Nick Galatianos, centre, receives the 2023 Community Partner Award from Crime Stoppers of York Region. Photo courtesy Crime Stoppers of York Region

The crime stops here

  • August 24, 2023

Imparters of knowledge. Nurturers of potential. Exemplars of integrity.

Educators are called to live up to these important tasks each day they go to work. But they are also charged with another key imperative: safeguarding the students in their care from harm.

Often, this role as protecter is unsung, receiving little to no notice compared to the more archetypal day-to-day duties for an instructor.

Nick Galatianos is an exception to this norm. The student success specialist and principal of Indigenous education at St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Vaughan, Ont., was feted this summer with the 2023 Community Partner Award from Crime Stoppers of York Region.

York Regional Police Crime Stoppers coordinator Steve Alexander told The Catholic Register Galatianos has made many invaluable contributions to foster student security.

“Nick’s commitment to the safety and well-being of his students, as well as his tireless efforts to instill the values of community involvement and civic responsibility, have been truly exemplary,” said Alexander. “He has assisted us each year with planning, providing us perspective from the Catholic school board, acting as a champion for the student symposium and encouraging teachers and students to participate, providing guidance on sensitive topics and issues.”

Crime Stoppers is a community partnership with police that enables the public to provide tips on criminal activity anonymously. Since 2018, Galatianos has mobilized hundreds of YCDSB students to participate in the Crime Stoppers youth poster and video contest to raise awareness about Crime Stoppers and creatively empower peers to report wrongdoing they observe.

Galatianos has served in many key administrative positions. His leadership postings include vice-principal and acting principal at St. Robert Catholic High School in Thornhill, vice-principal of Cardinal Carter Catholic High School based in Aurora, and principal of the St. Luke Catholic Learning Centre and then St. Joan of Arc in Vaughan. He shifted to his current position this past April. It was quickly apparent to him that fostering safety is pivotal to stimulating learning.

“If students do not feel safe in their own minds and physically within their school building, learning will not occur,” said Galatianos. “It is forefront to keep a safe, inclusive environment. Beyond that, I was always interested in system-wide initiatives and perspectives to keep our students and community partners in our region and beyond feel safe.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Galatianos arranged for the Grade 10 dramatic arts students at Cardinal Carter to showcase their talents in a nationwide video campaign for Crime Stoppers. The students exhibited the devastating consequences of face-to-face and cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying has been featured as a keystone topic at the annual York Region Crime Stoppers Student Symposium, which Galatianos has co-organized since 2018. Ten to 15 current and budding student leaders from each school are invited to participate. Attendees are treated to presentations from the York Region Chief of Police, the head of Crime Stoppers and other guest speakers. Galatianos also delivers a speech, often centring on the importance of students and staff working together to create a secure, inclusive learning environment.

Alexander said the symposium and the multimedia contest that promotes it are “crucial initiatives.”

“The annual student symposium and video campaigns are designed to provide high school students with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed decisions and stay safe in an increasingly complex world. It helps to build a sense of collective responsibility and social cohesion. It encourages students to stand up for what is right, to support one another,” he said.

A specific threat Galatianos seeks to combat is sex trafficking. He was a key contributor in the development of  the YCDSB’s anti-sex trafficking protocols.

“It is extremely shocking,” said Galatianos. “When you are completing the work, you almost have to separate the emotion from it and say, ‘look, what we’re doing is for the greater good not just immediately, but down the road.’ We’re taking an objective look at our system-wide initiatives and system-wide protocols.

“If we can reach any student or any family before they are touched by this — to me that’s a win. My hope going forward, in my idealistic mind, is that (this problem) is totally eradicated. In my realistic mind, we need to definitely decrease the intensity and frequency of this issue.”

Forging relationships with anti-trafficking organizations, promoting healthy interpersonal relationships, equipping students, staff and parents with the know-how to recognize warning signs and hosting awareness events are a few of the mitigation methods outlined in the protocol document finalized in January 2022.

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