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Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows superintendent gets super job with province

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District superintendent Jan Unwin has been given a new two-year appointment with the provincial government.  Her new title: superintendent of graduation and student transitions - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District superintendent Jan Unwin has been given a new two-year appointment with the provincial government. Her new title: superintendent of graduation and student transitions
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District superintendent Jan Unwin has been given a new two-year appointment with the provincial government.

Her new title: superintendent of graduation and student transitions.

In late October, Unwin announced she would be leaving her position with the local school district after five years in the top job.

“I’ve known for a while that I needed a new adventure,” she said.

Wednesday, the ministries of education and advanced education (post secondary) announced Unwin’s new appointment.

The province will soon launch a new 10-year Skills Training Plan for Youth.

Unwin’s job will be to implement that plan, alongside a second provincial superintendent.

The plan is designed to “help youth discover careers that offer bright futures and meet British Columbia’s economic needs across a wide range of industry sectors.”

It will mark a shift in thinking, from an education system that goes from grades K-12 to a seamless K-16 system, Unwin explained.

She will be building partnerships between school boards, colleges and universities, employers and government.

Unwin will look for opportunities to increase the number of high school grads moving into post secondary, trades, technical programs and careers. And she will also expand dual-credit programs, which allow secondary students to earn credits toward post-secondary while they are still in high school.

“That’s giving kids who have already identified their passions, credit for work they have done [outside of school],” she said.

She said the education system will be much different in 10 years.

“It will look different, because the outside world looks so different,” she said. “There will be more of a focus on giving kids competencies that are broader than just content.”

During her term as superintendent, the district was recognized nationally for its environmental school, cyber school, iPod literacy, and, most recently, for allowing elementary school teachers to stop giving letter grades in favour of a new conferencing model of student assessment.

Unwin said she will miss the people she has worked with in school district 42.

“Seventeen years I was in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Deputy superintendent Laurie Meston will assume the role of acting superintendent, beginning Feb. 1, until a new superintendent is hired. She has been with the district for more than 20 years.

“The board wanted to ensure that the district had a strong leadership team in place during the transition period,” said board chair Mike Murray. “As the current deputy superintendent, Laurie Meston was a natural choice for this temporary appointment. Her experience and expertise will give our district continuity as it searches for its next superintendent.”

The district has hired global executive search firm Boyden to undertake the search for its new superintendent of schools, and hopes to have the new CEO at the helm for the next school year.

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