Dr. Matthew Kierstead
I started my teaching career in 1994 as an Industrial Arts teacher in the northern Indigenous community of Fort Chipewyan Alberta. In a very short order I was assigned the VP and then the principal positions. The time in the north was very rewarding for me not the least because of my immersion into a new cultural experience and understanding seeing the many strengths that the community had. It was there that my experiential understanding of the importance of community in the education process was rooted and informed my practice throughout my career.
In 1999 I left the north to pursue a masters in education leadership. Though I finished the course requirements, the demands of getting married and beginning a family had me exit the program. However, in 2007 I was working in the Parkland School Division just west of Edmonton and did complete an M.Ed in curriculum. During this time I was also the principal of a small school servicing a trailer park community. Again, my experiences from the north and the importance of community were reinforced as being critical in reaching children and families. It was also here that my professional awareness around early literacy instruction began to focus on teacher instruction.
In 2009 I moved to Black Gold School Division to principal a medium Prekindergarten to Grade 4 school. I continued to build on my early literacy instructional leadership and brought in a data system to help with identification and progress monitoring. Unfortunately, I had brought an understanding of F&P systems but noted in the data management that our lower 20% of students were not responding as I would like to instruction and began to question how the school was addressing early literacy instruction.
In 2014 I moved to a school that was introducing Grade K-3 to the building at which point I was beginning to look more closely at the SOR. In 2020 I earn my Ed.D with a focus on system improvement and teacher early literacy understandings. Though currently my school has very good literacy attainment rates at all ability levels I am most proud of my staff and the culture of self-direct professional improvement that permeates the school. I also provide principal development in literacy and data informed practices around the province as well as research into principal early literacy skills and school performance. I was recently selected as the Alberta Teacher’s Association Counsel for School Leadership 2022 Distinguished Principal award.