Sherri Calder: JIBC Instructor of the Year instilling vital conflict resolution skills in future justice and public safety professionals

Sherri Calder, JIBC Instructor of the Year 2013Sherri Calder selected as JIBC’s Instructor of the Year. (Photo and story by Richard Chu)


One of the best compliments any instructor can receive is the feedback that what they have taught has made a difference.

Sherri Calder regularly hears such stories from students in the conflict resolution courses she teaches through the Justice Institute of British Columbia’s (JIBC) Centre for Conflict Resolution and in the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma (LESD) Program.

“Many of my students have told me they speak differently to their partners, family members, work colleagues and supervisors,” said Calder, who is the latest recipient of JIBC’s Instructor of the Year Award. “It’s very applicable in their daily lives.”

It’s even more valuable for those responsible for maintaining order and keeping people safe. One student, who serves as security at a busy local nightclub, noted:

“I’m constantly dealing with issue after issue, whether it’s simple arguing with an over-intoxicated individual, a conflict, or all-out violence. My co-workers often marvel at how I am able to diffuse a situation and solve anything that comes my way using only words and nothing more. While my co-workers are dragging people out, I am, 95% of the time, getting people to leave voluntarily. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the education I received through my conflict resolution courses. It has literally saved me from being physically harmed on multiple occasions.”

Calder brings a wealth of experience and insight as one of JIBC’s many experienced instructors active in their field of expertise. With a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology, she is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who works as a counsellor, facilitator and mediator for individuals, couples and organizations throughout B.C. and across Canada. She is also Adjunct Faculty in Organizational Psychology at The Adler School of Professional Psychology.

Like many JIBC graduates, Calder discovered her vocation while studying at the Institute.

Seeking a respected program about mediation, she discovered JIBC, thinking, “This looks really interesting,” she recalls. “I thought I’d just take one class, but I never stopped.”

After graduating with a JIBC Certificate in Conflict Resolution – Mediation and Negotiation in 1995, she would later return as a coach, supporting students during role-playing activities in conflict resolution classes before becoming an instructor herself eight years ago. For the past five years, she’s also been teaching in the LESD Program, imparting essential skills for future law enforcement professionals.

“Students enjoy her classes,” said Steve McCartney, Coordinator of the LESD Program. “Sherri is very approachable to her students. Many feel they can approach her with issues, not only about their studies but about issues at home. She really cares about her students.”


Mike Trump, Dean of JIBC’s School of Criminal Justice and Security, sums up the value Calder provides for her students:

“She has developed, and tailor fit, the conflict resolution courses so that they are among the most important classes offered in the LESD program. Sherri reflects the core of JIBC’s values being an expert practitioner, flexible in her approach to teaching, providing valued feedback and basing her lessons on the latest research. She’s very well respected by our staff, faculty, and most importantly, by the students.”

In all her classes, Calder constantly looks for new examples to illustrate the applicability of the conflict negotiation theories and skills she teaches in class. For students pursuing a career in law enforcement, she brings in guest speakers from various agencies to share their experiences about the value of certain conflict resolution skills and techniques.

“I like to find things that will help them in the future. For instance, we talk about being assertive, how to get your point across without belittling, judging or blaming another person. There is a way to do that effectively. We do a lot of role play, so they pick it up quite quickly. Until they actually put it into practice, it doesn’t totally resonate.”


In the LESD Program, she also gets students to interview someone in law enforcement and write a journal on their reflections about the importance of conflict resolution in the field.

“A lot of them write, ‘I didn’t know they would use these conflict resolution skills,’ or they would write about some of the misconceptions they had because of movies and stories in the media about how often officers use force. It’s far less than they believe,” said Calder. “I’m always thankful for all these officers who, without me intervening at all, take the time to speak to the students. It’s important for the LESD students to know what a day-in-the-life of a job-you-want-to-be-in looks like. I think some of them are surprised.”

For Calder, one of the benefits of teaching at JIBC is getting the chance to see her students progress towards their career goals, especially graduates of the LESD Program that have come back to JIBC as law enforcement recruits or continue their education in the Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies Program.

“I really enjoy a career where I get to see students reach their potential. That’s what makes my day,” she said. “Even just bumping into them in the hallway is really great. They come up to me talking about how it’s going, and the different things they learned in class that they’ve tried. I like that.”


Story by Richard Chu

Stay up to date about the latest course offerings you’re most interested in and subscribe to JIBC’s customizable email mailing listFor more information about JIBC’s conflict resolution courses and programs, visit the Centre for Conflict Resolution webpage for all the details. To learn more about the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma, visit the LESD webpage for detailed information.


  • Lisa Grant
    April 16, 2015 - 12:18 am | Permalink

    Sherri came to Kitimat for a workshop and she was amazing! Way to go you deserve it!

  • Linda Stewart
    April 1, 2015 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Sherri!

  • Kathleen
    January 8, 2015 - 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Sherri! Absolutely deserved. I’m not surprised and am very happy to see you recognized! You are an exceptional instructor and coach. Everything you have taught me is practical and applicable.

  • January 7, 2015 - 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, Sherri. It was always a pleasure being in one of your classes or coaching groups.

  • John McLeod
    January 7, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Reiterate the writer’s comments. It was truly a pleasure having a leader like Sherri teaching the courses I had booked in 2014. The skills gained have really made a difference to my approaches and interactions.

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