Peel District School Board’s new education director, 53-year-old Peter Joshua was raised in Mississauga by parents who immigrated from Pakistan and India, back when he was growing up, he was among the few brown faces in a sea of white. Since then, Peel Region’s demography has changed so much so that today in some schools whites are the new minority.
Peter Joshua attended McMaster University in Hamilton, where he worked toward a degree in biology followed by a master’s degree in molecular virology and immunology and studied with a leading HIV-AIDS researcher.
He attended teachers’ college at Western University in London, before returning to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to teach high school biology and chemistry for eight years before moving into administration.
His most recent role was executive superintendent of leadership and learning, which included exploring non-traditional teaching, programs and classrooms.
Today he heads up Canada’s second-largest school board and he wants to make the removal of those who feel excluded or are struggling with mental health issues central to his agenda.
In a recent speech to hundreds of school staff at the annual back-to-school kickoff, he noted the need for educators to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization experienced by so many which is so important if they have to be empowered.
These marginalized students include Black, LGBTQ and Indigenous students as well as those who live in poverty.
These are challenging times for educators all over Canada and more specifically places like Peel which has such a large percentage of diverse students. Peel’s first student census to provide that information is expected to be completed by December 2018.
Its first workforce census earlier this year found that while visible minorities make up more than half of Peel Region, only about a quarter of staff and teachers at the board identify as “racialized.”
Joshua says Peel’s 153,000 students need to see themselves reflected in the people who teach them and what they learn in their classrooms.
Besides diversity training given to teachers what is really required is improving the overall diversity of the teaching staff. This is something that will go a long way in addressing the issues facing school boards across Canada. -CINEWS