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Cabinetmaking instructor receives Apprenticeship Manitoba honour

November 13, 2015


A cabinetmaking instructor from Red River College has won a prestigious provincial training honour from Apprenticeship Manitoba.

Todd Birtwhistle received this year’s Instructor of the Year honour at the Manitoba Apprenticeship Awards of Distinction, which recognize excellence in training and education.

An employee at the college for the last eight years (and himself an alum of RRC’s Apprenticeship Cabinetmaker program), Birtwhistle picked up the award at a reception in Winnipeg on Nov. 5.

His students describe him as an excellent instructor who enables apprentices to develop technical skills and self-motivation by giving them the tools and information they need to succeed, while also allowing them to make mistakes and supporting them when they take on increasingly complex tasks.

In addition, he encourages his students to strive for excellence and to take responsibility for their own learning, while always being there to assist and answer questions.

Birtwhistle (shown above, working with Grade 9 students during RRC’s Take Our Kids to Work Day) is known for regularly arriving early to open the Carpentry shop for his class, and for staying late to help students master difficult concepts or tasks.

Not surprisingly, his insights and experience are greatly valued by those he teaches, among them former student Aubrey Doerksen, the journeyperson cabinetmaker who nominated Birtwhistle for the award.

“Todd always encouraged us to do our best,” said Doerksen in her submission. “Being a female who had very little exposure to woodworking prior to starting my apprenticeship, I felt at times that I had to prove myself.”

“In Todd’s class, I simply had to develop my skills and be the best that I could personally be as a cabinetmaker. Todd treated us with respect and set an example of how to treat each other.”