In memory of
Heidi Kass
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In memory of
Heidi Kass
Heidi Kass 1939-2017 Dr. Heidi Kass 1939-2017 Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta Dr. Heidi Kass passed away peacefully on May 9, 2017 in North Vancouver, BC. She leaves behind her two daughters Tanya Kass McCabe and Tracy Kass Palmer; her grandchildren Ashleigh and Samantha McCabe and Amber and Kyle Palmer; her brother Vello Kass (Carol Kass), her sister Ann Holtz (Al Holtz), nieces Kadre Sneddon, Kersti Kass, Kaila Holtz, and nephews, Aleks Holtz and Matthew Holtz. Heidi was born in Tallinn, Estonia on June 17, 1939 to Julius Kass and Lydia Anton. In 1944 Lydia fled Estonia, with her mother Elsa and her two children Heidi and Vello, to Germany when it was clear the Russians were going to invade Estonia. Heidi's parents divorced during the war. Heidi spent her early childhood in various Displaced Persons camps in Germany during and after the war. Lydia and her children emigrated to Canada in 1949 to southern Alberta; Lydia came to Canada as a farm labourer even though she was a trained concert pianist. The family arrived in Barons, Alberta where Lydia worked in the sugar beet fields for the first year. Soon after the family moved to Lethbridge, followed by Calgary and finally settling in Edmonton in 1954. Heidi attended Westglen High School in Edmonton and went on to study education at Connecticut Teachers College before she graduated from the University of Alberta in 1964 with Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Science degrees. Heidi obtained a Masters in Education from Harvard University, attending that institution as one of the first class of women graduate students. She went on to receive a PhD from the University of Alberta in 1969 in Science Education and completed post doctoral research at Stanford University. In the 1990's, Dr. Kass was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Alberta Centre for Mathematics Science and Technology Education (CMASTE). She was the first Director of CMASTE. Heidi also set an example for teachers and university instructors by her significant involvement with the Alberta Teachers' Association Science Council as its President and Conference Director. She received the Distinguished Service award from teachers for her contribution to science education in Alberta. After a long and remarkable academic career at the University of Alberta, Heidi retired as professor emeritus in 1997. She then spent some time at the University of British Columbia before her full retirement in 2004. Heidi was a prolific writer and researcher, and enjoyed overseeing the successes of her many graduate students. She had a significant impact in developing and implementing a contemporary science education curriculum used across Canada, and elsewhere in the world including Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, and the United States. She enjoyed debating ideas, challenging concepts and encouraging those around her to make a difference. Many of her former graduate students have gone on to assume leadership roles in science education in universities, departments of education and school systems around the world. Heidi had a photographic memory and exceptional vocabulary skills. She was a talented cook, gardener and musician. Her graduate student dinners were legendary among her students and her family. Heidi enjoyed sabbaticals in Australia, and in Canada. She loved to travel and together with her daughters visited Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and drove across Canada and the United States. Hawaii was a particular favourite place for winter holidays with family. Heidi will be remembered for her determination and fierce independence, reflections of her Estonian heritage. Her work in science education and the development of high school chemistry curricula continues to be used by teachers and in schools across Canada and around the world. A memorial service is being planned for a future date in Edmonton. If wished, please consider a donation to the University of Alberta Centre for Mathematics Science and Technology Education (CMASTE) or to a Foodbank of your choice.
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