October 28, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

David Walden, Pemberton school trustee candidate 

David Walden: A life-long commitment to education

Proust Questionnaire

Note: Defining himself as a "serious person," David Walden declined to complete the Prost Questionnaire part of our election coverage .

David Walden’s measured speaking style assures the listener that every thought he expresses is carefully considered. There is no doubt that the retired career educator’s opinions about education have undergone this process and emerged very well defined. Walden, whose experience includes 20 years fulfilling the duties of a vice-principal coupled with an education that includes a Masters of Arts in Educational Administration, feels that he is well positioned to fulfill the role of Pemberton school trustee for School District No.48.

"I have had a lifelong interest and experience in education. I’ve worked in schools for 42 straight years. And I’ve got the time because I’m retired," he says. "I’m no stranger to volunteer work, I’ve done a lot of it in the past and I still have a desire to be of service to the community.

"I know what goes on in school. I know a fair bit about funding and the relationship between board offices and schools. Part of the reason I think I could do a good job, which is why I’ve thrown my hat in, is that I have an idea about how decisions at the board office will effect the running of schools."

A look at his family would suggest a possible genetic predisposition towards the vocation. Walden is the son, brother, father and uncle to several teachers. Giving up something so ingrained clearly isn’t easy. Retired five years ago, he continues to participate in local schools as a "teacher on call" – the post-millennial terminology for substitute – out of a passion for teaching, a genuine fondness for children and the desire to make sure their interests are well served. However, his perspective on education extends beyond the classroom and boardroom.

"I have two children who went through the education system here. I have experienced the local education system from the role of a parent. I know what it is like to sit on the other side of the table on parent/teacher night and I know what it is like to have the kids coming home and continually asking for money that they need for school activities," he says.

Best known to many local children as a music teacher, Walden has taught music to kids from kindergarten to Grade 7.

"I got a job here from Australia in 1967 because I could play the piano and I’ve been playing ever since," he says.

Walden believes that the arts, drama, music and fine arts all must be supported within the curriculum, but not at the expense of core academics. On the issue of how Pemberton schools have under-performed on standardized testing, the educator makes it clear that he doesn’t put much stock in the annual findings released by the Fraser Institute.

"They’re basically looking at test results in fairly narrow categories," he says. "I take a lot of encouragement that many of our students have left the school and have gone out to universities and colleges in the Lower Mainland and Interior and have done very well."

Walden believes that quantifying an education’s value through the type of credentialing the Fraser Institute employs is a mistake.

"Reversing this trend is essential if we’re going to have a well-rounded and happy population. The arts have been shown time and time again to (complement core academics). But when you have the under-funding we have now, it’s very difficult to offer these things," he states.

Over the years, Walden has experienced the day-to-day effects of that under-funding.

"I know firsthand the difference between teaching a class of 33 as opposed to a class of 26 or 27. I understand the problems of class composition, as a teacher and an administrator."

This ability to appreciate different, sometimes opposing, view has served him well in leadership roles. A consensus builder, fairness drives his decisions.

"Most people agree that decisions I make are based to a large degree on common sense," he says.

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