New era begins for Catholic school board

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Carol Bryden, newly acclaimed chair of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, left, Dan Parr, new director of education and John Van Heck, newly acclaimed vice-chair of the board.
Carol Bryden, newly acclaimed chair of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, left, Dan Parr, new director of education and John Van Heck, newly acclaimed vice-chair of the board.

It is a new beginning with new leadership, as the St. Clair Catholic District School Board enters another year in catholic education.

During the board’s initial meeting, trustees elected to stay with the status quo in terms of chair and vice chair, however the meeting also marked the first for newly appointed director of education, Dan Parr.

“I’ve had quite a bit of time to make a transition into this system from my previous employer in the Huron-Perth board,” Parr said. “I feel just great. It’s such a wonderful system; I’ve met so many dedicated, supportive, professional people. I’ve landed in a very good place.”

Parr said “job one” is to meet with as many people as he can and start building strong relationships.

He added the St. Clair board is in line for a new multi-year strategic plan.

“It will be developed through a comprehensive process with a lot of collaboration with a lot of stakeholders throughout the system, but it will define what our goals are going to be for the future, for the next three to five years,” Parr said. “It will also define how we are going to monitor them, how we’re going to support them and how we are going to report on their success.”

Carol Bryden, who was acclaimed for her their tenure as chair of the board, said the future is bright.

“We’re looking forward to a renewed vision,” she said. “Our former director (Paul Wubben) was a wonderful leader and we really valued his leadership. We’re looking forward to that kind of renewed spirit and renewed leadership again with the appointment of Dan.”

The board is moving forward this year with one less superintendent of education, as Dr. Frank Leddy has left for a position with the Ministry.

“That’s going to be a challenge in trying to restructure all the portfolios with the existing two superintendents. It does cause us to save money but it is going to be a challenge to work through all of the work that has been done in the past to the same degree,” Bryden said.

John Van Heck, who was acclaimed for his second straight tenure as vice chair, said focusing on retaining students after elementary school is a focus moving forward.

“We have to come up with ways where kids say, ‘Yes, it’s worth that bus ride, it’s worth the difference for me to go to The Pines or go to St. Patrick’s,’” he said. “We have to make programming that entices them to go. We have to live our faith to make a difference.”

The board will meet again at the end of January.

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