New TCDSB director of education coming home

  • September 28, 2011

TORONTO - New Toronto Catholic District School Board’s director of education Bruce Rodrigues hopes to bring the “strong work ethic” and “humble leadership” he learned in Toronto Catholic schools to his new role as head of Canada’s largest Catholic school board.

Rodrigues, associate director at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, begins his new job on Oct. 3.

“The things that I learned (as a TCDSB student) were strong Catholic values. I learned about having a strong work ethic and the importance of diversity,” he told The Catholic Register.

Rodrigues attended St. Francis Xavier Elementary School and Chaminade College High School in Toronto. He also taught summer school at Don Bosco High School and a few months at Cardinal McGuigan High School.

He counts the Irish Christian Brothers who taught at Chaminade as mentors. Among their lessons was the philosophy of “humble leadership” which “called you to reflective practice.”

“The Christian Brothers present there were certainly role models (who) taught and coached me. They taught me fair play,” he said.

Rodrigues competed in many sports, such as soccer, hockey, rugby, basketball and cross-country. The brothers, he said, also taught him about “being respectful of the opponent.”

His former boss, WCDSB education director Roger Lawler, noted Rodrigues’ humility but also his other qualities of being “compassionate,” “passionate,” “principled and sharply inteligent.”

Rodrigues, 52, spent 26 years as a high school teacher, vice-principal, principal and superintendent before becoming associate director. He holds Bachelor of Mathematics and Master of Divinity degrees. He has taught math, English, computers, religion and physical education.

For Rodrigues, the move is bittersweet. He will miss the students and staff in Waterloo who have been “instrumental” in supporting him in his role as educator and “forming me as a leader,” Rodrigues explained.

He cites his early years as a teacher at the Waterloo Catholic board among his most memorable.

“There was a real sense of being able to communicate with the students,” he said.

Among Rodrigues’ many tasks will be to see the roll out of the TCDSB’s recently amended equity policy which has been criticized by some parent groups.

Rodrigues said amendments to the policy are “ensuring Catholicity and our ability to ensure that Catholic context is part of the teaching.”

Rodrigues said he’s looking forward to working with a good team of staff and trustees.

“I am truly excited about coming and working in Toronto. It’s a great opportunity in terms of a board that is already seen as being a leading board in student achievement,” he said.

“I really want to keep students as the central focus of all that we do and ensure that we graduate students in the spirit of the Ontario Catholic graduate expectations.”

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