaders: An Alberta, Canada study with global implications

Author(s): Stelmach, B., Smith, L., & O'Connor, B.
Publication Date: 9/30/2021
Publication: International Journal of Leadership in Education
Volume: Advance online publication
Page Numbers: 1-23
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2021.1926545

Using risk to conceptualize rural secondary school parents’ sense of community

Author(s):
Publication Date: 8/1/2021
Publication: School Community Journal
Volume: 31
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 9-40
External Link: https://www.adi.org/journal/2021ss/StelmachSS21.pdf

The state of the system: A reality check on Canada's schools (book review)

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2021
Publication: Alberta Journal of Educational Research
Volume: 67
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 100-104

Texts, lies, and mediascapes: Communication technologies and social media as risk in the educational landscape

Author(s): Pelkey, S., Stelmach, B., & Hunter, D.
Publication Date: 2021
Publication: Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy
Volume: 196
Page Numbers: 16-33
External Link: https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cjeap/article/view/71981

It takes a virus: What can be learned about parent-teacher relations from pandemic realities?

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 12/12/2020
Publication: Alberta School Councils' Association
Page Numbers: 1-67
External Link: https://www.albertaschoolcouncils.ca/public/download/files/169642

Leadership in education: The power of generative dialogue (book review)

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2020
Publication: Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy
Volume: 193
Page Numbers: 143-146

Rural, secondary school parents’ discourses about feeling in community in their children’s schools: Insights to shape teachers’ and principals’ questions

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2020
Publication: Rural teacher education: Connecting land and pedagogy (Editors: M. Corbett & D. Gereluk)
Page Numbers: 203-226

The surprisingly empty feeling of getting full: Contemplations on the contradictory nature of full professorship

Author(s): Kovach, M./Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2020
Publication: Women negotiating life in the academy (Editors: S. E. Eaton & A. Burns)
Page Numbers: 51-65

Lesbian and gay parents' experiences and their relationships with/in schools: An Alberta study

Author(s): Michaud, C., & Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2019
Publication: Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy
Page Numbers: 69-85

Parental helping with science fair projects: A case study

Author(s): Bowen, M., & Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2019
Publication: Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
Volume: 20
Page Numbers: 342-354

Moral distress among school leaders: An argument for considering them in comprehensive school health programs

Author(s): Stelmach, B., & O'Connor, B.
Publication Date: 2019
Publication: Canadian Association of Principals Journal
External Link: https://cdnprincipals.com/moral-distress-among-school-leaders-an-argument-for-considering-them-in-comprehensive-school-health-programs/

A study of teacher growth, supervision and evaluation in Alberta: Policy and perception in a collective case study

Author(s): Adams, P., Mombourquette, C., Brandon, J., Hunter, D., Freisen, S., Koh, K....Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2018
Publication: Journal of Educational Supervision
Volume: 1
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 1-16

From compliance to capacity building: A Canadian case study highlighting central office support for school council development

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2018
Publication: International Studies in Educational Administration
Volume: 46
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 24-46

Casting a new light on a long shadow: Saskatchewan Aboriginal high school students talk about what helps and hinders their learning

Author(s): Stelmach, B., Kovach, M., & Steeves, L.
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Alberta Journal of Educational Research
Volume: 63
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 1-20

Issues with evidence in constructivist/interpretivist educational research.

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 6/1/2016
Publication: The best available evidence: Wise decision-making for educational improvement (Editors: P. Newton & D. Burgess)
Page Numbers: 19-32

Parents’ participation on school councils analysed through Arnstein’s ladder of participation.

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2016
Publication: School Leadership & Management
Volume: 36
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 271-291

School district conditions and practices that lead to school council effectiveness.

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: International Journal of Social Sciences
Volume: 1
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 48-70

A survey of international rural education issues and responses.

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: Rural Educator
Volume: 32
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 32-42

Metaphor as insight into parents’ conceptualizations of their role in school improvement

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: Including families and communities in urban education (Editors: C. Hands & L. Hubbard)
Page Numbers: 17-40

A challenge to metrics as evidence of scholarity.

Author(s): Stelmach, B., & von Wolff, S.
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: European Educational Research Journal
Volume: 10
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 64-83

The construction of parental roles at eight Western Canadian universities.

Author(s): Stelmach, B., & von Wolff, S.
Publication Date: 10/1/2010
Publication: The Journal of Educational Administration & Foundations (now Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy)
Volume: 21
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 60-83

Filling in the pieces: Interpreting “parent involvement” at the secondary level

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2010
Publication: The leadership compendium: Emerging scholars of Canadian educational leadership (Editor: K. Anderson)
Page Numbers: 215-238

Fear and loathing in the academy

Author(s): Stelmach, B., Parsons, J., & Frick, W. C.
Publication Date: 2010
Publication: Academic Matters
External Link: https://academicmatters.ca/fear-and-loathing-in-the-academy/

Legal and cultural contexts of parent-teacher interactions: School councils in Canada

Author(s): Brien, K., & Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2009
Publication: International Journal About Parents in Education
Volume: 3
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 1-14

Research or in-search? A non-Aboriginal researcher’s retrospective of a study on Aboriginal parent involvement.

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2009
Publication: First Nations Perspectives
Volume: 2
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 35-56

Five Aboriginal mothers’ views on the role of parents in secondary school improvement

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2008
Publication: The Journal of Educational Administration & Foundations (now Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy)
Volume: 19
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 1-18

High school students’ perspectives on the role of parents in school improvement.

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2006
Publication: Journal of School Public Relations
Volume: 27
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 50-83

A case study of three mothers’ experiences in the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement: Having a voice versus getting a hearing

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2005
Publication: International Journal of Leadership in Education
Volume: 8
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 167-185

Unlocking the schoolhouse doors: Institutional constraints on parent and community involvement in a school improvement initiative

Author(s): Stelmach, B.
Publication Date: 2004
Publication: Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy
Volume: 31