Announcements, People

EdD candidate takes helm of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools

May 13, 2022

Anand Mahadevan (submitted photo)

The Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) organization is at a crossroads and Anand Mahadevan is hoping to steer it through the challenges and opportunities it faces in a post-pandemic world.

Canadian independent schools have approximately 10,000 employees and 50,000 students in 92 schools across the country. CAIS is a national non-profit education organization that's devoted to maintaining high standards through school accreditation. It also engages in knowledge mobilization of research that informs professional learning and the development of teachers and school leaders.

The group has named him their new Executive Director and Mahadevan assumes leadership this summer.

“I'm super excited because Canadian Independent schools have been intentionally reflective in their practices throughout the pandemic,” Mahadevan said. “CAIS has helped schools work together to keep kids safe while providing a very high quality of education.”

With COVID becoming endemic, schools have a choice. Mahadevan said they can either go back to what they’ve done before because everyone is comfortable – what he calls a “cocoon” mentality – or they can take the lessons learned from the pandemic and apply them to education moving forward.

“As Arundhati Roy notes, we can either walk through that portal with all of our baggage from before, or we can walk through it and envision a new world on the other side of it,” he said.

The pandemic revealed that schools easily eliminated some sacred ideas while other important concepts emerged, such as building relationships with students through social-emotional support. In addition, online education wasn’t considered trustworthy prior to the pandemic. Now, no one thinks that way, Mahadevan notes.

Just as technology has reshaped grammar within English: For example, in the last twenty years, emojis have become an accepted part of the English language and texting has reshaped grammar, similarly leaders in education have the opportunity to rethink the grammar of schooling in the post-pandemic age. Is the grammar of schools created by Prussian bureaucrats and Victorian England created for the eighteenth-century still meaningful in the twenty-first century?

“If it’s not, do we have the courage to actually go in and fundamentally alter the rules of schooling?,” he said.

Finally, Mahadevan said making independent schools accessible to communities who haven’t been traditionally in the independent school system is an exciting and important opportunity given the rapidly changing demographics in Canada.

Mahadevan has lived and studied in India, Canada, the United States and Germany. He has a background in biology, neuroscience, German literature and creative writing. He’s also a published author who has taught creative writing at Boston University and the University of Toronto.

Mahadevan began his career as a grade 7-12 science teacher at the University of Toronto Schools in Ontario. He has held a variety of leadership roles, including department coordinator, instructional coach, and head of academics. He is currently the Senior School Principal at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School in Alberta.

Mahadevan has also been recognized with the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015 and received a Canada-US Fulbright grant in 2009.

He is currently a Doctor of Education candidate in the international cohort at the Faculty of Education.