New superintendent puts emphasis on students

Schools & Students

“Making positive differences in the lives of students is something that really resonates with me,” says the Vancouver School Board’s new superintendent Suzanne Hoffman.

Hoffman joined the district in January from the Ministry of Education, where she was superintendent of Learning Transformation, the department responsible for the revised B.C. curriculum.

“Building a vibrant, healthy culture that is focused on students and student outcomes would be a key priority for me and something that I am able to bring to the Vancouver School Board,” says Hoffman.

Motivated by a desire to help people, Hoffman always wanted to be a teacher. After gaining her degree at UBC, she started teaching Grade 6 and Grade 7 students in Mission before joining Langley School District. There she rose through the ranks to become superintendent.

Away from work, Hoffman enjoys music, reading, golf and walking. She has two adult children who attended public schools in Langley. Hoffman moved from Langley to the Ministry of Education for “an opportunity I didn’t want to miss,” but is enthusiastic to be back leading a district.

“We live in educationally very exciting times,” she says. “As we look at what the needs of society are and the needs of our students in our schools, there is an opportunity to really engage our students in learning experiences that are more hands on, that are more relevant to their interests or their needs – that we’re able to provide flexibility and choice for students in learning opportunities.

“We have a redesigned curriculum that I find very exciting, and it enables teachers to have license and latitude to look at things more deeply, to provide different opportunities for students to represent or demonstrate their learning or understanding. And rather than what we used to do with the focus on facts or retaining and sharing information, [there’s] an opportunity to cross-pollinate between subject areas, with learning from the land, [and] the infused aboriginal or indigenous content that is in our curriculum.”

Hoffman says she’s passionate about improving Indigenous education and the outcomes for Indigenous students. She wants the district to continue its commitment to truth and reconciliation, and to being thoughtful about the infusion of Indigenous content into the new curriculum.

“It’s important work and an important part of our history that we need to incorporate as we work together as a school district,” she adds.

Hoffman is keen to work with staff across the district to support all students, while being respectful of positive work that has already taken place in Vancouver.

“I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about where I have landed as superintendent of schools,” she says. “There is an amazing team of people working hard here within the district office and I’m starting to learn more about the work that is happening out in schools.

“I’m very excited and keen to get on with the work that needs to be done on behalf of all the students throughout our school district.”