Inside this Issue:

Upcoming Events:

Ministry of Education Trustee Orientation Seminar

When: January 15, 2015 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre

Catholic Trustees’ Professional Development Seminar

When: January 16 & 17, 2015 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre
Featured speakers:

  • The Honourable Peter D. Lauwers, Jude, Court of Appeal for Ontario (and former OCSTA Counsel)
  • James Lochrie, Certified Professional Parliamentarian and Instructor, Parliamentary Law
  • Dr. Mark McGowan, Professor of History, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto
  • OCSTA President, Kathy Burtnik and OCSTA Director, Patrick Daly discussing the topic: “Overview of the Collective Bargaining Process and Role of the OCSTA Labour Relations Department

For event registration and hotel reservation information visit http://www.ocsta.on.ca/catholic-trustees-professional-development-seminar/.

 

Supporting Strong Catholic School Board Leadership

Congratulations to all returning and newly elected Catholic trustees! Each of Ontario’s 237 Catholic trustees are following a wonderful tradition in Ontario where individuals who care about the education of our youth, step forward and seek the community’s confidence in electing them to the position of school board trustee. Catholic trustees, as representatives of the Catholic community, have the additional responsibility of ensuring that the mission of Catholic education, as part of the broader mission of the Church, is fulfilled.

Catholic University Certificate Program for Trustees

As the Association for Catholic school trustees, representing the interests of Catholic school boards to the government and the people of Ontario, OCSTA offers various resources and professional development opportunities to support trustees in the invaluable role they serve in Catholic education. New this season is the introduction of the OCSTA Catholic School Trustee Certificate Course in Leadership and Good Governance.

The Trustee Certificate Course, delivered on-line, involves weekly readings and reflection papers focused on important and contemporary issues facing Catholic trustees.  This course is designed to provide trustees with a comprehensive background on topics ranging from the history of Catholic education to current practices in good governance, to the role of the Catholic trustee as public advocate for Catholic education.

OCSTA is particularly pleased to announce that this course is being offered in collaboration with the following Ontario Catholic Universities:

  • St. Augustine’s Seminary
  • Assumption University – University of Windsor
  • University of St. Michael’s College – University of Toronto
  • St. Jerome’s University – University of Waterloo
  • King’s College – University of Western Ontario
  • Saint Paul University
  • Regis College
  • University of Sudbury

The course duration is four months and it will begin on January 26, 2015.

Registration for the course will open on November 14 and full details regarding course topics and registration will be provided at that time.

Please watch your email inbox for the OCSTA Catholic School Trustee Certificate Course in Leadership and Good Governance which will be sent to every Catholic school trustee on November 14th.

For more information, please contact, Dr. Brian O’Sullivan, OCSTA Director of Catholic Education, bosullivan@ocsta.on.ca.

Self-directed Trustee PD Modules

beveled-good-governance-buttonIn addition to the soon to be launched certificate program mentioned above, earlier this fall the Association launched a self-directed professional development portal for trustees called the Good Governance Centre.

In this area of the OCSTA website trustees can purchase educational content created for trustees by the Ontario Education Services Corporation and further enhanced with unique material created by OCSTA to address the distinctive needs of Catholic trustees.

Most of this material was presented during live, in-person OCSTA seminars held between the years 2011 and the early part of 2014.  While most trustees attended those sessions, many did not. To serve those trustees and the newly elected trustees who will also find these materials helpful, a decision was made by the board of Directors to make the content from the 15 module sessions available online.

OCSTA’s Director of Education, Dr. Brian O’Sullivan has worked through each module to update the content and to ensure that materials providing insight on the Catholic perspective and experience is integrated into each module. Multi-media (videos and PowerPoint slides) are incorporated into the delivery of these modules.  At the conclusion of each module, an online test is provided to each participant. The test is automatically scored and those passing the module will be able to print a certificate of completion in the comfort of their own home or office.

When all 15 modules are completed the system will allow trustee participants to print an overall program certificate of completion.

To learn more about the content of the 15 individual trustee modules offered online, please visit the Good Governance Centre.

 

 

Across the Province:
Renfrew Board’s Success Built on Strategic Plan, Vision and Collaboration

renfrew-schools-to-believe-in

In recent years, the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) has been consistently above the provincial average in EQAO results. What makes RCCDSB’s achievements notable among the many success stories in Ontario’s Catholic education system are the challenges it has overcome in pursuit of student achievement.

Located in rural Eastern Ontario, the RCCDSB serves a large geographical area with low population density and sparse economic activity. Despite associated challenges of low-income communities and high transportation costs, the RCCDSB has steadfastly focused on the Ontario Ministry of Education’s four key goals—achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence.

RCCDSB Board Chair Bob Michaud explains that to reach these goals the Board sought community input in 2011 to develop a five-year strategic plan. “Our strategic plan was released in 2012 so that now all aspects of our system are aligned with the plan’s three pillars: Christian maturity, life-long learning, and stewardship of material and people resources.”

The RCCDSB has a clearly articulated Vision Statement that is referenced at all levels of activity, from the Board and administration to the classroom, on a regular basis. The Board Vision, says Michaud, “calls upon everyone to honour the giftedness, self-worth and potential of each individual. We are clear about our vision, our mission and our purpose.”

Each year, a theme is selected from the Vision Statement and that theme is aligned with the Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement (BISPSA) and the School Improvement Plans for Student Achievement (SIPSAs). The theme is presented repeatedly at events and workshops throughout the school year so that everyone is on the same page as they work towards the goals for students and staff.

The Board’s Improvement Plan for Student Well-Being, Engagement and Achievement is also aligned with RCCDSB’s multi-year plan.  Mr. Michaud elaborated that “our extensive professional learning communities and collaborative inquiry work are embedded in daily practice in the classroom, which ensures that we are focusing on student needs that emerge from our data. We also have a highly engaged program team, which works closely with school principals and teachers in pursuit of student achievement. From trustees to administration, principals, teachers and support staff, we all work in collaboration to assess gaps, establish needs and work on solutions.”

Michaud stresses that “our organizational structures are designed to enhance leadership at all levels.  Dialogue about great teaching and learning flows easily up and down and laterally throughout the organization.  Professional development and leadership training at all levels are key to the RCCDSB achieving its goals for students.”

“Our Trustees are very visible in all Board activities, and we attend parent council meetings and public events. We also participate in retreats for our leadership teams and keep abreast of professional development and school leadership programs, as well as testing results, gaps in achievement and improvement efforts. By understanding what is happening at the school level, we can gear our policies and priorities to meet our students’ needs.

Michaud admits that it is easier in a small system to have a coherent Vision and alignment across the Board. But he adds that a strong strategic Vision and priority statements, the use of evidence and reflection to inform best practice, and a culture of high expectations that reaches from Board trustees to all staff all contribute to the RCCDSB’s success.

RCCDSB’s collaborative approach also reaches beyond the Board itself, to include parents, clergy, parishes and others in the community. RCCDSB works with a vibrant Parent Involvement Committee, which provides volunteer programs, as well as support and feedback. Two system-wide parent council nights are held each year to share and discuss the Board’s goals and priorities. Parents also are encouraged to apply for Parents Reaching Out grants and the board is also hosting the provincial Parent Catholic Conference (OAPCE) this year.

RCCDSB also seeks community input through public meetings, open houses and town halls to discuss major Board decisions. “Our Board wants to involve the community in our schools,” says Michaud, “and we want to respond to the needs of our community. Part of our Vision focuses on stewardship of our environment and all life in it. Our goal is to help our students become good citizens and leaders in the world around us.”

The Board also regularly consults with the Ministry of Education.  Student Achievement Officers from the Ministry are invited to professional development activities and ministry personnel are also invited to assist in leading mathematics professional development sessions.

There is still more work to be done, Michaud says. “But if we continue to strive for improvement and work together, I’m confident that we can help our students to achieve their personal best and close achievement gaps. We also can meet the needs of our communities through collaboration and open communication to build a better future for all.”

Short Video Contest Celebrates Advent

Faith in Our Future - Ontario StudentsSubmissions are currently being submitted for OCSTA’s 4th Faith in Our Future Short Video Contest.  The theme for the current contest is “Experiencing Advent in Catholic Schools.”

While Christmas is a time of great celebration in the Catholic community and other communities around the world, the period immediately before Christmas that we call Advent is an important time for prayer, preparation and an appreciation for the significance of our Saviour’s birth.

This season’s short-video contest invites all students from grades 4 – 12 in Ontario’s Catholic schools to submit a 2-minute video about the meaning of Advent from the perspective of students, individuals, or groups/classes in the Catholic school environment.

The submission deadline is November 21st, 2014.

How to Enter Submissions

Read contest guidelines and download submission forms to complete each entry.

New this year – Public Screening of All Submissions!

All submissions that meet contest guidelines will be shared with Catholic schools and organizations across the province throughout the month of December.  The videos will be placed on OCSTA’s publicly accessible YouTube channel so that as many people as possible will be able to benefit from the messages about Advent that will be articulated by Catholic school students participating in this event.

Here’s What the Winners will Receive

First place prize: $200 Best Buy gift certificate
Second place prize: $150 Best Buy gift certificate
Third place prize: $100 Indigo gift certificate

The winners will be announced at OCSTA’s Catholic Trustees’ Professional Development Seminar on January 16, 2015, in Toronto.

For more information contact: Sharon McMillan, OCSTA – smcmillan@ocsta.on.ca.