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Chilean principals go beyond borders of educational leadership


February 10, 2012

By Sabrina Persaud

Throughout the month of January, OISE Continuing Education presented a three-week long intensive Education Leadership Internship Program to 62 principals from Chile. The program featured sessions covering diverse aspects of educational leadership and site visits to schools. OISE experts leading the sessions included representation from educational administration, urban schooling, early childhood education, and continuing education. The sessions enabled the principals to learn about educational strategies that have been developed for Ontario educational contexts and understand how educational leadership can be fostered.

Half of the group received a certificate of professional learning from the Internship program on January 27, and half will receive theirs on February 3. A reception for graduates in the new OISE community lounged followed, where graduates, organizers and OISE community members celebrated along with the Chilean Consul General, Patricio Powell.  Graduates expressed pleasure in being able to attend the educational exchange.  Influential Hispanic Canadian Luz Bascuñàn, a Chilean teacher and OISE graduate, explained, “Chilean teachers and principals will bring back greater knowledge of the Ontario education system, as it is one of the best." She added,  "OISE graduate studies contributed a great deal to my educational wealth and I feel that it will do the same for this group of visiting principals."

A collaborative relationship between OISE and the Fundación Chile has allowed professors from OISE to travel to Chile and now has provided an opportunity for Chilean principals to attend sessions here at OISE. Through Stephen Anderson's outreach, OISE developed a relationship with the Fundación Chile, a business-government partnership that works with the ministry of education and universities on education-related projects, including working with schools in challenging projects and developing an educational leadership masters' cohort with a local university. Joseph Flessa and Barbara Bodkin travelled to Chile as advisors to the program. Professor Flessa has taught there, and Professor Stephen Anderson has done a lot of research with the Fundación. The next phase involved work with a School Leadership Internship sponsored by the Ministry of Education in Chile, whereby selected partnerships (Fundación-OISE) were chosen to offer two-week international programs for groups of principals from elementary and secondary schools in Chile and Latin America. For many, it is their first time visiting Canada.

Featured presenters from OISE included Blair Mascall, Jeff Kugler, Director of the Centre for Urban Schooling, his colleague Nicole West-Burns, Stephen Anderson, Carol Campbell. Beverly Caswell, Director of the Robertson program at the Jackman Institute of Child Study, as well as other practitioners and associates from school districts. "About half the time was devoted to site visits to schools and we were grateful that several model schools within the Centre for Urban Schooling, the Jackman Institute of Child Study and the University of Toronto Schools were among them," said Barbara Bodkin, OISE Director of Continuing Education.

"The internship experience has allowed participants to reflect on their own professional practices and learn other leadership styles and new ways of addressing the school issues by approaching a new educational context and having conversation with their peers in Canada," said Carolina Cuellar Becerra, training coordinator within the Management and Leadership Program at Fundación Chile.