The SelfDesign Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Bellingham, Washington. The Board of Director hires and supervises the Institute’s President; the Board also determines the general policy of the Institute, manages its investments, and approves the budget for the expenditure of funds.
The Board of SDLF serves as a Policy Board.
The Board of Directors creates and reviews policy that supports the mission of the Foundation, hires and evaluates the Executive Director, and acts as needed to insure the health and long-term success of the Foundation. This includes the provision of strategic support and expertise, ensuring continuity for the vision, legacy, and succession of leadership for the Foundation, and advocacy for SelfDesign both as an organization and as a praxis for learning. The Board also has fiduciary responsibility for the organization as stipulated in its incorporation under the laws of British Columbia.
Directors serve as volunteers and cannot be remunerated for their services as such.
SelfDesign, as an educational methodology and philosophy, was founded by Brent Cameron (1947-2012). What is now known as SelfDesign first began as the Wondertree Learning Centre in 1983 and then Virtual High in 1993. SelfDesign Learning Community started operations as an independent distributed learning school serving learners from grades K-9 in 2002. Today SelfDesign serves learners from Kindergarten through grade 12, and has one of the province’s largest distributed learning Special Education programs. The philosophy behind SelfDesign has inspired other educators and free-thinkers, and in recent years the SelfDesign Graduate Institute and SelfDesign Global have been born to serve additional lifelong learners and further foster innovations in personalized learning.
Sandra Bitz comes to the board with a professional background including special education, educational and counseling psychology, and as an executive director of a neurologic social services non-profit. Her formal education includes a Masters Degree in Education – Counselling Psychology from UBC and a Masters Degree in Science – Non Profit Organizational Development from Johns Hopkins University.
Some of her deepest and most fulfilling work has been as a volunteer on numerous local, regional, provincial and national boards of directors. With over 30 years of committee and board experience she has developed knowledge and expertise related to non profit governance, policy development, human resources, strategic planning and budgeting.
Sandra is the mother of two adult daughters, one of whom has complex special needs and whose care requires lifelong advocacy.
Sandra’s recreational and personal interests include quiet outdoor pursuits, travelling, reading, social history and environmental issues.
Verena was born and raised in North Vancouver, BC and feels most at home when nestled between the ocean and the mountains. In 2002, she began her work with Wondertree Learning Centre, first as an educator, then as Vice-Principal. Verena’s Masters of Arts in Integrated Studies allowed her to weave teachings from Indigenous Knowledge, self-directed learning, and living inquiry into her practice. Verena lives on Haida Gwaii with her husband, and two daughters, where she is a Principal with School District 50.
Devon has a long and varied history with SelfDesign; he is an alumni of the Wondertree and Virtual High programs, predecessors to SelfDesign, and has roots in natural learning principles and practices. Devon brings 25 years of experience in software development – a curiosity first discovered at Wondertree, continuing into a career. Devon is passionate about the intensifying confluence of knowledge, technology and culture that is opening so many directions in learning.
David Marshak, Chair
David has served on the SDLF Board since 2008. David is the founding president of the SelfDesign Graduate Institute. He earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A.T. from the University of New Hampshire, and an Ed.D. from Harvard University. David helped to found an independent high school, taught in a public high school, developed curriculum for the Unitarian Universalist Association, and helped to lead a public school district in Vermont. He taught at Seattle University for 14 years and is an emeritus professor there. He is the author of many books and articles, including The Common Vision: Parenting and Educating for Wholeness and Evolutionary Parenting.
Vida Morkunas, Vice-Chair
Vida is a senior consultant specializing in technology marketing and management of large web projects. As an accomplished strategist with over twenty years’ experience, she has launched and positioned products and technologies in local, international, and online markets. Vida is also an experienced educator with 15 years experience teaching marketing and technology to adult learners at UBC, Simon Fraser University and now BCIT.
Vida works with public and private organizations, and counts BC Hydro, Nike, Electronic Arts, VISA, Future Shop, and other major corporations among her past and current clients. Prior to establishing her private practice, Vida worked with MacDonald Dettwiler as a territory marketing manager in Northern Europe and South America, and with IBM in technology marketing. Vida is currently faculty at BCIT in the Bachelors of Technology Management program, where she teaches marketing, technology management, and project management, and also oversees capstone/graduation projects.
Vida earned a baccalaureate in music from Collège St Laurent, a bachelor’s degree (Hons) in Economics and Political Science from McGill University, and an MBA from Simon Fraser University. Vida is fluent in English, French, Spanish, German and Lithuanian.
David Tait, Secretary
David is a returning board member to the SelfDesign Learning Foundation (SDLF). His prior role on the board was in the early 90’s, with Virtual High, when the organization was still known as the Wondertree Education Society. Although not actively on the board, he has closely followed the organization’s path of development over the last 25 years. He brings a grandfather’s perspective and the experience of a family whose son graduated from Virtual High. David is a Professor Emeritus in Forestry at UBC with a background in math, physics, computer science, and statistics. His academic interest is in understanding complex dynamic systems, with a focus on ecological modelling.
However, his contribution to the board lies in his eclectic range of interest and his propensity to reconsider assumptions from alternative perspectives.
The Mission of the Personalized Learning Academy is to provide educators, administrators and others with insights, tools and strategies supporting the success of all students through a spectrum of personalized learning approaches.
Trust: We Trust in the natural learning capabilities and positive dispositions of all learners.
Self-Empowerment: We emphasize learner Self Empowerment as a means of enhancing self-responsible learning and personal growth.
Unconditional Respect and Confirmation: We Respect and Confirm all learners ‘where they’re at’ in their personal learning journeys, unconditionally acknowledging all backgrounds and experiences, and supporting all learning goals.
Broad and rapid change is transforming North American and global societies. Future jobs will be nothing like the jobs of yesterday – or even today! – necessitating educational reform oriented to nurturing individual student strengths and ensuring higher capacity for lifelong, self-enfranchised learning. Personalized learning – arising across a spectrum of forms – is the framework to hold and shape this future, and its implementation is taking root, globally. The Vision of the Personalized Learning Academy, guided by the SelfDesign Foundation, is to serve as a catalyst deepening and strengthening the implementation of personalized learning in schools and educational organizations.
Top 10 Skills in 2020*
- Complex Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- People Management
- Coordinating with Others
- Emotional Intelligence
- Judgment and Decision-Making
- Service Orientation
- Cognitive Flexibility
* source: ‘The Future of Jobs’ report; 2016; World Economic Forum
The Personalized Learning Academy keys off of the following Orienting Statements and Principles:
1.Learning is influenced by many factors arising uniquely for each person, and reflecting innate physical and emotional characteristics, personal habits, cultural dispositions, interests, etc. Individual learning capacity is enhanced through integrating these factors and creating the circumstances in which all learners are enabled to thrive.
Principle: The PLA is committed to helping create the circumstances for each learner to thrive (i.e. to experience the optimal actualization of their learning), within formal educational environments and without, and enable learners to grow self-efficacy in stewarding their own learning.
2. A positive culture that seeks to optimize learning is grounded in relationships guided by educators and mentors holding additional capacities beyond conventional teaching, to encourage and inspire, strengthen resilience and character, and nurture learning in all students.
Learning is enhanced through positive social interaction that seeks to encourage and inspire and strengthen resilience and character.
Principle: The PLA is committed to creating learning relationships among educators, mentors and learners oriented to strengthening all aspects of learner self-esteem, confidence and empowerment as a means to enhancing learning capacity.
3.Learning arises as a vital creative and generative act by people of all ages and cultures to make sense of their world and grow knowledge important to their individual and/or collective sensibilities, interests and drives.
Principle: The PLA is committed to meeting learners ‘where they’re at’ in their learning paths and to positively enable learning to arise in multiple, diverse forms.
How the PLA Principles are enlivened
- By engaging learners ‘where they’re at’ in their learning lives and helping empower them to resourcefully address issues they are facing and achieve goals they are seeking.
- By intentionally creating an environment for wellness, balance and positive self-affect to arise.
- By modeling the changes we wish to seed in the domain of education.