Erica MiklasErica Miklas was inspired by her time as a kindergarten teacher to research how educators understand pupils who struggle to regulate their behaviour.

Faculty member shedding light on understanding of play-based learning and dysregulation

For educator Erica Miklas, a successful classroom hinges on empowering students to explore, make choices, and actively participate in guiding their own learning journeys.

A PhD candidate and sessional instructor and advisor in the Faculty of Education, Miklas has dedicated her research to educators’ perceptions of children with dysregulation in full-day kindergarten programs.

“I’m not sure if teachers have the know-how to address students’ needs effectively,” she says. “That’s why I’m looking into how well educators understand dysregulation and how it connects with the play-based learning program.”

After completing the concurrent education program, Miklas worked as a supply teacher while pursuing her master’s degree. She later secured a full-time position as an assistant teacher in a kindergarten classroom.

During this time, Miklas had several “light bulb moments” that suggested some teachers may lack the appropriate understanding or skills required to work with students who struggle with dysregulation: difficulties regulating emotions or behaviour.

This can result in the child being impulsive or having difficulty focusing attention and may be symptomatic of such conditions as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.

Miklas recounted instances of students labelled as having a disorder before an appropriate diagnosis, a lack of patience, or insufficient time spent with the student.

“It seemed to me that some of these students weren’t really given a chance, or an opportunity to learn the skills they’re meant to at this stage,” she said.

These experiences encouraged Miklas to expand her research after studying ADHD and play-based full-time kindergarten, examining both teacher and early childhood educators’ perceptions for her master’s dissertation.

She is currently exploring the stigma associated with dysregulation, how students are labelled in the classroom, and ways they can flourish while investigating educators’ understanding of the play-based kindergarten program.

Play-based learning is the foundation of the kindergarten program in Ontario, which comprises four frames: belonging and contributing, problem-solving and innovating, demonstrating literacy and mathematics behaviours, and self-regulation and well-being.

“I’ve been conducting interviews for the past two weeks, and it’s becoming evident that some individuals lack a comprehensive understanding of what self-regulation truly entails and how to integrate it into the classroom, which is an important aspect of this,” Miklas explains.

She has been awarded the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for the past two years to help fund her research.

“Teaching kindergarten requires a unique set of skills, and although there is a service-learning course tailored for early years education, it’s optional. Without a background in psychology or early childhood education that includes child development, one may lack this understanding. My research aims to shed light on this gap."

Her goal with this project is two-fold: to equip kindergarten teachers with resources addressing these areas of concern, and to implement change in educator programs across Ontario.

“I aim to integrate this into Bachelor of Education programs in some way, ensuring students are familiar with it,” Miklas says.

“Having experienced the kindergarten program and witnessing how it should be executed — emphasizing play-based, inquiry learning where the teacher serves as a guide, allowing students to select their activities and explore freely —I believe this approach can be applied across the board, extending beyond kindergarten.”

It’s a teaching style she still utilizes, even at the university level, and while the approach is slightly different, the principle remains the same.

“You’re still relying on the students to guide you as the facilitator in the classroom. You’re not the be-all and end-all in the classroom,” Miklas explains. “I consistently encourage students to share their experiences with each other, particularly in placement classes. It’s important to have open discussions so that everyone receives valuable information.”

In observance of Teacher Appreciation Week from May 6 to 10, DailyNews is highlighting stories of current teacher candidates, alumni, and researchers in the Faculty of Education, acknowledging their important work and dedication.

Hubert BrardEducator Hubert Brard has dedicated his career to equity and inclusion.

Alum’s 24-year education career champions advocacy and inclusion

Inspired to pursue a career in education by his high school music teacher, alum Hubert Brard’s teaching journey has taken him from elementary to university classrooms and everywhere in between.

“When I met him and witnessed the impact he had on all of us in the class, I thought how great it was that he built a safe space for us to be whoever we needed to be in that area, and I’ve always felt most comfortable in there,” says Dr. Brard (BMus. 1995, B.Ed 1996).

“Since I’ve always been interested in music, I liked the idea of providing students with experiences they could look back on fondly or carry into their adult lives.”

Brard has had a diverse career in education, starting as a teacher in the Peel District School Board for 20 years before becoming vice-principal of Hodan Nalayeh Secondary School in Vaughan, Ont. He also serves as a part-time university professor — all while “gigging around” as an orchestral musician.

“I tend to keep busy that way,” Brard said. “The shift is very interesting because now, as I get closer to retirement, I can look back and see the transition from junior kindergarten all the way to the adult learning world.”

During his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, Brard focused his thesis on the experiences of school administrators who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, specifically investigating the narratives of queer school principals in Ontario.

Brard said his thesis is the first in Canada to explore this topic, noting there are studies on queer educators and administrators coming out of the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Recognizing a gap in research, voice, and narrative, he decided to explore the subject in depth.

He interviewed 11 Ontario public school principals about their experiences coming out at work, the challenges associated with it, and how it shapes their decisions, actions, and roles as principals.

Brard explained his research found the need for systemic change, led by the Ontario Ministry of Education to empower queer principals.

“How can school boards and the Ontario Principals Council, which is our professional body, go about advocating for pro-queer identity and having us become more visible in a less performative manner?” Brard asks.

“Also making the effort less time-based, for example only recognizing people in June because it’s Pride Month. While I see the importance of that, it’s important to consider what our professional bodies can do to shift away from performative acts.”

At his school, Brard said he would do an “equity scope,” in his head, where he evaluates opportunities to make visible the invisible: “How can we engage students and the community in moving this forward?”

For example, he purchased three pride flags — the traditional rainbow, trans, and progressive flags — so people can know what each represents and their importance. When students came to him hoping to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) group at his school, Brard commandeered a room in the main atrium to serve as its office.

“Now our GSA is up and running, strong and run entirely by the kids,” he said.

A lifelong learner having earned five degrees, Brard continues to share his knowledge and voice. He has conducted numerous presentations and webinars centred on the themes of equity and inclusion, emphasizing the importance of advocating for identities within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in educational settings.

This summer, Brard will release a chapter and two books through the Canadian Scholar Press. These publications will offer insights from a principal’s perspective, focusing on what teachers who identify as queer and aspire to become administrators need to be mindful of and how to navigate that space. Another piece will delve into the topic of administrators’ role in activism and advocacy.

Shasank Natakam, Katie Sinn, and Valdemar Kochanowski by concrete canoe.Engineering students Shasank Natakam, Katie Sinn, and Valdemar Kochanowski pose with their entry in the 2024 concrete canoe competition.

Engineering students looking to float their boat in national competition

The UWindsor team in the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition has high hopes for its entry, in Quebec this week to be evaluated on academic, technical, and sports aspects.

“This year, we changed the design to a more traditional canoe shape and added some colour, and it looks a lot smoother,” says captain Katie Sinn, a third-year student of civil engineering. “It is lighter, and we decreased the weight by over 50 per cent from last year’s design.”

The competition, sponsored by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, challenges students from across the country to test their design prowess, shaping the dense material into a fully functional canoe ready to race in the water.

More than 200 students from 16 Canadian universities are at host Université Laval through Saturday, including six representing Windsor engineering from a variety of specialties. Co-captain Valdemar Kochanowski is a fourth-year civil engineering major in charge of the craft’s geometric design taking on the project as part of his capstone requirement.

Third-year mechanical engineering major Shasank Natakam is the structural and outreach lead. He says the team’s diversity is a strength.

“The team is comprised of a fusion of multiple disciplines, as that allows the team to have a large range,” he says. “New this year is that we were able to do a lot of simulations to see what is possible and what areas of the canoe need help.”

Civil engineering professor Niel Van Engelen, their faculty advisor, notes this is the second straight year that the University is participating.

“They’ve learnt a lot from last year and have made major strides forward,” says Dr. Van Engelen. “I’m very excited for the competition and proud of what the team has accomplished so far.”

Greg and Sharon ButlerA concert May 12 in the SoCA Armouries will benefit the Greg and Sharon Butler Scholarship for Piano Students.

Piano concert to raise scholarship funds

A May 12 concert featuring performances by current and former students of music professor emeritus E. Gregory Butler will raise funds for a scholarship in the School of Creative Arts.

Dr. Butler is among the featured performers, as are grads Alde Calongcagong (BMus 1997), Derek Chiu (BMT 2001), and Matthew Kulbacki (BMus 1985), as well as music student David Paniccia, 2022 recipient of the Greg and Sharon Butler Scholarship for Piano Students.

The concert starts at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Performance Hall, SoCA Armouries, located at 37 University Ave. East. Admission is by donation at the door, with proceeds going to the Butler scholarship.

Computer science students and faculty join officials from the University of Windsor and Sterling Information TechnologiesComputer science students and faculty join officials from the University of Windsor and Sterling Information Technologies in celebrating their collaboration in cybersecurity workshops.

Collaboration means hands-on cybersecurity experience for computer science students

A partnership among the School of Computer Science, leading cybersecurity firm Sterling Information Technologies, and global leader in cybersecurity education EC-Council, continues to flourish.

Through a series of cybersecurity workshops started in 2023, the organizations provide graduate and undergraduate students with a comprehensive introduction to cybersecurity: access to the latest technology, software, and solutions, as well as real-world, hands-on experience through an immersive learning environment.

“The School of Computer Science provides local industry with the unique opportunity to partner in the advanced training and skill development of our students,” says Ziad Kobti, director of the School of Computer Science. “These workshops enable students to develop hands-on field-specific knowledge to readily meet the industry demand.”

In the fall workshop, organizers focused on providing a more hands-on experience, aiming to immerse students in practical aspects of cybersecurity. The collaboration was particularly enriched by the active participation of undergraduate computer science student Philip Doyle. His contribution included the creation of the Storm Capture the Flag Challenge, which required competitors to reverse engineer a piece of malware to uncover vulnerabilities.

Sterling Information Technologies’ chief information security officer, Neil Cesario, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration and the inclusion of Doyle in the workshop.

“It is of the utmost importance and part of our mandate as cybersecurity professionals and mentors to involve students who have participated in past workshops,” says Cesario.

“Once we identify the potential and passion in a student, our goal is to fuel that passion toward a potential career opportunity in the field of cybersecurity.”

The Storm Capture the Flag Challenge designed by Doyle showcased not only technical prowess but also the innovative and creative approaches essential in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity.

“The hands-on nature of this term’s workshops allowed students to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting, preparing them for real-world challenges,” Cesario says.

The Fall 2023 term’s Storm Capture Challenge was won by MAC student Kuljeet Singh. Singh’s achievement underscores the calibre of talent emerging from the University of Windsor’s computer science programs.

After completing two workshop series, Sterling Information Technologies will host a third this spring, scheduled to start May 15. To sign up, contact School of Computer Science MAC program secretary Melissa Robinet at

“Sterling Information Technologies and EC-Council remain committed to fostering the growth of cybersecurity talent and creating opportunities for students to excel in this dynamic field,” says Peaches Madarang-Cesario, Sterling Information Technologies’ business information security officer.

“The collaboration with the University of Windsor’s Computing Hub exemplifies the shared dedication to equipping the next generation of cybersecurity professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to address the evolving threats in the digital landscape.”

calendar of eventsTo maximize notice of your events, be sure they appear on the UWindsor online calendar.

Calendar updates to improve service for event organizers and prospective attendees

Updates to the event calendar on the website will improve its functioning as a single source for activities across the University of Windsor.

The central calendar at captures every post of events made on Drupal sites across the university’s domain. Content providers who notice that their website event listings are not shared through the central calendar should send a note to to correct the omission.

UWindsor-affiliated groups which do not use the Drupal content management system may submit events for consideration by filling out the form on the calendar page or here:

students and instructors pose by rainforest waterfallInstructors Chantal Vallée and Sarah Woodruff led 12 human kinetics students on a study abroad course in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica trip provides international experience for human kinetics students

After a two-week study abroad course in Costa Rica, first-year kinesiology and health studies major Mackenzie Delisle finds herself embracing the “pura vida” (pure life) approach.

“Be present, live life to the fullest, and show gratitude in all circumstances,” Delisle says. “I want to bring this back with me to Canada and in my work as a future kinesiologist.”

She was one of 12 human kinetics students to take part in the course, led by instructor Chantal Vallée and accompanied by professor Sarah Woodruff.

To start off the course, students were immersed in the culture of Costa Rica, through dance, food, and meeting with students from the Universidad Latinoamericana de Cienciay Tecnologia. They also met student athletes from the university’s futsal and basketball teams and had the opportunity to tour its biomed and anatomy facilities.

The formal training engaged students in two projects: one in which they measured physiological responses to hiking on different terrains, and the second working with local university students to offer leadership and community sport projects.

Amy Pletsas, a first-year student of sport management and leadership, says the class planned and delivered activities for different age groups in the capital of San Jose and neighbouring town of La Fortuna.

“We introduced skills, sports, and fun games to them while trying to learn Spanish to enhance positive feedback to young students,” she says.

Aside from all the hard work, the class also enjoyed leisure activities. They spent the tail end of their trip at the Texas A&M Soltis Centre, where they had the opportunity to trek through the rainforest and learn more about the health benefits it can offer athletes.

Students received scholarships from the University of Windsor’s Go Global STEPs program to participate. Go Global STEPs is a Global Skills Opportunity project funded by Employment and Social Development Canada and administered by Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada.