Nine Catholic School Principals from Alberta and Ontario have been named an Outstanding Principal by The Learning Partnership.
A well-respected award, Canada’s Outstanding Principals recognizes outstanding contributions of principals in publicly funded schools. It honours principals from every province and territory in Canada who demonstrate innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and who have done something truly remarkable in public education.
With just four provinces providing public funding to Catholic schools, the award numbers are impressive. Only 40 principals were selected, and nearly a quarter of those hail from Catholic schools.
“This outcome really shows us just how much of a positive impact Catholic educators have on the school community,” says CCSTA President Marino Gazzola.
Canada’s Outstanding Principals is both a nationally recognized award and an Executive Leadership Training Program. Launched in 2005, the executive leadership program was created, in partnership with Rotman School of Management, to strengthen the education system in Canada by developing its leaders in publicly funded schools across Canada. The program offers principals from across Canada, who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their schools and community, the opportunity to be brought to Toronto to be recognized nationally as innovative educators at an annual gala awards evening for 500 guests; to experience a five-day executive leadership training program at the Rotman School of Management; and become part of a National Academy of Principals, a pan-Canadian learning community of over 400 Canada’s Outstanding Principals alumni.
When Patricia Makowski of the Calgary Catholic School District found out she was named, she says it has been an incredibly humbling experience to be recognized for this award.
“My first impression was to feel incredibly unworthy of this recognition knowing with certainty that this needed to be a shared award with all those who I have had the privilege to share this incredible teaching and learning vocation with,” she says. “I am overcome with a sense of joy and gratitude for the wonderful families, students and staff that I have come to know and love throughout my career. I think about each of these people who seek to support student success each and every day within their various roles, and I accept this award for each of them.”
Andrea Green feels the same way.
“I’m surprised, humbled and grateful,” says the Ottawa Catholic School Board Principal. “Surprised to be honoured with Canada’s Outstanding Principal award. Humbled as I have always loved working in education and certainly know that my accomplishments were achieved because I have a great team. Grateful to work for the Ottawa Catholic School Board and to have always had supportive, excellent mentors, colleagues and school communities.”
Here’s the line-up (with bios from The Learning Partnership) of the Catholic school principals who earned the award. Congratulations to them all!
Patricia Makowski is committed to increasing student academic success, embodying the school motto, “learning for all, whatever it takes.” Patty and staff have created a safe, caring, inviting learning space for the school’s diverse student population. Learning is personalized and students have individualized learning profiles. Each student has identified one or two trusted adults who are their Student Champion. Students are supported through the weekly meetings of the school team, which includes a full-time school counsellor, the Student Champion and parents. There are a variety of clubs and teams to support social interaction. Patty is innovative in finding supports to advance her students’ learning, specifically using data to inform approaches and strategies. Patty is committed to supporting her students and has created a school culture that reflects this commitment.
David Magnusson is committed to improving student achievement and uses data to inform decision making at Sacred Heart Community School. Dave and his team unpacked the student achievement data, often noting that their academic results had plateaued. Dave sought advice from staff and school leaders to build consensus and lever structural change. The timetable was altered, providing uninterrupted learning blocks for K-4 students. New literacy programs were adopted and math resources and approaches were updated. Dave worked to improve student attendance through building trusting relationships with parents and the greater school community. Dave clearly explains to parents why regular attendance matters. Monthly literacy evenings are held to build parental engagement. Attendance at Sacred Heart is at an unprecedented high of 95 percent. Dave possesses an innate desire to learn and a drive for continual growth and improvement.
Norman Martin is an experienced administrator who is focused on the promotion of high school redesign, a student/teacher champion program, and academic excellence at Bishop Grandin High School, a school consisting of 1,675 students along with three specialized programs. His dedication, collaboration with staff and focus has increased Bishop Grandin’s retention rates and student outcomes. Norm and staff have created a safe, respectful environment, where students feel secure and able to learn. He fosters a sense of community and faith. Norm emphasizes the need for increasing student voice and culturally responsive programming. The school supports students at risk through credit recovery, teacher advisors, counselling and remediation. Bishop Grandin also recognizes excellence, seeking out scholarship opportunities for students to post-secondary institutions. Leading through others, Norm has provided the vision and encouraged voice from all stakeholders.
Frank Durante is dedicated to improving student learning outcomes through creative approaches. While principal at St. Mary’s High School, student demographics changed, requiring differing approaches to meet the needs of diverse learners. This included evidence-based strategies for students in the Program for At Risk Kids (PARK), the Transitions Program and English Language Learners (ELL). With the support of staff, Frank began Independent Learning Opportunities (ILO), allowing students to access teachers prior to the school day for academic support. Frank also worked to support students by creating community supports for health and wellness. These included a CALM ZONE in the Learning Commons for students experiencing anxiety and mental health issues. Frank is intentionally visible in classrooms, offering coaching, dedicated professional learning on Friday mornings and supporting his team. Frank believes that, “students’ success is the school’s success.”
Frank Bradica provides St. Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School with focused vision for improved student achievement and strong collaborative leadership. Frank and his staff emphasize deep learning practices, driven by student inquiry. Teachers and support staff participate in targeted collaborative professional learning. Students engage parents and the community in their learning. Frank’s creative problem-solving strategies and unique way of viewing the world has opened possibilities and new opportunities at St. Mother Teresa School. Effective use of technology enables teachers to collaborate on pedagogy and refine their practices. Frank is visible, attentively listens to staff discussions, and shares important information in a timely manner. With Frank’s leadership, support and insights, staff discovered that all members can learn from one another. St. Mother Teresa School has evolved into a true learning community.
Andrea Green builds purposeful relationships with staff, students and the community to continuously improve learning. The school is designed to be a flexible learning environment, making learning more transparent and inviting. This has allowed for collaboration and innovation, resulting in richer and deeper conversations and mutual learning. Andrea demonstrates a constant willingness to learn, take risks and try new things. Each year, staff select one global competency as their primary focus. Students and staff co-construct success criteria indicators, and parents are engaged in the process of understanding the importance of the selected global competency, and possible roles they can play. Andrea and her team leverage digital technology to build digital literacies. Under Andrea’s leadership, St. Cecilia has experienced school-wide transformation.
Marion Massaloup is a motivated, passionate, lifelong learner, who first worked as a social worker before becoming a teacher and now principal. As the previous principal at Sacred Heart, Marion’s efforts towards improving student outcomes were recognized by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) as the leader of a “School on the Move”. Marion models through example, is constantly visible and accessible, developing capacity by working closely with her teacher leaders. Teams of teachers are organized to specifically address a range of student needs such as culture of care, special education, mental health, assessment and trauma. The teams collaborate and work extensively with community agencies to provide additional services and programs to support students’ challenges and strengths. With extensive, targeted interventions and personalized and precise teaching, student achievement has steadily increased.
Christopher Oldford is a caring and dynamic leader, working to make St. Patrick a safe, inviting and purposeful, learning space that is focused on student success. Chris works with staff as a team and together they set goals based on data to improve student learning. Under his leadership, the staff united around a Moving on Math initiative. Teachers concentrated on problem-solving and improving instructional strategies for teaching math through teacher collaboration and student-led learning. St. Patrick is truly a community school, with a focus on building resiliency and well-being. Chris and his team have created a culture that is collaborative and accepting. As a result of these efforts, student survey responses on resiliency and wellbeing are positive.
Marie-Claude Veilleux wanted students and families to feel welcome at their newly-built school and sought to create a culture of caring. The school community is diverse with students from nearly 30 different countries. Incorporating caring into all aspects of school-life, she led in creating the best possible learning conditions to help her students succeed academically and flourish socially. Once a week, for 60 minutes, Marie-Claude timetabled students into small support groups that stay together until they graduate from Grade 12. Each is led by a mentor–teacher. Topics for discussion included stress, anxiety, bullying and healthy relationships. With the support of staff, Marie-Claude understood that stability enables students to build trust and openness, enhancing their sense of belonging and caring. Marie-Claude encourages both staff and students to thrive at Collège catholique Mer Bleue.