NIDES principal Jeff Stewart receives honour from UBC

Jeff Stewart, principal at Navigate (powered by NIDES) in Courtenay, has received an honorary alumni recognition from the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia.

The Vancouver school is recognizing contributions made over the past century as it celebrates its centennial year.

Stewart is among elite company on the Education’s 100 list. Recipients include the ‘Man in Motion’ Rick Hansen and federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who taught at a couple of Vancouver schools before entering politics.

Navigate’s Parent Advisory Committee nominated Stewart, who graduated from UBC with an MA in educational studies in 1994.

“When PAC nominated me, I think it was around two major thrusts, which is the creation of blended learning programs for families and around the work I’ve done provincially around student mental health,” Stewart said.

Described on UBC’s website as an ‘innovator in technology and education,’ Stewart has created internationally-recognized distance education programs while serving as a principal in B.C. public schools for 20 years. At UBC he was a practicum supervisor and sessional lecturer. He later founded the BC School Centred Mental Health Coalition to address mental health in children and youth in the school system.

Stewart’s teaching career began at a small government school at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean in the ‘80s. He later worked at a First Nations reserve in Northern Ontario and at a secondary school in Barrie, Ont. He came to the West Coast in 1991 to work on his masters while teaching at UBC and with the Vancouver School Board. He has served in Quesnel, Surrey and West Vancouver, among other school districts.

“A bit of a tour around the province,” he said.

Stewart has been in the Comox Valley for 10 years. He started as principal at Lake Trail then worked at Courtenay Elementary. This is his fifth year at Navigate, which serves kindergarten to Grade 9 students, adult learners and more than 1,400 secondary students. The school combines online distance learning with ‘face-to-face’ instruction via video conferencing and virtual classrooms in a blended learning model.

Stewart oversaw the creation of three new programs: I-Class, the Fine Arts eCademy (FAE), and the Engineering Technology and Robotics (ENTER) program. Last year, ENTER received a prestigious award from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).