Gunnedah Public School hosts Castor Valley Elementary School leader | Video

LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Canadian visitor, Julie Chouinard (back, right) with Gunnedah Public School deputy principal, Will Dowe, with students Shakira Conomos and Ebony Herbert.
LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Canadian visitor, Julie Chouinard (back, right) with Gunnedah Public School deputy principal, Will Dowe, with students Shakira Conomos and Ebony Herbert.

Gunnedah Public School welcomed a special visitor on Monday, all the way from Canada.

A deputy principal from Castor Valley Elementary School, Julie Chouinard, landed in Gunnedah on Saturday, after spending a few days in Sydney.

Gunnedah Public’s deputy principal, Will Dowe, is playing host to the the Canadian as part of Leading Educators Around the Planet Pty Ltd (LEAP). 

Ms Chouinard will be spending time in the classrooms at the school, and also visiting other schools in the shire, including GS Kidd Memorial School, Carroll Public School and Gunnedah South Public School.

Will Dowe and Julie Chouinard chat about the benefits of LEAP.

The Canadian is enjoying time on the Dowe’s sheep farm, and meeting students and staff. Though she is well-travelled, it is Ms Chouinard’s first time in Australia.

“My first impression was the people were very friendly and they share some similarities with Canadians,” she said.

Ms Chouinard said she was enjoying the “natural beauty” of the scenery, but hadn’t expected to see so many kangaroos out in the open.

During her time in Gunnedah, Ms Chouinard is shadowing Mr Dowe to see how things are done in Australian schools.

“My main objective is to learn as much about how the business of education works here and bring some takeaways to learn how we can do business better and learn from our Australian counterparts,” she said.

“Sometimes when we step back, we can see our area more clearly.”

Ms Chouinard said Castor Valley Elementary School had about 600 students from ages 4 to 14, with only about 10 per cent Indigenous population compared to Gunnedah Public’s 60 per cent.

The deputy principal said she was particularly interested to learn about how Indigenous education is addressed in Australia. 

“It looks like many efforts have been put in place,” she said.

“We’ve been more aware of the need for that in Canada.”

Mr Dowe said he would like to find out more about the behavioural management techniques used in Canadian schools.

“It will be interesting to learn how they deal with kids with special needs or behavioural needs,” he said.

The pair share some similarities as both are French-speaking and participated in student exchanges when they were teachers. Mr Dowe spent time in Quebec in Canada where Ms Chouinard grew up, and Ms Chouinard spent a year in Austria. 

Mr Dowe will get another taste of Canada late next year when he heads north for two weeks to complete the second half of the LEAP exchange at Ms Chouinard’s school.