Although Beverley Park came from a small community in Newfoundland she made her way internationally through her interest in education and in social issues.
She won a scholarship to attend the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific (Pearson College UWC), in British Columbia, an experience she describes nothing short of “serendipitous”. Her experience in the international school helped shape the direction of her career.
“I came from a modest family so winning the scholarship was really a turning point for me,” Park says.
Attending the international college really broadened her view. “It was a learning place not only academic-wise, but also in exposing me to a vast array of cultures, a chance that I did not get in my small community in Newfoundland,” she explains.
As Park took on the teacher profession, her experience at Pearson College UWC resonated with her. She got involved in international education programs in various places, such as Kuala Lumpur, Togo, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Mali, India, and Afghanistan. Internationally, she first got involved through the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), advocating for access to education, particularly for girls’ education and giving leadership training for teachers.
Park stresses the importance of building rapport and strengthening relationships with the people with whom you meet and work. “You’re interacting with a group of committed people, and you’re building within them not only the capacity and the skills they need, but you’re also building up confidence,” she explains. “That’s why when it comes to resources, human capital is so important: you need to invest in people and in relationships.”
By working overseas with teachers and teacher organizations, she had the opportunity to help teacher colleagues develop the skills they might be lacking to provide a better quality education.
As a major human rights advocate, Park took part in the association’s Committee on Equality Rights when she first joined the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA) as a member. Once she joined the NLTA as staff, she became the staff consultant for the committee, now known as the Equity Issues in Education Committee. As well, in her first year as a teacher, Park was a founding member of a local Status of Women Council in Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.
“We have the potential to attract change. We can’t just ignore what’s going on around us and in the world,” she says. “You need to know your place in the world and take responsibility for your actions, she concludes.”
Beverley Park was nominated by the NLTA for her leadership, work and initiatives.