The first cohort of 59 Saudi principals, counselors and teachers graduated successfully from the new Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion program, created through a partnership between the York University English Language Institute (YUELI) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The graduation took place July 5.
Over the past 30 years, Canada has become an educational hub for Saudi professionals. Approximately 4,000 Saudi physicians completed their training in Canada, and in 2010, more than 900 Saudi doctors trained in Canada.
The positive outcome of the Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion program follows this trend in international professional and educational exchange, reinforcing positive and cordial relations between the two countries. With assistance from partners in the program – the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau, the Faculty of Education and TDSB ─ YUELI delivered proficiency-appropriate language training and organized individualized guidance through the Faculty of Education and school immersion at leading TDSB schools from January to July 2017.
The goal of the program is to exchange knowledge, skills and approaches of Saudi education professionals through university-guided immersion in successful schools in Canada. The Office of Professional Learning at York University’s Faculty of Education supported the individual guidance through mentorship, coaching and collaborative inquiry led by York instructional leaders.
The participants were also able to gain insight into other programs at TDSB and learn what makes it a world leader in public education. During the six months of the program, the teachers were given an opportunity to observe, analyze and discuss lessons taught by experienced mentor teachers; and gain hands-on experience being immersed in an authentic and well-respected Canadian classroom setting.
The graduation farewell ceremony was attended by Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau representatives led by Ali Saleh Ben Naser Alkaladi, who is the head of Universities & Government Agencies Students Department, the International Education Coordinator of Faculty of Education at York University Rick White and Central Coordinating Principal, TDSB Norbrert Costa.
The graduates presented a plaque of appreciation to York University. Receiving the plaque were White, YUELI, School of Continuing Studies Isaac Garcia-Sitton and Ben Collins, the associate director academic programs, YUELI. Garcia-Sitton thanked and congratulated the graduates on their outstanding contribution and noted that the Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion program truly marks the beginning of a long friendship in training, integration of ideas, and in the furtherance of the two countries’ shared goals.
YUELI is currently building on this success by welcoming a second iteration of approximately 50 English and non-English teachers this fall, with Garcia-Sitton leading negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau and the Saudi Ministry of Education regarding a second cohort of Saudi educators.