A former superintendent of schools in Langley has passed away at age 77

A long-running Langley school district superintendent lauded for his innovative approaches to education has passed away.

Emery Gilmour Dosdall, 77, made an indelible mark on education in both Alberta and B.C. during his years, including during a 13-year stint at the helm of the local school district.

Born in Saskatchewan in 1943, Dosdall started work as a teacher in Edmonton, before going on to carve out a distinguished career an administrator – one that included lengthy tenures in both Langley and Edmonton school districts.

While he was criticized by some for his outlook on education, others saw him as an “imaginative school leader who has little tolerance for lockstep thinking,” described Jay Goldman, in his role with the American Association of School Administrators.

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In fact, while serving as superintendent in Langley, he was at the forefront of decentralization for schools in the 1980s.

Dosdall believed it was imperative to stop the hemorrhage of public school students to charter and private schools. And his philosophy was that the best way to stop the movement of students to private schools was to ensure that the public system had options that could accommodate the wishes of parents.

It was his so-called “out-of-the-box thinking” and progressive approach to education that later landed him the post of deputy minister of education with the BC Liberal from 2001 until he retired in 2008.

Then in 2009, he took over as president of the British Columbia Council for International Education, at the time a new non-profit society marketing B.C. as an international study destination for “high quality, mobile international students.”

It was also his creation of alternate schools and cutting edge ideas in education that made the Surrey man stand out in the minds of many, including current Langley school district superintendent Gord Stewart.

“I had the pleasure of working with Emery Dosdall while he served as the Superintendent of the Langley school district,” Stewart recalled.

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Dosdall left that post in 1995, lured back to the Prairies, to take over as superintendent in Edmonton. But, Stewart fondly remembered him.

“ In his roles as superintendent and deputy minister he was an exceptional communicator and shaped the vision of education in both Langley and the province.

“He was also very committed to actively engaging parents in the education system,” Stewart said.

“He will certainly be missed.”

Dosdall was an active Rotarian, and in lieu of flowers his family asked that donations be given to the Rotary Club of South Surrey.

He leaves behind his wife, Hilda, two sons, Evin and Jay, and a grandson, Ewan.

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