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Island Pacific School ready for new head of school this fall

Brad Carter returns to his former school for a new chapter
Brad Carter returns to the school he used to call home, now as head of school.

Island Pacific School will be starting the academic year in September with a new head of school for the first time in seven years.

Brad Carter will be at the helm when students return to IPS in the fall, taking over for Scott Herrington who has held the head of school position since 2017. Carter arrived on the island this month after moving from his home in Tokyo, Japan, but it’s not his first time on Bowen or even at the school itself. He’s lived and worked here before, including several years at IPS as an English teacher and eventually assistant head of school.

Carter, originally from Calgary but raised in Vancouver, graduated from UBC with a teaching degree, but dove into the hospitality business shortly after university. After landing on Bowen he came to operate the Beggar’s Purse, a restaurant housed in the building which is now home to Tuscany in the Cove. When Brad was looking to transition back to teaching to allow him to spend more time with his family, then-head of school Ted Spear told him IPS was hiring, and he made the decision to come aboard.

After several years at IPS, which included his kids passing through the halls of the building, Carter decided he wanted to see how education was done in other parts of the world. His long journey abroad began with THINK Global School, an experimental travelling high school without a set home base, and over the years took him across countries including Canada, Australia, Singapore, and most recently Japan. Brad has also worked with Apple carrying out education initiatives around the world, and currently performs consulting work with NoTosh.

Last year it was IPS which landed on Carter’s radar, once he heard Herrington would be stepping down at the end of this school year. Brad said the timing was right, and of course the history was there, to think seriously about returning to Bowen.

“The school gave so much to me and my family, did such a brilliant job with my children, and gave me an incredible experience that launched my career in education which has been so rewarding,” said Carter. “I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world and it’s been so exciting and so satisfying. Here was an opportunity to give back,” he said, adding that he’s eager to see which learning strategies he’s picked up around the globe can be instituted successfully at IPS.

Carter is bolstered by the existing state of the school, which he calls “one of the best schools in the world.” A big reason for this comes from the staff and programming, which the new head of school points out is often well ahead of its counterparts.

“A lot of what IPS is doing is way ahead of most everybody else… I’ve been working in schools and they’re kicking around ideas and I go, that’s interesting, IPS has been doing that for 20 years,” he says.

But Carter adds the school has something else which he considers most important in forming a successful school.

“It’s the connection to community,” says Carter. “Do they have community support? Do they support their communities?... If leadership understands community, and the school has a really strong and rich connection to community, that school will be great… IPS is like that.”

Brad sees this in community events IPS is involved in, such as participation in this month’s first public Pride event on Bowen or longstanding work with Covenant House in Vancouver, along with shared resources including use of the Colin Ruloff Community Field House and a partnership with neighbouring Cates Hill Chapel. Carter hopes to continue expanding these relationships going forward.

Carter says this community involvement also creates more well-rounded students. He explains this is especially important for children’s development during middle school years. “You undergo more change in that time than any other time in your life, except from birth to about the age of two. It’s an extraordinary period of development, and we know a lot about that… you start to individuate and you become your own person.”

It’s also the first time kids are stepping out alone into the wider world, and Brad explains it’s no small responsibility to make sure they’re prepared. “I think the job of middle school is to create a space where they can enter that world for the very first time in their lives in a way that’s safe, but still lets them start to feel what the world is like,” he says.

While not serving in the role just yet, Carter has spent much of June at the school reacquainting himself and discussing the transition with Herrington – as well as squeezing in the end-of-year school kayak trip to Gambier Island. He’s also kept himself busy adjusting to the vast differences between life in Tokyo – with a metro population the size of Canada – and that of rural Bowen Island, and its pace of life on the other end of the spectrum. This includes the absence of 24-hour dining, and delivery times which extend past that same afternoon.

While he does this over the summer Brad says he’s looking forward to catching up with old friends, exploring the local trails, seeing how the Pub is doing, and grabbing a coffee or chat with anyone who’s looking to learn more about the school. And finally in September, Carter’s tenure at the Carter Road school will officially begin.