The school year began in September for Peel District School Board’s 150,000 students with a new director of education at the helm.

Peter Joshua officially took over for retiring director Tony Pontes in July. Joshua’s 27-year career in education has included roles as teacher, department head, vice-principal, principal, system principal and superintendent. Most recently, he was the Executive Superintendent of Leadership and Learning with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

The board utilized an executive search consultant to assist in conducting an online survey with key stakeholders to determine the qualities and experience the new director should bring to the job. 800 survey responses were received to help guide trustees in selecting the best candidate for the job.

“Peter was our clear choice. We are confident that he will bring his inspired and collaborative leadership style to Peel, and strongly believe he will provide the stability our system deserves,” said Janet McDougald, chair of the PDSB. “The board is confident Peter has the unity of vision and action to harvest the energy and enthusiasm of the system to bring continued hope, humanity and excellence to our system,” she added.

Though his career has been in Hamilton-Wentworth until now, Joshua grew up in Mississauga and was a student here. As an elementary student, he attended Thorne Lodge and Homelands Senior public schools, then graduated from Erindale Secondary School. He has expressed excitement and pride in returning to what he calls “home.”

Joshua will lead the board in achieving objectives as outlined in the board’s Plan for Student Success. The five-year plan, which started in 2016, outlines four goals: 1. high expectations for achievement, 2. parent, community, and staff engagement, 3. safe, positive, healthy climate/well-being, and 4. equity and inclusion. All are aimed at the board’s mission to “inspire success, confidence, and hope in each student.”

Of particular focus for Joshua, will be equity and inclusion. As part of the plan, one project is the development of a comprehensive strategy to support students from marginalized communities such as black male youth, LGBTQ students, First Nation, Métis, Inuit students and students living in poverty,

In a welcome letter to PDSB students and their families, Joshua confirmed his commitment to strengthening inclusion and equity within the PDSB community. Notes Joshua, “This requires us to examine how we have done things in the past and to work to design a path that includes all voices in the creation of system-wide initiatives. We will do this together. During the upcoming school year, we will consult, listen and take your input and suggestions to heart. Quite simply, because your voices matter.”

For further information regarding the board’s Plan for Student Success, visit www.pdsb.me/Plan4StudentSuccess.

Photo: Peel District School Board director of education Peter Joshua.