By Editor

Feb 3, 2020

Natalie MacMaster to Perform at OCSTA 90th AGM & Conference

Juno Award winning musician Natalie MacMaster spoke at the Ontario Prayer Breakfast back in 2018 and at that event left a lasting and meaningful impression with the many attendees of various faiths who filled the audience. She spoke of her faith journey as a Catholic woman, mother, and wife and shared her gift of music as part of her presentation.

OCSTA is pleased to announce that in celebration of our 90th Anniversary in April, the Association will be welcoming award winning Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster as the closing presenter and performer on Saturday, May 2 at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa.

The full line-up of sessions and presenters for OCSTA’s 90th AGM and Conference includes:

  • “The Future of Freedom of Religion in Canada”, Justice Peter Lauwers, Court of Appeal for Ontario
  • “Core Governance: The Neglected Relationship Between Trustees and Directors of Education”, Michael Fullan, Global Leadership Director, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning
  • “Urban School Boards & the Impact of Demographic Change”, Jack Ammendolia, Watson & Associates Economists Ltd.
  • “2020 – A New Decade of Hope!”, Denise Andre, Director of Education, Ottawa CSB and Tom D’Amico, Associate Director of Education, Ottawa CSB
  • “Reviewing and Developing a Board Self-Assessment Tool”, Waterloo CDSB: Bill Conway, Chair; Melanie Van Alphen, Vice Chair, and; Wendy Price, Trustee
  • Closing Session Presenter and Performer: Juno Award Winning Musician, Natalie MacMaster and Family

Register now to attend OCSTA’s 90th AGM & Conference at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa by clicking here.


90th Anniversary Trustee Higlight:

Leslie Cassidy-Amadio, Trustee, Huron-Superior CDSB

1. 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? 

Although there are many experiences that I have had in our Catholic schools that reflect their positive impact in the community, one singular experience does stand out for me at this time of year. I started a charity nine years ago called JOY-Full Socks. I collect socks and grooming products for those in need in our community. When the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (HSCDSB) heard about the charity, they embraced the call to participate and have been doing so ever since. The students get involved, joyfully filling socks and asking parents to please send more toothpaste!  This year, JOY-Full Socks donated over 4,200 pairs of socks to those in need. More than half of the socks collected were donated by the staff, students, and families of our Catholic board.  Each year, I am overwhelmed with joy by their generosity and kindness, which has helped many individuals and families in our community who have very little.  This simple gift of socks has ignited hope in many who thought no one cared about them.

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

The students, staff and families of the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (HSCDSB) are fully involved in many events that bring awareness to poverty and help those in need in our community.  Just to mention a few initiatives — they have slept in a box in chilly downtown Sault Ste. Marie in November, stuffed a bus with toys, shopped as “Secret Santas” for fellow students, raised funds for “Operation Smile”, visited seniors in long-term care facilities, stocked shelves at a local food bank, and hand-delivered Christmas cards to seniors and family homes in schools’ neighbourhoods. One initiative that has been going on for over 15 years is “Pennies from Heaven”, now called “Heaven Cent”.  Our St. Mary’s College high school students raise funds through numerous events and donate the funds to multiple charities in our community. They also involve parishes and the business community in this initiative. To date they have raised approximately 400K. This year alone, Heaven Cent has raised $19,000 and donated to 13 different charities in our community.

Legislative and Policy Update

Stephen Andrews, OCSTA Director of Legislative and Political Affairs

Ontario Human Rights

As part of its “Right to Read” inquiry, the Ontario Human Rights Commission is conducting an audit of the practices related to teaching children with learning disabilities how to read. Two Catholic school boards are among the boards across the province involved in this inquiry. In addition to discussing the audit with those boards, OCSTA is reviewing the full process and putting together information to form the Association’s submission on this matter. OCSTA will keep boards updated on these proceedings.

Education Accessiblity Standards:

A working group has been struck to consider various recommendations for the devleopment of an education accessiblity standard or regulation under the Accessiblity for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA). The recommendations discussed include changing perceptions, attitudes and behaviour towards students with disabilities, removing digital and technology barriers to learning and the long-term objectives of the education accessiblity standards.  The committee met on January 8th and will continue to meet until its final recommendations are sent to the Minister resonsible for Seniors and Accessiblity in June, 2020.

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