A life dedicated to helping students grow
Bill McTaggart was the kind of person who was driven by a desire to see others succeed and thrive. An inspired educator, devoted father and grandfather, science enthusiast and guaranteed wellspring of humour, Mr. Bill — as he was affectionately known by students and colleagues — was motivated by a profound sense to help people.
McTaggart joined SAIT in 1975 and spent the next 20 years as an instructor in the School of Health and Public Safety (HP&S). He was instrumental in the development of curriculum content and was an eager participant in all things innovation when it came to instruction. He progressed into several other leadership and management positions within the faculty for six years before returning to his true passion, teaching, for the remainder of his 37-year career. While at SAIT, McTaggart cultivated a close connection among his colleagues — they were true friends who he considered like family.
“Without a doubt, his true passion was teaching, and he felt that working with students was both a privilege and a welcome responsibility,” shares McTaggart’s daughter Kelly Raffin (Diagnostic Medical Sonography ’12). “It probably came from his genuine motivation to help. That was his drive — to help people understand concepts and build their confidence. This set them up for success as they began their new careers.”
Whether it was telling a joke, making a hand-drawn slide to use in a lecture, or joyfully acting out diapedesis (the passage of blood cells through the intact walls of the capillaries), Mr. Bill always tried to present ideas in unique and understandable ways.
“He was an amazing teacher that made the content come to life in the classroom,” reflects Kimberly Wheelans, Academic Chair, Clinical Support Services, HP&S. “He had a way to make hard concepts memorable. I still remember when he was explaining diapedesis, and it was at the end of the class when he explained the concept and then slowly opened the door just a little, then he squeezed through the opening and left the room, leaving us all just sitting there. It was a great visual of the term!”
Bill McTaggart passed away in 2021, but his commitment to helping others continues.
Throughout his 37 years with SAIT, he taught more than 2,000 students in SAIT’s School of Health and Public Safety, and hundreds of those graduates are now working in the health care industry. McTaggart was an advocate and believer in the vital role his students would play after they graduated, and ensured everyone who left his class was competent, capable and motivated to help others.
“I’m fortunate to work in health care myself now, and to run across some of his previous students,” reflects Raffin. “Still, 25 years later they remember him as Mr. Bill. It is a real gift to me and his family. I feel humbled by his impact and seeing it out in the world is really wonderful.”
Opening doors for others
It was his passionate commitment to help others that inspired Raffin to create an award in his honour. The Bill McTaggart Memorial Award supports students from SAIT’s Medical Laboratory Program who are in financial need.
“He put his whole life into teaching and making things better for people. Anyone lucky enough to know him, benefitted from him,” says Raffin. “He’d be really happy to see this award open doors for people to get an education and begin their own fulfilling careers. I know he would be really proud that he could continue to help students.”
Make a difference on Giving Day
Awards like The Bill McTaggart Memorial Award play a critical role in the journey of students — more than the financial support, awards give students the motivation and encouragement they need to succeed.
You can help make a difference in the lives of students too! SAIT’s annual Giving Day is on Oct.17—18 and your generosity provides funds for student awards like The Bill McTaggart Memorial Award.