Since 2000, the Ottawa Catholic School Board has progressed and is now recognized as one of the leading school boards in the province.
This success has been due to a focus on
- student success,
- staff development and
- stewardship of resources.
These are the three pillars that have allowed the Board to deliver the curriculum and educational programs in progressive and leading-edge ways.
While John Curry has been a member of the trustee team, he has contributed to the following achievements:
Every school in the Ottawa Catholic School Board now has a “learning commons” rather than a school library. These former libraries have now become something like internet cafes where students can communicate with each other, can enjoy a collaborative learning environment and can flourish in a wireless world.
But the “baby has not been thrown out with the bath water,” as it were, because the best has still been preserved from the traditional library setting. Students can still access books and research materials in the “learning commons,” carrying on what has been a library’s role over the years. A student can still sit down in a comfortable armchair in the “learning commons” and quietly enjoy a book.
But a student now can also sit with friends on a generous sofa and talk with the others, learning together through their interaction and through the use of electronic devices.
In this way, the “learning commons” has become a hub of student interaction and learning, reflecting today’s trend to collaborative learning in a wireless environment. It is a way of bringing advanced learning methods and today’s popularity of electronic devices into the educational environment of a school for the benefit of all students.
Another successful initiative of the Ottawa Catholic School Board has been the introduction of the Board’s French immersion program into all schools, no matter their size.
Initially, when it was introduced, the Board’s French immersion program was limited to larger schools in the belief that certain enrolment figures were needed for the French immersion program to be viable. This meant that students in smaller schools were faced with the decision to leave their local community school and attend a French immersion centre at another school. This not only meant increased transportation arrangements and costs but also went against one of the Board’s founding principles – offering Catholic education in a community school setting.
Thanks to parental involvement and lobbying, specifically from the St. Catherine Catholic School community in Metcalfe, supported by trustee Curry, a pilot project to determine if the Board’s French immersion program could indeed be offered successfully in a smaller school setting was launched and, lo and behold, it could.
Since then, smaller school after smaller school has seen the introduction of the Board’s French immersion program until now, every school in the Board, large and small, offers the French Immersion program. Students can now stay in their home community school for the program, not only allowing them to stay in their friendly, comfortable home school environment but also keeping up its student enrolment numbers at that smaller school while additionally eliminating some transportation costs, allowing such funds to now be directed towards student learning.
But these are just two of a myriad of education initiatives undertaken by the Ottawa Catholic School Board in recent years.
Full Day Kindergarten is now a reality in all Ottawa Catholic School Board schools, the result of a five year roll out mandated by the province.
There are now smart boards in virtually every classroom in the system and all of the school environments are wireless. The Board continues to make substantial investments each year on computer equipment and infrastructure to ensure that students and staff have access to all the educational and administrative tools that computers and electronic devices offer to the school community.
Since 2000, when John became a trustee, all of the schools in Zone 1 have benefitted from the Board’s leading maintenance practices with all of the schools seeing renovation or upgrading projects including additions in some cases such as Sacred Heart Catholic High School, St. Mark Catholic High School and, most recently, St. Philip Catholic School in Richmond.
The Board’s energy efficiency program has been recognized as leading edge through the provincial education community. The program has not only saved energy, showing a respect for stewardship of resources, but also has resulted in savings and the avoidance of energy costs, allowing more resources to be directed to the classroom and student success.
With a crowd of over 300 in attendance, St. Stephen School in Stittsville officially opened on the evening of October 20, 2009.
John Curry, Trustee and member of the Goulbourn Historical Society, spoke of the progression of a Catholic presence in the community with the building of Holy Spirit School in 1988, followed by Sacred Heart High School and Guardian Angels School opening their doors in 2000. Now, with the opening of St. Stephen, “in 20 years we have gone from 300 to 3,300 Catholic students in Stittsville.”
Mr. Curry also presented a video show chronicling the construction of the new school from the first shovel in the ground to present day. Every family and staff member will receive a copy of the DVD, courtesy of Mr. Curry.