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Light For The World

November 30, 2014

We are now in the beginning of Advent. Advent is a special time to renew our awareness of Christ’s coming to us as divine light. Do we recognize this radiant presence in everyone we encounter?  What encounters will you have this day, this week, this Advent season, in which others will know they are a divine spark?

Our Inaugural Meeting of the Board will be hosted Monday, December 1, 2014. On behalf of us all we welcome the newly formed Board of Trustees:  Marino Gazzola, Vikki Dupuis, Sebastian Dalbo, Joe Tersigni, Andy Finoro and Cassandra Choronoboy along with our student Trustees: Jonathan Parkes, Ryan Fazzari, Madison Hooper and Will Medeiros. Trustees will elect a Chair and Vice Chair as part of the organizational meeting.  At the same time, we are deeply grateful for those who have served before them; most recently, Father Dennis Noon, Jim Coffey and Steve Redmond, who have all taken great care to be good stewards of Catholic education. We wish you Godspeed.

The Parent and Student Information Night for the International Baccalaureate Program, Guelph’s first, was a HUGE success. If you were not able to make the information session, contact any member of the Administrative team at Bishop Macdonell. Registration packages are due December 16th. And… be sure to tell at least two friends about this exciting pathway possibility!

This Advent season be radiant! Let your light shine!!


Living in the Flow of Grace

November 24, 2014

What a privilege it was to join together with staff from across the district, to share stories about how God’s grace comes to us as we are; where we live, work and play. A special thank you to those who comprise the Spiritual Development Day Committee for your efforts to create a meaningful and enriching day.

God gives us his grace willingly and abundantly for this journey. It renews, edifies, and encourages us in our vocation. As we begin the journey towards the start of the Advent season, may God’s gentle grace permeate our heart and soul and all our thoughts and words and deeds…especially in those times when the world is silent.


IBelieve. IBelong. IBecome.

November 16, 2014

Guelph’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is starting at Bishop Macdonell CHS and the excitement is mounting!  The International Baccalaureate program is an internationally recognized high school diploma that inspires and empowers students for the 21st century.

We are looking for students in grades 7-10 with a passion for learning and who are interested in viewing the world through a global lens. Students from the Catholic and public school systems are welcome.

Parents/Guardians and students welcome.

Learn More & Register.

November 25, 2014, 7pm

Bishop Macdonell CHS, 200 Clair Rd W, Guelph 519.822.8502 x 101307

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity.

This week marks the beginning of Bullying Awareness Week.  Awareness is an important first step in recognizing this issue while prevention and intervention are also important components.  Across our district and over the course of the school year our staff, students and families are helping to shape our Catholic Community as one that is defined by the sense of belonging that all members of the community experience. It is deeply rooted in recognizing the dignity of every human person. In other words, we are called to help every individual to become the person God intended he/she to be.  Our children and youth need to be supported in the development of a strong moral compass that is offered to them through their on-going faith formation.  Our staff also participate in formation activities, which will be the work of our Spiritual Development Day, Thursday, November 25th.  We ask for God’s abundant grace on this gathering, to nurture the faith of those entrusted with the Christian development of our children and to open our minds, hearts and hands in service.

Make a great week.


Blessed are the Peacemakers

October 24, 2014

We were all shocked and saddened by the events that occured in our Nation’s Capital. During times like these we are reminded of the tremendous example and sacrifice of our men and women who serve in order for us to experience freedom and to keep us safe and secure. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have been impacted by these events and to those who serve our country with dignity and valour every day. Our flags across the district are flying at half staff. As a Catholic community we join together in prayer for those affected by this tragedy.  (Prayer adapted from prayer by Thomas MacDonald).

Dear Lord,
As we come to terms with the events  in our Nation’s Capital,
Let us turn our hearts and minds towards the good found only in You.
Be close to those who mourn.
Embrace our grieving nation.
Protect those who go in harm’s way to save others, and those who sacrifice themselves to safeguard our nation.
Convert the hearts of those who seek destruction, and banish from the world the darkness that allows such hate to fester and grow;
Let Your love rain down upon us, and let Your peace flourish on the Earth;
Let our every word and action be a reflection of You.
All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Peace be with you.


With Gratitude…

October 13, 2014

For the bounty of the earth,

Softening it with rain and bathing it in the warmth of the sun,

Blessing it with growth.

For life…and the freedom to enjoy it all.

For safe, inclusive places to learn.

For the way God is visible to us in one another.

For the marvels of creation.

For countless daily blessings.

For grateful hearts.

Bless the tables where we gather and may we be nourished to let our lives speak of gratitude, joy and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Achieving Excellence

October 5, 2014

A renewed vision for education has been articulated for the province of Ontario. The vision is focused on four goals: achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence. These goals are reflected in our Board Improvement Plan for Excellence in Faith Formation, Learning and Achievement. Together we will work to transform our district to realize our shared goals and steward our resources responsibly.

We are committed to creating a culture of Belonging in which every person we encounter knows and understands deeply that they are a divine spark, a child of God. As we discover the giftedness in each person we realize it is also a gift for us and our community. Staff, student, volunteer, coworker, support staff… we are all called to share our gifts generously and celebrate them joyfully so that we can create a safe, welcoming, inclusive, caring, and Christ-centered learning environment.

October 5, 2014 we celebrate in a special way, teachers, on World Teacher’s Day. It is a day that resonates with all of us as we call to mind the teacher who inspired us, formed us, encouraged us, believed in us, and helped us to realize our potential or, as a parent we watch our child’s teachers do the same for our own children. It’s a good time to say “Thank you” for making a difference.

The much anticipated Bishop’s Dinner for Community Needs will be hosted this week. We welcome Bishop Crosby and our many guests. Our community will be the direct benefactors. Thank you to all those who have planned and prepared for wonderful hospitality.

As we move toward Thanksgiving, we give thanks…
for the mystery of God’s presence in everyone we know and meet;
in the simplest and most ordinary moments of each day;
and in the stillness and quiet of prayer…


An Amazing Week!

September 29, 2014

What an amazing week!

Warmed by the sunshine, driving through fields of gold and green, I visited St. Mary in Mount Forest, St. John in Arthur and St. Joseph in Fergus, humbled by the hospitality of each community.  We are truly blessed with committed professionals and  “Faith in Education”.

Across our district students have been participating in the Terry Fox run and learning about the qualities of this Canadian hero: grit, perseverance, generosity, courage and a person who was a living witness of vulnerability.  In addition to the significant donation of funds made by our students and staff for research, we join our hearts and prayers together for all those touched by cancer and those who are working for better treatments and a cure.

Bishop Crosby gathered with representatives of our Catholic School Boards in the Diocese of Hamilton on Wednesday, September 25th to celebrate the gift of Catholic Education.  The theme was “Put Out Into the Deep” as we were challenged to share the Good News by example and with great with joy with all those who we encounter; a reminder of our distinctiveness and vocational call.

The second wave of EQAO results were released for Grade 9 and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) and some notable gains were achieved.  Grade 9 results exceed the provincial average and our success rate on the OSSLT has increased for first time eligible students from 87% to 89%.  We continue with the analysis of our results right down to specific students so that we can provide precise and focused supports in order to achieve success.

Friday our students will gather for the annual Cross Country Meet. Over 1200 participants will compete until every one crosses the finish line! Thank you to the many coaches and volunteers who make this event a success and who encourage healthy, fit living.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.



September 22, 2014

Board and school EQAO results for grades 3 and 6 were recently released and we anticipate the public release of grade 9 results shortly. The careful work of “datalyzing” is underway; analyzing and deconstructing the data in order to determine where collectively as a school board we need to focus our attention and energy in order to maximize student learning. As one Principal colleague noted in reference to our students, “We need not only to call them by name, we need to know them by name!”  Our educators have been actively engaged these first few weeks in getting to know each one of their students, their strengths and interests and their areas for growth in order to most effectively engage them in their learning. Our job is to help each student become the person that God intends for her/him to be!

Getting to know data as part of a process of investigating issues and deciding what to do next is part of ongoing improvement. This process will help us as educators to use evidence to bring increased clarity and coherence to the work we engage in every day: teaching and learning.

We are celebrating the trends over time in Reading and Writing in grade 3. Over the past five years our students have increased by 8% in both areas. Similar 5 year gains are evident in grade 6 with an increase of 7% in Reading and 8% in Writing. We also recognize that both provincially and locally we must focus attention on instruction in Mathematics. While we remain slightly ahead of the provincial average in grade 3 and 6, we have also seen a decline locally over time. We need to reclaim those gains!

School Improvement Plans are in development and refinement. EQAO is one source of data to inform the plan. A variety of data sources are used to determine next steps and to monitor progress toward the school improvement plan goals. They provide a focus for the work that schools will undertake this year. Embracing a growth mindset will enable us to employ the necessary curiousity and grit to persevere and make a positive impact in the classroom. Our Board Improvement Plan will receive final approval in early October. Our goal is to ensure success for a all students by developing their knowledge, skills, competencies and God-given gifts.


Alive With Learning and Faith Formation

September 14, 2014

Our district is alive with learning and faith formation. I continue to discover the many strengths of our community as I visit schools and meet with community partners. We are working towards greater alignment with the Ministry of Education’s renewed vision to: achieve excellence, ensure equity, promote well-being and enhance public confidence. We have a strong foundation upon which to build so that our students become faith-filled community builders, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, skilled workers and servant leaders for the future.

We welcome our Student Trustees Ryan Fazzari, Will Medeiros and Jonathan Parkes, who attended their first official Board Meeting last week. These young men are committed to ensuring the student voice is well represented and passionate about how they will make a difference over their year of service. Watch for amazing things to unfold as they exercise their leadership responsibly and with heart.

One highlight of the week was the opportunity to meet members of the Program Department Support Services Team. The team is a diverse composition of Speech and Language Pathologists, Child and Youth Care Workers, Social Workers, Special Education Resource Teachers, our Mental Health Lead, and others, who in the words of Jean Vanier “…dream of a world where people whatever their abilities can find a place and reveal their gifts” and who provide the support to our school staff, families and students. Their expertise supports our deeply held belief that all children can learn given the right resources and support.

The United Way announced an ambitious goal at their recent launch to raise 3.5 million dollars for our community under the leadership of the Campaign Chair, Chief Bryan Larkin, Waterloo Regional Police Services. Employees of the Wellington Catholic District School Board have always embraced the challenge. Thanks for your continued generosity to support “all that kids can be”.

Not following us on Twitter yet? Connect with us @Wellingtoncath. Help us to reach the goal of 500 followers by October 1st! We’ll keep you posted….daily! 🙂

I’m looking forward to meeting with our Principals this week to continue our work analyzing data and developing precise goals and supporting actions for School Improvement Planning. Together we will achieve our goal to be the “best in class”!


Back to School

September 5, 2014

The excitement and joy in the promise of a new start was palpable across our District this past week as students and staff made their way back to school for another year of boundless learning.

I started the week in schools visiting St. Peter’s, Mary Phelan and Bishop Macdonell. New routines, new friendships, lots of new shoes and backpacks and the wonder and awe of learning were immediately apparent. At Bishop Macdonell I accepted the ALS Ice bucket challenge witnessed by the student body. I’ve challenged our Student Councils to determine a cause locally, rally around it and infuse it with justice and learning. I continue to “soak” up all I can, meeting with various individuals and stakeholder groups in the Board, Diocese and broader community as part of my entry plan. It’s energizing to discover the multitude of strengths in our midst, focused on excellence in service and program delivery, faith formation and success for all.

First Week of School

St. Mary’s Mount Forest

We know that the learning, achievement and faith formation of our students occurs in safe, welcoming learning environments. Two of our schools, Holy Trinity and St. Patrick’s underwent some significant renovations over the summer. To all of our support staff in schools and the board office – thank you for your preparations.

On August 20 we learned that a good friend of the Wellington Catholic District School Board, Anna Hariton, Co-Chair to the Parent Involvement Committee, completed her journey home to God. Anna was known for her grace-filled presence. Her ideas and generous heart filled our district as she encouraged parents to engage in whatever way possible to support our schools to be fun and engaging places to learn and grow. She loved and served beyond measure. She will be dearly missed.

Don Drone has completed his tenure as Director. Don has left a legacy of strong partnerships locally and provincially. To quote Don, “We are made for community”. Through his innovative approach, he has enabled the gifts of many so that our staff, students and families were the benefactors. We thank him for his many years of tireless and committed service to Wellington Catholic and wish him Godspeed during this time of transition.

Our website has a new look and… you can now follow us on Twitter @Wellingtoncath. We will be adding to the site regularly so visit often for the most up to date information, news and events across the district.

As we embark on this new year, remember, “In all things be joyful!”