BY ANDREW ROBINSON
Transcontinental Community Newspapers
Given his background, the recent cabinet appointment of Clyde Jackman to the education portfolio seems like an event eight years in the making.
Mr. Jackman suggested “Coming to this portfolio is sort of like coming home.”
Still waiting to be sworn in as the MHA for Burin-Placentia West as of Wednesday last week, following a close vote in last month’s provincial election, Mr. Jackman spent 26 years in the education system prior to first being elected in 2003.
“I had hoped somewhere in my political career that I would land there.”
Mr. Jackman was a former parliamentary secretary for the Department of Education who went on to serve as cabinet minister in a variety of posts, most recently in fisheries and aquaculture.
Two of his five children have gone on to follow in their father’s footsteps and become educators on the Burin Peninsula. Never one to try to directly influence his children’s decisions when it comes to choosing career paths, Mr. Jackman said they may have picked education in part because he always spoke positively about his experience in the system.
“I think maybe if I had a negative experience with it, maybe my two sons may not have gone in that particular area, but they did, and I honestly can’t say I ever regretted going into education.”
Mr. Jackman got his start teaching in a multi-grade classroom before moving into an administrator’s role as a school principal. He later worked for the former Burin Peninsula School Board.
The new Department of Education Mr. Jackman will oversee has been revamped since the post-election cabinet shuffle. His sole focus will be the Kindergarten to Grade 12 system, while post-secondary education falls under the Department of Advanced Education and Skills.
“I had hoped somewhere in my political career that I would land there.” - – Education Minister Clyde Jackman
He said dividing those responsibilities allows government to devote more attention to each facet of the education system. With the need for skilled trade workers expected to increase in years to come, Jackman said the new arrangement will benefit the province.
Outside his stint as a parliamentary secretary, Mr. Jackman said he has not been involved with the education system since 2002, but he said the concept of schools led by excellent teachers remains largely unchanged.
One of his children struggled at times in school, but he said the attention that child received from his drama teacher went a long way in building his confidence.
“There’s a challenge with every child. Recognizing what those challenges are and finding ways to address (them) is the key to having a successful classroom and having a successful school.”
Mr. Jackman intends to take a closer look at curriculum, drug use in schools and bullying. He said he believes popular culture in some instances promotes being nice as a detrimental quality, citing the cynical nature of reality television.
“It seems like as a society we’re moving towards an aggressiveness – even in our TV media. How does that translate overall to us as a school system?”
One matter that will continue to affect the makeup of the education system will be the declining youth population, which has resulted in the closure of many schools during the past decade.
Mr. Jackman said school boards will continue to deal with the possibility of amalgamation at ground level, adding a place remains for smaller schools in areas where they are needed.
St. John’s Telegram