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John Van Heck Acclaimed Chair of the Board; Michelle Parks Acclaimed Vice Chair 

At the December 6, 2016 Initial Meeting of the Board of Trustees, John Van Heck was acclaimed to the position of Chair of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board for a second straight term.  Trustee Michelle Parks was acclaimed Vice Chair, a position she has previously held for the past two years.

Mr. Van Heck has been a Catholic trustee since 2006.  In accepting the position of Chair, he thanked his fellow trustees for their support and for always working together as a team.

“Together, we have a common interest in that we always put our students’ and parents’ wellbeing first and that we also hold in high regard the wellbeing of our employees,” says Mr. Van Heck.

In looking to the future, he says completing the work of the Pupil Accommodation Review in Chatham is an important milestone that lies ahead.

“Completing a new and comprehensive plan for our Chatham elementary schools will put Catholic education on solid ground for a bright future in the second largest city of our district,” he says.

Michelle Parks is now in her eleventh year as a Catholic trustee.  In her remarks to the Board last night, she expressed support for her colleagues and for members of the senior administration, as they strive to meet the Board’s three strategic priorities of living our faith; promoting educational achievement and innovation; and fostering stewardship, leadership and social justice. 

“To Dan Parr and our entire senior team, your dedication, commitment and love of St. Clair Catholic is evident in both your words and your actions,” says Mrs. Parks.

Elections for the positions of Chair and Vice Chair are held annually at the Board’s December meeting.  The term of office for both positions expires at the end of November 2017.

The evening began with Mass, which was celebrated in the chapel of the Ursuline Boardroom.  Father Chris Gillespie was celebrant, assisted by Steve Eckert, a Seminarian currently serving the Holy Redeemer Parish Cluster.

In the photo above are (L-R) John Van Heck, Chair of the Board; and Michelle Parks, Vice Chair.  They were elected to their respective positions for 2017 at the Initial Meeting of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board on Tuesday, December 6, 2016.

Dec 07, 2016

Class Project at St. Michael Catholic School in Ridgetown Receives World-Wide Recognition 

A student learning experience developed by a teacher at St. Michael Catholic School in Ridgetown has been recognized by the global partnership New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL), a world-wide collaborative initiative led by Dr. Michael Fullan, the former Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

In 2015-2016, six schools of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board entered into the collaborative inquiry.  Grade 7/8 teacher Andrea DeBruyn at St. Michael supported her students to delve deeply into a learning task entitled What Can We Do to Help Refugees?  It enabled students to research, write, produce and perform a play intended to educate other students, families and the community about the refugee crisis.  The project also included fundraising, through ticket sales, which helped support a refugee family locating in Ridgetown.

“Through drama, the students communicated the complexity of the refugee crisis, as they examined it through the perspective of a family and explored the challenges faced by refugees as they seek to improve their lives,” says Julie Knight, Principal of St. Michael Catholic School.

Recently, Ms. DeBruyn was informed in a letter from Dr. Fullan and his team that her exemplar had been selected as providing a rich description of deep learning and that it had “…contributed to our collective learning and understanding of deep learning and how it can support students world-wide.”  It will be shared on the international Deep Learning Hub, where teachers world-wide can collaborate and share strategies. 

“We are very proud of the work of Ms. DeBruyn and the tremendous journey of learning and discovery that led her students and their families to a new understanding of this important issue,” says Dan Parr, Director of Education.  “This is precisely the kind of innovative learning that we strive for as part of our strategic goals for students.”

Although this project has received tremendous recognition, it is representative of the kind of learning that takes place in St. Clair Catholic schools every day.  Every school has a team of educators and principals involved in professional learning to explore the role of teachers as “activators of learning,” who design learning experiences which build on learner strengths, needs and interests, using real-life, authentic connections.

“If we understand and implement the foundations and conditions for innovative learning, then all students will develop 21st century competencies, which will improve their achievement in literacy and numeracy,” says Laura Callaghan, Superintendent of Education.

In the photos above (top left) students perform the play "Run, Hide, Survive" about the plight of refugees; and (above right) students donate funds from ticket sales to members of the local refugee committee.

Dec 07, 2016

Chatham Man Shares His Late Wife's Passion for the Nativity with St. Clair Catholic Students 

Mary Lynne McNeil loved the story of Jesus' birth and for 50 years, she collected nativity sets depicting the holy scene of long ago, in a Bethlehem stable.

"They came from all over the world," says her husband, Jerry.  "Big and small, some with lots of pieces, and some with just a few, she was constantly adding to her collection.  Many of them were gifts from friends and family and they were all precious to her," he says.

When Mary Lynne died last January, just a few months short of their 50th wedding anniversary, Jerry decided he wanted to share her many gifts with young people; and so he contacted the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.  Elementary Chaplaincy Leader Margaret Palmer recently visited Jerry and gathered up the more than 40 nativity sets and will deliver them to schools throughout Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent, over the next couple of weeks.

"For many years to come during Advent, these nativity sets will appear on the prayer tables of every school in our district," says Ms. Palmer.  "It is an amazing gift to the students and staff of our Board."

Jerry says he is pleased to know that the beautiful scenes that brought Mary Lynne so much joy, will now be appreciated by many, many people.

In the photos (top left) Margaret Palmer and Jerry McNeil pose with just a few of the nativity sets he recently donated to the schools of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board; and (above right) one of the more than 40 scenes in Mary Lynne's collection.

Nov 30, 2016
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