The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg (RCGW) has been dedicated to promoting literacy and developing lifelong readers since 1956. We have a proud history of being a literacy leader in Winnipeg and its surrounding area. We are a Special Area Group of Educators (SAGE) of the Manitoba Teachers' Society and a local council of the International Literacy Association.
RCGW provides professional development for educators, shares resources and ideas on our website, celebrates I Love to Read month, promotes literacy in the community, honours literacy leaders and up-and-coming teacher candidates, and supports literacy projects. Join RCGW today!
It is with great sadness that the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg learned that Past President Dr. Zakaluk, Professor Emerita, passed away on May 17, 2022. Bev was an inspiration to many people in Manitoba. She was a very devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. We are very sorry for the family’s loss.
Bev faced the inevitable challenges in life with grace, dignity, and hard work. She obtained her first three degrees, B.A. B. Ed., and her M.Ed., from the University of Manitoba. Bev loved teaching and completed her training at The Provincial Normal School in 1951. She first taught as an elementary classroom teacher in Bisset, Manitoba. There she met a middle school educator who was to become her devoted husband, Bernard Zakaluk. She later taught at Woodhaven Elementary School. After completing her master’s degree in education, Bev became a Reading Clinician at the Child Guidance Clinic in Winnipeg School Division, where she worked in multiple schools.
Dr. Zakaluk later completed her doctorate at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Bev was a doctoral student of Dr. Jay Samuels, and together they published a helpful book called Readability: Its Past, Present, and Future. For years, their book was often quoted in the literature. Later in her career, Dr. Zakaluk self-published Family Literacy Programs: The Bookmates Experience. She also had several articles published about her other initiatives as a contributor to Reading Manitoba, the former journal of the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg, as well as other journals.
Manitobans were very happy that Dr. Zakaluk returned to Manitoba after her doctoral studies. For over 25 years, she taught many university courses at all levels, including certification, post-baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral courses. Many teachers and reading clinicians speak very positively of Bev as an insightful mentor and supportive academic advisor. As a professor, she was demanding and rigorous. She also knew how to inspire and patiently nurture emerging potential. As a colleague, Bev modelled collaboration as she engaged in school-based research and numerous projects with other professors and school personnel. Upon her retirement, Dr. Zakaluk was honoured by being designated as Professor Emerita by the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Zakaluk strongly recommended that her students join the International Reading Association (which later became the International Literacy Association). She urged students to read the journals and maximize the use of teaching and learning resources published by the IRA. She encouraged attendance at the annual IRA conferences and took great pleasure in introducing her graduate students to the distinguished international literacy leaders who came to speak in Manitoba.
Bev was a role model as a Manitoba literacy leader, becoming president of the local council of the IRA, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg. She planned enriching professional learning sessions and conferences with her teams. Bev was an innovative person who began the development of “I Love to Read Day” in the eighties. Her vision expanded with many projects in Manitoba. Her idea of “I Love to Read Day” eventually led to the annual, provincial celebration of a whole month of literacy activities in February. Bev was deeply honoured to become a lifetime member of the RCGW.
Bev joined the Manitoba Council of Reading Clinicians (MCRC) and continued to teach graduate courses to prepare reading clinicians for service in Manitoba. She also mentored clinicians in the field to develop a rich repertoire of assessment tools and encouraged creative programming linked to Manitoba curricula. She urged new clinicians to be active in the MCRC’s activities and she attended as often as she could. She became an Honourary Life Member of MCRC and delighted in attending council events well into her eighties.
Dr. Zakaluk was a firm believer in the power of parental involvement in literacy development. In 1984, she was one of the founders of Bookmates, Inc., which continues as a not-for-profit organization in Winnipeg. She maintained her devotion to the Bookmates’ mission to inspire families and communities to grow together through the shared joy of literacy learning. Bev remained an avid promoter of public libraries for families. Later in her career, she wrote a book, Family Literacy Programs: The Bookmates Experience to make the larger community aware of the importance of Winnipeg’s model parental involvement program to enhance literacy.
Over the decades, Bev was acknowledged for her many contributions and became an award-winning educator. She was honoured for her indefatigable dedication to education and literacy by many organizations. Her well-deserved, prestigious awards include the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Literacy; the YMCA-YWCA 2002 Women of Distinction Award for Education, Training, and Development; the Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Saunderson Award for excellence in teaching and later the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching; the UMFA Faculty of Education Merit Award; and the University of Manitoba Outreach Award.
Bev’s devoted leadership and service to our community was also recognized nationally and internationally. She was awarded a national volunteer award for Canadian educators, the International Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, and a Certificate of Merit from the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg. As a member of Manitoba Reading Association, she continued to follow the literacy initiatives of each of the reading councils with enthusiasm.
We are truly grateful for the vision, dedication, inspiration, emotional and academic support that Dr. Zakaluk demonstrated in her long and meaningful life, as a distinguished Manitoba educator, reading clinician and professor. She will be deeply missed by many former students and colleagues. May Bev’s memory continue to inspire her family, colleagues, friends, and former students. We are grateful for her years of dedication to the development of literacy at all levels in Manitoba. She truly enhanced the literacy landscape of our province in all her endeavours.
This tribute was also published on the MCRC website. Please also see Dr. Zakaluk's obituary.
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