Rory McGuckin

Building leaders is top priority for new director

By 
  • August 27, 2017

Along his journey as a student, teacher and now director of education at Canada’s largest Catholic school board, Rory McGuckin leaned on Catholic leaders for guidance.

As one example, he points to Spiritian Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, past principal of Regina Pacis Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, where McGuckin began his teaching career in 1984. Fitzgerald opened his eyes to the empowering effect of trickle-down leadership, McGuckin said.

“From a leadership perspective Father (Fitzgerald) ensured that we were able to inform our students that they were in a Catholic school,” he sai d. “We certainly had to act like Catholic role model s as teachers in the schools and provide a level of pastoral care for our students and other staff members when required or needed.

“It really empowered me to take on initiatives, to lead things, and organically the leadership grew.”

That growth has led him to the position of director of education at the Toronto Catholic board. He assumed the post Aug. 1 and among his priorities is to help build the next generation of school leaders.

He wants students and teachers to experience what he encountered, the “living example of shaping and informing what it means to be a Catholic teacher in a Catholic school.”

“It was very important for me as a young teacher and young Catholic teacher,” said McGuckin, who has spent his entire 33-year professional career in the same board.

“I want to continue to focus on continuing to provide students with leadership opportunities within schools because out of that leadership comes growth. I want everyone to take ownership of the children to ensure that they really are moving forward and meeting their potential to be the best according to their abilities.”

Fitzgerald, now 83 and living at the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence in Toronto after more than 30 years in education, said that McGuckin exemplifies the effectiveness of leadership.

“He is a wonderful example of Catholic education. I was so happy because to me it shows the vision and the vitality of the board that a man of Rory’s qualities is able to rise up the ranks to the very top.”

Fitzgerald said that having a director of education who is prompting shared leadership with students puts Toronto’s Catholic schools at the forefront of modern evangelization.

“In this day and age the Catholic schools are at the cutting edge of evangelization,” he said. “They are meeting the students at the time in their lives when they can be most influenced.”

Speaking on behalf of 14 elected trustees, Angela Kennedy, chair of the board, expressed “tremendous confidence in Rory’s vision for the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).”

Since 2010, McGuckin has served as superintendent of human resources and labour relations, headed the safe schools department and worked with the board’s parent engagement and community relations branch. Most recently, he was the board’s associate director of academic affairs.

He succeeds Angela Gauthier, who stepped down after five years as director, ending 40 years of service with the Toronto board. Like McGuckin, Gauthier spent most of her life with Toronto Catholic, starting as a student.

Having such a long relationship with the board is an invaluable asset, said Gauthier.

“Rory brings a wealth of experience in Catholic education to the role of director, as well as great leadership skills focused on maximizing learning for our students and enhancing the work environment for all of our staff,” she said.

McGuckin believes his experience, both long and diverse, with Toronto Catholic should make the transition to his new role easier.

“I’ve dabbled in so many portfolios that I feel that I have a very comprehensive knowledge of the board,” he said.

“I’ve got skin in the game with this board.”

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