Dr. Janet Mort of Brentwood Bay is among 13 individuals joining the Order of BC (Janet Mort/Submitted)

Saanich Peninsula educator and academic joins Order of BC

Dr. Janet N. Mort is an expert in the field of primary learning

An educator and academic in the field of primary learning hopes her appointment to the Order of British Columbia will help students from vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds.

Dr. Janet N. Mort of Brentwood Bay, one of 13 new members of the Order, was named for her contributions to education and literacy, including the development of her Joyful Literacy Interventions program.

Aimed at struggling primary students, the program combines play with foundational literacy skills, explicit instructions and “practice, practice and practice.” Mort drew on the most recent scientific research about the brain, literacy acquisition and intervention.

Her research could not be more timely. Experts around the world have expressed fears that school closures due to the pandemic will further widen the achievement gap between students in families of means and those without – the very students Mort aims to help.

“They are the ones who are going to fall the furthest behind,” she said. “But the thing that hardens me, based on the work that we have been doing, [is] we know how to catch them up. It’s almost like we have been practicing for this event.”

Mort hopes this recognition of her work will draw the government’s attention.

“Clearly the government is recognizing the work,” she said. “It’s not just me, but 300 of us have been doing this. We have now proven that we can do this. I am hoping that we as a province can learn from the work we have done in the past seven years and implement this provincewide.”

Mort’s career is in many ways a story of personal perseverance and public service. She started to pursue a Ph.D. in early learning at the age of 60 following her retirement in 2007 from the post of superintendent with Saanich School District.

RELATED: Attendance matters for Saanich Peninsula students

“I wanted to figure out why so many of our kids do not succeed in school,” she said. “On average, over 30 per cent do not reach grade level. I really wanted to look at the research and figure out what we were missing.”

Mort began to develop her theory studying at UBC under the mentorship of the late Clyde Hertzman, one of Canada’s foremost researchers on early learning, especially among children from vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds.

For the last seven years, Mort has been working with teachers across B.C. to implement it.

“I came out of university with this theory and the research, but I needed teachers to put it into practice in the classroom to make sure this really would work,” she said.

Results so far have proven her correct. Despite vulnerabilities or significant cultural differences, 80 to 90 per cent of Kindergarten to Grade 3 students participating in her program are reading at grade level. Mort has been working directly with the Lau,welnew Tribal School in Brentwood Bay as part of an ongoing pilot project.

RELATED: Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Over the years, Mort has shared her expertise at international education summits, as a facilitator and keynote speaker at education summits, and by authoring academic journals and two popular books: Joyful Literacy Interventions and Putting on the Blitz. She is currently working on a third title aimed at parents.

Mort was notified of the Order of BC honour with a mid-July phone call ahead of the official announcement on Aug. 3.

“I reached up, grabbed a shelf and said ‘no,’” she said. “And the lovely person on the other end quietly said, ‘yes.’ So I wasn’t anticipating it, I didn’t know anything about it and it was quite a visceral reaction. I was so surprised and particularly honoured. I didn’t believe it wasn’t happening.”

While the actual induction ceremony won’t happen until 2021 because of COVID-19, it doesn’t diminish the award. “It’ll give me a longer time to anticipate it,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m quite okay with that.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Education

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay couple honoured for 35 years volunteering

Mayor awards distinguished Oak Leaf to Bert and Doris Dinsmore

Meet the Liberal candidate for Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Roxanne Helme about ‘governance, not politics’

Hospital foundation president praises generosity of Peninsula residents

Karen Morgan said support during COVID-19, financial and otherwise, has been touching

New Democrats on Saanich Peninsula still looking to announce candidate

While BC Liberals have nominated Stephen Roberts, New Democrats have not yet announced candidate

UPDATED: West Shore RCMP locate dangerous, ‘high-risk sex offender’ thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read