90th Anniversary Spotlight: Chair John Van Heck

  The following is part of a 90th Anniversary series that features Catholic trustees from across Ontario sharing insight on the experience of Catholic education at their boards.     What…

By Sharon McMillan

Dec 17, 2019

Chair John Van Heck is with the St. Clair Catholic DSB in Wallaceburg.

 

The following is part of a 90th Anniversary series that features Catholic trustees from across Ontario sharing insight on the experience of Catholic education at their boards.  

 

What singular experience as a trustee at your CDSB can you share that can serve to illustrate the positive impact of Catholic schools in the community?

 

This has been an important year at St. Clair Catholic as we have developed a new strategic plan. Under the leadership of our Director of Education Deb Crawford, and following tremendous consultation with all stakeholders, our new vision Catholic Education ┼ Future Ready was introduced to our Catholic partners at Special Deanery Meetings in November. We also introduced our new pastoral plan, which is based on Pope Francis’ Care for Our Common Home.

In Lambton County, students from our elementary and secondary schools were our teachers for the day. The EcoSchool Team from Holy Rosary Catholic School discussed their many ecology-focused and social justice outreach initiatives. Secondary students from both St. Patrick’s challenged each of us – trustees, parents, Catholic partners and community leaders – to take action to help save ‘our common home!’

In Chatham-Kent, students from Georges P. Vanier Catholic School presented information about their school garden project and the school’s focus on sustainability and simple changes that can have a positive impact on our world. Finally, Ursuline College students explained the many ways in which they are supporting and caring for the land, water and those in our community who need our help.

We were all asked to reflect on the question inspired by our new strategic plan – How did the students’ presentations respond to our mission Learning together today; transforming tomorrow as we are called to Care for Our Common Home? The wisdom and commitment of our students and the leadership of our teachers and principals serve as a model of how Catholic schools transform the world as we live our faith and work together as the hands and feet of Christ.

 

What current Good News story about students/Catholic schools at your CDSB would you like to share?

 

There are so many, but as we have just come through the Christmas season I will talk about the work of students and staff at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Wallaceburg. Each classroom was challenged to come up with a mission that would have a positive impact on the community and spread the joy of Christmas. Some classes made mittens, which were donated to the local St. Vincent de Paul Society, others made tree ornaments that were sold and the money was donated to a local family, still others wrote letters to veterans and sang carols at local retirement homes.

The efforts of this small school community are a true demonstration of our Catholic faith in action, which has had a positive impact throughout the community.

 

John Van Heck
Chair, St. Clair Catholic DSB

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