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Principals gain insight by experiencing life abroad

October 7, 2014 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

Exchange program turns in a successful first year

For a busy school principal, it can be hard to pull back from the daily demands of the job and gain perspective on the big picture aspects of the education system and one’s own role in it.

A fresh perspective is one of the things that the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s newest exchange program can help provide. Last year 10 Alberta principals took advantage of the program by completing a two-week exchange with principals in Australia.

“It’s a great, low-cost PD that has a pretty far-reaching effect,” says Carolyn Freed, an international exchange liaison with the ATA.

The program matches principals with counterparts with similar interests in South Australia. They each spend two weeks shadowing their counterpart during the school year. They live and commute together, immersing themselves in the life and profession of their counterpart.

“The great thing is getting to experience another education system first-hand, which takes the understanding to a whole new level compared to reading about it,” Freed says, adding that Australia is a natural fit for Alberta school leaders.

“There’s enough of a difference that we can learn from each other, but there’s enough similarity that we can easily find common ground.”

The program typically has Australian principals visit Alberta in late September and early October, when Australian schools take a two-week break. Canadian counterparts typically visit in July or August. Participants are responsible for their own travel costs, but there are no application fees. The program provides pre- and post-exchange support.

The program also offers exchanges to Germany, Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom.  ❚

International Educational Exchange Program (IEEP)

2015 school leadership exchange opportunity to South Australia

• Alberta school leaders go to South Australia for two weeks between July 20 and Aug. 25, 2015.

• South Australian school leaders come to Alberta between Sept. 27 and Oct. 10, 2015.

Applicants must submit their application with their superintendent’s ­approval to the IEEP office by Dec. 15, 2014, but early application is recommended. Applications are available at

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