Marino Gazzola

Developing entire person key to success

By 
  • May 5, 2013

Developing the entire person is what keeps Catholic education so successful in Ontario, Marino Gazzola believes.

Although each of the province’s 29 Catholic school boards are unique in their own respect, Gazzola said that a dedication to fully developing students beyond the academic curriculum is the common thread of success.

“We always look at educating and developing the entire person, the mind, the body and the spirit,” said the president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association.

“That’s an integral part of our system and it’s very important.”

Along with a continuous commitment to inclusiveness among students, including those with special needs, an essential component to this philosophy is the blending of lessons learned at school, home and church.

“It’s a huge part of what we do, how we do it and what we believe in,” said Gazzola. “Those three factors put together are a major reason why our schools are so successful in the end.”

The evidence of this success can be found in the research of the country’s think-tanks, such as the business-oriented C.D. Howe Institute. In 2012 the institute noted that two-thirds of Ontario’s top public schools were Catholic.

But Gazzola said the real measure of success is the students’ commitment to the Catholic graduate expectations as they leave the system. These seven expectations include being a discerning believer, a responsible citizen and a caring family member — values reflective of Gospel teachings.

Glenn Sheculski, director of education for the Northeastern District Catholic School Board, agreed with Gazzola that this is where the true success of the system is found.

“It’s that faith that underpins us,” Sheculski said. “Often times people say you don’t see it in students when they are in school but you see it when they go out into the world as adults.”

Sheculski admitted that none of his board’s schools were included within the two-thirds named by C.D. Howe in 2012. Still, he feels the type of students his board and all other Catholic boards are producing is worth talking about.

“It’s not about academics all of the time, it’s about becoming a better person,” he said. “I don’t think we need to be boastful but I think we need to state the good job that we’re doing. We need to be aware of our successful practices and the fact that we are turning out responsible citizens that are grounded in their faith.”

In his Easter letter this year, Sheculski made note of the contributions to society Catholic students make post-graduation.

“Our communities are enhanced by the students who graduate from your local Catholic schools demonstrating the Gospel values that are integrated into every aspect of the curriculum,” he wrote. “Ontario’s Catholic schools promote caring communities, the dignity of all persons and social justice. These schools are as well known for their tradition of academic excellence as they are for their primary focus on the care and support of the most vulnerable in our society.”

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