Today’s the final school day for local students who are looking to get out and celebrate the summer season.

But this school year ending has been fairly unique for Kenora Catholic’s Director of Education, Paul White, as he’s set to move into the next phase of his life and enter into retirement as of the end of the day today, after over 30 years in education.

“I’m incredibly proud and grateful for the team at Kenora Catholic,” said White, in an interview with Q104 and KenoraOnline earlier this week.

“Our educators, principals, trustees and staff are passionate about student success and well-being. Everyone really works hard together here to offer the very best Catholic education for each student. I’d like to thank everybody for that.”

White began his teaching career with the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board in 1992 at Assumption College School, before moving to Grassy Narrows First Nation to work at the Sakatcheway Anishinabe School.

He’s been with the Kenora Catholic District School Board since 2005 in a variety of roles, including elementary and secondary teacher, vice-principal, principal and superintendent.

While principal at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, White was recognized by the Learning Partnership as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principles.

He was appointed as the Superintendent of Instructional Services for the board in 2016, before being named Director of Education in January of 2021. He would announce his upcoming retirement one year later in January 2022.

After serving as the board’s Director of Education for about a year and a half now, White says navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle, but the board is continuing to work together to get through it.

“The most significant challenge has been COVID-19. We found that through new and innovative ways to stay connected, we’ve been able to be successful. Everyone has been incredibly resilient and adaptable throughout the pandemic.”

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of in-person learning, the relationships between students and their teachers, and the positive impact that in-person learning has on student mental health.”

“A highlight has been celebrating the end of this 2021-2022 school year. Our schools and staff have been incredibly busy over the past few weeks planning and hosting all of the things we haven’t been able to do the past few years. Barbecues, school tours, proms, field trips, and the return of in-person Grade 12 graduation ceremonies,” he adds.

White says he plans to stick around the Kenora area and is looking forward to hunting, fishing, trapping and spending time with his family in Grassy Narrows First Nation.

As of September 1, the KCDSB’s Nicole Kurtz will step into the role of Director of Education, as well as the board’s Secretary-Treasurer.