Staff and trustees with the Kenora Catholic District School Board are looking forward to the new year and the start of Paul White’s move into the Director of Education role, after the roller-coaster that was 2020. But staff say despite the tough times, it’s still been an amazing year.

“It’s been a wonderful year, especially to see how the students have adapted and grown through this,” said current Director of Education, Derek Haime.

“It’s been amazing. Students have seen great success at school and in the community. Students and families have really adapted to keep learning and spiritual development moving forward. It really feels like a family here.”

Throughout the year, some highlights for Kenora Catholic include a great response to their virtual How the Grinch Stole the St. Louis Christmas Concert this month, work with Dr. Sonia James-Wilson on Truth and Reconciliation and the legacy of residential schools, a new ski program and the launch of St. Isidore Virtual School.

“We have amazing students, amazing staff, amazing families and an amazing community that goes above and beyond for our students. In a situation like this, it truly brings out the best of people, and we’ve certainly seen that through 2020 here at Kenora Catholic.”

Earlier this month, Haime announced he would be stepping down from his role with the board after accepting a new position with the Ontario College of Teachers. With a heavy heart, Haime says he never planned to leave.

“I love it here. I love the people, the community and the board. It’s all been amazing. For personal, family reasons I had to make the decision. A piece of my heart will always be here. I’m leaving a family here at Kenora Catholic. I’ll always be connected with the KCDSB. It’s bitter-sweet.”

Haime joined Kenora Catholic by the end of 2018 and stepped into the Director of Education’s role by February of 2019, replacing the retiring Phyllis Eikre. He was the KCDSB’s fifth Director of Education. He then explained what he’ll be doing in his new role.

“I was fortunate enough to become the CEO and Registrat at the Ontario College of Teachers. It’s a tremendous opportunity and I’ll be involved with close to 250,000 teachers, involving some in this area as well. But the most important piece is to ensure student well-being and achievement, as well as promoting teacher professionalism to help achieve that.”

Haime says his highlights for his time with the board include the board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan of Growing, Investing and Engaging, working with youth at Kenora’s Youth Hub, restorative justice work with Grand Council Treaty #3, the board’s diversity committee and the success of Kenora Catholic’s schools throughout the year.

In June, Haime and the board recognized the efforts of their students and every single one of their staff members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and each school and staff member received a Director’s Award of Excellence to recognize their work to keep their schools as safe as possible.

“I’ll certainly be keeping my ears tuned, and will be watching all of the exciting things that will continue to unfold in this amazing community. Thank you so much,” finished Haime.

Superintendent Paul White was chosen to replace Haime earlier this month, and will embark in his new role on January 1. He will also serve as the board’s Secretary-Treasurer.

White’s been with Kenora Catholic for over 16 years and has worked in education for over 28 years, serving as the principal of St. Thomas Aquinas for 8 years before becoming a Superintendent. He was named one of Canada’s Outstanding Principles in 2014.

“This team at Kenora Catholic is second to none, and everyone works tirelessly for children and families. I can’t say enough about how honoured I am to serve my colleagues in Catholic education as their Director.”

White says his family is deeply connected and committed to the traditions and diverse culture of Kenora, Grassy Narrows First Nation and the Treaty #3 area. They enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping and spending time with family in Grassy Narrows.

To assist with the transition between Haime and White, KCDSB also announced that Phyllis Eikre would be returning from her retirement to assist White in his new role. She’ll step into the position in January, and will work in a variety of roles while the board fills the vacant Superintendent of Instructional Services position.

During her 33 years with Kenora Catholic, Eikre has served as teacher, diagnostic resource teacher, curriculum coordinator, special education coordinator, Principal at Mount Carmel School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Superintendent of Instructional Services and Human Resource Services and Director of Education.

She spent 10 years in the Director’s role, serving on a variety of provincial education and Indigenous committees. Her service to the board was recognized with a Papal Blessing from the Pope in January of 2019.

For more information:
‘It feels like coming home’: Eikre returns to Kenora Catholic
White to lead Kenora Catholic
KCDSB working on Truth and Reconciliation
KCDSB honouring dedication from staff and students