Maryhelen trained as a massage therapist after 25 years as a journalist, writer, and editor, including experience developing educational materials for adults. But after graduation, rather than opening a clinic as planned, she decided to purchase an existing massage school.
Instead, she was inspired to fill a void by creating a massage therapy college in Alberta that put the needs of its students first, by meeting the highest academic standards within a flexible and collegial structure.
She is now semi-retired and living on Vancouver Island, but she is still actively involved in the school. She works behind the scenes on external and internal communications, marketing, recruiting and admissions. With co-owner Robin Collum and the other members of the leadership team, she helps ensure the program continues to improve and meet the needs of students, employers, and the community.
As executive director, Sarah has a mix of administrative and educational responsibilities for maintaining and improving the quality of our program.
Sarah was our Calgary director and assistant director of curriculum before assuming the role. Sarah is passionate about working with students and has continued to be involved in the classroom while holding these leadership roles.
Supported by Maryhelen, Linda, and the rest of the leadership team, Sarah led the school’s successful application for national accreditation by the CMTCA. In the absence of significant Alberta regulation of massage education, being accredited by the national body demonstrates our voluntary compliance with the latest standards. We earned preliminary accreditation in 2021, and were fully accredited in 2022.
Sarah trained at Foothills College of Massage Therapy in Calgary and taught there before joining the Vicars team. She is based in Calgary.
Robin has been with Vicars School since 2010 and communications director since 2016. As a part owner, she is part of the leadership team that directs policy and strategy.
A writer and editor by profession, she writes and edits the school’s internal and external communications and marketing, including the school’s website and blog, with the help of Katherine and Maryhelen. She works closely with Corrina and our marketing contractors to maintain the accuracy and integrity of our image and brand.
Robin works with Sarah, Linda, and various subject experts on staff to create, edit, and format in-house manuals, direct mail, correspondence, and curriculum materials.
Robin has a BA from the University of Alberta, journalism experience, and a Master of Arts in International and Intercultural Communications from Royal Roads University. She is based in Calgary.
When we started the school in 2001 our vision was to build a program that prepared students for success from their first day in practice. Our goal was for the Vicars curriculum and program to become as effective and comprehensive as those of the best massage schools anywhere in Canada.
That we have met and maintained that goal is largely a credit to Linda. Together with Sarah, our Executive Director, Linda has been the driving force in obtaining the national CMTCA accreditation that recognises our achievement.
Linda is responsible for maintaining the quality of our curriculum materials and resources and keeping them (as well as each member of our faculty) current with the latest national standards for massage education. As a member of our leadership team, Linda contributes to strategic planning and policy development.
As the registrar, Corrina oversees our admissions and student support team, guiding prospective and current students throughout their journey at Vicars from initial inquiry through to enrollment and graduation.
In admissions, she leads online and on-campus info sessions, conducts interviews, and advises prospective students on their funding options.
Corrina is a key member of the leadership team and works with Robin and Katherine in communications to recruit new students, always with integrity and transparency.
If you’re interested in becoming a massage therapist, Corrina will answer your questions about the career and our program and support you through the Vicars enrolment process. Returning to school is a big decision, but Corrina’s friendly attitude and attention to detail make the enrollment process fun and straightforward.
A master multi-tasker, Heather adeptly balances multiple roles. She has computing expertise and experience as a successful technology and systems consultant to industry and business clients in Calgary.
Heather joined Vicars just as we needed a major upgrade of several of our aging systems. She has led the lengthy development of our new student information system, working to customize generic post-secondary education software to work in a blended-learning environment, tracking student academic progress and our various in-house funding and installment payment plans. Heather is responsible for the management of online learning on the Moodle platform, including training faculty and students.
She maintains our various communications and marketing systems and trains and supports users. She also offers administrative support for staff and instructors and is a valued member of the leadership team.
Education and Student Support
Hiba is a key employee on the Edmonton campus. She is the first person to welcome a visitor or a new student, and she is the go-to information source and problem solver for all the instructors, clinic supervisors, and students.
Hiba has a diploma in business administration from MacEwan University and office experience in medical and multidisciplinary clinics. She appreciates the team-oriented ethic of the staff at Vicars, and while the job involves a lot of intensive office work, enjoys the front-office interaction with the students who come to her for help during the day. She likes how positive they are, she says, and enjoys their stories: what made them choose massage; what their former careers were like; and how they feel about the challenge of returning to school.
Janine has been with Vicars School from 2002. Janine owned a successful clinic in Lacombe for many years and continues to practice in Lacombe independently. As an employer, she became interested in teaching massage because of her experience with training new massage therapists on the job. She found it frustrating that the schools at the time were not producing graduates that were ready to work effectively. She helped founder Maryhelen Vicars to fine-tune the new school’s program to a higher level of job readiness for its grads.
She is a valued advisor to the leadership team on curriculum, teacher training, and academic rigor. Janine is a valuable liaison between Edmonton and Calgary and a tireless advocate for both students and instructors to ensure they can be both successful and effective.
Miranda is the Calgary clinic coordinator, scheduling public clinics and working with students, supervisors, and instructors to provide the best experience for everyone. Miranda came to Vicars after several years in administration at a career college in Vancouver in financial administration and admissions before taking on practicum supervision, supporting internships for health-care students in their senior year. She continued, remotely, after moving to Calgary in 2022.
Miranda loves that her role at Vicars brings her more into contact with students—our supervised clinical experience takes place on campus throughout the year. She says she is especially drawn to working with mature students. She can relate, she says, because she has been both a mature student and an international student. Born in the Philippines, Miranda is multilingual and studied in Paris before earning her MBA from NYIT in Vancouver.
Alyssa works closely with the leadership team and faculty on both campuses to ensure that students, faculty, and clients can all count on a consistent and high-quality experience at the school. She has marketing experience and skills and is a tireless and creative promoter of both the school and the expanding clinic and outreach programs on both campuses.
She is not in the classroom these days, but her impact on our students’ education has only grown in the last few years. Working closely with Director of Curriculum Linda McGeachy and Calgary Clinic Coordinator Miranda Cabiladas, her job is to ensure that Vicars students are getting the most up-to-date and relevant education possible.
Alyssa is passionate about the value of Vicars School’s blended learning approach, including the supervised clinical experience, in building the skills and confidence Vicars grads need to be successful therapists as soon as they graduate.
Eric Purves a registered massage therapist, educator and researcher based in Victoria. His clinical and educational focus is on translating the latest research evidence for the treatment and management of persistent pain and musculoskeletal concerns into real-world strategies for client care.
He earned an MSc in rehabilitation science through UBC. His graduate work focused on the role of RMTs in the healthcare system, and how to use research evidence in curriculum development and education delivery.
He has travelled the world teaching courses on persistent pain, rehabilitation principles and evidence-based practice strategies for massage, manual and movement therapists.
For Vicars School, Eric acts as a curriculum consultant and faculty trainer, as part of our ongoing work to keep our curriculum current with the latest evidence-based research, and that our teaching reflects emerging knowledge in assessment and treatment.
When Gillian stepped away from her work as a technical writer and management consultant to the oil industry, she was not ready for full retirement.
As it happened, her daughter Sarah Ward-Bakken had just moved from Calgary Director to Executive Director at Vicars and Gillian suddenly had the free time to help ease Sarah’s transition into her new role. She came on part time in 2017 to bring her business expertise to the reorganization we were doing at the time. She then moved on to pick up a dizzying variety of odd jobs on the Calgary campus, including research, administration, bookkeeping, organizing—taking charge of whatever needed doing wherever she was needed.
The role has been interrupted by a BC sabbatical and some travel, but she continues to contribute her insight and experience to our school. The oil patch’s loss is our gain, in other words.
Katherine is an active member of three different teams at Vicars School: Communications, Admissions, and Administration. Her role as a writer, researcher, and administrator includes monitoring and updating the school website and creating content for all the platforms we use to reach out to students, grads, employers, and prospective students. These include social media, mailouts and special events on campus. Working with contractors, she helps create content for our photo and video library to support the work of the Registrar and Communications.
Katherine has responsibility for expanded services to Vicars alumni, including opportunities for networking, mentoring, employment and continuing education. She maintains a grad services page on the website and a contact list where clients can connect with Vicars-trained therapists in towns and cities throughout the west.
When aspiring massage therapists reach out to Rhonda, they’re not just connecting with an expert on the Vicars admissions process. They’re getting the opportunity to speak to an experienced RMT and someone who knows the Vicars program inside and out.
Like many of the students she now works with, Rhonda came to massage therapy as a second career. She left behind the stressful, fast-paced corporate offices she was used to and enrolled at Vicars in her early 40s. She graduated in 2017 and has a successful practice in south Edmonton.
Rhonda joined the admissions team because she wants to help others find the same career satisfaction that she now enjoys. She is an effective and enthusiastic interviewer and advisor of prospective students and advocate for current students and graduates.