2014-fall-banner-from-student-to-minister

From Student
to Minister of Education

Written by Alanna Vitucci

Darin King, Ph.D., started his career teaching kindergarten in the late 1980s. Over the years, he found himself gravitating towards leadership roles within a school district in his native Newfoundland, Canada.

Darin King (Ph.D., Human Resources Management, 2002)

Dr. King is responsible for guiding education policy in the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I have always had an interest in public service. In the beginning, I assumed my career path would continue to progress through educational leadership within the district level,” shared King. “I chose to earn a Ph.D. in Human Resources, following my M.Ed. from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, because working with and leading others was an interest.”

King did a tremendous amount of research when looking into doctoral degrees.

“Like many professionals, I didn’t have the luxury of taking two years off to attend the residential portion of a doctoral program. In investigating various options, I came across Northcentral University, which not only offered exactly the curriculum I was looking for in Human Resources Management, but required no physical residency.”

During this period, King served as the Assistant Director of Education and Assistant Director of Human Resources for the Burin Peninsula School Board before accepting the role of Assistant Director of Education, and eventually, CEO/Director of Education, of the Eastern School District.

“My dissertation focused on the impact of performance appraisals on school district administrators, and in these roles, I had the opportunity to implement my research. This included the development of a transparent appraisal process and performance matrix,” explained King.

King became interested in elected politics in the early 2000s, and was elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in 2007. He was re-elected in 2011.

“Elected politics interested me, because it offered the chance to solve problems and make an impact on the community.”

In 2009, the Premier, which is akin to state governor in the United States, asked King to accept the role of Minister of Education. He held this position until 2011. Over the course of several years, he has also served as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture (2011-2012), Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment (2011), as well as Minister of Justice (2012-2014).”

“Elected politics interested me, because it offers the opportunity to solve problems and make an impact on the community.”

Darin King, Ph.D.

“While selecting a former teacher as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Justice, may seem an unusual choice, there is a common theme among all of my roles – from teacher to Minister,” elaborated King. “All of my experience is rooted in social connections that intersect with families and education.”

“Education plays a significant role in incarceration and rehabilitation rates,” said King. “In fact, the same held true with my tenure at Fisheries and Aquaculture. During my period as Minister, 12 fish plants in Newfoundland closed. Many fishery employees lacked transferable job skills and this exacerbated the challenge of finding new employment opportunities for them.”

King resumed his role as Minister of Education in 2014. In his role, King is responsible for all K-12 and Early Learning education in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He is extremely proud of the positive changes that he’s helped bring about during his tenure.

“My dissertation focused on the impact of performance appraisals on school district administrators, and in these roles, I had a chance to implement my research. This included the development of a transparent appraisal process and performance matrix.”

Darin King, Ph.D.

“We have invested $18.5M CDN in our Excellence in Mathematics Strategy, capped K-9 class sizes, eliminated the interest on the provincial portion of student loans, and increased up-front grants to post-secondary education students.”

Investing in teacher education and ensuring access to post-secondary education, according to King, is one way of making sure that residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are prepared for job opportunities in the rapidly expanding oil and gas sector.

While the largest employer in the province is still fishing, the oil and gas industry is growing rapidly and has become the largest source of revenue in the province.

“A recent Canada-wide survey of college graduates from the class of 2010 found those with bachelor’s degrees from our schools and working in the province have the highest income levels. We want to continue this salary trend by ensuring children from low income families view college as a viable option for themselves.”

When reflecting on the guidance that King has received over the years, two pieces of advice stand out.

“As a younger man, I was encouraged to figure out what I wanted to do, and just go for it. As I contemplated entering elected politics, this advice was particularly helpful,” shared King. “When I was first elected to public office, others encouraged me to always be honest to my true principles.”