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Meet Sackville’s new director of community-supported education

Jessica Hughes, here with Sackville 20/20 chair Andrew Wilson, will be taking on the new role as Sackville's new executive director of community-supported education.
Jessica Hughes, here with Sackville 20/20 chair Andrew Wilson, will be taking on the role as Sackville's new executive director of community-supported education. - Katie Tower

Jessica Hughes will work toward further developing Sackville 20/20's vision for innovative, experiential-based education model

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

Jessica Hughes is excited about what’s happening in Sackville.

Hearing about all of the innovative ideas Sackville 20/20 has been pursuing with support from community partners, town and university officials, the provincial government and local educators, she knew she wanted to be a part of it all.

And she will have that opportunity as Sackville’s new executive director of community-supported education, a role she will be taking on with relish over the next two years.

Hughes said she jumped at the chance to apply for the job when she heard about it earlier this summer, a two-year position that falls under the umbrella of Sackville 20/20 and is funded through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program.

“As soon as I read the position and then I did some research on what Sackville 20/20 was actually doing in the community, I just felt this fire in my belly,” she says. “I got so excited. I don’t even know this little town and I’m excited about what’s happening.”

Sackville 20/20 has been working for nearly five years now on trying to bring a more innovative and community-focused education model to life in Sackville. It’s a vision that includes more outdoor learning spaces, community connections, hands-on learning, inclusive education, bright and open areas, and more innovative teaching approaches. It’s a concept that would help bring more 21st-century approaches to the local education system and to ensure area children are being provided with more experiential, engaging and community-based learning opportunities.

“They’re on the precipice of something really amazing,” says Hughes. “They’ve got incredible community partners and a really excited and engaged membership with lots of potential. And I think to be a part of something like that and create a vision that can then potentially have impact across the entire province as a model, I think that’s really special.”

Andrew Wilson, chair of Sackville 20/20, said the work done by the organization up until now has been mainly volunteer based. He said acquiring this funding for a two-year, full-time position will enable Sackville 20/20 to move forward on its vision in a more sustained and consolidated way.

Wilson says Sackville 20/20 received more than 40 applications for the position and is excited about Hughes taking on the role.

Hughes will be, over her term, tracking community engagement and collecting relevant data, establishing and building on community partnerships and connections, and working with diverse stakeholders to create and implement ideas.

“A big part of it is bringing all these threads together,” says Wilson.

Then she will work on pinpointing some of the areas that can be built on, some of the places where additional resources are needed, and some additional connections that can be made to “help strengthen the fabric of this learning community.”

“We’ll be able to move even closer, in a more deliberate way, to that vision we’ve been seeking and pursuing all these years,” says Wilson.

“It’s really going to be able to take off. She’s really going to be able to pull things together in a way that I think is exciting.”

Hughes, who was born and raised in Belleisle, N.B. and received an Interdisciplinary leadership degree at UNB’s Renaissance College, has spent much of her career in community development roles. She served as a community developer at United Way, where she worked on the front lines with organizations and residents, with a key focus on programs for K-12 students.

She was then recruited to St. Thomas University to run its new experiential learning office, a role that was focused around bridging the gap between the campus community and the greater community.

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