Joe Geiser, executive director of the CPCO, received the council’s Award of Excellence this year. Photo courtesy Juleen Anderson

Leaders honoured for contributions to Catholic education

  • May 7, 2024

Outstanding leaders in Catholic education were honoured April 19 when the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario presented its annual awards recognizing service to Catholic faith and education.

The gala at White Oaks Conference Resort in Niagara on the Lake saw principals and vice principals, partners, sponsors and associates celebrate service hand out six distinct awards that covered a wide scope of involvement in the Catholic education field.

“These awards recognize people who are principals or vice principals as well as people who are outside of our association but have made significant contributions to Catholic education and to our employees,” said Joe Geiser, executive director of the CPCO. “We strongly believe in working with our Catholic partners and recognizing all the hard work they do for staff, students and our agency.” 

Awards presented at the ceremony included Principal of the Year, Distinguished Service, the Fr. John Redmond Memorial Award, Past-President’s and Employee Service Recognition. The most prestigious award is the Award of Excellence, granted this year to Geiser for his contributions to the council. Geiser received the honour on the back of a career in education as a teacher, vice principal, principal and superintendent before landing with the council. 

Geiser’s co-workers sang his praises.  

“It is not the length of time that Joe has been with us that’s allowing us to give Joe this award, but it's the achievements that he's done at the CPCO that makes him deserving of this award,” said Juleen Anderson, manager of communications and marketing. “Joe is a great leader who is very fair. He is also very knowledgable and experienced not only in Catholic education but in Catholic values and faith as well. He has taken the CPCO to where it is right now as a provincial association that represents our members as best as we can.” 

Geiser became emotional while explaining what the award means to him. 

“It is very humbling to receive this, but when you get awards like this, you don't win them because of your work, you win them because of the work that we do together,” he said. “The fact that we all are moving in the same direction together and they are all supportive of the work that we do together, I give kudos out to our team for that.” 

The Principal of the Year, instituted by the CPCO in 2000, saw five principals honoured: Jacqueline Gauthier of the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, Tim McGrenere from the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the Halton board’s Gino Montanari, Gretchen Morgan of the Northeastern Catholic board and Melisa Strimas from Bruce-Grey.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes Practising Associate(s) who have provided prominent aid to the membership of CPCO. This year’s award went to Todd Goodwin, principal of St. Joseph Catholic School of Wellington Catholic District School Board and Erica Wilson of TCDSB.

The Fr. John Redmond Memorial Award was presented to Brian Beal from Simcoe Muskoka board and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario and Dr. Anne Jamieson, executive director for the Institute for Catholic Education. 

Maria Cortez was honoured with the Employee Service Recognition Award, which is presented to a staff member who has supported the agency for a number of years. And the Past-President's Award was presented to principal Sandra Donaghue of Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

The event was followed the next day by the CPCO’s annual general meeting. 

The Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario was formed in 1998 and represents some 2,100 Catholic principals and vice principals in 29 Catholic school boards.

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