Parent leader brings passion for education to new role

  • August 25, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - As Aimee Gerdevich’s daughter and her senior kindergarten classmates shivered in the winter months in their newly renovated classroom, the 39-year-old mother of three developed a passion for educational advocacy.

Becoming more involved in school council meetings led her to “have a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in my child’s education,” she told The Catholic Register from Thunder Bay, Ont.

Her fingers will be all over education now as Gerdevich is the newly elected president of the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education.

According to Gerdevich, past association president Brian Evoy left “some really huge shoes to fill,” but added she hopes to tackle some of the upcoming challenges that could face the public Catholic education system in the near future.

One of the key issues for Catholic education in Ontario could be a resurrected debate on public funding for Catholic schools when the next provincial election rolls around in 2011. In the last election, the Progressive Conservative election promise of extending public funding to faith-based schools led to a polarized debate about the issue and loud opposition from people who were arguing against publicly funded Catholic schools.

Evoy said the debate proved to be a very volatile political issue.

“I think Catholic education will always be under threat, but we have learned to justify the system better,” he said. Catholic education is part of Ontario’s history and has produced stellar community members and graduates, Evoy added.

As the new president, Gerdevich said she will work towards strengthening the group’s ties with its Catholic and education partners. She added she would also support issues related to special needs education.

Gerdevich is chair of the Provincial Parent Board and is co-chair of the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee of Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board. She says her three children — aged two, seven and nine — have benefited from public Catholic education through the sense of community, belonging and support in their school community.

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