“Changing economic situations, funding formulas, legislative/political programs and priorities…all impact on the structures, processes, relationships, and function of a school board….Social and cultural upheavals impact on what we mean by “education” and judge to be “good education.” Constitutional elements of a pluralistic, democratic society raise issues of rights and questions of freedom that must be negotiated in the public forum.

…The Certificate in Catholic School Governance supports participants in the need for trustees to continuously rethink their role, align it with the developing dynamics of the Church’s mission in the world, and navigate the often turbulent waters of the often conflicting societal, cultural, economic, and political expectations on schools and school boards.”

The excerpt above is taken from the course introduction for the Certificate in Catholic School Governance Continuing Education Course co-sponsored by OCSTA and the University of St. Michael’s College (UCMC).  Determining the most effective ways to provide professional development resources that respond to the unique needs and expectations of Catholic School Trustees is an ongoing priority for OCSTA. This course represents an important and innovative step towards providing accessible and tailored educational opportunities for Catholic trustees.

Why This Certificate Program Was Created

Following the introduction of the provincially sponsored trustee training modules in 2010, OCSTA put together a trustee professional development committee to examine opportunities for enhancing the modules in the provincial program. Specific content was needed to ensure that the perspective, needs and mission of Catholic school boards and trustees were incorporated into any training program being offered to Catholic trustees.

To that end, a recommendation was put to the OCSTA Board of Directors for the development of a Certificate Program in Catholic School Governance, co-sponsored by the USMC and OCSTA. Included in this recommendation was the stipulation that this program would require not only attendance at specific OCSTA events but also a significant investment of time and energy in additional reading, reflection and individual project work, in line with other Certificate programs that USMC has offered and continues to offer.

That recommendation was approved back in 2010 and the program began in January of 2011.

Course Structure

While the course was primarily offered online, participants were expected to complete monthly readings, participate in online and in-person discussions and research and complete a final project. In an interview with the Catholic Register, Richard Shields, course instructor and a professor from the university’s pastoral theology department, told the paper that the “projects were expected to bring about specific improvement and make a tangible contribution to some aspect of Catholic school governance that is theologically sound and futures the purpose of Catholic education according to course material.”


On November 2 of this year, the first graduates of the Certificate Program in Catholic School Board Governance gathered for their convocation ceremony at St. Basil’s Church on the campus of the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto.

OCSTA would like to congratulate the following trustees for their efforts and success in completing this unique and important program for trustees and Catholic schools:

Ann Andrachuk, Chair, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Sharon Arsenault, Chair, Superior North Catholic District School Board
Theresa Corless, Trustee, Durham Catholic District School Board
Nancy Crawford, Trustee, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Michelle Griepsma, Trustee, Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington
Christopher Leahy, Trustee, Durham Catholic District School Board
Alice Anne LeMay, Trustee, Halton Catholic District School Board

The Association has not yet determined whether the program will be offered again. We welcome members’ comments on this topic.