A wide range of business, social and education leaders, and policy-makers gathered in Sackville on July 6-7 to develop a more detailed blueprint for the community-supported education model that has been proposed for Sackville and the Tantramar region of the province.
Hosted by Mayor John Higham and Chris Treadwell, assistant deputy minister of education, the group addressed the central role of education in the social and economic development of Sackville and the province of New Brunswick, as seen in the Sackville Schools 20/20 model. This community-driven model sees education as a primary economic driver for the town as well as a tool for social development. Treadwell provided a detailed context for the current challenges in the province’s education system and the vision for an educational change agenda. He sees the Sackville Schools 20/20 model as revolutionary for New Brunswick and he invited business, social and academic leaders to provide strategic and practical advice, as well as action, on moving toward a community-supported education ecosystem for the province.
Representatives from the business community, economists, community social innovation groups, and business and entrepreneurial education experts addressed the ways in which education can be supported and enhanced when all of these sectors work together. The potential use of Sackville as a model learning community was highlighted in a detailed discussion by Andrew Wilson, Chair of Sackville Schools 20/20. He noted that a study completed by former New Brunswick Chief Economist David Campbell found that nearly 70 per cent of businesses in Sackville generate a significant part of their business from the various educational institutions in the community and that 84 per cent of respondents identified education as a critical part of the Sackville economy. The fact that there are over 700 direct jobs in the education sector here, from pre-school to post-secondary levels, with over $50 million in combined budgets, demonstrates the power of education as an economic driver for the town and the region.
Participants also focused on some of the exciting changes being developed in the province, such as a major new initiative on experiential learning, internships and apprenticeship programs, as well as social innovation and employment strategies aimed at community engagement and individualized learning, including community support for the strong bond that exists between the Tantramar Family of Schools that includes Sackville, Port Elgin and Dorchester. A number of specific outcomes and actions were identified and organizers will now move forward with the assistance of this broad partnership of business, community and educational leaders. This event was supported financially by Renaissance Sackville, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Mount Allison University. An update on the progress of the new model will be delivered at a province-wide conference on educational change being hosted by the Anglophone East School District in early October.
(Also published in the Sackville Tribune Post)