CTR CATHOLIC BOARD HIGHLIGHTS

from Board Meeting held on September 25, 2021

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TEARFUL FAREWELL TO TRUSTEES VAN DONZEL AND DOMINGO

The Board of Trustees of Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools and senior administration bid farewell to Trustees Van Donzel (High River) and Domingo (Canmore).


Trustee Van Donzel served as the High River and surrounding area Trustee since 2001. She was an especially vocal proponent for languages education in our schools, as well as being a fervent supporter of work experience, the Registered Apprenticeship Program, and other opportunities for students to explore.


Trustee Domingo served as the Canmore-Bow Valley Trustee for 20 years, and was known to focus on the good of the entire division with a special focus on faith. Trustee Domingo also served as Board Chair for many years and was the inaugural Trustee of CTR’s Canmore-Bow Valley Ward. His efforts will stand the test of time as a person who was selflessly dedicated to serving both Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore and CTR Catholic.


Superintendent Dr. Scott Morrison offered heartfelt thanks to the two departing Trustees for their commitment to Catholic education. Dr. Morrison expressed admiration for Trustee Van Donzel’s dedicated advocacy for the community of High River, her passion for second languages programming, and her promotion of the Registered Apprenticeship Program. He also noted how she is unflappably poised.


Dr. Morrison also expressed admiration for Trustee Domingo’s (Canmore) contribution to the Board. Trustee Domingo is one of the spiritual centres of the Board of Trustees and his faith has been an example for all of us. Trustee Domingo is almost always last to speak, preferring to honour what others have to say and then offer words of wisdom that almost always express the will of the Board with wisdom and elegance.


Trustees shared kind words of support, focusing on how joyful it was to work with Trustees Van Donzel and Domingo. There were a few tears around the table as the two Trustees shared short, emotional farewell messages. To paraphrase Trustee Domingo, “There is a sense of loss…It’s like losing my family.”


At CTR, we echo that sentiment and wish them both the very best in their future endeavours. Thank you for your commitment to Catholic education and CTR Catholic.

NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION ACTIVITIES

Associate Superintendent Moss shared that CTR Catholic staff were left relatively little time to adapt after the Federal announcement in late June. After two weeks of consultation in September with Indigenous Elders, staff, and our parent community, the decision was made to close our schools on the 30th, in the true spirit of honoring the Day for Truth and Reconciliation. A school’s primary role is education, so the entire week was infused with a focus on Truth and Reconciliation.

ALBERTA ASSURANCE RESULTS REVIEW

The Board reviewed Alberta Assurance Results, noting that CTR Catholic’s schools outperformed provincial averages on each of the eight measures of achievement and/or satisfaction. Three observations were identified. The first was that, of the three groups surveyed (parents, students, staff), it is the students in CTR Catholic’s schools who are the most satisfied in comparison to their provincial counterparts. Parents and staff were also more satisfied than their provincial counterparts, but the student rates stood out. The second was that CTR Catholic’s high school completion rates hit 90% for the first time in over a decade, outperforming the provincial rate by close to 7%. The third was that, although above provincial averages, CTR Catholic’s parental involvement rates were down from usual levels. Dr. Morrison suggested that these lower rates may be attributed to the fact the division, and not the schools, had to develop so many top-down COVID plans with so little parental consultation over the course of the pandemic. He further suggested the division should endeavour to find ways to engage parents more intentionally. Below are the average rates of CTR Catholic’s schools in comparison to the province, and it is important to note these rates are largely attributed to satisfaction with our teachers and our schools.

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WARD HIGHLIGHT OF THE MONTH

At each Board Meeting, the trustees select one highlight arising out of the eight Ward Committee meetings we have around the Division every three months. A Ward meeting is attended by trustees, the superintendent, principals, school council chairs, and parish priests. After hearing the reports from the Ward meetings, the Board agreed to highlight extra-curricular programming.

SPORTS IN OUR BROOKS SCHOOLS ARE BLOSSOMING

Staff and students are advocating for normalcy and student support in many regards, but possibly none so noteworthy as the growing support for school sponsored sports and activities. At the most recent Ward meeting, Trustee de Jong (Brooks) was regaled with stories of extremely high participation in extra-curricular activities of all sorts. The additional involvement is benefitting students and schools through important life lessons, physical activity, and a noticeable decrease in discipline challenges. Trustee de Jong noted that the students are being served well and indicated none of this could happen without staff volunteerism.

WARD COMMITTEE REPORTS

The communities of Oyen, Okotoks, Brooks, and High River hosted a Ward meeting since the June 24th Board meeting. The minutes with more detail are attached to the Board Meeting agenda on our website. The meeting summaries follow.

ASSUMPTION WARD:

This Ward includes Assumption Roman Catholic School in Oyen.

Faith: There are at least three children seeking Baptism.

Learning: Tricia Rolheiser is taking the lead and piloting the new math curriculum for Grade 5.

Safe and Caring: The Grade 6 families had a campout at the end of the year. It was amazing and the families were all engaged, especially the dads. The Light Ceremony done with the Parish was a beautiful faith element of the campout.

Stewardship: The new playground has been a significant six-year effort and is being installed September 17th.


OKOTOKS WARD II:

This Ward includes The Centre for Learning@HOME and St. Luke's Outreach in Okotoks.

Faith: The Centre For Learning@HOME is using their new Vice Principal, Grant Gay, to lead a more concentrated set of CLCs on faith. As a result, 20% of CLC’s will be faith-based.

Learning: The Centre For Learning@HOME has introduced a choral and instructional music program allowing for synchronous performances with the assistance of the Stanford University and the University of Lethbridge.

Safe and Caring: St. Luke’s Outreach Centre loves their new facility and the symbolic message it sends to staff and students about the importance of outreach.

Stewardship: The Centre For Learning@HOME has formed one of the few online school councils in the province. There are participants from across the province, as they want to attract parents from all areas and programs.


BROOKS WARD:

This Ward includes Holy Family Academy, Christ The King Academy, St. Joseph's Collegiate, and St. Luke's Outreach in Brooks.

Faith: All three schools expressed appreciation for the 25 Years of Catholic Education anthology. The division funded the printing costs, and the anthology will be sold with proceeds going to charity. The GrACE Director is giving one copy to each school division in the province as it may motivate one of them to capture the proud history of Catholic education in Alberta.

Learning: The three schools go above and beyond when developing schedules. At Holy Family Academy, they shelter Level 1 and 2 ELL students with little to no English into small classes with qualified specialists. At Christ The King Academy, students have access to an impressive list of complementary courses including cultural courses focusing on Latin America and the Philippines and both Holy Family Academy and Christ The King Academy schedule common prep times so teachers can collaborate. At St. Joseph’s Collegiate, they also plan to explicitly serve the Level 1 and 2 ELL students with little to no English in small classes with qualified specialists.

Safe and Caring: Extracurricular programming has staggering interest. Christ The King Academy and St. Joseph’s Collegiate are both running 4 and 6 volleyball teams respectively. This is great for after two years of pandemic with sports. It’s also impressive that so many staff members stepped up to coach.

Stewardship: Both Holy Family Academy and St. Joseph’s Collegiate set attendance records and both are over 400 students. Brooks also had its highest enrollment ever at over 1,200 students.


HIGH RIVER WARD:

This Ward includes Holy Spirit Academy, Notre Dame Collegiate, and St. Luke's Outreach in High River.

Faith: Father Mariusz expressed a deep desire to get back into the schools and offer Mass to at least one grade of students at a time. Dr. Morrison explained that homeroom cohorts can attend Mass, and Father is welcome in the schools as are other visitors. Dr. Morrison said they will examine rules about gathering more than one cohort for Masses if distancing is in place.

Learning: There are 21 elementary homeroom teachers piloting the new math curriculum at Holy Spirit Academy, and the summer work on creating curriculum support documents was excellent professional development.

Safe and Caring: Both schools are focusing on universal mental health strategies. Holy Spirit Academy is focused on calming strategies (e.g., egg chairs, calming rooms) and creating connections and relationships. Notre Dame Collegiate is focusing on calming spaces, the ARC EA Program, and daily check-ins with students.

Stewardship: Zoom has increased School Council engagement. The Holy Spirit Academy School Council would like to continue offering hybrid (in-person and online) meetings. Dr. Morrison will ask I.T. to order one Owl camera for every school to articulate blended/hybrid meetings.

ENROLMENT ANALYSIS

Superintendent Morrison communicated that strong enrolment numbers, particularly in The Centre For Learning@HOME, bode well for divisional health. In a time when COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on certainty and predictability, increased enrolment enhances CTR Catholic's financial stability.

NEW MENTAL HEALTH COORDINATOR

Associate Superintendent Moss introduced CTR Catholic’s new Coordinator of Mental Health Services, Mr. Chris Sciberras. Mr. Sciberras was a former Family School Liaison Worker at St. Luke’s Outreach, before leaving to take an administrative position with a non-profit in the city. We are so pleased he’s returned. At a recent administrator’s meeting, Mr. Sciberras impressed the attendees with both the plan to support student mental health and his infusion of faith into the plan.

NEW TEACHER ORIENTATION A STRONG SUCCESS

One hallmark for over two decades at CTR Catholic is the two days of orientation for new teaching staff prior to the official beginning of the school year. This two-day orientation focuses on everything from student learning and classroom management to occupational health and safety and payroll. In exit surveys, each session received a nearly perfect 5 out of 5 rating. Below are two comments, that typify what our new teachers experienced:

  • I had an amazing experience during my new teacher orientation. It is no surprise that I gave every session a 5-star rating.
  • I am walking into my classroom feeling more prepared. I truly felt an open-armed welcome into the Christ The Redeemer community.

NOMINATION DAY RESULTS

Nomination day for CTR Catholic Trustees ended with several acclamations and only one election. See this page for a nomination day summary that outlines who was acclaimed in each area and who is running for election. The only election will occur in Ward 3, which is the Okotoks Ward. Candidate profiles for the Okotoks election can be found here and we encourage all Okotoks electors to vote on October 18th.

COVID UPDATE

The Board concurred that continuing to follow the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s (CMOH) guidance is a key precept of CTR Catholic’s COVID-19 response. Remaining consistent has been important to ensuring our stakeholders know what to expect in terms of CTR Catholic’s response to changing conditions and rules. Further to this, one of the criteria for “exceeding” the guidance of the CMOH is that divisions need to demonstrate that their local context varies from the provincial context considered by the CMOH when making rules, regulations, or recommendations. To date, CTR Catholic’s context closely models that of the province at large, so we have followed, but not exceeded, the guidance. With this said, CTR Catholic continues to diligently track illness rates, COVID-19 cases in schools, and community COVID-19 rates. CTR Catholic also closely investigates any instance in which we suspect in-school transmission, and there is a protocol in place when more than one case is identified in any classroom cohort. As with last year, the possibility of suspected in-school transmission remains rare, because parents are commonly able to identify who the child got their case from out of school.

TEBA - TEACHER'S EMPLOYER BARGAINING ASSOCIATION

A recent update from provincial bargainers indicates that work on teachers’ collective agreements around the province remain at the Central Table, meaning that provincial representatives and the Alberta Teacher’s Association are considering options for the items that affect all teachers. Local bargaining could begin early in the new year, at which time CTR Catholic’s bargaining committee will look forward to collaborating with local teacher representatives.

BOARD STANDING COMMITTEES

Since the last Board meeting, Trustee representatives attended at the following meetings: GrACE CTR Committee, Policy Development and Review Committee, Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association, and Alberta School Boards Association. Their reports follow.

GrACE CTR COMMITTEE

Chair Keenan (Foothills County), indicated that they added two more members to their committee, yet reiterated they are always looking for parents and/or parishioners from all communities to join. Provincial GrACE Director, Dr. Bonnie Annicchiarico, indicated that GrACE will be using Calgary Catholic to assist in newsletter development. Other ideas being considered by the executive are to add the GrACE newsletter to parish bulletins, and to urge all School Councils to include parish connections and GrACE updates in their regular meetings.

POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW COMMITTEE

Chair Keenan (Foothills County), shared the committee’s revisions to the following policies: Role of the Board, Appeals to the Board, Hearing on Teacher Transfers, Student Transportation, and a new administrative procedure on Social Media.

ALBERTA CATHOLIC SCHOOL TRUSTEES' ASSOCIATION (ACSTA) DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Trustee Chung (Drumheller) shared that the provincial group is working on re-imagining their Charter, which he expects will be discussed at the annual general meeting in November.

ALBERTA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION (ASBA) ZONE 5 REPORT

Chair Keenan (Foothills County) reported that Zone boards gave back to school updates, the process to apply for charter schools is being reviewed, the upcoming Fall General Meeting will be a hybrid model of virtual and in person, and there are ongoing meetings with the Education Minister on school re-entry and curriculum support.

TRUSTEE'S CORNER

By Joanne Van Donzel, Trustee for High River and Area


The passing of our Board Chair, Ron Schreiber, still shocked me, even though I was aware of his poor health but his passing was still too soon. As a trustee I respected and loved Ron for his faith and his ability to lead his board even if we were initially of a different opinion, he could lead the board to come to consensus. The obituary submitted by the family moved me deeply. It showed how deeply they are all connected with each other and Ron. In this vain I like to remember Mary Stengler from Brooks having been Board Chair for many years and Brian Lyttle fellow trustee who passed away during my time on the board.


As of October 18th I will be retired from the position of trustee for the High River Ward. I am very pleased to be followed up by Mark MacDonald as he was nominated and acclaimed as trustee for the High River Ward.


Being a trustee in the 21st century represented both a sense of excitement and uncertainty as trustees faced reform in a new era of governance and advocacy. Catholic school trustees and public school trustees develop many of the same skills and utilize many of the same procedures, protocols, and communications. School trustees in each of the systems, have distinct differences as to how each communicate to all stakeholders within their schools and school jurisdictions. In each of the school settings, school trustees and administrators utilize their visibility to assist in and to encourage all stakeholders to participate to work toward a common goal, bringing forth a sense of culture.


The Catholic school trustee must also take on the role of Jesus as a visible leader to all, within and outside of the school environment. While faith-based Catholic education is a known and embraced concept among Catholic stakeholders, it has also become part of many non-Catholic parents’ and students’ choices of education. The growing numbers of non-Catholic students in Catholic schools create interesting issues for Catholic school trustees, administrators, and teachers, as non-Catholic students and parents looking for a moral–based, high quality education, populate significant portions of Catholic school classrooms. Therefore, the role of evangelization within CTR Catholic's schools has gained more and more importance. Through collaboration with the parishes, more and more students have joined the church, often followed by their parents.


Being a trustee with CTR Catholic has been a fantastic learning and spiritual experience. I have been working with great colleagues and administration for a period of 20 years. The community concerns that were brought to the board table were always discussed and when supported these were conscientiously followed up by capable administration and staff.


Therefore, I like to thank them for implementing the following programs:

  • Student self regulation,
  • Connections,
  • #Relationships,
  • Attachment, Regulation, and Competency (ARC), and
  • Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).



One thing left is getting land for a new school in High River.


Finally, I state that, being a trustee has been a great journey, and I give my thanks to all of you.


Trustee biographies can be viewed by clicking the button below.

NEXT BOARD MEETING DATE

The next Board meeting will take place on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at St. Anthony's School Drumheller, beginning at 9:00 a.m. with the organizational meeting, followed by the regular board meeting.

For any information on items in this publication, please contact Michael Kilcommons, Associate Superintendent, at mkilcommons@redeemer.ab.ca or at 403-938-2659.

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