Spotlight November 10



Remembering Debra McCaffery; April 9, 1956 – November 6, 2015

Deb Picmonkey edit

Debra McCaffery, Niagara Catholic’s Chaplaincy Leader, died on November 6, 2015.

The Niagara Catholic family mourns the loss of one of our own.

Debra McCaffery, our Board’s Chaplaincy Leader, was called Home to the Lord on Friday, November 6, 2015. She was surrounded by her family, close friends and the prayers of the Niagara Catholic family at the time of her death.

While we grieve at the suddenness of her passing, and try to come to terms with our loss, our faith teaches us that Debra is celebrating in Heaven with the loved ones who had gone before her, and with the Lord she loved so dearly. It is this faith that will see Debra’s family, friends and colleagues through the difficult few days and weeks ahead.

For those who loved her, the loss is immeasurable. So while we grieve for a life cut too short, we give thanks for the gift that was Debra – for her smile, her compassion, her forthright nature, her commitment to Catholic education and for all she did for so many throughout the years.

We needed you, Debra, but Heaven needed you more.

Life is fleeting. Love one another. Be kind to strangers. Please keep Debra’s family, and the Niagara Catholic family, in your prayers.


Niagara Catholic Pilgrimage Raises More Than $170,000

On October 25, 2015, approximately 4,000 Niagara Catholic students, staff, trustees and supporters took to the streets to raise money for our brothers and sisters in need around the world in the Annual Pilgrimage.

This year’s event raised more than $170,000, which will be used to help fund social programs for children, youth and the elderly, provide fresh water and relief for people living in South and Central America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Thank you to all those who took part, and all those who sponsored Pilgrims as they walked.

A short synopsis of each event is below:

Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School

Theme: Make a Change

330 Pilgrims raised $16,000 for residents of Las Pajas, Dominican Republic.

Denis Morris Catholic High School

Theme: Let’s Do Something

400+ Pilgrims from Denis Morris Catholic High School joined Pilgrims from Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School and Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School in the Annual Pilgrimage. The DM Pilgrims raised $14,000 and 1,500 cans of food for Ecole Immaculee Conception in Pilate, Haiti, and Wells of Hope.

Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School

Theme: We Rise by Lifting Others

Approximately 270 members of the Angus Army Pilgrims joined Pilgrims from Denis Morris Catholic High School and Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School in the Annual Pilgrimage. The Raiders raised $14,000 to support the work of the Holy Cross Brothers and Sisters in Thibeau, Cap Haitian and Milot, Haiti.

Lakeshore Catholic High School

Theme: Walk in Love

300+ Gators raised $10,000 during the annual Gatorwalk. The funds will be used to support the recovery efforts in Dominica, which was heavily damaged during Tropical Storm Erika.

Notre Dame College School

Theme: Walk On!

On the 40th Anniversary of the first Pilgrimage in 1975, approximately 1,200 Pilgrims raised $40,000 – $1,000 for every year – for Development and Peace, Yancana Huasy in Lima, Peru and the Canadian-Dominican Community Development Group.

Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School

Theme: Fire in Our Hearts

350+ Phoenix joined Pilgrims from Denis Morris Catholic High School and Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in the Annual Pilgrimage. The Phoenix Pilgrims raised an average of $100 per person to contribute $35,000 to Ecole Madeleine Orphanage and School in Cap Haitian, Haiti.

Saint Michael Catholic High School

Theme: Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

400+ Mustangs were joined by Pilgrims from Saint Paul Catholic High School in this year’s Annual Pilgrimage. The Mustangs raised $19,600 for the Hope for Rwanda Children’s Fund and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

Saint Paul Catholic High School

Theme: Love, Truth and Action

450+ Patriots were joined by Pilgrims from Saint Michael Catholic High School in this year’s Annual Pilgrimage. The Patriots raised $17,000 for the Immaculate Conception School in Milot, Haiti.

View scenes from the 2015 Pilgrimage on our Good News Blog and our Facebook page.

Five-Year Improvement for Grade 9 Math Assessments at Niagara Catholic

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) has released the results for Grade 9 provincial mathematics assessments in 2014-2015, including the results for the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

Eighty-four per cent of Grade 9 students taking academic courses performed at or above the provincial standard (Levels 3 and 4) on the assessments last year. Fifty-seven per cent of students taking applied courses met or exceeded the provincial standard. This represents a two per cent increase in assessment scores over five years for academic students, and a 14 per cent increase in the same time period for students studying mathematics at the applied level.

Fewer than one per cent of academic students were exempted from the assessment. One per cent of applied students were exempted. Due to exceptional circumstances in 2015, provincial data is unavailable.

Board Chair Father Paul MacNeil credited students and staff for their dedication to academic excellence.

“As Board Chair, I am always impressed by the results our students receive on provincial assessments,” said Father MacNeil. “This is a direct result of the strong partnerships we have between home and school. Our teachers are committed to ensuring students are well-prepared for these assessments, our students show up ready to learn and this is reinforced by parents and guardians at home. The data released today will be used to make thoughtful decisions about the best way to continue to nurture students in our classrooms, and to guide staff and students to remain committed to academic excellence.”

Director of Education John Crocco congratulated the students and staff for their focused work, which results in student success throughout the year.

“I am extremely proud of the exemplary Catholic leadership of our school and system administrators, the dedication and skills of our talented staff and the commitment of our students to academic excellence” said Niagara Catholic Director of Education John Crocco. “It is gratifying to see the continued improvement of our academic students on this provincial assessment since 2010, and I am pleased that the number of applied students meeting or exceeding the provincial level has climbed 14 per cent in the past five years.  Combined with other data, assessments, and the important interactive dialogue with students, parents and staff throughout the school year, this provides consistent opportunities for feedback and planning to design and provide programs and services for the success of all students in all schools throughout the Niagara Catholic District School Board.”

Niagara Catholic’s 2014-2015 Grade 9 Mathematics Assessment results are available online.

Building Leadership

The Ontario Leadership Strategy was developed by the Ministry of Education to foster leadership quality in schools and school boards in Ontario. The strategy has two goals: To attract the right people to Principal positions, and to help Principals and Vice-Principals develop into the best possible instructional leaders.

To implement this Strategy, the Ontario Institute for Education Leadership developed the Catholic Ontario Leadership Framework, which describes a set of core leadership competencies and leadership practices for Catholic Principals, Vice-Principals and Supervisory Officers.

Niagara Catholic’s Leadership Identification Program is a two-year program, based on the Catholic Ontario Leadership Framework. It supports the Niagara Catholic Leadership Pathway Policy.

Candidates applied to the program in November 2014. Twenty-seven people were accepted into the 2014-2016 Cohort. In their first year, they will focus on Catholic leadership as a vocation and on the Personal Leadership Resources section of the Framework. Year Two will focus on Core Leadership Capacities.

The full report, which includes the names of participants, can be found in the November 10 Committee of the Whole Agenda.

Father Thomas Rosica

Father Thomas Rosica will facilitate the four one-night sessions during Catholic Education Week in May 2016.

Niagara Catholic, Diocese, to Hold Catholic Education Congress in 2016-2017

Following discussion with various stakeholders on the Board’s Alliance Committee, Niagara Catholic has begun making plans to hold a Catholic Education Congress. This Congress will involve the Alliance Committee members, their organizations and the Diocese of St. Catharines, and will be the first of its kind since to take place in the Diocese since the Jubilee Year of 2000.

The first stage of the three-tier engagement program will take place during Catholic Education Week, and will involve four areas of the Board, hosted by Catholic secondary schools. Father Tom Rosica from Salt + Light Television, will be the facilitator for these sessions.

The second tier will take place between Summer 2016 and Fall 2017, and will involve designing ways to make sustainable connections between home, school and parish. The final tier will be the one-day Diocesan/Board-wide Catholic Education Congress, which will take place in the spring of 2017.

The full report can be found in the November 10 Committee of the Whole Agenda.

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