Susan LaRosa

Retirement beckons York Region director of education LaRosa

  • October 6, 2012

York Catholic District School Board director of education Susan LaRosa has announced that she will retire when her contract expires on Dec. 31.

“Well you know I’ve been in the education business for 45 years and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it for sure,” said LaRosa. “I have a great prayer life and the Lord told me it’s time to use my skills in a different way and after 15 years I decided to retire.”

During her career as an educator LaRosa moved up through the ranks, from teacher to principal, superintendent and most recently director of education.

She became director of education during a difficult time for the York board. Changes introduced when the Mike Harris Tories were in power brought challenges to school boards across the province in the late 1990s, and with it labour unrest.

“As a director there are always challenges that come our way,” said LaRosa. “The most satisfying part is that we’ve always been able to stand side-by-side in all the challenges and come up with a win-win solution that kept people first. That to me is the most satisfying part of my experience as a director.”

Over the years she and her colleagues worked towards “re-culturing the board” by building stronger relationships between teachers, parents and other education stakeholders.

Her attitude towards building personal relationships is what led Elizabeth Crowe, chairperson of the board, to say that LaRosa redefined the three Rs to relationships, relationships and relationships.

“Her first mandate was to do some mending of fences with our employee group that resulted in some stability in the system,” said Crowe. “That success is founded on a respect for the professionalism of all employees, a welcoming atmosphere in our schools, recog- nition of the vital role of parents, priests and the community and a commitment to fostering all levels of student leadership.”

Although LaRosa will be missed by all trustees Crowe said the board is excited to work with a new director of education.

“She will be missed but at the same time we are excited and looking forward to working with the new director of education,” said Crowe. “Over the years we’ve developed a friendship at a certain level; I wish her all the best and I know that all the other trustees feel the same way. She has always been able to see the big picture and she has always been open to working with trustees and understanding the political atmosphere that we work in.

“As chair she has made my life easy because she has been able to see that part of the educational system and she respects that.”

Since becoming the director of education LaRosa has been recognized for her dedicated work many times including with an Administrator of the Year Award from Niagara University’s College of Education, the President’s Award from The Council of Exceptional Children of York Region and in May 2009 she received The Learning Partnership’s Champion of Education Award.

Now in the homestretch of her career, LaRosa said she plans to remain an active member of the community.

“I have way too much energy to fully retire so I would like to perhaps pick and choose where I can use my talents and have not such a hectic schedule,” she said.

Her successor has yet to be named.

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