Rod Allen, Cowichan Valley schools superintendent, is now working with an international group of educators to plan the future of education worldwide. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Valley superintendent helps shape future of worldwide education

An acknowledged expert in the field, Rod Allen is now sharing Cowichan’s successful ideas globally

You might not realize it but the Cowichan Valley is in the international spotlight again.

This time it’s due to the new and exciting ways the Cowichan Valley School District is approaching eduction.

Rod Allen, SD 79 superintendent, is a big name in that field and was a keynote speaker during a gathering of education experts from around the globe in Paris last month.

The venue was the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) session on Learning 2030. The question: What will education look like in the future?

Experts like Allen have said that setting up a global vision now is essential so that kids can be successful in the future. At present, there are 37 countries involved in this work, including Canada and, in particular, British Columbia.

Allen, who was in Paris representing B.C.’s K-12 education system as well as SD 79, is leading a team of experts on Learning 2030.

That means developing a clear, global picture of what knowledge, skills and abilities children need to learn now in order to be successful in the future. It’s not easy, with change occurring almost hourly in an electronically connected world, but it’s essential, and the Valley’s school trustees know how lucky they are.

“We are very fortunate to have an internationally recognized educator leading the learning and operations of our school district,” said Candace Spilsbury, SD 79 Board of Education chairwoman. “Rod has been a leader in education innovation for many years, and we are in a wonderful position as a board, staff, and students to benefit from his involvement in international learning groups.”

She pointed out that the school district benefits by knowing that Valley experiences are now being examined worldwide. This attracts international visitors who are interested in learning about Cowichan-style education. These include teachers from the State of Louisiana, a principals’ group from Australia, and a researcher from Harvard University who is including SD 79 as a case study for education transformation.

Allen also has been able to “show strong governance, leadership and collaboration amongst education partners leads to learning transformation success,” Spilsbury said.

“There is significant interest globally in what B.C. is doing with the new curriculum. Many people are watching and looking for opportunities to learn about the cutting-edge work we are doing in our schools,” Allen said. “There are such strong examples of education innovation right here in the Cowichan Valley. It’s a pleasure to share some of our work on a global stage. Our district deserves to be highlighted as leaders in this work.”

Among the innovative ideas that have been put into practice in the Cowichan district are involving the wider community so experts can enhance student learning. Other new ideas include working even more closely with the Valley’s First Nations to include culture-based field trips and outdoor projects. Both have led to more student success, especially among First Nations kids.

Of course, being on the front lines globally means that Cowichan is right there when new ideas are launched, too.

The work with the OECD will continue into 2018, and is currently done at no cost to the school district due to Allen’s role as an expert advisor to the project.



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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