Conservatory Faculty


Donna Holstine Vander Valk

BA, M.Ed., Ph.D., ARCT, LCTL, Fellowship (Trinity College)

Off-Campus Instructor, Speech Arts & Drama
(Mission/Cliff Bungalow)


Donna loves words. Finding her passion as a speech arts studio instructor over 20 years ago has allowed her to surround herself with their beauty. Her greatest joy (besides her two young sons, whom she home schools) comes from watching other people find their own joy in crafting spoken words through speech arts.

Working with students to find wonderful literature that speaks to their hearts and their minds, Donna helps her learners find their own unique voices through exploration, technique, reflection and practice. Opportunities for creating performances of one’s own words (public speaking, creative storytelling, poetry) are also explored. Younger students can share their work in recitals, festivals, and through graded examinations with both the Royal Conservatory (Toronto) and Trinity College (London, UK).

Adult students share their work professionally (job-related and communities of practices), and in community-based activities such as parent councils, community committees, storytelling events, etc.

Donna will be teaching Monday and Tuesday evenings in the 2015-15 Season. She holds numerous degrees and credentials and has won numerous awards and scholarships in Speech Arts & Drama. Her students have likewise succeeded in festivals, speaking competitions and examinations. When time allows, Donna adjudicates and runs workshops, and through it all, she continues her love affair with words as a writer.

Prior to motherhood, Donna worked concurrently as a faculty member in Communications and Presentation Skills, as a Program Coordinator for Literary and Visual Arts at Lethbridge College, and as a Speech Arts & Drama studio and group instructor at the Conservatory at Lethbridge College. She also worked for a number of years as a Theatre for Young Audiences writer and director. Moving to Calgary in 2001, she continued her work as a Speech Arts & Drama instructor with the Mount Royal University Conservatory, as well as a program manager and instructor with MRU's Faculty of Continuing Education in its Public and Professional Speaking programs and Adult Educator Seminar Series.

Donna left Mount Royal to work as a curriculum developer and a learning consultant for the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, where she taught professional facilitation skills, program planning, professional speaking, among other fun, word-related things. In 2005, she transitioned into more extensive writing, limiting her speech arts work to adjudicating, master teaching, and mentoring, in addition to provided curriculum development, website development and conference planning support to various faculties at the University of Calgary.

Donna is thrilled to be back where her heart lives, teaching Speech Arts & Drama as a Branch Instructor with Mount Royal Conservatory. If you are interested in working in a fun, engaging, challenging, and warm studio environment, Donna might just be the right fit!