New Catholic director of education appreciates small rural schools


The new director of education of the St. Clair District Catholic School Board appreciates small, rural schools.
And Deb Crawford says under leadership, the board has no plans to close any rural schools.
Crawford has worked in the St. Clair Catholic School Board for 17 years as a teacher, vice principal and principal, and on January 1st 2018 she will take over Dan Parr’s position as the Director of Education.
“I’m very excited and I am looking forward to working with everyone. The timing is great because it allows for a smooth transition,” Crawford says.
Crawford will spend a lot of her time making decisions on Chatham’s two new schools in the first year. The province has just approved the plan to build one school in the north of the city and one in the south, consolidating the existing, smaller Catholic schools. But, Crawford says those recent closures does not mean other schools have to worry.
Crawford taught at schools with under 100 students and over 1,000 students, and says she appreciates the benefits of both.
“When we look into the future, we have no strategic plan to look at closing any of those (rural) schools.”
Crawford also says closing schools – particularly those being consolidated in Chatham – isn’t all about enrollment numbers. “It was so expensive to renovate and we have spent a lot on keeping them open. Some systems at the schools were reaching their end of life.”
Crawford added that closing the Chatham schools will free up money for rural schools which need repairs as well.
Crawford also hopes to continue encouraging parents to choose Catholic education for their children.
Encouraging parents to send their children to a Catholic school is also something Crawford hopes to continue. She says it starts when the child is born and talking with the parents and welcoming the family into the parish is a great start. She says KinderSTART allows the children to enter the school earlier, along with daycares in the schools help children get used to the building before the enter kindergarten.
And the new director wants to continue encouraging students to live their faith and explore post-secondary education.