Steve has had an exemplary career in education. He has just completed five years at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) most recently as Vice President, Students. He was previously Director of Transformative Educational Leadership and Professor of Teaching at UBC. Prior to this, Steve was the Superintendent and CEO for five plus years with the Vancouver School Board and before this, Superintendent for the Delta School Board. He holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from SFU and an MA and BSc from UBC.
Steve has served as President of the BC School Superintendents' Association (BCSSA) as well as an appointment to the BC Council for International Education (BCCIE). He has served as President of the BC Science Teachers’ Association (BCScTA) and more recently as a Director on the Science World Board and a founding member of the Symbiosis Steering Committee.
Early in his career, Steve served as President and Bargaining Chair for his local teachers' union and also served on the BCTF provincial Bargaining Committee and Women in Negotiations sub-committee.
Steve has served for two terms on the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT) and was Vice Chair for the Senior Academic Administrators’ Forum (SAAF) - both ending in September. He also recently completed two terms on the Editorial Board and Council for the pan-Canadian EdCan Network (previously CEA) and was a long-time council member of TECC, a subsidiary of ASTTBC.
In 2021, Steve completed his term as President of the Board with Learning Forward, a 15,000-member teaching and learning organization.
At KPU, Steve was the lead person responsible for the Indigenous Advisory Committee. He served as an advisory member on the Supports for Success mentoring initiative for former youth-in-care, and represented KPU at the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Council (SUILC) and the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition (SPRC). On retirement in September, the KPU Foundation honoured Steve by creating the Steve Cardwell bursary to support marginalized students, especially Indigenous and former youth in care.
Steve was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal in 2013 for his outstanding service to public education. In 2015, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the BCSSA and was selected as one of UBC Faculty of Education’s top 100 Alumni.
Steve has two children who attended the public system throughout their schooling. His wife is a former school counsellor and district lead educator for alternate programs in the public system.
Steve is known for his valuing of ethical leadership and responsibility, building and fostering strong working relationships, leading with empathy and demonstrating exemplary communication skills.
Reason for running
I am excited to announce that I am a candidate for Vancouver School Board trustee with Vision Vancouver!
My key motivations are to support student success and well-being, accessibility to safe neighbourhood schools, and greater resources for improved teaching, learning and working conditions.
I have the experience to make a significant contribution to the Board for the following reasons:
I was Superintendent for two school districts and concluded my K-12 career in 2015, having served the students, parents, and community in Vancouver for five years. This gives me a deep understanding of the needs and challenges of our vibrant school district.
As Superintendent, I visited every school, and have a strong understanding of how schools function. As such, I know the processes and practices of our school system. I also know the people involved – stakeholders, government, and community.
With more than 40 years in public education, my background and leadership experience has prepared me to respond to the most significant challenges affecting the school district.
Equity and inclusion for all students is my priority. Students must feel culturally safe, secure, and supported in all aspects of their lives. Going to school should be a joyful and rewarding experience for every student.
In addition, the surrounding physical environment must provide safe and accessible working, teaching, and learning conditions for students and all employees. Air and water quality, seismic safety, and accessibility are key areas that must be improved.
Students should be able to attend their neighbourhood schools. For some parents and students, their local school is full, although it is just down the street from their homes. Parents are forced to find alternative school placements with a long commute, sometimes right across the city. This is not conducive to building strong relationships for students with their friends in their own neighbourhoods.
I am concerned about the spectre of school closures being ever-present on families, students, and employees. School closure should be rarely considered and then only if it makes good pedagogical sense. There must be thorough consultation with impacted families. The long-term growth potential for the communities must also be central to any decision-making.
School land should be retained within the public realm. New school construction or upgrades should not be leveraged on the condition of closing other schools. As I have stated previously, schools are the heart of the neighbourhood and soul of the community.
If elected as a school trustee, I will ensure good governance that respects all members of the VSB community. I will work within the collective of the Board with full transparency and open consultation.
Above all, I have and always will place students first!