Education director retires

Toronto Catholic District School BoardTORONTO - Ann Perron, the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s director of education, announced her retirement on April 14.

During her tenure, Perron’s accomplishments have included the “implementation of a balanced and sustainable multi-year budget plan, a review of school board governance and the initiation of a three-year pastoral plan to ‘Nurture our Catholic Community Through Word, Worship and Witness,’ ” the TCDSB said in a statement.

Perron began her career as a teacher with the board in 1983. She taught in elementary and high schools and also worked as an elementary school principal. She has served as the provincial co-ordinator for the Institute for Catholic Education. From there, she became a superintendent with  the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.

Perron also served as strategic advisor to the deputy minister of education in 2008. Perron returned to the Toronto board to take on the director of education role in  March 2009.

The board is seeking a new director of education for September.

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Christian schools opening their doors to Jews, Muslims

Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum, the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School’s founding scholarTORONTO - The next generation of Canadian rabbis will be able to point to the Catholic roots of their training — or at least of their school. The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School will begin offering classes this fall in a classroom at the University of St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology, part of the Toronto School of Theology.

Canada’s future imams will have a similar story. A master’s program in Muslim studies is taking shape at the United Church of Canada’s seminary, Emmanuel College.

The Toronto School of Theology is reconsidering its mission statement so the consortium of seven Christian theological schools can accommodate the emerging interfaith reality.

The expansion beyond the boundaries of Christian faith is “the right move at the right time,” said TST director Alan Hayes.

Students urged to be more active in social justice

Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ AssociationTORONTO - The Catholic Board Council of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association has released a new social justice report urging Catholic students to become active in organizations promoting justice and service to marginalized groups.

“(The report) is trying to get the message across that social justice is such an integral way of making Catholic education come alive,” said Olivia Suppa, president of the Catholic Board Council.

“Let us live as Jesus wanted though nurturing the growth of Catholic leadership, and through opening our eyes and hearts to serve the victims of injustices in our communities, our country and our world,” according to the online report entitled “Social Justice: Inspiring Active Citizenship in Catholic Education.”

Members of the Catholic Board Council prepared the report over two years, with input from Catholic student trustees from across the province. The trustees call for an “active” component in the religion curriculum based “on our call to act as responsible stewards of humanity.” It also “encourages that local and global initiatives, outreach programs and positions related to social justice be included in religious education in the classroom, as well as integrated into the cultural life of the school community.”

King’s University appoints new academic dean

King’s University College at the University of Western OntarioLONDON, Ont. - Sauro Camiletti has been appointed the new academic dean at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario.

Effective July 1, the appointment follows an intense international search and a broad consultative process within the King’s community.

“It is a great privilege to serve as a leader in an academic community that is recognized for the quality of its degree programs, the teaching ability and scholarship of its faculty, its Christian values and the services it provides its students,” said Camiletti.

Toronto board's equity policy draws more fire

Chris D’Souza, former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic School BoardTORONTO - A vocal group of Catholics loudly expressed its concerns that the Toronto Catholic school board’s draft equity policy could undermine Catholic teachings on same-sex relationships.

About 120 people attended the first equity policy public consultation at St. Mary’s Catholic High School April 18 and heard four panellists speak on the equity policy, including Chris D’Souza, a former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board.

The McGuinty government introduced its equity and inclusive education strategy prohibiting discrimination based upon race, religion, gender and sexual orientation in 2008. Boards are expected to implement equity policies this school year.  

The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s draft policy states that the board “gives pre-eminence to the tenets of the Catholic faith” which are “congruent and compatible with the protections entrenched in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Constitution Act 1982 and confirmed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

St. Jerome’s, union reach settlement

St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, OntarioSt. Jerome’s University took two steps toward peace between professors and administrators March 24 as a first contract between the faculty’s union and the university and a plan to set up a senate-like body to oversee academic matters by May 2012 were ratified by the university’s board of governors.

The union contract will see St. Jerome’s faculty keep pace with colleagues at the University of Waterloo in terms of salary and benefits. St. Jerome’s is the Catholic college federated with the University of Waterloo.

It was how the school is governed, rather than money, that inspired the professors and librarians to seek union protection. But in the end, governance issues were not part of union negotiations.

A separate working group with representatives from the board of governors, administration and academic staff was struck to report on possible reforms to how St. Jerome’s runs itself.

TCDSB to reschedule equity policy symposium

Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Ann AndrachukTORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board has cancelled its upcoming symposium on the province’s equity policy, which was set to begin on March 26, with some hinting that it was because of a controversial keynote speaker.

Board chair Ann Andrachuk denied that was the case, saying the cancellation was “an issue with aligning panelists” and that it would be rescheduled.

“Everybody’s got other commitments,” she said.

But trustee John del Grande, in a March 23 newsletter to constituents, said that in addition to the scheduling conflict of panelists, some parents had raised concerns about a speaker, Chris D’Souza, a course director at the York University Faculty of Education. D’Souza is also a former equity and diversity officer with the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board.

Celebrating Fr. Troy’s unconventional ways

Fr. Michael TroyTORONTO - Spiritan Father Michael Troy, founding father and principal at Toronto’s Neil McNeil High School, had an untraditional way of thinking, said Fr. Gerald FitzGerald.

“There was a rapport, a relationship and a casualness between the priest-teachers and the boys that did not exist elsewhere and that was the unique spirit of Neil McNeil,” said FitzGerald, a fellow Spiritan who was a seminarian under Troy in Dublin and a science teacher at Neil McNeil. “He came in at a unique time in the spread of Catholic education — and I think he left a stamp on it.

“I think he shook up Catholic education,” said FitzGerald. “He came here with no preconceived ideas and he brought with him a tremendous freshness.”

Catholic groups have concerns over full-day kindergarten

While many people are praising full-day kindergarten, there are concerns over the costs as well as after-school care. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi)TORONTO - While Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program is in high demand and considered by several Catholic education groups an “investment” in the future, there remain concerns.

The provincial government introduced the full-day kindergarten program in September 2010 at about 600 schools across the province. By September 2012, there will be close to triple that number of schools offering the program.

Among the issues that need to be worked out are funding and after-school care, according to some Catholic groups. Dan Barrett, president of the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education, says once the full-day kindergarten classes end for the day, making an arrangement for care afterwards can be “problematic.”